This article explains how writing a linear dissertation plan is silly because dissertations are rarely written in a linear step-by-step fashion. Some are presented as linear step-by-step dissertations, but they were not written that way and you certainly couldn’t have planned that type of dissertation trajectory.

Some students and some academics think that a dissertation should have a plan, which it should, but they also think the plan should dictate the linear progression that the dissertation takes. In other words, they think the plan should set a road map that shows where the reader starts and where the reader finishes. Not only is this a foolish way to think, it is also inappropriate as part of a dissertation- writing process. It is like asking a free-form painter to paint with a pencil.

What Is the Problem Here?

A dissertation is not a story. There may be a narrative behind a dissertation, but the narrative often grows and matures organically when all the pieces of information start to slot into place. You cannot plan a dissertation like it is a story. You cannot create a story arc because your dissertation is going to take many twists and turns.

As you write and as you research, you are going to learn things that change your perspective and change the points you wish to make, and you cannot plan for that. What you can plan for is sections, ideas and points, but you cannot knit them together into a single-coherent dissertation until the very end when it all comes together.

Stop Trying to Link Your Sections of Your Dissertation

One habit you need to get out of is over-transitioning from one point or section to the next. Some people try to write their dissertation as if it were a linear story that moves gracefully from one point to another, but this often leads to overly-wordy dissertations. There are times when points in your dissertation will not relate to each other. Some points will move naturally from one to the other, and some points have plenty to do with your hypothesis…but have nothing to do with the previous points you made.

You are not having a conversation with your reader. Your job is to lay out information in a concise and coherent way. There are times when you will have to smoothly transition from one point to another because the points you are making are related. There are other times when you will have to pinch off a point and start out on your next one.

A Dissertation Planning Example

This example shows you how a student may plan a linear dissertation outline. It shows what the student may “intend” to write and how the plan may look. This example then shows you the direction that the dissertation will probably take to show you how the dissertation may progress in a non-linear form.

Let’s say you are planning your dissertation and you wish to write about cryptocurrency. A linear plan would include:

  • The origination of cryptocurrency
  • How cryptocurrency works
  • Why cryptocurrency is needed in our world economy
  • The upsides to cryptocurrency
  • The downsides to cryptocurrency
  • How cryptocurrency may mature and grow

As a student, you may look at that simple plan above and figure it looks good. It seems to naturally progress from one nest of information to the next in a very linear fashion. However, in reality, your dissertation will probably take this track:

  • The origination of cryptocurrency
  • Origination was born through need
  • What are the needs?
  • Origination was an accident
  • Was this accident secure?
  • Was origination a way of securing African wealth?
  • How has the origination of cryptocurrency pulled US money out of China?
  • How does cryptocurrency work?
  • What are the upsides of how it works?
  • How do we know it is secure?

The linear way that the original plan was set out will not work because once you actually start writing the dissertation, you learn that many of the factors you planned to address are actually interconnected. Take the example of the “Origination of cryptocurrency.” It turns out that the origination has a lot to do with the other pointers in the plan, such as the upsides of cryptocurrency, or the motivations behind why cryptocurrency was invented. Plus, as you approach these issues, you come across new issues that you didn’t plan for because you couldn’t have seen them coming. Going back to the example, your plan couldn’t have anticipated that you will discover that cryptocurrency is actually pulling US money back out of China, so how could you have created a linear dissertation outline when your research takes you off on many different tangents.

Dissertation Planning Tips

We do our best to offer dissertation writing tips to students around the world, but what about the dissertation planning stage? Dissertation planning is important because you can use it as a road map to dissertation success, just don’t try to force a linear plan to work because you are only making your job harder.

Tip 1 – Build your plan like a mind map
Segment your points and your ideas and try to connect them as you would the points being made in a mind map.

Tip 2 – Work on your plan as you write your dissertation
Your plan is not set in stone. You need to work on your plan and change it as your dissertation evolves into a completed dissertation.

Tip 3 – Learn when to pinch off a point and start a new one
If your plan includes several points that you need to include, then you need to plan around how you intend to halt one point and start the next without needing an overly-wordy transition.

Tip 4 – Create a time budget too
Planning your time is just as important as making a content plan. You need to know how much time you are going to spend on your dissertation, on which days you will work on it, and how much you expect to have done as your deadline approaches.

Tip 5 – Write references for research material in your plan
As you come across different pieces of research material, do not write notes on them. Simply write a quick summary of what is there, and then put the summary and reference information in your plan, so you can find the research material at a later date.

Most People Have to Rewrite Their Dissertation Introductions

If you are an experienced student, you have probably had plenty of occasions where you start out writing a long essay and by the end of the essay you have written a bunch of stuff that you never imagined you would write, and you discovered a bunch of things that took your essay in a different direction. Many times, the direction your essays took are so off-the-intended target that you have to rewrite your introductions.

If you are looking to write a perfect introduction for your dissertation, you are going to have to change it a little to match the direction that your dissertation ended up taking. If you wrote a linear plan for your dissertation, and if you wrote your introduction based on your plan, then you are going to have to make some changes.

Have you been struggling with your dissertation? Have you abandoned your dissertation plan because it just doesn’t work with the direction you are taking? If that is the case, try our writing service. We can write your essay from scratch, or we can take it from where you have left off. We can write it to whatever deadline you choose, and we can write to whatever quality standard suits your budget.