Some Thoughts for Dissertation Writing

I’ve been reading Hart’s book, Doing a Literature Review, for class and he mentioned interesting points that I wanted to share. He stresses the importance of scholarship in writing. According to Hart, “There is, however, a difference between producing a piece of competent research and a piece of research that demonstrates scholarship,” (p. 8). Integration, or the ability to draw links between “ideas, theories and experience,” is identified as being necessary abilities for good scholarship. Fitting your idea into existing theory is essential. It is important to justify the position that you are making and prior literature can be used to do this.

Next, it is important to be able to clearly explain your argument. The goal should be to express content to the reader in the least confusing manner. Students writing literature reviews for the first time often produce “broad, generalized and ambitious proposals.” Narrowing the topic down is a fine art. It is during this stage that hopefully a fruitful and manageable topic will emerge. When reading papers, you should do so with an open mind, trying to understand the perspectives and approaches from which the researcher is presenting.

Seven requirements of a doctoral thesis include:

  • 1) scholarship specialty
  • 2) a contribution to the field
  • 3) high degree of scholarship
  • 4) originality
  • 5) ability to write in great length
  • 6) personal development involved in writing a thesis
  • 7) deep understanding of the field.

*A criterion of the ability to orally defend is additionally included for doctoral students.

Is anyone incorporating Hart’s advice when writing his/her dissertation? If so, do you have any insights to pass those of us who are lost in the dissertation writing phase?


One Response

  1. Being in the throws of writing the dissertation, I think the best thing that gets me motivated is to focus on writing my own ideas and not just on gluing together and restating what other people have said. My advisor keeps telling me this is *my* dissertation, and I have to focus on what *I* think. Make sure you really believe what you’re writing. The more I do that, the more I actually enjoy this work.

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