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Thesis vs. Dissertation vs. Research Paper – Basic Differences

When you go to graduate school or pursue a doctorate degree you need to submit either a thesis, research paper or a dissertation. In this blog post, we will discuss basic differences between thesis, dissertation and research paper.

  • Dissertation: Written for a university degree or diploma.
  • Thesis: A document written by students of higher education to obtain an academic degree or qualification.
  • Research paper: It is the piece of academic writing, generally done as a requirement for a class. In research, you have to do independent research. After the research, you have to write a description of the findings.

One thing common to all these three is their internal structure.  You will find introduction, literature review, research methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion in all of them. Now we will discuss all of these in detail. We will begin with the difference between dissertation and thesis. We have discussed research paper in the end.

8 Major Differences Between Dissertation and Thesis

Dissertation research paper thesis difference quotes

  1. You need to collect information in order to prepare and complete a thesis. On the other hand, you need to research all by yourself in the case of the dissertation.
  2. A thesis is short and takes less time to complete. On the other hand, a dissertation is long and takes more time to complete.
  3. In the dissertation, you must have a decent knowledge of new discoveries in order to infer your conclusion. But in a thesis, you need to include a hypothesis based on your research work.
  4. In a thesis, you get a scholarship while the case is indifferent in the case of the dissertation.
  5. In case of a thesis, you must focus on the primary argument in order to prove his standpoint. While on the other hand, in dissertation you need to focus on his background work.
  6. In the case of a dissertation, you need to novel findings to existing literature. In contrast to the dissertation, you have to utilize your research work to prove your viewpoint.
  7. A dissertation is more like an academic book, and a thesis is same as an academic research paper.
  8. A dissertation consists of theory and arguments based on original research. On the other hand, data collected in a thesis is based on hypothetical analysis of contents.

Structural Differences between a Thesis and a Dissertation

Dissertation Quotes - dissertation thesis research paper difference

Now we will understand the structural differences between a dissertation and a thesis. We all know that a thesis is a kind of research paper for graduates.  In a thesis, you have to first research a topic, analyze it and comment on the information gathered. You have to relate to the particular topic you are working on. While writing a thesis, you have to think critically and collect the information in depth. In the thesis, you must choose a subject which is most relevant to your specialty area you wish to pursue professionally. A thesis needs to at least pages in length or bit beyond.

In a thesis, you need to do all your research work by yourself. You will not get any guidance from a faculty member. In comparison to a thesis, in a dissertation, you refer to others’ research as guidance. You need to prove your own unique hypothesis, theory or concept. Comparing a thesis to a dissertation, the latter is longer. A dissertation involves huge research information.

You need to mention each and every detail of your proposal and how you have gathered that information. To be more precise you need to add the sources from where you have taken the information. A dissertation is a complex research work. It’s usually three times the length of a thesis. If you compare a thesis and dissertation then in the latter you will receive guidance from a faculty member. The faculty member will serve as your dissertation adviser. If you are confused or stuck somewhere, the faculty member will guide you in the right direction. He will assist in locating resources and will ensure that your proposal is on the right track.

We have finished discussing the structural differences. Every school or university has their own guidelines for preparing a thesis, dissertation, and research paper. In addition to this, they are particular about what a dissertation and a thesis should consist of. They also lay down the guidelines for the structure.

Dissertation vs thesis is an extended concept. You also need to understand dissertation vs thesis from the technical point of view as well. Now we will discuss the technical differences between a thesis and a dissertation.

Technical Difference Between Dissertation and Thesis

Dissertation Quotes - dissertation thesis research paper difference

A thesis is a research study in a particular field. After completing a thesis, you receive doctorate or Ph.D. degree. On the other hand, after completing a dissertation, you receive a postgraduate degree or MPhil. A dissertation helps you in enrolling in master’s program. Another major dissertation vs thesis difference is that if you have completed a thesis writing, then you will get a higher degree. A dissertation is a process to obtain a degree.

You must ensure that you are including a hypothesis. The hypothesis should be a part of the research that you are conducting. On the other hand, if you are writing a dissertation then you have to ensure that you possess a good knowledge of the recent discoveries. That means you need to infer new conclusions on what you have read and evaluated.

One major aspect you need to emphasize on is that a thesis writing usually takes place when you reach the last two years of your student life (while doing a Ph.D.). You are not required to write a thesis if you are doing a master’s degree. But if you want to obtain a doctor’s degree, then you must write a dissertation.In a thesis, you have to show original research material that you have collected. While in a dissertation, the findings act as the final and original documents. Although throwing light on both these academic writing, a dissertation is based more on opinion rather than subject research. While a thesis puts research ahead of author opinion.

Apart from discussing all the differences, you must keep in mind that both these papers are extremely important to your academic year. You must invest time and prepare well if you are aspiring to become an expert in his field.

We will discuss the steps in writing a thesis and dissertation. There are majorly 5 steps in thesis writing process. Let’s discuss them in detail.

Steps in thesis writing

Step 1: Pick an area of research that you are excited about

You must choose a recent topic while doing a research study. It should be a topic from his field.

Step 2: Select a project which is unique

You must select a topic in which you have a decent knowledge, and you can put your additional inputs. You must have researched the topic well before implementing your thought process.

Step 3: Ask well-defined open-ended questions for your thesis

You must know how to ask open-ended questions. The biggest mistake you do while writing a thesis is that you ask “High-risk” questions. For example, the most common type of high-risk question is a “Yes/No” question. This means you must ensure that your outcomes from writing are interesting and publishable.

Step 4: Look for projects that are educational and incorporate marketable skills

Choose a thesis which will help you to broaden your marketable skill sets, and helps you in deciding which career path is best suited for you.

Step 5: Visualize your finished publication(s)

If you see your own publications while writing a thesis, then it will motivate you to work. This helps most graduate students. It makes them feel a sense of pride when they hold their very first published paper in their hands

Steps in writing a Dissertation

Step 1: Write an attractive dissertation proposal

You should draft a proposal for the final dissertation project. It should persuade the committee members of the university. It is as important as the final dissertation. You must be careful while drafting this.

If you want to make the proposal convincing, its format has to be clean and easy to follow. Here are the points you should include in the proposal:

1. Title of the dissertation proposal

You must write an attractive title.

2. Objectives

List your objective at the beginning. You should at least mention three objectives.

3. Writings

Whatever areas of study, schools of thought, and other sources of information you are doing, you need to mention it. It should be clear at the research stage only.

4. Research

Here you need to describe the ideas of your research question. You need to outline the area of the research.  You will clearly outline the area of research.

5. Method

You should here explain the methods of collecting data. You have to mention that from where you have taken the data.

6. Possible outcomes

Mention the outcome you expect from the research. If the research has done in a right direction, then you will receive the desired outcomes.

7. Timeframe

It is an important stage. You must create schedule explaining how you are going to manage your timings. You need to explain the timings respectively for each research paper.

8. List of References

You should include the list of references at the end of the dissertation. When you start writing a dissertation, it includes some guidelines. It is mentioned that you have to list the references or not. You should follow the guidelines.

Step 2: Do an effective research

This is an important stage where the overall development of the project is determined. The dissertation needs to methodical and effective.  You should not waste time on reading irrelevant resources. The following stage will help you analyzing and understand it more clearly:

1. Manage timeline

You have to make a time line. As the dissertation will take huge time in the research stage, you need to be careful of the timing.

2. Finding the right sources

You should find useful resources.

 3. Organize

 You should organize your resources from the starting. You must ensure that you have a plan or strategy before you start writing a dissertation. For an effective organizing step, you can take notes. This will clear your confusion managing a task. In addition to this, you can use the online tool such as Evernote to write down notes and important points.

Step 3: Write an amazing dissertation

Writing an effective dissertation is the most important stage. The following point will help you in writing an excellent dissertation. Furthermore, keep the flow in mind and write an attractive research paper.

  1. First and foremost step is to create an outline for the dissertation
  2. In the second step, you must introduce the topic. This includes the main title of the dissertation.
  3. Here you must do all the literature review work.
  4. In the fourth step, you must include and write down all the methods you have adopted to write an effective dissertation.
  5. Here you must mention the bibliography.
  6. In the last step, you should conclude the dissertation in your words. You must justify your dissertation writing with the help of the conclusion.

Step 4: Edit and Proofread the Dissertation

 After completing the first draft of the paper, you should edit and proofread the dissertation. Mention on the following two factors:

1. Editing

Editing and proofreading have a different meaning. In Editing, you must modify the content. Here you need to correct, shorten, and modify the content if needed.  If you think that you have missed some important part, then you can probably mention that while correcting it. Further, before submitting the dissertation, you must ensure that there is no editing mistake in the document.

2. Proofread

In this stage, you have to proofread the document or the dissertation which you have written. You need to detect grammatical errors, spelling errors, or punctuation mistakes. It also includes checking different layouts, headlines, and paragraphs. You need to read word by word, sentence by sentence, and consult a dictionary or thesaurus if there are any doubts.

Step 5: Feedback

Feedback is an important stage. Here you should get the feedback from the committee members after submitting the final dissertation. Seek help from your friend or colleague who has knowledge in this discipline. After this, discuss the entire dissertation with your mentor. Furthermore, If there is any mistake or there is a scope of improvement, then your mentor will point out. Your mentor will help you in finalizing your dissertation and keep you focused on the right track.

We have discussed all the major differences between dissertation vs thesis. Further, we have also discussed that why a research paper is different from a thesis and dissertation. Gather information from this blog post as much as you can. Further, this blog will not only help you tell the difference between the three but also give a brief idea of the steps in writing these three academic writings.

Now we will discuss that how a research paper is different from a dissertation and thesis.

How a research paper is different from dissertation and thesis?

  • In a research paper, you have to prove the central argument. It should mention and contain all the main points the research paper wants to address.
  • In a research paper, you have to talk about the central thesis statement and should gather evidence or data to prove the same.
  • A research paper is an extension and expansion of the central thesis
  • The thesis is usually a part of the research paper and not vice-versa.
  • The research paper is an original piece of document and plagiarism free.

Reasons for writing the Research Paper

  1. One of the major reasons that you write a research paper is that you get to learn a lot about your chosen subject. The research paper helps you read conventions of scholarly writing. You can even read and learn their style of documentation and the ethics of research.
  2. Another major reason is that you become familiar with the library through the ‘learning by doing’ method. Exploring a research paper helps you to interview many experts about your subject. You can blend your ideas with that of the experts to attain a different point of view.
  3. Last but not the least, writing the research paper is a logical exercise. It helps improves the imagination, thought process, and common sense. As you will start gathering information on your chosen topic, you will learn about the following things.
    • Track information
    • Ways to organize
    • Usage of internet in his research
    • Differentiating between useless and useful options
    • How to summarize
    • Effectively managing time
    • Managing the research project from starting till the end.
    • After discussing the reasons for writing a research paper, we will now discuss the steps of Research writing.

Seven Steps of Research writing

Step 1: Outline your research question

Always define your research question. It should consist of the main topic. His research question should be clear and understandable.

Step 2: Ask for assistance

If required ask for help from your guides or sources.

Step 3: Make a research plan and locate resources

Be ready with your resources. You need to pre plan a research strategy from the beginning. Drafting a strategy will help you in a subsequent process.

Step 4: Use good search techniques

You should always use effective search techniques. You must use useful search techniques. This will help you to make the target audience understand your research paper. Moreover, the target audience will feel that they are refereeing a good source.

Step 5: Revise your own research

You should always recheck whatever content you have written. You should write in the easy language, and it should reflect a meaning.

Step 6: Understand the academic communication procedure and mention sources

You should always follow the scholarly communication. The research paper is an essential part of academic writing. You need to avoid informal communication. Try to mention the resources from where you have taken help.

Step 7: Critically assess sources

While mentioning the sources, you have to be careful about it. It should be a useful one. Now we will discuss the factors you should keep in mind while conducting and investigating a Research paper. The following points will help you in writing Research Paper in a detailed manner. You should keep the following factors in mind before doing research.

  • Don’t be worried

At times while doing research, you get worried. You should be clear your research topic. In the early stage you might face some difficulty, but later it will be easier for you. For this, you need a pre-planned research strategy.

  • Don’t postpone

You must not do all your work at the last moment. You need to manage your time well before submitting the research paper. This will help you meet the deadline on time. At any moment if you feel that you are confused then you can consult your instructor. The instructor will help you go on the right track.