For many students, writing their undergraduate dissertation can be a daunting challenge. It’s a great idea to look at examples to get a better sense of what’s required. But not all are created equal. Some may even steer you in the wrong direction. So keep ahead of the game by following these five critical checks when looking for your undergraduate dissertation samples.
Though many academic disciplines require dissertations as a part of the degree, their requirements, styles, and conventions can differ dramatically. A superb thesis in history can be surprisingly different to a superb thesis in art history. Try so far as possible to find model papers in your subject, or at least within related disciplines. Check the universities and colleges that offer similar programmes to yours.
Different institutions and different academic departments will require that your dissertation be written according to one of many different style guides. The most common of these are the APA (American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association of America) styles. If you’re unable to filter out your examples only to those with the correct style, be very careful to understand the differences to what your school requires.
There are many thousands of compositions that have “been doing the rounds” for decades, and commonly crop up in search results. The downside of these is that they represent styles, conventions, and content that may be more or less outdated. Always check the date of those you find, and favour the more recent ones. You can also find fresher content on forums and through blog posts than through some of the more “static” websites that crop up in searches.
Though some institutions have strict policies against providing model papers, many understand that learning by example really is a powerful way to learn. Carefully search across the top schools in your subject for “undergraduate support” where style guides are published. Model papers will often be provided with these.
The ultimate learning opportunity for your paper can come from feedback that examiners have left for other students. It gives you an insight into exactly what teachers like, and dislike. So much so, that in this instance, all the previous checks are worth ignoring: Just about any example in any subject from any school, however old, is well worth your time to review, to “get inside the mind” of evaluators.
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