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Dissertation and Thesis


Dissertations and theses are similar projects; a dissertation is a specific type of thesis that one writes to receive a doctoral degree. The major difference between a master's thesis and a doctoral dissertation is the depth to which one explores the chosen idea. Therefore, one usually needs to allow several years to write a dissertation, whereas one can write a master's thesis in a year. However, certain elements occur in both dissertations and theses.

The most significant dissertation and thesis element is the idea that drives the project. Both dissertations and theses should aim to contribute something unique, innovative, and useful to the field; therefore, developing a strong idea is of paramount importance. One may develop an idea through expanding previous research, through discussing possibilities with one's major professor, or through brainstorming. One does not need to strike out into completely uncharted territory; even creating a new nuance or application of an old idea can add something valuable to the field.

Another significant dissertation and thesis element is the depth of research. Because one allows so much time to produce these projects, one may go to extraordinary lengths to obtain any necessary information. For example, one may travel to libraries that specialize in the subject area, consult the British museum or other academic institutions, or build equipment and methods to conduct primary research. Boldly seeking out all relevant information is one of the keystones of writing good dissertations and theses.

Finally, one formats dissertations and theses in similar ways. Both contain chapter divisions, tables of contents, indices, and any appendices that are necessary to convey information that may not be readily available to the average reader, such as facsimiles of ancient manuscripts. One prints dissertations and theses on very high quality paper and may perhaps send them to a professional bookbinder.

Dissertations and theses are difficult but rewarding projects. The student who has completed a master's thesis and who wants to study the subject further should consider moving on to doctoral work, where he or she can possibly expand the thesis subject to fill a dissertation.


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