Tips for writing a dissertation

It is significant that when writing a dissertation search, a company that offers ghostwriting appears as the very first hit. But that’s not surprising, most people with a dissertation – also called a doctoral thesis – should combine one thing in particular: a lot of work. At the end of the dissertation, hopefully the academic degree of the doctor will be there, but until then it is often a long way. What you need to consider when writing your dissertation, we show you here …

Dissertation writing: Prerequisites formal

Before you are admitted to the doctoral degree program, you usually have a master’s or diploma degree; in subjects with a state examination, such as law, medicine or teaching, you have obtained the state examination.

In addition to obtaining a doctorate in your field of study, you not only earn the highest academic degree (a professor is not an academic degree, but an official title), but it is also usually considered a prerequisite for a subsequent habilitation.

It does not matter whether you write your dissertation at the university or externally at another institution. However, dissertations make a big difference to other dissertations: they have to be published, which is usually associated with some costs.

When you write your dissertation, you can prove that you can work independently on your own, ie you are able to acquire complex knowledge, to be able to express it in your own words, to draw conclusions from it, and to supplement it with new research findings.

Because in contrast to scientific homework during the study, a dissertation must have added value; With your own new research results, you contribute to the gain of knowledge of your department.

Another special feature of a doctoral thesis is that the scope is usually significantly higher than that of previous theses. A dissertation is preceded by extensive research, both in terms of topic selection and literature research.

Especially in the humanities dissertations can be between 150 and 400 pages, accordingly, a doctorate takes a long time and can take up to four years. The situation is different in medicine. There, a dissertation can also have the size of 30 pages, it is usually written next to the work.

Write a dissertation: Tips

A doctorate and the subsequent doctorate still stand for a certain reputation in the population, this is especially true among medical professionals, so that most doctors do a doctorate, although it would not be necessary for their work.

For humanities and social scientists writing a dissertation is often the basic requirement for a university career. Many jobs and sometimes even volunteer positions in the civil service either rely on applicants with doctorate degrees or explicitly associate the advertised position with a doctoral thesis.

So it’s not just vanity that makes many academics tackle more laborious years of work. Before you decide on a dissertation, you should also think about the financing: Working alongside studying is already a double burden that should not be underestimated.

However, a dissertation requires a much larger focus. So it’s best to clarify in advance whether scholarships or research loans are an option. If you have decided to write a dissertation, consider the following steps.

Choice of subject

The most important point ever. In contrast to previous work, you must have a topic that has not been the subject of a dissertation. To do this, you must review bibliographies of dissertations and other university publications as well as databases on research projects.

Anyone who does not thoroughly research here runs the risk of obtaining a doctorate for one and the same topic. In the final analysis, this would mean that your doctorate is not recognized. Another benefit of the research is that it gives you an overview of related topics that will inspire you to write your own dissertation.

Incidentally, the search should not only cover the Internet and national literature databases, but also the entire German-speaking area. If you are particularly interested in foreign language sources for your dissertation, you must, of course, also access foreign literature databases. But the most important point is: It should be a topic that suits you. They will deal with this for the time being – perhaps years.

PhD supervisor

Here a good doctoral supervisor can be of great help. For example, if you have already completed seminars with him, he may know your interests and inclinations, can give you valuable information on the state of research, and so on. It is more difficult if you have to find a completely new career that you do not know. Either way, you should look for an exchange with former PhD students to find out how well they will be cared for and given the support they need, or whether a lecturer is known to drop dissertations.


Do not underestimate the place of work. Eight or ten hours at the desk in the quiet little room with a view of the house wall or the parking lot can be considered as little inspiring. Moreover, this form of home office is not for everyone: these are your private premises and now you should spend not only free time, but also working hours?

This brings with it a lack of distance and less clear separation that not everyone can handle. Of course, not everyone has the opportunity to rent an office. A slightly cheaper option is Coworking Space or the library. It helps you to concentrate on the necessary and protects against unnecessary distractions.

Technical requirements

Be sure to clarify what equipment you need, think of camera, camera, laptop: Will you conduct interviews? Much is possible today with the smartphone, however, are often even better quality batteries, microphone and playback options of tape recorders.

Equally important, however, is the choice of a suitable writing program and the use of a reference management program. Experience reports that the latter is very complex and requires several days of training, but it pays off at the end, as you keep such an overview of the literature used.

Also of great importance is the securing of your dissertation on different data media. The possibilities are very diverse today and you should make use of it: Before the hard disk fills you, you should have saved your dissertation in various other places. In addition to an external hard drive, USB stick and the device on which you write, offer a cloud such as Dropbox.

Outline and schedule

The structure of a dissertation should vary from department to department. To be on the safe side, ask your faculty if there is a doctoral thesis guide to follow. For example, a rough outline might look like this:

  • Title page
  • Appointment sheet
  • Dedication (if applicable)
  • Table of Contents
  • Abbreviations, tables of illustrations and tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Materials & Methods
  • Chapter 3: Results
  • Chapter 4: Discussion
  • Chapter 5: Summary
  • Chapter 6: Bibliography
  • Attachment (optional and subject-specific)
  • Credits
  • Curriculum vitae

The timetable helps you keep track. This is especially important if your financing – for example in the form of a scholarship – depends on it. In conjunction with the structure you should divide your dissertation into manageable snacks. They are much less scary than the big picture.


The dissertation will sustainably determine your life for a long time, which you should also communicate to your environment. However, what should also be planned, is a balance to write a dissertation, this can be sports or social contacts, which are naturally driven back a bit. Some PhD students dive completely while they are completing their PhD. You should find a balance between time off and working hours, only then you have enough energy and inspiration to write your dissertation again. If you have a good ideas for your dissertation but not able to write in the most appropriate way, you can visit this place and trust this work to professionals.

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