Dissertation Help: Should You Write a Digital Dissertation?
What is a digital dissertation?
A digital dissertation is one that uses digital or web technology in some capacity. Digital dissertations are diverse – no two make use of technology in the same way! As A.L. McMichael writes, digital dissertations “include a wide variety of projects: databases, websites, interactive maps, recordings of sound and video.” A digital dissertation could also combine a traditional textual dissertation with interactive elements. Lori Brister at George Washington University, for instance, has created a digital companion to her dissertation. The writer of a digital dissertation might write code as well as traditional textual scholarship. The beauty of digital technology is that it allows us to find creative new ways to communicate information, so if you're a creative-minded dissertation writer, you can take advantage and create a dissertation that presents your research in an innovative way.
Interactive Digital Dissertations
Some digital dissertations are interactive. For instance, Amanda Visconti at the University of Maryland is creating an online dissertation called Infinite Ulysses, that invites members of the public to interact with, tag, and converse about the text of James Joyce's Ulysses. Using a digital format, she can not only make an argument about public engagement with literature, but can create and test a model based on her ideas. If you're interested in writing a dissertation that engages with a public beyond the academy, a digital dissertation might be a good way to go, as you could incorporate a social media component directly into your project.
How Are Digital Dissertations Stored?
Some universities offer web hosting student projects. If you're interested in writing a digital dissertation, consult with the technology services department at your institution, and they may be able to assist you. Alternatively, you could investigate whether or not your university library has a digital library that hosts digital dissertations. As A.L. Michael reports, some libraries are working to find ways to archive and disseminate digital dissertations. You could also develop your own website and host the project using a webhosting service.
Who Can Access a Digital Dissertation?
Some digital dissertations are freely available online, like Dwayne Dixon's digital dissertation about youth in Japan. But you could also control access to a digital dissertation: it may only exist on a particular computer, it may be password protected, or it may only be accessible through your university.
Advantages and Disadvantages
A digital dissertation lets you communicate in novel and creative ways, allows you to make new kinds of arguments, and could allow your research to connect with a wider public. It can also demonstrate that you are proficient with web technology, which may be an asset in future job searches.
Creating a digital dissertation can, however, be a lot of work. Developing programs, interfaces, or websites is no less time consuming than writing. You may also have to learn new skills or computer programming languages to successfully execute your project. Be sure to take into account the length of time you want to spend on your dissertation before committing to a digital project.
It may also be difficult to find faculty advisors who appreciate your goals in creating a digital dissertation. Some faculty may be committed to more traditional dissertation models. However, digital dissertations are becoming increasingly common, and many campuses offer resources and support for students interested in pursuing such projects. You may also want to keep your career goals in mind: while creating a digital dissertation can open up opportunities, some more conservative departments may be reticent to hire faculty who do more creative and experimental work. Keep your goals in mind as you decide whether or not to pursue a digital dissertation. Amanda Visconti has some great tips to keep in mind as you consider writing a digital dissertation.
Most digital dissertations incorporate a significant amount of writing. Whether your dissertation is digital or not, we can help you make sure your writing is polished and perfect and meets your advisor's standards. You will also need to make sure that your citations and references are formatted accurately. Call us today to work with a dissertation editor or dissertation formatting expert.
No matter your project, if you need dissertation help, we are here for you. Call us today to speak to a dissertation consultant. We can help you develop your project. Our dissertation services include coaching, consultation, and quantitative and qualitative research.
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