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How Long Is a Dissertation: Proper Formatting Tips

Your dissertation is a lengthy piece of academic research writing that fulfills your degree program. It is submitted as a partial fulfillment to your course of study. Dissertations are encountered both at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It follows a series of research processes, and throughout the writing, you are guided by a supervisor assigned to you.

Of all the academic writing you will come across during your study period, your dissertation is usually the lengthiest of them all. It requires a lot of time and a lot of exploration, which adds to its length. This article works you through how to format your dissertation properly.

Guidelines for dissertation writing

Every piece of writing has its guidelines; these guidelines come together to form the structure of the written work. It also applies to your dissertation. Like every other academic writing, a dissertation follows a series of processes and guides.

Mainly, the structure of a dissertation is as follows:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature review (Review of related literature)
  • Statement of problem
  • Research objectives
  • Research methodology
  • Results and discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Reference
  • Appendix

A dissertation guide may be needed and some to follow include:

  1. Prepare a thesis proposal
  2. Conduct extensive research
  3. Collect data (primary or secondary source)
  4. Avoid plagiarism
  5. Have a tentative outline
  6. Quote and reference sources
  7. Use in-text citation
  8. Reference accurately
  9. Use the referencing style applicable to your field of study (MLA, APA, and Harvard Referencing styles)
  10. Use critical language

There are so many more guides to note when writing a dissertation. The importance of these guides is that they inform you on what to do or not to do in your dissertation. Supervisors often outline an instructional guide for their students. If your supervisor provides that, always try to abide by it.

How long is a dissertation?

Dissertations are usually voluminous. It is impossible to see a dissertation that does not exceed at least 20,000 words. There might be dissertations containing a lesser word count. But, what determines the dissertation length is usually the extent of the research and topic.

How long is a dissertation paper?

Dissertation papers are very long. They are different from a research paper of about 5,000 words or less. When it has to do with a dissertation, it is lengthy. Also, the length is determined by the type of dissertation you are writing.

If you are writing an undergrad teacher dissertation, the research will not be as long as a master’s or Ph.D. dissertation. The word count is usually around 9,000 - 12,000 words for your undergraduate dissertation paper. A master’s dissertation can reach 20,000 - 25,000 words. Interestingly, a Ph.D. dissertation is quite lengthy compared to the others.

The length of these research works is also why they are considered projects. Students writing their dissertation can spend months working on it. As research is conducted and new findings arise, the length of the research increases.

How long is a PhD dissertation?

The lengthiest form of writing you can ever do in academia is a Ph.D. dissertation. It is quite lengthy compared to others. A Ph.D. dissertation can take up to 40,000 to 50,000 words depending on your area of research.

It is a thoroughly conducted research; here, the doctoral student is expected to touch across all the relevant nooks and crannies of their study.

Due to the doctoral dissertation length and scope, doctoral students spent a lot of time researching and drafting their dissertation. It is also the highest form of academic research students must do.

How long should a dissertation be?

There is generally no stipulated guide on how long a dissertation should be. But, depending on the type of dissertation you are writing, there is an expected work count you should focus on.

It is not ideal for an undergraduate dissertation to exceed 10,000 words or reach 50,000 words. Also, an ideal Ph.D. dissertation can never be 10,000 words. The word counts for these dissertations are conventionally agreed upon.

Students find it challenging to write dissertations, and it’s important to work with an outline and take your time while writing your college dissertation.

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