Writing a Master’s Dissertation – Students’ Perspectives

José Brandão Carvalho, Luísa Álvares Pereira, Rómina Mello Laranjeira

Abstract


Students are expected to write complex text genres in higher education contexts. Such complexity stems not only from the nature of the knowledge they convey but also from the norms and conventions adopted by the academic communities that use such texts. Among those genres, the dissertation seems particularly complex, considering both the set of problems related to its configuration (structure, language, norms of reference), and the factors that constrain its production (methodological procedures, student/supervisor relationship, time management, institutional constraints, individual nature of the writing process). The present study seeks to identify and analyze (i) students’ perspectives and representations of the dissertation writing process, and (ii) the problems that arise in the writing process. It is based on semi-structured interviews with students, at three different universities in the North of Portugal, who recently completed their dissertations in Humanities, Education and Engineering. The analysis is based on the assumption that writing a dissertation involves not only cognitive, linguistic and social dimensions, but also emotional aspects that can condition it decisively.

Keywords


Academic Writing; dissertation writing; supervision; genre; student writing; affect

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18552/joaw.v8i2.481

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