The books and resources found here contain valuable guidance and information for students writing their dissertations.
Click on the subject headings to access an expandable list of books and resources. Click on the titles to read them via VLeBooks (guide).
Writing a dissertation can seem daunting, but it becomes easier to manage when you remember that every dissertation normally follows the same process:
choosing a topic;
developing a proposal;
undertaking a literature review;
conducting research, analysing the data;
presenting and discussing results, drawing conclusions.
For help with choosing a topic, developing a proposal and writing up, look for books that focus on academic writing, critical thinking and arguing, in the Academic writing section below.
For guidance on the literature review, look in the next section and at the library's effective search page.
The actual research you do, and the way you will analyse the data will depend on the subject you are studying. You will find books dedicated to statistics, business studies, IT and computing, and social sciences in the Writing about specific subjects section below.
A critical literature review is more than listing and annotating randomly selected publications found using the same search term. It should have a logical structure and persuasive argument behind it. For example, you may select one of the following:
Identifying common themes that run throughout the literature.
Showing how approaches to the topic have changed over time.
Comparing and contrasting varying theoretical perspectives on the topic.
Describing general trends in research findings.
Identifying discrepant or contradictory findings, and suggest possible explanations for such discrepancies.
Leedy, P.D. (2021) Practical research: planning and design.
The following books may be used to understand the process of writing a literature review:
Adams, J. (2014) Research methods for business and social science students
Bell, J. (2017) Doing your research project: a guide for first-time researchers
Cottrell, S. (2014) Dissertations and project reports: a step by step guide
Greetham, B. (2019) How to write your undergraduate dissertation
Leedy, P.D. (2021) Practical research: planning and design
Saunders, M. (2019) Research methods for business students
Writing dissertations and research projects
This is a comprehensive guide to dissertations with detailed information on how to start and choose a topic; structure a dissertation proposal; find and filter information; apply research techniques; address issues of plagiarism, referencing and ethics; and organise, revise and present research.
This book provides a step-by-step guide to carrying out a research project, covering preparation (eg, planning, ethics and literature review), data collection (eg, surveys and interviews) and writing up your report. It includes a comprehensive glossary of common terms.
Writing about specific subjects
If your research requires statistics, but you are not a maths or statistics student, this book provides a useful foundation. It is intended to be easy to read and use, and briefly covers all the major areas in statistics. It also includes statistical tables, a glossary of commonly used terms, a guide to the Greek alphabet and useful Excel commands.
This book was specifically written for business and management students. The most relevant chapters are in chapters five through eight:
“Locating information and smart search skills”;
“Assignment research: developing a critical approach”;
“Reading skills”; and
“Writing essentials: preparations, layout and structure”.
Vital for IT and computing students, this book guides students through the planning, execution and presentation of information science projects – which includes dissertations. Includes chapters on literature review, planning and risk management, the software development lifecycle, academic writing, software documentation and data presentation.
This book is useful for international students, especially business studies students. It focuses on writing skills, including the writing process, elements of writing (eg, grammar and style) and vocabulary. Particularly relevant chapters include:
“Literature Reviews”; and
This book is intended for students of behavioural and social sciences (including, for example, organisational behaviour), and provides more advanced, in-depth guidance to planning, ethics, research methods, data interpretation, statistics, and writing up. It includes Excel shortcuts, a sample data set and a glossary of terms.
In this book, the format and style of academic writing is explained. It includes suggestions on how to gather, process and record information, as well as how to plan, structure, present, review and reference research. It includes useful, concise appendices.
This guide to developing and criticising arguments includes practical tips and exercises. It would be particularly relevant for students writing up introductions and conclusions.
Critical thinking and reflection are particularly important in the planning of research and the analysis of results. This book introduces key approaches to thinking, explores critical thinking in practice (eg, in making decisions or supporting arguments) and teaches how to evaluate the ideas of others and put your own ideas into words.
Chapter 15, “Tackling a writing assignment: How to respond to the specified task” may be particularly useful for dissertations.
This book contains guidance on generating research questions, structure and argument, reviewing, cohesion and coherence. It includes advice on title creation, reading, organising academic writing and referencing. Pages 187-188 specifically refer to dissertations.
This book contains detailed information and guidance for understanding the task, starting to write, and planning and conducting research. It also focuses on descriptive, critical, personal and reflective writing. The book includes guides to citation, synthesising, editing, presentation and using feedback.
General study skills
This book contains guidance on critical thinking, effective academic reading, analysing and evaluating information, and interpreting and presenting data. It recommends ways to improve academic writing. Pages 326-336 refer to tackling a dissertation and choosing a topic.
This book includes techniques and tips on academic writing and research skills, including literature review, ethics and research methods. Each chapter contains a summary with the key learning points and suggested further reading. Two chapters also contain exercises.
This book provides guidelines on critical thinking, research tools and the writing process. It includes specific guidance regarding research methods and writing, as well as general tips for success in student life.
This book is broken down into bite-sized chapters describing the good habits and practices that will propel a student through their entire university career. Chapters that are particularly useful for dissertation writing include:
“Keeping track of your information sources;
“Learning the beauty of summaries”;
“Writing a little bit every day”; and
“Knowing what a literature review is and how to write one”.
Keeping a research journal is good practice for students who want to make sure they engage with the research process, stay on top of their schedule, plan and read carefully, maintain research ethics, stay motivated and get the support they need. This book provides a framework for a research journal, and includes practical writing prompts. It is intended to be a supplement for the more academic or subject-specific books on research methods included elsewhere in this list.
Reflective writing provides a great foundation for the planning of research and analysis of results. This book provides a framework for a reflective journal, including practical writing prompts. This is particularly relevant to the ethical and self-development aspects of research.