Dissertation is a very specific way to write what we call a “paper.” In France, this style is used in academics and the professional world alike.
- Personal reaction: Be sincere, though not informal.
- Use examples to affirm your point. Using examples limits verbiage, generalities, and banalities.
- Be clear and coherent : A good paper should resemble a mathematical proof more than a lyrical flood of words. Be understandable and operate by the Law of Occam’s Razor (the simplest explanation tends to be the best one.)
- Outline : Getting your ideas on paper is harder than coming up with them in the first place. In order to convey your ideas effectively to the reader, outline!
The Schema of a Dissertation
In order to write a dissertation, you need a problem or problématique. Situate that problem within your topic or subject. Do not begin to write without these ideas in mind.
- The introduction must rapidly situate and introduce the problem. Cite briefly.
- Give an idea of the movement of the paper, but do not announce each step of your work.
- Define key words.
- Attract the reader!
Separated into parts and paragraphs, where each part is a main point in the problem and each paragraph is one idea or one aspect of an idea.
- The Dialectical Plan
- Thesis – often the predominant point of view (the most common analysis)
- Synthesis: Establish some nuanced truth in between the two arguments or overcome of the initial contradiction by bringing in additional information.
- “Problem-Cause-Solution” Plan: Introduce and define a problem, pinpoint its causes, and propose a solution.
- The Inventory Plan: For a rare case when a paper does not present a solution to a problem. Example prompt: What benefits and what pleasures can be taken from reading a good novel? Use precise examples from your personal life.
- Separate your argument into parts (in this case, two: benefits and pleasures)
- Order your arguments within each part
- The Comparative Plan, in which reflection is born of the comparison of different facts or concepts. There are two rules for this type of paper: (1) Each element of comparison constitutes a section or “part” of the paper (2) the opposition posed at the beginning of the paper should follow until the end of the piece.
- first element of comparison (one point of view on an issue, for example)
- second element of comparison (an opposing point of view)
- Meditation on the facts presented in the first two parts
- Explication-Illustration or Formula/commentary Plan
- Explanation of the formula (definition, par ex.)
- Commentary on the formula, for example, expansion of a definition, comments on appropriateness
A conclusion must be written in the spirit of synthesis and with logical rigor. Coming to the end of an argument, a conclusion must be concise and strong. If desired, it can situate the results or thesis a more general sense.
(Desalmand, Paul and Tort, Patrick. Du plan à la dissertation. Paris : 1977)