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How do I Write a Computer Science Dissertation?

By G. Wiesen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Writing a computer science dissertation takes forethought, planning, hard work, a remarkable degree of personal fortitude, and the ability to express new ideas in a way that is clear and concise. In a more practical sense, the dissertation should outline a problem in computer science, present a hypothesis for a solution, and then provide experimental, research, or practical evidence to support the hypothesis. The scientific method is typically used in the construction of a computer science dissertation, and you can let that process guide you in the general outline and construction of the final work.

A computer science dissertation is the final written work required to complete a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in computer science. It can be several hundred pages in length, and typically takes a form similar to other types of scientific dissertations. One of the first things you should do as you move forward with writing your dissertation is consult with your dissertation adviser about any specific requirements or style guidelines your school may have for dissertations. Beyond that, the scientific method actually presents a fairly strong place to start from in trying to determine just how to structure a computer science dissertation.

Using the scientific method, as you prepare your computer science dissertation you should begin with a problem and a hypothesis regarding a solution to the problem: this is your thesis. The thesis is the heart of your dissertation, and the stronger it is the easier it may be for your final work to have that strength as well. A great deal of the time you spend working on your dissertation will be in doing research, either involving looking into someone else’s work or doing experimental and practical research for your own work. Every idea you present, every factual statement you make should have support for it either in someone else’s work or your own.

After compiling all of this raw data, however, you will have to turn it into something meaningful that supports the hypothesis you have made. This is the shift from data to knowledge, and you are responsible for making sure that every claim you make is in fact supported by your findings. Any claims you make in your computer science dissertation will be questioned by your review panel, and you should be able to defend every single sentence of your work.

You may find it easiest to start from the inside and work your way outward as you write your computer science dissertation. Begin with your research, assembling and presenting it in a way that is useful to a reader of your work. Then move backward and restructure your hypothesis and the problem you have presented to be supported by the research you have done. You can then include a section defining any new terms you use or terms you use in an unusual way.

Constructing a conclusion based on your work and what it could indicate for future research can then be done based on the rest of what you have written. Once complete, you can more easily create an introduction that presents the problem and your hypothesis, as well as an abstract that presents an overall vision of your work. Do not be afraid to rewrite, and always be mindful of the importance of excellent grammar as you write.

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