How to Write a Research Dissertation/Thesis

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9th Apr 2018 Computer Science Reference this


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How Research is to be written and presented

Research writing

Research writing is a major factor of success for any student, scholar or anyone interested in the pursuit of knowledge as a research paper can be used to identify and explore scientific, historical, technical, political, social, and any other issues that affects man and his society. It presents the information and indicates where the information is coming from. Typical examples of research writing include reports, summary, articles etc. The most important thing in research writing is good organization, planning and clarity of focus. The main objective of any good research is to allow people to read the work and add value to existing knowledge. People have different motives for reading a particular research work. They might just be interested in the abstract of the work, method used, a particular result or fact, how the result of the work is interpreted or just the summary of the work if it is significant to their own area of study. Generally, the format of a good research project involves the following steps:

  • Title Page: A research title should be short, precise and informative.
  • Abstract: This is a short summary of the research work. In the abstract, the result, conclusion, and recommendation for further studies are focused on, it does not require any long introduction, tables or diagrams and it is written in past tense.
  • Introduction: This is the part where the rationale and justification for the research work is shown; it involves questions to be answered, hypotheses to be tested, importance of the anticipated results of the research to the overall question and objectives of study.
  • Literature review: This involves an extensive review of related works. Literatures are usually gotten from books, journals, articles, encyclopedias etc. This is to enable researchers have a deep and profound knowledge about the topic of interest. Gaps in past works are usually highlighted and improved upon.
  • Methodology and instrument used: This is the documentation of all materials and methods used for the successful analysis of that project. Methods used is usually more effective if presented under headings devoted to specific or group of procedures
  • Analysis and Result: Here raw data is analyzed and presented in the form of figures, graph, and tables or in narrative form. The relationship between the analyzed data and overall study should be extensively described. Tables, graphs or figures should be presented with titles and headings. Conclusions are usually drawn from interpretation of data analysis.
  • Summary and Recommendation for further studies: Summary is essential for research to be studied at a glance and recommendations are essential for research continuity.
  • References: All literatures cited in a research project is listed in alphabetical order in references and should follow a particular approved format e.g. the American Psychological Association (APA) formatting style.
  • Appendix: This usually contain codes, tables, maps etc.

The basic steps involved in writing any good research work involve the following:

  • Choose a subject: In selecting a subject, this must be carefully done by putting resources (time, cost etc.), interest level, intended audience and availability of information concerning that area of research into consideration.
  • After choosing a subject area, narrow down the topic to a particular domain area of interest. A researcher should consider his opinion and other’s people’s opinion about the subject area and recent issues.
  • State the objectives/aims for wanting to do that research. What are the goals that are needed to be achieved as a researcher? The problems to be solved, the reason and validity for the research work should be clearly stated. Composing a research objective statement carefully is one of the key to writing a good thesis. Here are few of some common errors made by researchers in stating their objectives:
  • A thesis cannot be a fragment; it must be expressed in a sentence e.g.

Poor: How people in Africa live.

Better: Africans tend to have a lower standard of living and high rate of corruption than any other continent in the world.

  • A thesis must not be in the form of a question e.g.

Poor: Should sixteen year old girls have the right to get married?

Better: Any girl who is old enough to menstruate can get married.

  • A thesis should not contain phrases such as “I think”
  • A thesis must not contain elements that are not clearly related.
  • A thesis must not be expressed in ambiguous/vague/incoherent language
  • A researcher should have a temporary list of potential source of information so as to know how well they relate to the topic of interest and they should be recent (a certain time frame). A researcher should keep records of all these. Information can be gotten from books, periodicals, articles, journals, general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, internet sources etc.
  • A researcher should prepare a working outline to help organize and to assist in note taking.
  • After good and reliable materials have been gotten, a researcher should now start taking notes, getting relevant information, develop ideas from these sources and note them down. A good researcher should be able to criticize a work from an objective point of view.
  • The researcher should write the rough draft to aid in easy revision, concentrate on the content of the paper and expand on these ideas as more work is done. The paper should basically consist of three parts which are the introduction, body and conclusion.
  • The introduction should state the research work, summarize the main ideas of the paper and capture the reader’s interest. The body of the paper should develop each section of the outline while the conclusion should summarize the research findings and restate the thesis.
  • Edit the paper: In this section, the researcher should pay attention to the syntax, semantic and language structure. Paragraphs, commas, full stops, etc. should be checked, work is revised altogether. Revision usually requires reading the work over and over again, each time with its own different purpose.

Research ethics should be strictly followed and adhered to by a researcher when writing a research thesis.

  • Lastly, the final draft of the research work should be typed and must include references, bibliography, title page etc. a researcher should also ensure to proofread again for ant mechanical errors before presentation is done.

Research Presentation

Writing a good research is one thing but presenting it to an audience and ensuring their interest is another. Below are some basic steps necessary for presenting a paper

Research work should be read ahead of time and its main points understood by the researcher. For a good presentation, a researcher should figure out how to get the audience to understand his points and reason along together. Projectors and power points are most commonly used in presenting research work to an audience as against paper based presentations that limits researchers to black and white typed page on a page with maybe few diagrams. Using power points to present research work not only gives the audience a clearer and better view but also make them listen to the researcher’s presentation. If the research is posted on the web, the web makes research work to be presented with multimedia and/or hypertext, the research work is also presented to a broad, diverse and international audience.

Basically, the presentation should include the title of the research, the abstract which is like a summary of all what the research is about including findings and usually not more than 500 words, research questions and hypothesis, literatures that are reviewed, research findings and results. Result of research findings can be done graphically, tables, figures; diagrams can be used as appropriate. The font size used in presenting on power point should be clear and big enough reasonably, slides should not be too many, clustered and the use of vague words should be avoided for a good presentation. The main essence of presenting a research work after a possible solution has been identified is that a research work remains worthless until it has been presented to others who can use and benefit from the findings.

Describe Dissemination Strategies

Dissemination of information is currently been seen as an important component of the research process. It is about the communication of invention, this being either a planned and systematic process or a passive, and unplanned diffusion process. Research dissemination is also the process of communicating research findings to stakeholders so that the evidence or result can be used to lead to change. Effective communication is a very vital aspect of dissemination although it has to be able to meet the various requirements of different users of that research. Some barriers to effective communication between researchers and users include career structures, institutional barriers, ownership issues, barriers relating to issues and process of publishing in academic journals, technical barriers and problems related to security and trust. Enhancing dialogue between researchers and users, developing new contacts and networks, the creation of research liaison officers and developing effective dissemination strategies can bridge the communication gap. Researchers in all fields have a duty to share new knowledge with a wider audience including the general public hence the need for effective dissemination strategies or plan.

Just as there are different ways of doing research, there are also different approaches to dissemination and getting it right is important because it is basically the main way that a researcher project will communicate with the outside world. Based on research results, here are some dissemination approaches:

Dissemination for Awareness: This is when a researcher just wants the audience to be aware of his work, the audience don’t really need a detailed knowledge of the work, just be conscious of what the work is about.

Dissemination for Understanding: This is when a researcher has a number of groups that he needs to target the dissemination of the information to. He believes that the research work has a lot to offer and it will be very important for the audience to have a deeper understanding of the project.

Dissemination for Action: This refers to a change of practice resulting from the adoption of products, materials or approaches offered by the researcher’s work. These audiences will be those people that are in a position to influence and bring about change within their organisations. These are the groups/audiences that will need to be equipped with the right skills, knowledge and understanding of the work in order to achieve real change

Depending on the dissemination approach, here are some means by which effective communication of the research work can be disseminated: mailing lists, newsletter, briefings, conferences, e-mail, reports, workshops, one-to-one, mailbox list, websites, media (radio, television etc.), blogs etc.

For a very good and effective dissemination of research work, the following basic plans must be taken into consideration by the researcher:

  • Aims and objectives of the project
  • What the project proposes to disseminate
  • Target audiences or groups
  • Benefits to end users
  • Dissemination methods or activities
  • Timescales and responsibilities
  • Targets
  • Costs
  • Evaluation and Criteria for Success

Personal contribution: Do you think that there are different style for research writing and presentation from country to country/continent to continent.

Personally, I think research writing style cannot be the same worldwide as a result of differences in ideologies. It could be in the arrangement of the work, referencing format, maximum number of words used in the abstract, name index, acceptable length of the research work etc. but the goal of doing research is almost the same which is to add to existing knowledge and for the research work to be able to impact the lives or environment of man.


American University, Academic Support Center, Writing Lab, updated 2009

Catriona Crosswaite, Lisa Curtice (1994), Disseminating research results-the challenge of bridging the gap between health research and health action, Oxford journals, health promotion International, Vol. 9, Issue 4, Pg 289-296

David R. Caprette (1995): How to write a research report, Rice University, ([email protected]) Updated 16 May 2000.

Sally Harmsworth, Sarah Turpin, TQEF National Co-ordination Team (2000), Creating an Effective Dissemination Strategy, An Expanded Interactive Workbook for Educational Development Projects. Retrieved on 02/14/14

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