Differences Between a Dissertation and a Thesis

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Date Submitted: 02/10/2013 03:06 AM

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Dissertation and thesis are two major terms in academic research that are commonly misconstrued. Their disambiguation is hindered by the different interpretations given, with some universities differentiating between the two terms while others use them interchangeably. Further, regional differences exist in use of the terms, as the connotations given to dissertation and thesis may be reversed from one country to another. The current study seeks to shed light on the differences between the two terms as used in scholarship.

One of the most important differences between a dissertation and a thesis entails the level of study in question. According to Glatthorn and Joyner (2005, p. 15), a thesis is completed as part of a Masters Degree requirement while a dissertation is part of the qualifications to complete a doctorate degree. The difference in level of study gives rise to differences in terms of depth. Bui (2009, pp. 7-8) states that a thesis may be limited in depth and breadth when compared to a dissertation. Albeit following similar systematic research processes, the dissertation may require doctoral researcher to dig deeper in each step than the thesis requires the Masters student. As a result, the dissertation is usually lengthy when compared to a thesis. Paltridge and Starfield (2007, pp. 55-56) confirm these differences, further noting that the two terms differ in terms of intention. A doctoral level report may contribute significantly to knowledge and confirm the student as an academic authority in comparison to a Masters report. However, the regional difference emerges, as Paltridge and Starfield (2007) interchanges the terms to a doctoral thesis and a Masters dissertation as used in the USA.

In conclusion, the terms dissertation and thesis differ in terms of level of study- Masters or doctoral depending on country uses such as in the USA or the UK. Although both are academic reports from investigation, the difference in level brings about further...