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Thesis Vs Dissertation

Thesis Vs Dissertation

While many times, the words 'thesis' and 'dissertation' are used interchangeably, there are explicit differences between the two and it is a good thing you decided to explore the subject of Thesis Vs Dissertation. Yes, there are commonalities between the two as well and this article will give you an insight into the similarities and differences between a thesis and a dissertation.

Similarities between theses and dissertations

Both the content formats have similar structures and include the following elements:

Title page and abstract – Whether you are writing a thesis or a dissertation, the paper must have a title page and an abstract. The title page will include the title of the paper, your name, the name of your course, the name of your mentor or supervisor, and the date of submission of completion.

The abstract is basically a short (not more than 200 words ideally) summary of your entire paper. While the abstract may follow the same format of headings and subheadings present in the paper itself, although the content should be highly limited.

Introduction – The common elements that will be found in the introduction of both a thesis and a dissertation are the following things:

  • You must establish your territory which means to say you must clearly specify the topic that is being discussed in the paper

  • You must set up a niche or a space under your subject wherein more research is proved to be needed and explain why you chose this particular niche

  • You must introduce currently available literature in the concerned topic and state the thesis statement which is the question that you intend to answer in your paper

Whether you are doing a thesis or a dissertation, the introduction is an essential part of the paper and the elements as mentioned above should necessary be included in it. Here are some more detailed explanations about what should be included in the introduction:

  • Mention the details of the topic and give a general description and background about it

  • Provide literature reviews

  • Define the scope and the terms of the topic that you are going to discuss in the paper

  • Give a small update on the present scenario

  • Talk about the advantages and/or disadvantages that are part of the existing literature

  • Mention why you believe that your research will add value to the existing literature

  • State the research problem or question that you intend to answer in your paper

  • State the aims and objectives of the research

Literature review

A thesis and a dissertation must necessarily contain literature review of the topic being discussed in the paper. The purpose of a literary review is to illustrate your knowledge and grasp of the subject at hand. By way of a literary review, you are telling your mentor or professor that you have done sufficient reading and research on the topic before choosing to write your paper.

It is very important that you do not simply present the facts of existing literature in the literary review. You must critically analyze the literature and present your own interpretation which should reflect your awareness and the insight you get when you read and understand literature about the subject being discussed. The literary review should be a synthesis of all the published works that you have chosen to include in your paper.The literature review should do the following:

  • Compare and contrast the views of different authors on the concerned topic

  • Combine authors who reach the same conclusion

  • Critically analyze the methodologies and approached employed in the published works

  • Make a note of those areas wherein authors disagree with each other

  • Highlight gaps in the research work as well as exemplary work that has been done till now

  • Illustrate the connection between your study and the previous literature

  • Conclude the literary review with a brief summary

The purpose of any literary review is:

  • To define and also limit the problem or question your paper is working on

  • To fit your study into historical chronology

  • To prevent duplication

  • To evaluate and work on promising research recommended by previous authors

  • To connect your findings and observations to previous knowledge

A well-crafted literature review will contain critical analyses of all previous work done on the topic, identifies areas of agreements and disagreements, presents gaps as well as excellent work done, and helps in the identification of potential research in the future.

Body of the paper

A thesis and dissertation will certainly contain the body wherein the various points of evidence that support the thesis statement get highlighted and discussed. The body of your paper must be checked for the following:

  • It should be separated into chapters and each chapter should have a title

  • The body should be formatted as per the style requested for in the instructions given by your professor. These formatting styles include MLA, APA, Chicago, etc

  • The headings and the subheadings should be consistently formatted right through the paper. It is important that you do not alter the formats halfway through the paper

  • If a subheading comes at the end of a page, it must have at least one line of content after it. If this is not possible, take it to the next page.

  • You must use double-spacing throughout the paper

  • It is alright to insert a blank line at the end of a page to ensure a table or a section comes together without being broken

If you are having paragraphs instead of chapters, use the following format:

  • Begin each paragraph with the topic sentence that will focus the paragraph to one central idea. The paragraph should thereafter deal only with this central idea.

  • It is important to connect each supporting line in your paragraph to the original thesis statement of your paper

  • The concluding line in the paragraph should reinforce the topic sentence mentioned at the beginning of it

  • Maintain consistency of language right through the paragraph.

  • Ensure each paragraph is devoted to one point only

  • Avoid including too much data into each paragraph

  • Each paragraph should introduce a new idea into the body of your paper

  • Each paragraph should have unity (which is reflected by the fact that the entire paragraph is devoted to only one central theme that is usually introduced in the first or topic sentence of the paragraph), development (which is to organize the points of evidence that support the topic sentence in a seamless manner that develops logically), and coherence (which is reflected by the way you connect each point to the next through the use of transition phrases or any other technique).


After you have completed writing the main body of your paper, you must end and wrap up your paper in the concluding paragraph. The conclusion should have multiple elements including the following:

A short summary – A few short paragraphs summarizing your key findings and observations and in this section, you must relate to the introduction wherein you had mentioned what you intend to answer and/or expect to see at the end of your study.

The actual conclusion – This section must clearly state what conclusion you have reached at the end of your paper after weighing the evidence that you presented in the body of the paper.

The importance of your research work – You must include the reasons how your research has added value to your field of work.

Recommendations for potential research work – This is also quite an important aspect of your paper. This section should ideally highlight those areas in your paper which call for more research either because of limitations in your work or because of the fact that the recommendations subjects are a corollary to your topic.

Recommendations for practitioners – Although this may not be an essential element in your conclusion, it does give a professional touch to your paper. Please ask your professors if they are expecting this aspect to be included in the paper and then do the needful

Other similarities between the processes of doing a thesis and a dissertation

Citations and references – It is imperative to include accurate citations in both kinds of papers. The format of the citations will be given in the instructions. A badly done citations process and/or an inaccurate reference page or bibliography can result in your paper being rejected outright. So, during the researching process, make sure you take down all details of the sources from which you are using data so that your citation page is perfect and error-free.

Hard work – Whether you do a thesis or a dissertation, hard work is a key element to ensure successful completion resulting in great grades and/or requisite awards and certifications. You must be prepared for long arduous working hours as you combine your course work, classes, and working on your paper simultaneously.

Thesis Vs Dissertation

The primary difference between a thesis and a dissertation is the course when it is done. While a thesis usually marks the successful conclusion of a masters' program, a dissertation is usually done during a doctoral program. The purpose of the two is also quite different.

A thesis proves that you are a master of your domain and you have thorough knowledge and skills in the subject matter. A dissertation, on the other hand, is to contribute new and additional knowledge to your domain. The purpose of a dissertation is to present a completely new concept that has not been presented earlier. So, a thesis proves your mastery while a dissertation allows you to add new knowledge to your domain.

A thesis proves to your professor that you can think critically, articulate your thoughts wonderfully, and discuss the topic knowledgably so that he or she is clear about how well you know your subject. A large part of the information in a thesis is attributed to the people whose sources you have used to critically analyze and present your interpretations. A thesis also allows you to expand your knowledge about a specialty domain within the scope of your subject. This specialty domain could be what you wish to specialize in the future.

A dissertation, on the other hand, uses the information taken from other sources merely for guidance purposes. You must use these sources to prove something unique and new that you have come up with. It could be a concept, a hypothesis or a theory. A large part of the information used in a dissertation is attributed to you.

There is a difference in the length of the two kinds of papers too. A masters' thesis paper will usually be a little over 100 pages in length. A doctoral dissertation, on the other hand, is much longer. This is because a doctoral thesis calls for detailed information and research work. The process of completing a dissertation is, therefore, far more complex than working on a thesis paper.

The length of a dissertation can be twice or even thrice that of a thesis paper. You will be allocated a supervisor or mentor from the faculty team who will be your dissertation advisor. The primary responsibilities of your advisor are to show you the right path to take towards completing your dissertation, assist you in finding resources, and ensure that your dissertation proposal is made well enough to get approved.

Final Notes

While the above differences and similarities are discussed broadly, it is highly possible that each institution has its own set of governing policies that clearly lay out the process of writing a thesis paper or dissertation. It is imperative that you follow the instructions of your institution to the T to prevent being penalized for doing something against the extant rules and regulations.

At Prescott Papers, we offer a range of custom thesis writing services and custom dissertation writing services. Browse through our various options and call us for all your academic writing needs starting from doing preliminary research work right up to completing the entire paper satisfactorily.

Our team of experienced and qualified writers and editors is standing by to help you through your college.

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