Writing a Research-Based Project or a Dissertation

This article offers useful resources to help you with the organization and write a research-based project or dissertation. 


Research projects and dissertations are a chance to focus on specific questions and the plan to do your own research and explore it in detail. The majority of the students like being independent researchers and, in the process, become experts in their own work. The formatting varies depending on the project itself, research questions, area of study, and the disciplinary context. You might be doing a work-based project, testing and developing a new method, analyzing a novel, or even reviewing some literature. Nevertheless, there exist common factors such as:

  • It needs a great deal of investment in terms of time, energy, and thought throughout the entire process. 
  • It has the largest word count in comparison to other writing works.
  • They tend to be an independent piece of writing work. Also, in most the cases, you will be working under a supervisor.

Choosing your project or dissertation

Depending on whether you are selecting your project or dissertation from a pool of topics or you are coming up with a topic of your own, you can consider the following factors: 

  • Whether it is of appropriate academic level
  • Whether you have adequate resources and time to complete it.
  • The feasibility of your proposal or project
  • The starting point of your work

Planning your research project or dissertation

A research-based project or dissertation is usually a large piece of work that needs a high analysis level. To meet your objectives, you need to allocate adequate time to research, write, and edit your work. Allocate yourself enough time to:

  • Read about your topic and do a background search
  • Think and digest what you are learning and intend to write
  • Finish project placements, interviews, fieldwork, or experiments
  • Analyze collected data, results, or findings and give appropriate interpretations
  • Think through and figure out your conclusions.

To complete your research project or dissertation, considers taking the approach of project management. The project and dissertation planner is useful in thinking through the different stages and helps perceive the overall process. 

Writing the dissertation

In any way, do not underestimate the time you allocate to authoring your dissertation. Writing involves the following key steps: planning, doing background research, writing your draft, redrafting, and editing and proofreading. 

  • Initial draft: This is the first draft. It helps you get words to your dissertation or research project. It helps you to sketch out your initial thoughts, potential structure, and arguments. Review them and check if you are focussing on the right questions or topics.
  • Redrafts involves expanding and refining your ideas and arguments. In the process, you might notice that your writing direction of thoughts could be changing due to the literature review yielding new avenues of thoughts or that the experiments are giving you unexpected results. At this point, focus on your first research questions.
  • Final drafts: The final draft cast a critical eye on your overall work to assess the effectiveness in communicating your ideas and conclusions and whether it answers your research questions. At this point, you can also consider checking your presentation, references together with spelling and grammar. It is essential that you take a break in between your writing and reviewing of your dissertation work. Preferably, you can leave a day or two between your writing before picking it up again. It will enable you to come back, look at your work with an analytical eye, and come up with ways of improving your writings. 

Go further

The world is full of several study guides on projects and dissertation writing. Books meant for postgraduate students are also helpful to undergraduate students. 

Authoring a professional document

You can access online courses from information services that help produce professional research dissertations and reports. The good thing about them is that they are self-paced learning materials that come with lecture recordings and videos. Reference and management tool is useful in collection and organization of the source material.

Data mindfulness

In your research, you will collect and make use of research data in different forms ranging from qualitative and quantitative research. The data can be primary or even secondary data from fellow researchers.

Work-based dissertations

The majority of programs and courses, especially at postgraduate, provide an opportunity to do work-based dissertations.

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