What is a College Dissertation?

The dreaded college dissertation…

The end of the semester is almost here, and if you’re nearing the end of your undergraduate degree, that means your dissertation is looming. But it doesn’t have to be all that daunting. We’re here to help you finish your dissertation from start to finish.

Here’s your one-stop shop guide to writing your undergraduate dissertation. Scroll to find the best tips and tricks to get this final assignment of your college career done in no time.

What Is A Dissertation At College?

Sometimes called a thesis, a dissertation paper is the culmination of your undergraduate research in college. It allows you to present what you’ve learned over the course of your four years at college. You’re normally allowed to pick the topic you write about.

The dissertation’s main goal is to also help assess your independent research skills. Your professors will still help you, but the final project is mainly independent. It’s the longest, most difficult project you’ll complete in college and usually takes months to complete from start to finish.

Undergraduate & Bachelor’s Dissertations

Your undergraduate dissertation will vary depending on your field of study. There are two main types of undergraduate disssertations:

  • Empirical dissertations involve collecting data, usually for those students studying the sciences.
  • Non-empirical dissertations are based on interpretations are arguments from existing data.

How Many Years Of College Is A Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete. If you decide to take a heavier class load or take courses during the summer, you can graduate in three or three and a half years.

Some programs take closer to five years. However, these usually only apply to more rigorous degrees like pre-law and pre-med. This is also the case if you decide to double major as an undergraduate student.

Master’s Dissertations

As far as execution goes, a master’s dissertation isn’t that much different than your undergraduate dissertation. The key difference is that it will be longer (both in terms of writing and research), take more time to complete, and will likely involve a panel of faculty members from your department.

Thesis v. Dissertation

These terms can sometimes be used interchangeably, depending on the field of study. However, they can have some key differences:

  • Thesis: usually shorter than a dissertation and involves the beginnings of research (typically applied to a master’s degree)
  • Dissertation: largely comprised of original research in order to obtain a doctoral degree

Choosing A Dissertation Topic

Choosing your topic for your final dissertation might feel overwhelming, but fear not! Follow these simple steps to help you narrow down the topic for your final college assignment:

  • Double check the requirements of the assignment
  • Make your topic broad to allow for plenty of research to choose from
  • Start finding books and articles
  • Narrow in on a niche
  • Choose the type of research you want to pursue
  • Ask yourself why this topic is relevant
  • Ensure your claim is plausible
  • Get approval from your faculty mentor

How Long Is A Dissertation?

Again, this varies greatly depending on the field of study and what type of dissertation you’re required to write. The average dissertation is usually between 100 and 300 pages in length.

As an undergraduate, though, your dissertation requirements are substantially less. For your final college dissertation assignment, plan to write 25 to 30 pages.

What Is A Dissertation Defense?

A dissertation defense is an oral presentation of your dissertation. You will share the results of your research in order to demonstrate that you actually understand your research topic. You’re essentially “teaching” those who are attending your defense about the topic you chose.

The committee of faculty you’ve been working with will be in attendance, along with anyone in the academic community who is interested in your findings.

How To Write An Abstract For A Dissertation

An abstract is a bite-sized paragraph introducing what your dissertation is about. Here are a few tips to utilize in order to write an effective abstract:

  • Define the purpose of the research
  • Write out the methodology
  • Present the key findings
  • Explain what the findings mean

Remember, keep it short and sweet!

How To Cite A Dissertation

Citations vary largely depending on the style of writing your paper needs to be in. Click here for references on creating a citation page for your dissertation based on the most popular academic writing styles:

Editing & Proofreading Your Dissertation

Okay, so now that you have a draft of your dissertation done, it’s time to go in for edits. Trust us, no one gets it 100% right the first time. Thankfully, even though editing can be a lot of work, you can sharpen your dissertation to make it even better than ever.

First, take an initial pass yourself. Be brutally honest—cut here, add there, rearrange paragraphs. Do whatever it takes to make it flow better.

Second, give it over to another set of eyes for another edit. This needs to be someone in your field of study (see if your mentor can give you some advice).

Finally, send it back again to someone who doesn’t know the topic to see if they can understand it. If they can follow the points you’re making, you’re likely good to go!

Using Dissertation Editing Services

One quick internet search will provide you with tons of options when it comes to dissertation editing services. These, however, cost money. Your college likely already has systems in place to connect you with other students, faculty, and more to help you edit your dissertation. It’s unlikely you’ll need to hire outside assistance, so save your money.

Is Paraphrasing Plagiarism?

Yes, paraphrasing is technically a form of plagiarism. Your intentions are still the same—you’re taking credit for someone else’s work as your own. Whenever you do this, it’s plagiarism.

You can, however, paraphrase research in your paper as long as you properly cite the source. Then you’re all good to go.

Consequences Of Plagiarism At College

Colleges have really cracked down on plagiarism in the past few decades. No doubt you’re familiar with services like TurnItIn.com, but students have gotten smarter thanks to AI like ChatGPT being able to write entire essays. That’s why colleges have a zero-tolerance policy on plagiarism.

The usual consequences of plagiarism while at college are suspension or expulsion. You could even potentially be barred from enrolling in another college ever again. Trust us, it’s not worth it. Just do the work yourself.

Trying to get all your studying done in time for finals? Check out our guide on how to study efficiently and effectively!