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A dissertation or thesis is likely to be the longest and most difficult piece of work a student has ever completed.It can, however, also be a very rewarding piece of work since, unlike essays and other assignments, the student is able to pick a topic of special interest and work on their own initiative.Dissertations and academic articles used always to be written in the third person, and in the passive voice; as an example, you might write ‘An experiment was carried out to test…’ However, many journals have now moved away from that convention and request first person and active voice, which would require you to write ‘I carried out an experiment to test…’ Check with your university about their requirements before you start to write.
Writing a dissertation requires a range of planning and research skills that will be of great value in your future career and within organisations.
The dissertation topic and question should be sufficiently focused that you can collect all the necessary data within a relatively short time-frame, usually about six weeks for undergraduate programmes.
The following pages discuss each of these in turn, and give more detailed advice about how to prepare and write each one: You will probably have an overall word count for the total dissertation or thesis.
If you are required to submit in sections, ensure that you have left yourself enough words for the Results and Discussion.
It is not to do it for you, nor to tell you how to do it.
However, their academic reputation is bound up in the results of the students that they supervise so they have a vested interest in helping you to get the best possible marks.
If your university has a required format for a dissertation, and particularly if they supply a template, then use it!
Start your writing straight into the template, or format your work correctly from the start.
You should therefore not feel shy or embarrassed about asking them for help if you get into difficulties, or if you need some advice.
Academics tend to take a highly personal approach to supervision.