This article explores the extent to which published advice on the organisation and structure of theses and dissertations concurs with what happens in actual practice. The study examines guides and handbooks which focus on thesis and dissertation writing and postgraduate research. The sample texts examined were master’s and doctoral theses written in a number of different study areas at a major research university. The study found that only a few of the books examined devoted a substantial amount of space to this topic. It also found a wider range of thesis types than the guides and handbooks would suggest occurs. The study identified four main kinds of thesis: ‘traditional: simple’, ‘traditional: complex’, ‘topic-based’ and ‘compilations of research articles’. The article argues for teaching materials which show students the range of thesis options they might have, highlight the kind of variation that occurs in actual texts, and consider the rationale for the various choices they might make.
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The Methods Map can help those less familiar with research methods to find the best techniques.
More tips, videos and guidance available a the Sage Research Methods help pages.
What does the word ‘debate’ imply? A discussion involving different points of view or sets of ideas. A dissertation will therefore not only examine a subject but will review different points of view about that subject.
A dissertation is a subject you chose for yourself. The first usage of the word in the English language in 1651 also gives a useful starting definition: “an extended written treatment of a subject”.