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PhD Writing: Tips And Prompts

Dissertation Writing Assistance: Mistakes To Avoid While Working On Your Paper


When writing an academic dissertation, there are all kinds of mistakes to be very carefully avoided in order to save yourself months and months of time spent backtracking and trying to undo the mistakes you made from lack of more careful planning, action, and forethought.

Word count, works cited


A dissertation is of course a book length study. Most dissertations vary between some 200 and 400 pages, with most falling right in the middle around pages 300. Note, whenever your dissertation committee or the dissertation guidelines at any university seeks to give you a page number length, typically they mean the word count of the writing only—not the words which make up your works cited page.

That is one mistake you can avoid.

Another mistake to Avoid—Make Sure You Include Every Single Part of the Dissertation


A dissertation has myriad parts and you would do well to memorize them. In fact there are all kinds of parts that occur before you ever get to chapter one.

Some parts of the dissertation you have to include are a very complexly formatted dissertation title page. The dissertation title page is not one that is easy to format. You must make lines for all kinds of signatures. You must make a line for

  • Your Signature
  • The Signature of Your Dissertation Director (proper)
  • The Signature of Dissertation Committee Member 1
  • The Signature of Dissertation Committee Member 2
  • The Signature of Dissertation Committee Member 3
  • The Signature of the Chair of the Department (in which your major is written)
  • The Signature of the Dean of the Department
  • The Signature of the Chancellor of the University
  • The Signature of Someone Outside of Your Major Area who is in a related field who has agreed to read the dissertation and mark any over errors (I used someone from the Southern history department, since my dissertation was on a Southern novel.

The Other Parts of the Dissertation that You Don’t Want to Forget


  • A dedication page – you may dedicate your dissertation to your parents, someone who helped you a lot to write the dissertation, or to God (Allah, Buddha, or whatever God you worship) —I have also seen students who have dedicated their dissertations to the WORD.
  • An acknowledgement page.
  • A table of contents—these are very specifically formatted—see your guidelines.
  • An introduction.
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