Architectural research in a highly specific sphere that can be dissolved into a textual form is termed as a Dissertation or a Thesis. This long piece of academic writing takes shape through original research with a theoretical as well as a practical perspective. 

An architectural dissertation provides an opportunity to explore one’s niche and exhibit their knowledge and skills developed through their academic as well as professional life. This culmination of facts and arguments provides multiple routes towards reimagining architecture and its associated spectrums. The process of deriving the perfect dissertation involves an immense number of factors and steps. 

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In order to kick start your flawless piece, here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you go along your journey. 

1. Topic Selection

The first spark leading to the creation of your work is surfacing your subject of interest which has experientially developed over time. These experiences can be directly related to your existing portfolio and can be understood by analyzing the works’ strengths, weaknesses, and the overall crux of these projects which require extrapolation through your dissertation. 

Basic research through reading books and journals, analyzing everyday life, talking to the general public, attending seminars or conferences, and discussions with mentors and tutors could be highly influential in choosing the heart of your dissertation. 

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2. Assessment of the subject 

An in-depth analysis of the chosen topic is crucial before you dive into the depths of research. Identifying the objects of study, interpretative possibilities, understanding the nature of the investigation, interpretation of existing academic research, and the size and scope of the subject in the current context, as well as the future, becomes the basis on which the dissertation evolves. 

Other factors for assessment may be availability and access of necessary resources, available time frame, and financial support, and the overall risk factor associated with the topic proposed. Analyzing and challenging your strengths and weaknesses can also be impactful in making your point. 

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3. The Proposal 

Your assessment would amalgamate into a drafted proposal, which should be able to instantly capture the essence and purpose of your work extending for the next couple of months. A strong title and crisp but detailed subject would create a stark positive impression and could be influential in sparking your mentor’s interest in the topic. 

The proposal must also include the identified objects of study, the significance of investigation, the approach adopted, the academic context provided by past researchers, contents, sources, and a tentative timetable which could include research, writing, draft submission, and revision, deadline for final submission and even personal and additional academic dates. 

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4. The Mentorship Effect

Choosing the right supervisor or mentor can be as important as the topic itself. Their extensive knowledge, experience, and reputation in your area of research can prove invaluable to the final product. Your relations with the person as well as the work ethic you portray through punctuality, your interactive and inquisitive nature, providing them with multiple drafts and sufficient time to review and discuss it, and the holistic utilization of the resources they bring to the table can create a massive difference to the quality of your dissertation. 

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5. Research Techniques

The most crucial content of your dissertation is produced through an immense amount of research through multiple historical and critical methodologies, ranging from politicized history and theory to iconography and even interdisciplinary studies. But it is important to begin this research by enquiring about the production, interpretation, use, reception, and experience of your dissertation. 

To unveil answers to these queries, a strategic absorption of an immense amount of information is essential. This can be brought about by note-taking and recording, photocopying and filing materials, illustrating by sketching, photography, or even official reproductions.

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The information provided by libraries and archives in the form of books, journals, and magazines, as hard copy as well as digital mediums, has been proved to be unexceptionally invaluable. Accessing reliable internet sources, be it news, government data, research papers, articles, or even online national libraries, has been the most convenient form of research, especially in the current scenario. Visiting and documenting works of architecture must be combined with the schematic study of data targets estimated from the visit, access to the various spaces, available records, and the overall spatial experience. 

The heavy process of research shouldn’t tend to overlook the importance of recording sources for future referencing and reviewing the process by writing, reading notes, talking, and reflecting on the research done, to bring out holistic and accurate results. 

6. Structuring

Just as every written piece, a dissertation also follows a basic structure of three parts- introduction, main argument, and conclusion. A strong introduction must be able to instantly convey the soul of your work to the audience. The inclusion of the objects of the study, interpretative ideas, academic context, methodology, and structure of your dissertation in the introduction would cover all the areas of your study in a concise manner. The main argument would contain the core of your research. 

Although the reader must be able to get the complete idea of your work, the information provided must not become overwhelming. To avoid a monotonous single string of words, it is essential to divide and sub-divide the content into sections. The sections’ size, points of focus, points of linkage between sections, and the overall writing style and the distinctive content within each section must be given attention. 

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Finally, a strong conclusion to put your findings in perspective becomes quintessential. A summary statement, along with your speculation of the chosen topic as well as your results would leave a lasting impression of your work on the reader. 

7. Working Methodology

The process of writing an academic document is guided by multiple underlying factors and steps. Reviewing notes, arranging and rearranging your thoughts, referring to the subject multiple times, and assessing your work at regular intervals improve the chances of finding interesting tangents to widen the range of conclusions and also increases the quality of the final product. Frequent grammar and spell checks would also ease the end hustle while also avoiding any room for error. 

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The size of the dissertation must also be appropriately decided based on the complexity of the topic and the research done following it. Exceeding the word limit can lead to a rather stressful situation during the final edit when time is of the essence. 

8. Beyond the core write-up

Although your research and subsequent findings form the nucleus of your dissertation, its content has many more things in store. Illustrations in the form of sketches, photographs, technical drawings, etc., with added textual comments, could be highly influential in setting the context through a visual perspective and increasing the level of understanding of your research. 

Referencing, footnotes, and bibliography are an inseparable part of the dissertation as it is crucial to acknowledge the academic investments of others that have been essential to your study. Your dissertation can also take an alternative route by exploring variations in format, design style, and writing style, to give it a unique edge. 

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9. Word-processing and drafts

In any piece of writing, word processing takes center stage in producing high-quality content. Spelling and grammar checks must be done frequently to leave no room for error, as such mistakes can take away the credibility of your efforts. 

Sticking to the given word count and choosing interesting yet professional fonts can make it highly comfortable for your reader to dive into the depths of your research. Frequently saving your documents and maintaining multiple backups is also undeniably beneficial.  Your final document can never take its form without trial and error through several drafts. 

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These drafts must mandatorily contain everything that would essentially be required for your final submission, from introduction to referencing. These could additionally have questions directed to your mentor in topics you are unclear about while keeping in mind the time frame required by the mentor for the whole process, as the drafts shouldn’t eventually derail you from your deadlines and workflow. 

10. Presentation

Your dissertation would not be able to reach its true potential without the right form of presentation, as this would instantly grasp the attention of your audience. Your final presentation must include a strong title page, contents, and list of illustrations page, acknowledgment, section and chapter headings, sub-headings, quotations and amendments, footnotes and references, page numbers, bibliography, appendices, and index. The paper quality, size and shape, binding quality, paragraph formatting style, and fonts are used to add an aesthetic edge to your writing. 

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Illustrations also add to this aesthetic value. It is important to work upon the quality, color, size, positioning, figure numbering, captions, and copyright of these images to create a perfect visual character for the document. The use of computer software is highly advisable in order to eventually mold a dissertation of quality in all respects. 

References

  • www.firstinarchitecture.co.uk. (2020). How to Write an Architecture Dissertation 101. [online] Available at: https://www.firstinarchitecture.co.uk/how-to-write-an-architecture-dissertation-101/   [Accessed 15 Aug. 2021]. 
  • Scribbr. (2019). How to Structure a Dissertation | Step-by-Step Guide. [online] Available at: https://www.scribbr.com/category/dissertation/.
  • 28639998 (n.d.). The dissertation an architecture students handbook. [online] Issuu. Available at: https://issuu.com/ueluna/docs/the_dissertation_-_an_architecture_  [Accessed 15 Aug. 2021].
  • Freepik. (n.d.). Download Left Hander Concept Illustration for free. [online] Available at httpswww.freepik.comfree-vectorleft-hander-concept-illustration_8673357.htmepik=dj0yJnU9aVRjNWx4dUJWMHRIc2FiMjRxb1FRRW5DYWY2Y
Author

Carmmel is an aspiring architect at SPA Vijayawada. A keen observer who enjoys converting her love for the built environment and her intricate thoughts into words. Her soul thrives on old-school pencil sketching, scribbling pages of poetry and long road trips, but is also constantly in the hunt for new experiences.

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