Writing A Dissertation – Fail-Safe Recommendations From A Professor

Your dissertation is a statement of your intellectual acumen. It speaks of your mastery of your specialization. It's little wonder most people are at odds on how to approach the writing of such an important document. We give some recommendations on how to craft a winning dissertation.

Manage your time

You will spend a significant amount of time writing your thesis. From the start develop a proper time management system covering all aspects of your writing. In fact, you should strive to break down your writing into a series of task that covers the major stages of the process. Factor in extra time for mechanical tasks like proofreading.


The structure of your paper will depend on your subject matter. It may not be obvious what structure to adopt until you conduct some research on your subject matter. Define an overall structure that you will flesh out with time. Allow for alterations within the structure.

Know your supervisor

Your supervisor is an integral part of the success of your thesis. You should invest your time in cultivating a good relationship. If you feel you are not getting on well with a particular supervisor, you should find another. Do this as early as possible. Seek your supervisor’s assistance and clarification often. Whenever in doubt seek their advice.

Refer to past works

It is beneficial before starting on writing to peruse a few past papers by your faculty. This will give you a peak on what to expect, approaches to take, formatting to adopt, etc.

Formatting and style guides

The formatting conventions to adopt are derived from the guidelines issued by your faculty. Some provide templates. If this is the case, use the templates, customising them to your need. As always, this should be an ongoing effort.

Keep writing

With the time management system as your guide, keep writing. You do not need to follow any order in you write up. Start with what you are comfortable with. Work on the difficult aspects of your paper during periods of the day you are most productive. General advice on tackling your writing is to work on a chapter at a time. Write, check and rewrite until you are satisfied with the chapter before moving on. Reward yourself each time you achieve a target.

Though a herculean task, the writing of your dissertation holds the promise of accomplishment as its final prize. That is a big motivator to keep going till you are successful.