Ten Keys to Writing a Bad Dissertation

Does anyone set out to address a bad dissertation? It hardly seems possible. A lot of of us apparently activate our doctoral programs assertive that the account we put alternating in our dissertations will change the face of our disciplines forever! But afterwards years spent account hundreds of doctoral dissertations--first as a alum student, again as a professor, and now as a able altercation editor and coach--I can't admonition but observe: There are a lot of bad dissertations out there!


Really abundant dissertations are appealing rare. They crave altered insight, groundbreaking research, accurate logic, and a blow of artistry. So I'm not abiding I could affiance to acquaint you absolutely how to accomplish your altercation great. But I've apparent that there are some accepted accoutrement that run through a lot of of the awful dissertations I've read. So I anticipation I could allotment with you some of what I've abstruse by account bad doctoral dissertations. That way, if you'd like to address a bad altercation of your own, you'd apperceive how to go about accomplishing it. Or bigger yet, if you'd like to address a good altercation of your own, you'd accept some abstraction of accepted pitfalls.


Here are ten accepted mistakes you should abstain if you wish your altercation to be worthwhile.


1. Beleaguer yourself with agreeing people.

We all like to be right. And what bigger way to argue yourself you're appropriate than by getting amidst by humans who accede with you? If allotment a doctoral program, it's accustomed to admission against schools, departments, and adroitness who allotment our views--conservative or liberal, this alignment or that one, a accurate academy of anticipation or angle or approach. The acceptable account is that, if you administer to beleaguer yourself with humans who anticipate just like you do, you'll appointment little attrition as you write. The bad account is that, if you've accomplished writing, your analysis will be abundant beneath acceptable to angle up to austere challenge, back you've not had to attack with opposing believability of appearance forth the way. In short, austere claiming has a way of accomplishment able arguments, and the abridgement of it has a way of authoritative anticipation go soft. Do yourself a favor: Seek out an ambiance that will accommodate claiming while you're writing, and you'll acquisition that your altercation is far bigger able for the challenges it will face if UMI makes it accessible to the accomplished apple that exists above your university.


2. Choose a affair that is abandoned of absorption to you.

It's a accepted antic that "No one knows as abundant as a freshman." In added words, allotment of the action of acquirements is acquirements how abundant we still charge to learn! If we set out to address our dissertations, we're like freshmen starting out in school--we don't yet apperceive how abundant we don't know, because we've not yet had the adventitious to analyze absolutely what others accept done. At this aboriginal date of the altercation project, it's accessible to argue ourselves that a affair is alluring when, in fact, that affair has become passe because of the analysis it has already received; it's aswell accessible to get active with questions that are afar from the absolute apropos in the acreage at present. Two of the best sources for ensuring that your altercation affair is accordant and advantageous are recent dissertations and current periodicals. Immerse yourself in these assets at the alpha of your project. Even if you just apprehend the titles, you'll be added acceptable to bury your plan in the ambience of what added advisers are accomplishing appropriate now.


3. Keep the ambit of your abstraction ample and the agreement vague.

Doctoral-level plan requires assay of a affair at abundant depth. And in this affectionate of research, the amount one adversary of abyss is breadth. An capital key to autograph a acceptable altercation is to accept a bright and absolute focus for your work. Added absorbing account will arise forth the way; abide them--for now. If you've accomplished your dissertation, you can acknowledgment to those added account for the online autograph and books you'll address in the next date of your career.


4. Don't constrain your adroitness with an outline.

For years, agents accept been cogent you to outline your affidavit afore you write. And for years you've apparently been blank them. But actuality you are, starting your doctorate--obviously, it was admonition you didn't need! Altercation autograph is different. You're traveling to address hundreds of pages over a aeon that may yield years; it will be simple to get absent forth the way, abnormally as your account evolve. Planning advanced is the abandoned way to ensure that your altercation will be focused, well-structured, and acutely argued; it's aswell the abandoned way to ensure that it will anytime end! A careful, abundant outline is indispensable. You may alter it as you advance with your research, but don't omit it or carelessness it. As a altercation writer, the outline is your chicken brick road!


5. Confine your bibliography to sources that abutment your point of view.

Contrary to accepted opinion, the purpose of a altercation is not to prove a pre-determined point; it is to abstraction a advantageous question. Afterwards all, if the acknowledgment can be bent afore the analysis is even done, again what's the amount of the work? In the end, a altercation that disproves your antecedent antecedent is just as admired to the bookish association as one that proves you right. What is not admired at all is a altercation that's backward because it has abandoned advised some of the accessible evidence, arguments, and believability of view. Don't assemblage the accouter in your favor; apprehend aggregate accordant to your topic, from every point of view. In the process, your account will mature. The end aftereffect will be a altercation that has far greater depth--and credibility.


6. Presume that if it's not in English or on the Internet, it mustn't be important.

Believe it or not, there's a acumen for those accent requirements that doctoral programs appoint on us. It's not just that acute humans allege added than one language! The point is to accessible the aperture to admired abstract that is available--but not in English. Relying on English abandoned agency that some abstract (and ideas) will be absolutely bare to you, and added abstract will be accessible abandoned through the estimation of a translator. It absolutely is account the accomplishment to apprentice to apprehend the languages in which your a lot of important sources are written. Afterwards them, your analysis is incomplete.


And apprehend books . . . and articles! As advantageous as we are to accept admission to so abounding sources accessible on the Internet, we can't overlook that there's something book sources accept that absolutely Web-based sources do not: gatekeepers. For a book or an commodity to arise in print, anyone (typically a accumulation of advisers in the field) has bent that it was worthwhile. They may not necessarily accept agreed with its point of view, but they begin that it met the standards of complete methodology, rational argumentation, and timeliness. On the Internet, anyone may broadcast annihilation at any time--making the superior of Web sources alarmingly uneven. Internet analysis is actuality to stay, and that's a acceptable thing. But there's no acting for books and online autograph accounting by acclaimed advisers in your field. Be abiding that Web-based sources do not aggregate the aggregate of your bibliography, or you could acquisition that you've larboard the boilerplate afterwards even acumen it and stepped abroad from some of the a lot of important assets accessible to you.


7. Let your assertions angle by force, not by proof.

Spend abundant hours alert to cable account and you may alpha to get the consequence that the ambition of agitation is to win, and the way to win is to outshout the added side! Getting a beatnik by nature, I sometimes like to play little bookish amateur if I watch T.V., and one of them is "count the fallacies" in the arguments that T.V. pundits make: ad hominem arguments, red herrings, non-sequiturs--they sometimes accomplish for absorbing T.V., but they never aftereffect in a solid argument. If your altercation is traveling to bear austere appraisal and accomplish a addition to your field, every affirmation accept to be justified and every altercation accept to be fallacy-free.


8. Turn in your aboriginal draft.

The afterlight action is about cutting your work. Weak arguments get strengthened, down-covered account get clarified, redundancies get eliminated, accent gets tightened. If you're like a lot of doctorandi, you're consistently hasty against the next deadline. If active out of time, the easiest affair to cut out is the afterlight process. Abide that temptation.


9. Don't bother with ascribe from others.

You've apparently had abandoned a advance or two in statistics; why not let a able statistician admonition you with the statistical portions of your work? You may not be assured of your APA formatting (or whatever appearance area you're using); why not let a able editor affidavit your text? What about just accepting anyone in your administration accord you acknowledgment on the bearing of your arguments? There's annihilation like a beginning set of eyes to bolt the things that you're too abutting to see anymore. Staying able-bodied aural the bound of bookish integrity, don't be abashed to ability out for admonition with the aspects of your plan in which you're not an expert, so that the ability you do accept is presented as finer as it can be.


10. Prove your point at all cost.

What's amiss with getting wrong? The action of free that actuality will be a admired addition to your field. Bookish plan is a action of discovery, and sometimes that agency advertent that our antecedent hypotheses were wrong. The honest presentation of the complete alignment arch you to that cessation will be advantageous account for your colleagues. Any accomplishment to get about the facts will appearance bias--the individual greatest blackmail to a advantageous dissertation. In academia, there's no abortion area there's 18-carat learning. By contrast, there's annihilation but abortion if believability are "proven" by adapted results, abandoned evidence, apish methodologies supplied afterwards the analysis has in fact been done, and affected arguments advised to awning up the accuracy and access at a adopted conclusion. You can alpha your activity with this confidence: If you backpack out your analysis with integrity, chase a solid methodology, accede all accordant believability of view, and address candidly what you find, again whatever cessation you ability will be worthwhile. And if you don't, it won't.


Wishing you success in your analysis and writing,

Albert L., Ph.D.