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  • Writer's pictureMaria Stefanidi

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid While Working on Your Dissertation

As a dissertation coach, I've seen a wide range of challenges students run into while working on their dissertations.

In this post, I will share with you the seven most common mistakes I have seen students make so that you can avoid making them yourself!

But first, I'd like to encourage you to embrace your mistakes because they'll only help you get closer to achieving your goal.

Mistakes are not something to be ashamed of, but rather a way to grow!

So, let's start counting!

Mistake #1 - Ignore the formal requirements

As soon as you start working on your dissertation, you receive a brief. That brief specifies the requirements you must meet, including word limits, deadlines, format, referencing style, and applicable regulations. It's a very detailed guide to your dissertation. If you ask me, I suggest that you stick to the brief no matter what! So, please try not to ignore the formal requirements when it comes to your dissertation.

Mistake #2 - Mind your sources

Your dissertation relies on sources to support your claims and arguments. Sources will help you analyze or use as evidence, throughout your dissertation. So, it's critical to consider which sources are credible and appropriate to use in academic writing, in general. Citing Wikipedia, for example, is overall discouraged. You can use academic databases and your University's library instead of random websites to find reliable information.

Mistake #3 - Avoid using anecdotes as a source of information

In your dissertation, you would typically be expected to use a reliable and objective database rather than anecdotes. For obvious reasons, right?

Mistake #4 - Avoid LONG quotes

When I say LONG quotes, I mean the ones that go on and on and on and they end up taking up the word limit without even helping you gain any marks.

The use of short, well-chosen quotations might help demonstrate your research's scope.

Mistake #5 - Avoid excessive wordiness

Try to avoid:

  • Long sentences,

  • Repeating the same point with different phrasing,

  • Writing sentences that appear to be whole paragraphs or never ending,

  • Drawn-out statements

Many students believe that their writing isn't academic enough unless it's over-complicated and lengthy. But that's a myth!

It's better to be as brief and direct as possible; it's a better strategy. So, avoid redundant phrasing in your text.

Mistake #6 - Make it formal

The formal academic writing style must be applied to ensure that research is represented consistently across different texts, allowing studies to be objectively evaluated and compared to other research. As a result, it's critical to strike the right tone with your language choices. Slang, contractions, cliches, jargon, and conversational phrases should be avoided. So, make sure the word you use accurately convey your research.

Mistake #7 - Avoid poor structure

A dissertation's flow is critical, and it must be well-structured. Its content must be organized logically and the argument to be clear to the reader. Your reader may lose track of your argument if your dissertation lacks a solid and appropriate structure. A consistent and coherent structure is essential for organizing ideas.


If you absolutely loved this blog post, don't forget to follow me on Instagram and LinkedIn for more tips and tools to help you hand in your dissertation and actually enjoy the process!

If you feel your dissertation is too overwhelming or you need someone to help you throughout your dissertation journey, I'd encourage you to book a FREE Discovery Call with me, by clicking here!

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