A dissertation or thesis is a document that a candidate submits to a university or other academic institution in order to obtain a grade that significantly contributes to their professional qualification(s). Candidates are obliged to present their own research findings; and, in taking responsibility for their learning, they must choose a method of undertaking a study, document their findings and discuss the outcome(s) of their research.
The Dissertation Season – in editing, proofreading and rewriting disciplines – is popularly stated to be from May to September.
‘Thesis’ is an inclusive term; colleges and universities can vary greatly in relation to their requirements for the layout, design and style of a thesis. Candidates should study the current requirements of their colleges and universities before they present their work.
Many degree courses use a dissertation as a concluding form of study. In this final assessment, candidates may identify their own interest in a particular area of their subject. In the process, they may explore a particular field in greater depth and take charge of their topic in its entirety. By choosing their own study and presenting the research findings in a clear, systematized, logical and well-structured manner, candidates can undertake an extensive programme of research and show considerable originality.
Candidates have to employ academic skills in relation to their own disciplines. Skills include collating and assimilating information that is then used in the various sections of the completed project.
In the preparation of the final typescript, a multiplicity of factors have to be considered. These include the following: the submission date of the typescript; the word count and if this includes references/bibliography and any appendices.
Nowadays, many candidates have an appointed supervisor for their dissertations. It is important to establish if a set schedule is in place for meetings with this supervisor, but a more important asset is a supervisor who is approachable and reassuring.
Although dissertations can vary in format, style and layout, many adhere to a fixed pattern:
Title page (many colleges and universities now have a so-called prescribed page which includes the full name of the candidate/author, the qualification they are working towards, the name of the college or university where the thesis is presented, and the date;
Abstract (usually 300–500 words in length and follows on the Title page. An abstract presents a concise summary of the content of the dissertation, the extent of the work undertaken, the divisions of the thesis and it mentions the potential conclusions & recommendations);
Table of Contents; List of Figures/Tables/Abbreviations;
Acknowledgements (here candidates express their personal thanks for the assistance and support they have received in writing the thesis);
Introduction (this discusses the subject matter of the dissertation; candidates may outline here the general assistance they have obtained from their supervisor(s));
Literature Review (this discusses the research done and how it compares with similar work in the field in question);
Methodology (this discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the methods selected in obtaining the necessary information for the project);
Findings (the chapters of the thesis);
Discussion (this is where the candidate discusses three entities – the Literature Review, the Findings and the Methodology);
Conclusions and Recommendations;
Candidates are responsible for the accuracy of their dissertations. Guidelines, as stipulated by colleges or universities, must be adhered to. Although colleges can differ in their regulations on presentation, dissertations must usually be word-processed in double spacing with a left margin of 3–4 cm (to assist binding).
Copy-editing, often referred to as editing, is essential in the production of a dissertation. It is important that the typescript is checked word for word, that quotations are accurate and checked against the originals, that page numbers are supplied where quoted text is given, and footnotes are in sequence and checked for accuracy.
Most UK proofreaders can provide this service, but it is important to choose a qualified, accredited company like Apollo Communication for the best results. Candidates who ask for proofreading of their dissertation are really requesting that the entire project be checked for all kinds of errors. These errors may include typos (literals) or incorrectly typed words, missing words, repeated words or phrases, and bad word breaks.