Hi, I'm Sonali! I am a final year student studying a MChem Chemistry degree at the University of Lincoln. In my spare time I like singing, writing my own songs and playing badminton. I am also passionate about raising money…
Are you in your final year of university and writing a dissertation? These are some of my tips on how you can make sure your dissertation is to the best standard before your submission.
Presentation Guidelines & Referencing
The university usually provides a template which needs to be used for your dissertation and there usually are reference styles specific to your course.
The library provides access to several style manuals (e.g. Harvard, APA, IEEE, RSC) which students can easily follow, reducing the number of errors – which costs a lot of marks.
If you haven’t already done so I would recommend using Mendeley, a reference management software, it allows you to keep all your references organised and in one place.
The link to Mendeley can be found here: https://www.mendeley.com/
Typography & Length
The typeface used will be specific to the degree you are studying. However, the most common and preferred typeface usually is Arial, with a font size of 11. The page should be laid out with all margins set to 2cm or 2.5cm. The lines should also be double-spaced on an A4 page with a new paragraph starting after an empty line.
If any figures are used ensure that they are labelled underneath the figure and referenced correctly – if they are extracted from a literature review, or, conference paper.
If any tables are used ensure that the caption is located at the top of the table with a corresponding reference, if required.
In terms of the length of your dissertation, your module leader will provide you with specific recommendations, however, the suggested length of the dissertation is around 10,000 words (typically 60 pages) – this depends on which criteria are met first.
Pagination & Acknowledgements
Page numbers are a requirement in a dissertation, these are located and centred at the bottom margin. There may also be specific requirements from your course related to the font and size used for these page numbers.
You should acknowledge special assistance, guidance and support received during the preparation and compilation of the dissertation on a separate page.
This section can be easily forgotten and it includes background materials such as graphs, tables, questionnaire answers etc.. or any other supporting documents which you feel are necessary.
Finally, proofreading the dissertation is critical before submission. It allows you to identify any mistakes or typos made through the write-up. If there are any errors this could cost you marks on your final grade; so it’s important to proofread your dissertation.
I would also recommend asking your supervisor, friends or one of your family members to proofread it and provide you with feedback so that you maximise your chances of getting a good grade for it.
Overall, writing a dissertation can be a daunting experience however, if you plan, prepare and obtain feedback then you will maximise your chances of submitting a great dissertation and getting a great grade!