Challenges in Writing a Research Thesis-Dissertation: Its effect on PhD Students


Dr. Masood Hassan , Gohar Ali , Muhammad Ishaq , Dr Ishrat Ishaq , Malik Irfan Ahmed ,

Download Full PDF Pages: 35-42 | Views: 391 | Downloads: 105 | DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.6368126

Volume 11 - February 2022 (02)


It is a burning concern for postgraduate students when it comes to preparing their thesis or dissertation. When confronted with an academic obstacle like drafting a research paper, it is possible that the responders would use their prior views and assumptions since they lack the 'proper' understanding of academic culture. Students' struggles with mental health and well-being are on the rise. There are situations when a PhD student's community of practice does not adequately support and share control with them. This has resulted in a constant conflict between students and the classroom. The most difficult aspects of writing a dissertation are framing the research and structuring the text, referencing one's own work and the literature, as well as receiving feedback in a timely manner, dealing with supervisors who are too busy to meet with students, and preparing adequately for postgraduate studies. Thesis and dissertation completion is also influenced by personal variables, such as psychological considerations and skill preparation. Thus, PhD students' self-esteem, dignity, frustration, and public image are all affected by these problems.


Postgraduate, thesis, dissertation, challenges, writing, research


        i.            Abramo, G., D’Angelo, C. A., & Di Costa, F. (2009). Research collaboration and productivity: is there correlation? Higher education, 57(2), 155-171.

      ii.            Akindele, O. (2008). A critical analysis of the literature review section of graduate dissertations at the University of Botswana. ESP 7 (20): 1, 20.

    iii.            Al-Khasawneh, F. M. S., & Maher, S. (2010). Writing for academic purposes: Problems faced by Arab postgraduate students of the college of business, UUM. ESP World, 9(2), 1-23.

     iv.            Arkoudis, S., & Tran, L. T. (2007). International students in Australia: Read ten thousand volumes of books and walk ten thousand miles. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 27(2), 157-169.

       v.            Atay, D., & Kurt, G. (2006). Prospective teachers and L2 writing anxiety. Asian EFL Journal, 8(4), 100-118.

     vi.            Belcher, D. (2007). Seeking acceptance in an English-only research world. Journal of Second Language Writing, 16(1), 1–22.

   vii.            Bitchener, J., & Basturkmen, H. (2006). Perceptions of the difficulties of postgraduate L2 thesis students writing the discussion section. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 5(1), 4-18.

 viii.            Botha, C. T., & Simelane, S. (2007, September). The Influence of e-learning on student’s success rate in human resource development. In WWW Applications Conference Held from (pp. 5-7).

     ix.            Brown, G., & Atkins, M. (1988). Effective teaching in higher education. London, UK: Methuen and Co.

       x.            Buckingham, J., &Nevile, M. (1997).A model of citation options. ARAL, 20(2), 51–66.

     xi.            Burton, W. H., & Brueckner, L. J. (1955). Supervision: A social process. Appleton-Century-Crofts.

   xii.            Canagarajah, A. S. (1996). “Nondiscursive” requirements in academic publishing, material resources of periphery scholars, and the politics of knowledge production. Written communication, 13(4), 435-472.

 xiii.            Council of Graduate Schools (1990).Research student and supervisor. In Donald, J. G. (Eds.) (1995). Graduate student supervision policies and procedures: A case study of issues and factors affecting graduate study. The Canadian Journal of Higher Education, XXV(3), 71-92.

 xiv.            Daud, N. S. M., Daud, N. M., & Kassim, N. L. A. (2016). Second language writing anxiety: Cause or effect. Malaysian journal of ELT research, 1(1), 19.

   xv.            Delamont, S., Atkinson, P., & Parry, O. (2000). The doctoral experience: success and failure in graduate school (London, & New York, Falmer Press).

 xvi.            Donald, J. G. (1995). Graduate Student Supervision Policies and Procedures: A Case Study of Issues and Factors Affecting Graduate Study. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 25(3), 71-92.

xvii.            Dong, Y. R. (1998). Non-native graduate students’ thesis/dissertation writing in science: Self-reports by students and their advisors from two US institutions. English for Specific Purposes, 17(4), 369-390.

xviii.            Dudley-Evans, T. (1999). The dissertation: A case of neglect. Issues in EAP writing research and instruction, 28-36.

 xix.            Fairclough, N. (1992). Discourse and social change. Cambridge: Polity.

   xx.            Fernsten, L. A., & Reda, M. (2011). Helping students meet the challenges of academic writing. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(2), 171-182.

 xxi.            Flowerdew, J. (1999). Writing for scholarly publication in English: The case of Hong Kong. Journal of Second Language Writing, 8(2), 123-145.

xxii.            Flowerdew, J. (2001). Attitudes of journal editors to nonnative speaker contributions. TESOL Quarterly, 35,121–150.

xxiii.            Frischer, J., & Larsson, K. (2000). Laissez-faire in research education—an inquiry into a Swedish doctoral program. Higher Education Policy, 13(2), 131-155.

xxiv.            Golde, C. M. (2005). The role of the department and discipline in doctoral student attrition: Lessons from four departments. The Journal of Higher Education, 76(6), 669-700.

xxv.            Gordon, P. J. (2003). Advising to avoid or to cope with dissertation hang-ups. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2(2), 181-187.

xxvi.            Gosden, H. (2003). ‘Why not give us the full story?’: functions of referees’ comments in peer reviews of scientific research papers. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 2(2), 87-101.

xxvii.            Holbrook, A., Bourke, S., Lovat, T., & Dally, K. (2004). Qualities and Characteristics in the Written Reports of Doctoral Thesis Examiners. Australian Journal of Educational & Developmental Psychology, 4, 126-145.

xxviii.            Hyland, K. (1999). Academic attribution: Citation and the construction of disciplinary knowledge. Applied linguistics, 20(3), 341-367.

xxix.            Jacobs, C. (2007). Towards a critical understanding of the teaching of discipline-specific academic literacies: Making the tacit explicit. Journal of education, 41(1), 59-81.

xxx.            József, H. (2001). Advanced writing in English as a foreign language. Lingua Franca Csoport.

xxxi.            Katsouyanni, K. (2008). Collaborative research: accomplishments & potential. Environmental Health, 7(1), 1-7.

xxxii.            Kearney, M.L. 2008.The role of postgraduate education in research systems.Proceedings of UNESCO/DCU Workshop onTrends in Post –Graduate Education, 5-7 March 2008, Dublin City, Ireland.

xxxiii.            Kiley, M. (2009). Identifying threshold concepts and proposing strategies to support doctoral candidates. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 46(3), 293-304.

xxxiv.            Kourilova, M. (1998). Communicative characteristics of reviews of scientific papers written by non-native users of English. Endocrine Regulations, 32, 107-114.

xxxv.            Lazar, A. (1991). Faculty, practitioner, and student attitudes toward research. Journal of Social Work Education, 27(1), 34-40.

xxxvi.            Lee, A., &Kamler, B. (2008).Bringing pedagogy to doctoral publishing. Teaching in Higher Education,13(5), 511–523.

xxxvii.            Lessing, A. C., & Schulze, S. (2003). Lecturers' experience of postgraduate supervision in a distance education context: research in higher education. South African Journal of Higher Education, 17(2), 159-168.

xxxviii.            Lonka, K., Sharafi, P., Karlgren, K., Masiello, I., Nieminen, J., Birgegård, G., & Josephson, A. (2008). MED NORD–A tool for measuring medical students’ well-being and study orientations. Medical teacher, 30(1), 72-79.

xxxix.            Lovitts, B. E., & Nelson, C. (2000). The hidden crisis in graduate education: Attrition from Ph. D. programs. Academe, 86(6), 44.

     xl.            Mäkinen, J., Olkinuora, E., & Lonka, K. (2004). Students at risk: Students' general study orientations and abandoning/prolonging the course of studies. Higher education, 48(2), 173-188.

   xli.            McAlpine, L., & Weiss, J. (2000). Mostly True Confessions: Joint Meaning-Making about the Thesis Journey. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 30(1), 1-26.

 xlii.            Melin, G. (2000). Pragmatism and self-organization: Research collaboration on the individual level. Research policy, 29(1), 31-40.

xliii.            Moahi, K. H. (2008). Library and Information Science Research in Botswana: An Analysis of Trends and Patterns. African Journal of Library, Archives & Information Science, 18(1).

xliv.            Mousavi, H. S., & Kashefian-Naeeini, S. (2011). An investigation into the role of EFL learners’ attitudes, motivation and proficiency in learning among Iranian students of National University in Malaysia. European Journal of Social Sciences, 23(4), 593-603.

 xlv.            Mutula, S. M. (2009, March). Building trust in supervisor-supervisee relationship: Case study of East and Southern Africa. In Progress in Library and Information Science in Southern Africa (PROLISSA) Conference at the University of South Africa (UNISA) (pp. 4-6).

xlvi.            Myers, I. B., McCaulley, M. H., Quenk, N. L., & Hammer, A. L. (2009). Myers-Briggs Foundation. http://www. myersbriggs. org/>. Acesso em, 22(12), 2009.

xlvii.            Okamura, A. (1995, September). British and Japanese researchers’ awareness of a discourse community and citation strategies. In Proceedings of Conference on Japanese Information Technology at Newcastle (pp. 143-176).

xlviii.            Okamura, A. (2006). Two types of strategies used by Japanese scientists, when writing research articles in English. System, 34(1), 68-79.

xlix.            Park, C. (2005). New variant PhD: The changing nature of the doctorate in the UK. Journal of higher education policy and management, 27(2), 189-207.

        l.            Phillips, E. M., & Pugh, D. S. (2000). How to get a PhD. A handbook for students and their supervisors. Buckingham. Open University Press. Riazi, A.(1997). Acquiring disciplinary literacy: A social-cognitive analysis of text production and learning among Iranian graduate students of education. Journal of Second Language Writing, 6(2), 105-137.

      li.            Posteguillo, S. (1999). The schematic structure of computer science research articles. English for specific purposes, 18(2), 139-160.

    lii.            Powell, S. (2004). The award of PhD by published work in the UK. UK Council for Graduate Education.

  liii.            Pyhältö, K., Stubb, J., & Lonka, K. (2009). Developing scholarly communities as learning environments for doctoral students. International Journal for Academic Development, 14(3), 221-232.

   liv.            Robins, L., & Kanowski, P. (2008). PhD by Publication: A Student's Perspective. Journal of Research Practice, 4(2), M3.

     lv.            Rose, M. (1985). The language of exclusion: Writing instruction at the university. College English, 47(4), 341-359.

   lvi.            Samraj, B. (2002). Introductions in research articles: Variations across disciplines. English for specific purposes, 21(1), 1-17.

 lvii.            Strachan, r., murray, r., &grierson, H.(2004). a web-based tool for dissertation
writing. British Journal of Educational Technology, 35(3), 369–375.

lviii.            Stubb, J., Pyhältö, K., & Lonka, K. (2011). Balancing between inspiration and exhaustion: PhD students' experienced socio-psychological well-being. Studies in Continuing Education, 33(1), 33-50.

   lix.            Swales, J. (1996). Occluded Genres In the Academy: The case of the Submission Letter." Academic Writing: Intercultural and Textual Issues. Eds. Eija Ventola and Anna Mauranen.

     lx.            Tsui, A. B. (1996). Reticence and Anxiety in Second Language Learning. Voices from the Language Classroom.

   lxi.            Wang, T., & Li, L. Y. (2008). Understanding international postgraduate research students’ challenges and pedagogical needs in thesis writing. International Journal of pedagogies and Learning, 4(3), 88-96.

 lxii.            Yang, R., & Allison, D. (2004). Research articles in applied linguistics: Structures from a functional perspective. English for Specific Purposes, 23, 264–279.

lxiii.            Zakri, A. H. (2008). Research universities in the 21st century: global challenges and local implications. In Universities as Centres of Research and Knowledge Creation: An Endangered Species? (pp. 41-45). Brill Sense.

Cite this Article: