Creating Solid Dissertation Paragraphs: Rules to Follow
Dissertation paragraphs are just like any paragraphs in any graduate-level essay, except for a few minor differences. Just like with any challenging essay, you’re going to have the challenge of creating cohesive paragraphs that link fluidly to other paragraphs. You’ll also have the challenge of weaving in sentence-long quotes, parts of quotes woven into your own sentences, and block quotes as you provide solid evidence of your thesis. Documentation is required, also, any time you quote or paraphrase another work. Creating solid dissertation paragraphs will become easier with practice and especially with following the rules below:
- Don’t forget your paragraphs will be much longer than typical essay paragraphs.
- On using quotations.
- Make sure your transitions are smooth and sophisticated.
Your dissertation paragraphs are going to much, much longer than in basic essays. In fact, they’ll typically be a page and a half long or more. Why? Well dissertation formatting guidelines almost always insist upon a huge left hand margin—as much as 2 and ½ inches, so that the dissertation can be bound at the left side after your dissertation defense. Consider that and the fact that you may have block quotes woven in with these as well, and you’re going to see some paragraphs that can be more than two pages long.
Dissertation directors are going to expect a high level of sophistication in terms of quotation. They’ll want to see that you have not allowed the research to carry the writing but for the writing to fluidly work in the research to underscore and prove your thesis. Stay away from more than one block quote every other one to two paragraphs. You cannot have more than one per page or the quote will be the writing!
A great way to showcase your finesse with the research by using woven in quotes, where snippets of quotes are gracefully woven into quotes where they are not introduced. These sentences with quotes woven in can and should follow sentences where the author of the quote has already been introduced.
In a work of this level, your dissertation committee will expect your transitions to be almost effortless and most assuredly not trite or clunky. They definitely will be expected not to be predictable. You don’t want anything along the lines of “As I was saying earlier” or “In addition to this,” and you definitely do not want to use those hallmark paragraph introducers that signal bad writing such as “first, second, or third.”
Instead use real sentences, and do not try so hard. One trick is to find a new way to say what tour last sentence said in the previous paragraph, while moving toward the second sentence in the next paragraph.