How are theses and dissertations different?
There is often confusion between the terms Theses and Dissertation, which is not helped at all by dictionary definitions, in fact they actually add to the confusion. Colleges and universities tend to mix them up, or rather mix up the terms.
Rather than dictionary definitions, (which say that the two terms are similar), clarity between the two can be better defined by looking at the Similarities and the Differences between Theses and Dissertations.
- They are both research papers.
- Both produced to achieve higher degrees.
- They both have similar structures (abstract, intro, discussion, bibliography, literature review and appendix).
- Adds analysis to existing thought and literature. (Literature Search, Critical Reviews).
- The theses illustrates the authors level of understanding, logic and analytical thinking. The aim of the Thesis is not to show new discoveries but to illustrate that the author is knowledgeable in his field of study.
- The author defines his topic through a thesis statement, he uses already published research work to support or disprove the argument.
- A student does not have to face a panel of professors to explain their thesis work.
- Traditionally used to obtain a Masters Degree.
- Analyses existing literature but it adds something new to original knowledge in the authors field of study
- The dissertation shows that the author can contribute something completely new and original in his field of study.
- The author uses his own ideas and points of view, explores published research but also furthers his argument through his own surveys, interviews and statistics to support his theory.
- A author has to explain in person their work to their professors.
- Traditionally used to achieve a PhD.
Depending which side of the Atlantic Ocean you live ; the terms thesis and dissertation may be interchangeable for Masters and PhD.