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Graduate Research: Theses & Dissertations: Writing a Thesis / Dissertation

What is a Dissertation / Thesis?

A dissertation or thesis is a lengthy piece of academic writing that reports on original research conducted as part of a graduate degree program. Typically, it needs to follow specific formatting requirements for organization of content as well as reference citations. Here are some resources that can help you step through the process. Take advantage of tools that can increase the efficiency of your writing process, such as use of citation management software.

Dissertation Writing Advice

Books on Dissertations

Stay Organized

  • Use a citation manager like Zotero, EndNote, or Mendeley to keep track of citations and format references in your document.
  • Import citations from library databases whenever possible to obtain the best record details.
  • Check and edit citation elements to meet style requirements (e.g., capitalization of titles; author listings).
  • Keep careful notes (organized by theme; color-coded) so that you do not have to re-read too much of your literature sources.
  • Some citation managers include a PDF viewer with notation features.
  • Follow instructions for formatting and submitting your thesis or dissertation.
  • Visit the Related Research Guides for more help.

Finding Journal Citation Styles

Many journals and professional society publishers specify their own citation styles, which will vary in some aspects from more widely-used citation styles.  Examine the reference section of articles from a particular journal for examples of formatting, but be aware that editors may not always catch author errors prior to publication.  For specifics, locate a journal or publisher website and look for a link to "authors," "instructions for authors," "author guidelines," "manuscript submission," "submission guidelines," or similar information.  For example, here is the guide for authors and manuscript requirements for ASCE Journals (published by the American Society of Civil Engineers).

Dissertation / Thesis Instructions

Copyright for Dissertations & Theses

Related Research Guides