What is a dissertation?
Last Updated: May 03, 2017     Views: 13

A dissertation is the culminating writing project of many doctoral degree programs.

It represents the apex of independent and original research on a topic. 

The dissertation is produced by a doctoral student as the final requirement for conferral of his or her degree (normally a PhD = Doctor of Philosophy degree).

It is produced for the University in which the degree is conferred. 

As such, despite the fact that most are book-length manuscripts, the dissertation is produced as an unpublished manuscript, with copies lodged in the following repositories:

• The library of the institution from which the degree was earned,

• The archives of the institution from which the degree was earned,

• (Sometimes) the department of the university in which the degree was earned.

Dissertations vary in length from discipline to discipline. But the range runs anywhere from 80-100 pages at the low end, to 400 pages or more at the high end. 

Normally, the topic focus of a dissertation is very narrow and highly specialized. 

Dissertations usually provide the most fine-grained, detailed analysis of the research topic possible. 

They can be profitably mined by other researchers for a variety of resources, such as:

• Their findings and conclusions - they may have data that supports other research projects,

• Bibliographies - all dissertations include some type of bibliography section. Other researchers may find good 'leads' perusing these references.

• Behavioral instruments - dissertations reporting the results of human subjects research will usually include copies of any measuring instruments used to collect data on their populations. 

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