Undergraduate dissertations

Drafting and rewriting

Dissertations are like any other piece of writing: they are not written in one go. They involve two important processes: drafting and rewriting.

Drafting means: ‘to draw up a preliminary plan for or version of’ and ‘to create by thinking and writing, to compose’.

Rewriting means: ‘to write again, in a different or improved form’, ‘to make revisions in written material’ and ‘to put material into a suitable form’.

You should think about making at least four drafts of your dissertation:

First draft: You begin to express your ideas, organising them and putting them together under different section headings. The writing is rough because you need to work through what you think, what your argument is, what theoretical writing you are going to use, what other sources.

Second draft: Once you have made a rough draft, you can revise it to see that it matches your overall argument and topic and that each section carries your argument forward. You are looking at the overall shape of your dissertation, checking that it makes sense and that the order of your argument is clear and natural.

Third draft: This focuses on the individual sections of your discussion. You will rewrite them as necessary making sure that each section is clear and contains all the relevant material. You will need to make sure that they are linked together and that your argument flows clearly and naturally. You should also concentrate on style and check for grammatical errors.

Fourth draft: You will be proof reading and checking for typos. You will be checking all your references are correct and constructing your bibliography.