Writing a dissertation marks the end of a year or two long periods of attending lectures, doing course work, and writing assignments. If you ask any university student what the most difficult part of writing a dissertation is, they will most certainly say that it is adding criticality to their writing. Not only is it daunting but most students are not familiar with the concept of critical writing and don’t even know how to begin. Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you navigate this journey with confidence and ease.
Start off by reading critically. The inability of most students to write critically originates from them not reading the selected articles or books in a critical way. Reading in a critical way involves analyzing the text in one’s head and searching for patterns in the text while also comparing and contrasting them with each other mentally. It also involves the process of accessing the arguments and evidence presented, studying the text to look for any bias from the author, assessing the research design in terms of the interpretations the author has made and determining what your opinion is of the writers’ conclusions.
One of the best ways to read critically so that you can write critically is to color code while reading. Each colour selected should represent a particular idea. While doing this, you can make notes on your margins to remind yourself about what topic or idea each color code represents. Alternatively, this could also be achieved using different coloured sticky notes or highlighting the text as you read to help you differentiate between the different points you come across in the literature. This technique will help you avoid confusion around what you have read and which parts link to each other in the text once you proceed to start writing. This technique can also be adopted in the process of trying to group your references together to help you keep track of the different arguments presented by the authors.
BE CRITICAL NOT DESCRIPTIVE
Once you move to the writing process, the greatest hurdle is the task of moving away from descriptive writing to analyzing and evaluating. Remember, critical writing isn’t the process of criticizing the body of work you have read but the process of summarizing and bringing together the academic arguments around a certain topic thereby expressing to the reader your own understanding of the topic. This is the part that tends to confuse a lot of university students which makes them subscribe to paper writing service from experts and veterans in university essay and dissertation writing to ease them into the process.
Make sure to make strategic use of paragraphs in your dissertation. Each paragraph should convey a certain message and paragraphs should be coherent in that they create a flow, link and follow on from each other. These paragraphs should be a consolidation of different ideas, views and thoughts around a specific topic expressed by different authors. Within the body of each paragraph, you should try and fuse together different opinions around the same topic thereby giving the reader a brief summary of the ideas around the subject matter.
Once you have brought these different arguments together on a word document, the key is to not paraphrase until all your arguments flow and make sense together and all the references have been included in the paragraphs. Then you can move on to paraphrasing each reference. Take care to paraphrase without losing the meaning of the paragraph you have put together. The best way to achieve this is by reading the paragraph and putting it in simple words. Trying to use complex words often leads to writers losing the meaning attached to it all together.
USE CRITICAL WORDS
Take the time to equip yourself with a bank of words and phrases that show criticality. For example, the use of words like despite, however, although, contrary, similar, or phrases like, the author claims that ……, the author challenges the view that…., it is believed that……., fails to, argue that, take issue with, it is thought that, and so much more. Using words and phrases like these suggests to the reader that you have taken the time to analyze, compare and contrast the main ideas in the literature.
Most first-time university students are intimidated and overwhelmed by the academic writing process and may benefit from eliciting the help of paper writing services which can serve as a guide and help avoid wasting a lot of time trying to figure out the ins and outs of critical writing. Hopefully the tips and tricks above will get you well on your way to a well-structured, critical dissertation.