I like to use the analogy that writing a dissertation is like braiding hair.
Don’t be fooled if it sounds easy. This isn’t a simple three-part braid. No no, your customer (or dissertation supervisor) wants a whole hairstyle, not just the braid. You have three chapters, each is like its own braid, which then has to weaves together into one. Plus, you have your introduction and conclusion, the equivalent of styling the bangs in the front and the stray hairs in the back.
It’s also a process, a journey. You try one strand of hair here and then another there and when that doesn’t work, you undo the braid and try again with the knowledge and experience you gained in trying the first time. It’s a constant process of putting a strand of hair in and then stepping back and seeing if it works. Then if that quote, errrm…. I mean strand of hair, doesn’t fit in with the other twists and turns of the style… Then it has to be taken out. Sometimes, you finish a whole fishtail braid and just as you’re about to tie the end… You realize the fishtail style doesn’t work with the hairpins you originally chose! Time to re-try weaving the hair strands together in a French Braid.
Lastly, let’s not forget about functionality. Hairstyles not only have to look clean and well-put together, they also have to hold when put to the test. Wedding hairstyles, gymnasts’ buns, horse-riders’ braids… They all have to stand the event/physical activity. Similarly, your dissertation has to be well-written/presentable AND be defendable/rooted in a research methodology.
And at the very end, you hairspray the style with footnotes, a bibliography, a filmography, a cover page, and a table of contents… And voila! You step back and you have a dissertation hairstyle!