#editing in Ghana · Charismata Editorial Services, Ghana · English language and editing · Uncategorized


                   An Introduction: Long essay, Thesis or Dissertation?

Like we promised you, this week begins our series of lessons that would help you write that academic paper better. You are welcome and thank you for sticking with us.

Some, if not all, tertiary institutions demand that their students present one of these: long essay, dissertation or thesis depending on the level and course one is offering.

People usually interchange the terms long essay, dissertation and thesis in the world of research. So to avoid this confusion, some schools simply refer to it as ‘project work’ or ‘term paper’ or ‘research paper’. Even though the definitions or use depends on the school you find yourself in, we will briefly look at the general differences between them.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the long essay is “To find out by making a test. To attempt or endeavor especially by tentative methods or by appraising, probing, or seeking expedient”. Simply put, to write a long essay is to conduct a research.

A dissertation is “a substantial paper that is submitted to the faculty of a university by a candidate for an advanced degree that is typically based on independent research and that if acceptable usually gives evidence of the candidate’s mastery both of his own subject and of scholarly method”. Simply put, to write a dissertation is to conduct a research.

Thesis refers to “a position or proposition that a person (as a candidate for scholastic honors) advances and maintains or offers to maintain by argument.” Simply put, to write a thesis to prove a point or support a research in writing.

Well, you can see from the definitions that there is almost no difference between them but per those we have had the privilege to edit, we make the following conclusions:

  1. The long essay is done by undergraduates; thesis by master’s students and the dissertation by PhD candidates.
  2. The dissertation is longer and more detailed than the others.
  3. The long essay and thesis seek to expound a particular subject of your interest whiles the dissertation rides on existing research to prove a new idea or research.

But don’t forget, stick to what your school calls it and what is demanded of you. Also note that even though they may be different, they have similar content. However, for the sake of our discussions we will refer to our project work as ‘thesis’ since that is what is commonly used.

In the next few weeks, we will be bringing you down to earth write-ups on some issues related to writing a thesis from the selection of the topic to the submission of the final document.

Share your thoughts on what you think the differences are and some issues with research you would like us to touch on in our series.

We hope this lesson was useful. Catch us next week and let’s keep sharing. Did you miss last week’s lesson? It’s here https://charismataediting.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/charis-for-writing-lesson-62-proofreading-american-and-british-spelling-ii/

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