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There is nothing better for your conception of a project and to reassure you that you are on the right track than to view a sample of the project you are tackling—the whole, big picture.
Fortunately, most doctoral thesis and dissertations are held both in the library stacks and in their online holdings for you to review at your leisure. Also, you can order, with your university library card, thesis and dissertations close to your topic from any school in the world, and keep the thesis for quite awhile, to use as a template.
In fact, viewing other students’ dissertation and thesis is often a good experience for your self-esteem. You will typically learn that you are making this project much more intimidating than it really is. Remember, everyone was scared of this project and they managed to finish it, just like you will.
When you use samples, you’ll want to be careful about one thing—formatting rules. Formatting rules for dissertations and thesis are agreed upon by a committee at every school, and these guidelines will drastically change over time, just as books and word processing developments will change. Ask your school where to get the most recent dissertation guidelines. Often, theses will contain sample table of contents pages, chapter pages, and other such helpful examples.
One way I lengthened my works cited for my dissertation is that I viewed every dissertation written by other students on my topic. All of them had wonderful works cited lists with specific articles and books suggested by their doctoral committee—a committee of very different individuals than my own.
I began ordering all the more obscure books and articles they used to flesh out my dissertation and to expose me to even more points of view and quotes to work into my book-length project.
The best trick you can use to get a working template is to look at a thesis or dissertation that was complete led recently, when the same dissertation guidelines you will be using were still firmly in place.
You can then use their sample as a model for your own. Get there quickly to check these out. You won’t be the only one with this great idea!