Is a dissertation valuable?

Simply put, a thesis (or dissertation – depending on the country you are studying in) is a research project. In other words, your job is to ask a research question (or set of questions) and then start finding answers. Simple enough, right?

Well, the problem is that you have to approach this research project academically, and there is a wealth of academic language that makes it quite confusing (thanks, academia). However, at its core, a thesis is about undertaking a quest (investigating something). This is really important to understand, because the main skill that your university is trying to develop in you (and will challenge) is your ability to conduct research in a well-structured, critical and academically rigorous way.

Case study: thesis at ESEI

One of our students, Rodrigo Ramos Sampaio, who studied international relations and international affairs, defended his thesis two weeks ago . He chose to focus on sustainability and titled his dissertation Towards a Green Future: An Analysis of Supply Chain Sustainability in the European Union Soybean Commodities Sector.

We asked him about the thesis process, from concept creation to completion, and what he thought of the experience.

Scientific relevance

If you are studying physical or social sciences, the scientific relevance of your thesis is crucial. Your research should fill a gap in existing scientific knowledge that has not been thoroughly investigated before.

One way to find a relevant topic is to review recommendations for follow-up studies made in existing scientific papers and the papers they cite. From there, you can perform quantitative research, statistical analysis, or methodology relevant to the type of research you choose to do.

Put your skills into action

Theses are generally to be written at the end of an academic course; it also gives you the opportunity to use the skills you have learned during your time at university. This is encouraging because it shows that your work in college was worthwhile and helped you achieve a more meaningful project.

Siobhan McDermott, who did her dissertation at Trinity College Dublin, defended this view by writing for the university’s website. Wrote:

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