Great Qualitative Dissertation Writing Techniques For University Students

When it comes to writing dissertations, many university students find that writing for the hard sciences such as physics or biology, ultimately is easier than writing for the social sciences or for the humanities as there are more techniques available. The key difference, of course, is that the former tends to be quantitative, and the facts often speak for themselves. In the latter, qualitative arguments must be made for complex and nuanced positions. In many ways, you are required to be a mind reader, of future minds, to predict how your readers may react to your qualitative argument, and to address their counter-arguments without every actually having an argument with them! There are some techniques you as a university student can apply to help you do just that. Try these out.

Talk, Don’t Write

To start, don’t even try to write! Talk! You’re on top of your subject, and you have spent a long time marshaling your arguments, and convincing others. Set up time with a classmate, set up a tape recorder, and talk to them. Make your qualitative argument, make your points, listen to their agreements and disagreements, and try your best to build a consensus with them. Later, listen to the recording, and structure some key bullet points about the flow of the argument. That will form a brilliant backbone for your qualitative dissertation.

Balance it Out, Tie Up Loose Ends

With your backbone in hand, start writing down your argument in more detail. Take a frequent checkpoint that your argument is balanced—that it acknowledges alternative arguments and potential weaknesses—and complete—that it addresses the details that you hitherto have glossed over.

Get Feedback

You can now start to take drafts of key sections of your qualitative dissertation, together with the outline to place these in context, to reviewers who can give you early, honest feedback as to the strength of your arguments, clarity of your prose, and qualities of your style. Consider carefully the feedback you get, and how you might incorporate it without losing your unique voice. It may well be wise not to incorporate certain feedback too… There’s certainly no rule that you have to use all the comments you receive.

Be Your Own Critic

Ultimately, with your first draft in hand, find some space and solitude to read your own work, from front to back, so that you can regain a sense of the whole, free of distractions in the minute details. It’s important to be open and expansive here, rather than obsessed with details, because this is your opportunity to solidify the foundations that ultimately will support the fine flourishes that tell your story.

After reading this article, you’ve hopefully learnt a few great qualitative dissertation writing techniques that you, as a university student, can use.