What examiners look for in your dissertation?
Dissertation is the most important segment of a research scholar's academic career. The quality of a dissertation determines the standard, quality, hard work and the interest of the student. There are ways or formats, for example MLA, APA, Chicago, etc, that a student follows to write a dissertation and that are decided either by the institution a student is enrolled in or the guide or supervisor concerned. This is what the layout is concerned with. The most crucial part is the matter in the dissertation that decides the acceptance of the work. While writing a dissertation, there are a lot of things apart from the prescribed format that a student has to dwell in.
Examiners are very particular about their individual wants. But, there are certain aspects in a dissertation that maximum examiners are interested in. The very first position is acquired by literature review in this case. Literature review is considered as the heart of a dissertation. It not only provides a background of the dissertation topic, but also throws light on the areas the student have focused and how much the student have understood his own research question. Again the candidate should show adequate familiarity and understanding of the topic when asked for. A certain comprehensive study concerning the topic is a must. Unless and until a candidate is confident about his literature review, he cannot present a quality dissertation. And if the examiners find out the same, they might come up with the idea that the concerned candidate needs more research into his topic and not ready for submission.
The methods used for a research work efficiently portray the research skills of a candidate. The candidate should clearly write about the methods that he has taken up to complete his dissertation. The methods decide the quality of a work. Without appropriate methods, the research work does not hold much value. The candidate has to determine whether his research work needs a qualitative, quantitative or quasi approach and work accordingly. If the methods are appropriate, it will definitely draw an examiner's attention. The research methods should be properly applied and the findings of the research that a candidate conducts should be suitably set out and those should be accompanied by concerned exposition.
Now comes the writing part. The dissertation should be properly organised. The candidate should move step by step and there should be connection between shifts of ideas. It should not be haphazard. The sub-headings should be organised in such a manner that the shift of ideas with connectivity to the previous is noticeable. This flow is a major part of the art of writing a dissertation. Next concern is the research question and the aim of the research. A candidate's research question should be such that the examiner should know the potential of the dissertation from it. It should be well built and with positivity. It should be able to make the examiners think about it. The aims of the research should follow then where the candidate will mention what he intends to do and find out. This should be within five points and specific. Nobody is interested to beat around the bush at this stage.
The language used in the dissertation plays a vital role too. The English used should be void of any grammatical error and of sophisticated standard. The words should be tactfully used and nothing should be a belief of the candidate. He should prove everything he writes with proper evidences. All that he writes from his own or finds out during his research should be accompanied by proofs and evidences. Plagiarism is a criminal act and should be avoided under any circumstances. Everything should be original contribution and the student should understand the thesis with respect to the wider context related to the topic. Theses that are overlong and lack adequate amount of proof reading are likely to be disliked by the examiners.
Clarity and coherence is another aspect of the dissertation whose lack may again dissatisfy the examiner. Clarity should be present in the thesis narrative, while expressing the idea sand while contributing the same to the research. Justification is required in almost everything you write. The choices made, the research decisions taken, work assertions done and the process of moving from general to the particular; everything needs justification. With justification there should be sufficient amount of supporting evidences. It might sound like a court case, but yes! Anything under the sun needs evidence to be proven. Critical interpretation of the matter is a default while writing a dissertation. Simultaneously a reflection on this critical interpretation is a must. The wisdom of a candidate's decisions and the inferences and conclusions, no doubt draws attention of the examiners.
Dissertations are always not the same for an undergraduate, post-graduate and a doctorate scholar. It differs widely, but the concept remains the same. The process of writing a dissertation remains the same, but the attitude varies. The students of the undergraduate have to be self-directed and self-regulated in order to generate their ideas and meet their goals as they just come out of a cocoon called school where everything was specific and one directional. They should be pragmatic individuals who should be able to find their own question and evaluation process. They should learn how to evaluate and synthesize practical application and theory. They are amateurs and should be able to identify their trouble areas. They should recognize the areas they are weak in and work to make them strong. The main purpose of their dissertation should be to focus on the aim. The doctorate scholars whereas gather ample primary knowledge and come forth with multidisciplinary ideas that require more skills and creativity. Accordingly the examiner's requirement varies. But the points discussed above are almost common for every level with varied importance. The examiners will always try to find these points in a dissertation to consider it.