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A dissertation is an extended piece of writing which is crucial for the successful completion of an educational program like master's or M.Phil. The process of writing a dissertation happens much later than the actual research work. Selection of a topic for the research project is the very first step which will be followed by the methodology and data collection. One cannot randomly select a topic for research. The topic should have relevance in the socioeconomic situation of that time. It should also be feasible and doable from a practical point of view. The research questions should be formed out of the topic which, again, should be significant in that particular time and place.
Research can be done mainly in three ways. In the first method a researcher can find something totally new. The second method could be one where a researcher agrees with the existing research. In the third one, a researcher disagrees with the existing research. Research can also be done purely theoretically by analyzing the existing works. The other variety of research is empirical where the researcher conducts experiments and gathers data. Inferences can be drawn from the empirical data and a dissertation can be written based on the hard data. In a theoretical research a researcher does not have much to explore, whereas an empirical research opens analytical and research capabilities of an individual.
There is a substantial amount of work which must take place in the background before the selection of a feasible research topic. In the foreground a researcher must formulate research questions which should be of great relevance in the field of study in the given time and place. It should also have long term benefits. After the very research activity is completed, the much-awaited process of writing the dissertation comes into picture. Since a dissertation is a very important piece of writing in students' life it must be written with utmost attention and care. It must be seen on par with a competitive examination. It is the dissertation which determines the success of a research scholar. A panel of examiners besides a student's research supervisor evaluates a dissertation.
Dissertations must be segregated into different chapters. 4-5 chapters for a dissertation will be the ideal choice. Each chapter must be constructed thoughtfully and written in the best possible manner. A quick reader should be able to make out the gist of the dissertation just by going through the introduction. A high-impact dissertation should be densely written but with an absolute logical connection between the sections in a chapter. A reader should be able to mentally connect two separate chapters. Writing a research proposal, a literature review or an abstract or a paper for a conference is very similar to writing a dissertation because each of these writings demands the same kind of skills.
A dissertation is that piece of writing which manifests a researcher's analytical and research capability. It also holds a mirror to the existing body of knowledge and the lacunae or the gaps in it. Each dissertation is a solid contribution to the field of study in which the researcher works. It is written not only for achieving an academic qualification, but it also helps an individual to look at life from many different perspectives. Research can be a way of life. We learn to look at the same thing differently and we could transform our lives for better.