12 Dissertation Writing Mistakes To Avoid (And How To Fix Them)

You might have heard somewhere that writing dissertations can be a very daunting task. If you’re in the process of writing your own dissertation, you probably know by now that this is actually true.

Due to the complexity of the task, it can be hard for students to write a successful dissertation.

There are plenty of mistakes, even costly ones, that can be made in the process of writing it. Some students make mistakes in the format, grammar, and word count, while others make some errors within the contents and the details of their paper.

But you don’t have to worry too much about this anymore, because you have found the exact blog article that will help you with this problem!

To avoid making mistakes, you firstly need to recognise them. We have your back on this. Here are some of the most common mistakes that students make, and ways to fix them.


What is a Dissertation?

Before we get started, let’s first make everything clear by defining what exactly a dissertation is.

A dissertation is a long piece of academic writing that is submitted as the result of a research study. Usually, it is written by a student in order to fulfil the requirements of his or her coursework and earn a degree.

Dissertations are often composed of chapters, each presenting some aspect of the research conducted, and may contain headings and sub-headings within.

These academic writings are typically between 15-20 pages in length, but they may differ based on the requirements of the university. When it comes to the structure of dissertations, it may vary across different areas or fields. Typically, though, it is sectioned into four chapters at the minimum, which comprises a chapter of introduction and conclusion.


12 Dissertation Writing Mistakes To Avoid (And How To Fix Them)

1. Selecting the wrong research topic

To tell you the truth, there are plenty of ways you can screw up your dissertation, and one of them is choosing the wrong topic. If you get this wrong right from the start, then chances are your dissertation would not become as high quality as you desire it to be.

First, you have made a mistake if your topic is too narrow. The way to know this is if you find very little information written about it—or nothing at all. Another indication would be that you can cover everything about your topic in fewer words or pages than what is required by your instructor.

You’ve got to make sure that you avoid these, or else you might have to make changes to your topic.

Second, you must also watch out if the topic you’ve picked is too broad. Making this error will make it very difficult for you to find a direction, as there would be too many sources of information to look through. This creates a higher risk of incoherence in your paper.

In order to narrow it down, you can try deciding on a subtopic of the topic you’d like to focus on.


2. Screwing up the title

The very first thing that readers will take a look at is your title, and if it lacks appeal, then it is highly likely that they won’t read further into the dissertation you have worked so hard for.

Some of the most common mistakes in creating a dissertation title are putting too much detail, adding unnecessary fillers, or including acronyms or jargon that your reader might not understand.

If you are unsure about the most important message of your dissertation, then it is highly probable that you’ll make the mistake of adding too much detail to your title. To fix this, try to focus on a key message rather than several ones. You also have to make it as short as you possibly can, removing fluff words that are less appealing.

If you have acronyms in your title, be sure that your target readers will not do extra research to know about them. It’s safer for you to spell them out. It would also be best for you to keep away from jargon that your readers might not understand, otherwise, they will give up on reading your dissertation.


3. Having irrelevant, insufficient, or incorrect references

The last thing that you’d want to have is a dissertation that is based on irrelevant, inadequate, or inaccurate research. If possible, you must never make this mistake as the instructors take your research very seriously. Not having the correct references in your paper will only give you low marks in the end.

Therefore, an essential task that you must accomplish in the dissertation process is to conduct extensive research about the topic that you’ve chosen. This will enable you to pick the right sources and information for your paper. Besides this, it is the only way to correctly answer the questions in your dissertation.

To have only the relevant references in your paper, you must be clear about the scope and limitations of your dissertation. Only then you will be able to narrow down the focus of your research and pinpoint which sources and information are actually suitable and applicable to your paper.

When it comes to having sufficient sources, it really depends on a lot of factors such as the required word count, the design of the study, and the research question. Though we cannot certainly know the exact number of references needed, a good rule of thumb you can follow is to include the most promising research in the field that you have focused on.


4. Unresolved formatting problems

The format of a dissertation paper is highly specific, so it is very common for students to experience formatting problems. Not observing the word limit, inconsistent referencing style, and improper pagination and numerals are just a few of the formatting problems you must stay away from.

It is actually normal if your dissertation contains a lot of errors in the formatting aspect, but you must make an effort to avoid these because your readers would likely not take your paper seriously and discontinue reading it.

The best way to fix this issue is to follow your guide if the instructor provided you with one. You will have to follow the instructions attentively and take extra caution during the whole process of writing your paper.

Another thing to check is if you have made incorrect margins, headers, and footers. This is typically specified in your dissertation guide, but if not, then you have to clarify this with your professor.

In addition, it is common to have inconsistencies in the formatting of headings and section titles for the same level headings. So, see to it that you observe these errors when it is time to edit–a very important task in writing your dissertation.


5. Starting too late and not finishing on time

You might notice that this procrastination problem is more general than the others, but it is no less significant to consider, especially in writing your dissertation. A lot of students have the tendency of putting things off until the last minute, which is not a good practice and almost always ends terribly.

Since your dissertation is the final coursework to earn your degree, you ought to exert yourself in preparing for it as soon as you can. Remember that it is one of the hardest (if not the hardest) tasks you will need to accomplish as an undergraduate or postgraduate student.

To avoid this dreadful mistake, you must practice good time management and start writing your dissertation around 13 to 20 months before the set deadline. Note that you will spend a lot of time preparing, writing, and editing every part of the dissertation.

On average, each chapter or part of the dissertation takes 1 to 3 months to complete. So, it would be best for you to plan it all out ahead. You’ll give yourself more time the sooner you start.


6. Not asking for help (from the right people)

This error is something that a lot of students fail to recognise. Not asking someone else’s view would be detrimental to the quality of your dissertation.

Don’t forget that you can ask your advisor or supervisor for a consultation regarding your work because it is a very helpful thing to do especially if you get stuck or are unsure about a particular part.

Besides that, you can also ask your friends or the online community for help. But before doing so, make sure to ask your advisor whether it is a good idea to discuss your work with them.

Also, you need to know that asking for help is not enough. Even if you did ask for help, if it did not come from the right person, then it would be unproductive. You must choose someone who is reliable and critical enough to really help you polish your work.

Or, you can hire writing editors who advertise themselves online, just be sure to pick the one you trust the most.


7. Academic integrity violations

This is also one of the most common errors made by students, but this kind of mistake could easily cost one’s degree.

If your dissertation contains academic integrity violations, then you will be given certain penalties, one of which may be a failing mark, but the worst case would be expulsion.

This, of course, depends on the university and the severity of the violation, but whether you intend to do it or not, getting caught committing plagiarism can seriously impact your academic career.

In order to steer clear of this, carefully follow the university guidelines while writing. What’s more, you should never be caught plagiarising content from other sources as this is strictly prohibited.

There are a bunch of tricks and helpful tools that will help you avoid this, so don’t hesitate to utilise them. It is also nowhere allowed to make false claims in your dissertation. Creating false information is not a good practice for academics, so be certain to only include information that came from reliable sources.


8. Being disorganised

It goes without saying that having a not-so-clear structural outline and paragraph organisation can negatively impact your dissertation.

Simply being disorganised with your ideas and the information you put in may not only affect the quality of your work, but it may also have an effect on the readers.

You have to see to it that your target audience can understand and don’t get confused with what you are trying to say. Doing so will require you to have an organisation system that you are comfortable with, which applies to both the researching and writing process.

Some ways to be organised are to keep track of notes and progress, use management software programs, and sort information on a spreadsheet. There is no one way to organise as it varies from person to person, but you have to know the most suitable methods for you to have a more organised dissertation.


9. Being unable to write a strong thesis statement

If you’re having trouble with your thesis statement, you must know that developing an effective one is not an easy task for everyone. Students absolutely need to ponder on what an impactful thesis could look like. It is essential to remember that thesis statements must be precise and straight to the point, and give hints of further discussion.

All of this while making it appealing enough for the readers to be interested to continue reading through your dissertation.

It could also be that your thesis statement is loosely related to the written content of your paper. This is a big no-no because no one appreciates a thesis statement that lacks a connection with what you are writing about.

In order to avoid or fix this error, you must do enough brainstorming and research to logically connect it with your dissertation and main idea.


10. Poorly defining the aims and objectives

Since there are many ways to write research aims and objectives, students can effortlessly make a mistake regarding this. The most errors in writing aims and objectives are that they are written ambiguously or they are too wordy.

To make a successful dissertation, you must be able to find the correct and proper way to write the aims and objectives for your paper. You can look at some examples on the internet to give you an idea of what a good research objective looks like.

Take note that a research aim is usually broader than the objectives. Your objectives, on the other hand, must be specific, focusing on the more immediate and short-term outcomes. Typically, your aims can be as short as a single sentence or paragraph, and your objectives are listed.


11. Writing issues

Having grammatical errors, putting too much jargon, and using vague pronoun references are only a few of the abundant writing blunders that students can make. Believe it or not, almost everyone makes this particular mistake at some point in time during the process of writing their dissertations.

This goes to show how it is very important to watch out for these errors, or else you might miss it out. As the writer, your job is to write in such as way that makes it easy for the readers to go through your work—doing this entails omitting the writing mistakes throughout your paper.

An easy fix for this would be to use tools such as Grammarly to pinpoint exactly where you’ve made a mistake. Make use of the several online tools and services on the internet to help you with this problem efficiently. You can also make it a habit to reread what you have written from time to time to ensure that you have not made a writing error.


12. Failure to edit or proofread your work

image sourced from elearninginfographics.com

As mentioned previously, editing your work is an essential part of the dissertation process. In a sense, this is the last chance for you to omit the errors you have made throughout your paper, besides letting someone else proofread or check your work before submission.

One of the most common problems that come with failing to edit is having glitches in the PDF conversion. A good way to eliminate this is to check and reread your paper right away once the conversion is complete. Editing is also your way to get rid of unwanted writing issues, formatting errors, and more.

An easy solution would be using online tools that assist you in editing and proofreading your paper. There are many free online tools that you can use for this, but you must use a couple rather than sticking to only one to get the most out of them.


And that is all for this blog article! It is important that you avoid the common mistakes we have listed for you, not only to get a good grade in your dissertation but also to successfully write a high-quality paper that stands out among the rest.

We hope that by the time you’ve finished reading this article, you will be more equipped to confidently and properly write your dissertation. Feel free to bookmark this page for future reference, comment on what you think about this article, and share this with your friends to help them as well!


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