A Guide to Structure a Dissertation

Detailed writing based on comprehensive research is known as a dissertation. Regardless of the research area or academic level, completing a dissertation is usually necessary to earn a Master and Doctorate.

Let’s suppose you’ve got an idea of what a dissertation is now, and you’ve also chosen a topic, and your research proposal has been approved too. Fantastic! Now, it’s time to begin the actual dissertation writing process. Remember, though, there are different writing methods, and a dissertation has its own requirements you must meet.

Furthermore, to write a detailed one per the designed research questions, you must first know how to structure a dissertation. So, in this article, we’ll walk you through the generic structure and layout step by step. But, first, we’ll begin with the big picture to discuss the main points.

Let’s look into it:

How to Structure a Dissertation

A student must remember the dissertation’s structure is determined by the research method, research title, and the format the respected educational institutes provide. For instance, a humanities student knows to structure their dissertation like a long essay.

If your dissertation is based on primary or empirical studies, you should include the following elements:

1.      Title Page

The title of any dissertation contains the student’s name, department, degree programme, institution, and submission date. All that goes on the first page of your document. Aside from these details, the first page can also contain your student ID, supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo. Furthermore, different academic programmes have strict formatting requirements for the dissertation title page.

In addition, keep in mind your title page is the first impression you will leave on your audience.  So, think of the ways to make it incredible. You must be wondering what can make your title page good. Here are a few ideas:

  • Keep it precise
  • Ensure it represents your research (clearly incorporate your title containing a touch of methodology)
  • Stick to the specifications and relevance to the research area (avoid ambiguity)

These three elements can make your dissertation free of clutter, allowing it to stand out among the others.

2.      Acknowledgement

This page allows you to express your gratitude to those who assisted you as you completed the dissertation. Even though this is optional (and will not count towards your grade), most experts consider it the best educational practice.

Now, decide to whom do you express your gratitude? There are no set requirements. However, it is common to acknowledge the following people:

  • Course Supervisor, who assisted you in understanding the topic and data collection
  • Mentors
  • Participants of your research
  • Family and friends

Generally, there’s no need for you to extend this section. Instead, state who you’re grateful to and for what (e.g., thank you to my supervisor, Eric Baldoni, for his never-ending dedication and attentiveness). Be genuine and remember to make it a one-pager or shorter.

3.      Abstract

An abstract summarizes a dissertation. Ideally, a well-written abstract consists of 150–300 words. Almost all academic experts suggest you write this section after completing your dissertation. Whether you take their advice or not, make certain to include the following points in the abstract:

  • The main topic and goals of the study
  • The chosen research methodologies
  • A summary of the key findings
  • Conclusions and limitations of your study (if any)

Although an abstract is brief, it is one of the first things a reader will encounter when picking up your dissertation. So, you should get it right.

If you’re having trouble writing a compelling abstract, take a look here and learn how to compose an abstract.

4.      Table of Content

The dissertation contents page provides a brief overview of your structure and aids in document navigation. In a Microsoft Document, you can simply generate a table of content.

5.      List of Tables or Figures

If your dissertation contains tables, illustrations, and figures, you should present them in a bulleted list in a separate area. You can use the built-in feature of Microsoft Word to auto-insert and auto-create figures and tables.

6.      Glossary

If you’ve used a lot of highly specialized or technical terms in your dissertation you think your reader will not be familiar with, it may be a good idea to add a glossary. List the terms alphabetically and provide a summary or definition for every term.

7.      Introduction

You’ve now your dissertation topic, purpose, and relevance. Therefore, it’s high time you write your introduction.

A well-planned introduction should:

  • Include your aims and objectives, providing background information required to contextualize your work
  • Narrow your focus and determine the scope of your research
  • Explain the recent statistics by demonstrating your work’s significance to a larger problem.
  • Have your research rationale, significance, and the gap your dissertation aims to cover
  • Provide a summary of the structure of your dissertation

Everything in the introduction should be understandable, engaging, and pertinent to your study. In other words, leverage it to make it easier for a reader to understand the why, what, and how of your research by the end.

8.      Literature Review

The literature review chapter summarizes previous research on the topic and helps you incorporate them accordingly. Moreover, it is written to support your objectives. Therefore, ensure the academic sources you use are reliable and updated.

The Literature Review must be thorough and planned according to the aims and objectives part of your dissertation. Some points a good literature review must have are:

  • Data gathered from relevant and reliable academic sources, such as journals, books, and research papers
  • Analytical evaluation of the gathered information from credible databases
  • Assessing research gaps, patterns, conflicts, and theories to communicate your point properly to the reader

Clearly, literature reviews are crucial for establishing comprehensible reasoning or structure to explain your research study. Write them well!

9.      Methodology

The Methodology chapter describes the methods and approaches (secondary and primary) used to obtain research results.

Primary data collection methods commonly include interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, surveys, experiments, and observations. Similarly, this section essentially allows a researcher to discuss how they obtained the data, why it is credible, and how it will help answer the designed research questions.

When writing research methods, you should keep the following points in mind:

  • Use research philosophy and approach in your work. Experimental, quantitative, and qualitative researches are the commonly used study forms
  • Questionnaires, surveys, focus groups, observation, and other data collection methods are defined accordingly
  • Describe when, how, where, and what research you conducted
  • Methods of data analysis used (regression analysis, content analysis, thematic analysis, etc.)
  • Data analysis software and tools (STATA, Excel, SPSS, NVIVO, and more)
  • Limitations of research to showcase any obstacles you had to confront while conducting our research
  • Justify your choice of research processes and methods

10.  Findings

The chapter on dissertation findings is organized around the research questions discussed in the introductory part. Therefore, only include findings related to your study objectives.

Furthermore, appendices may contain details not directly related to research questions or hypotheses, which may benefit the readers. As previously stated, you can present your findings in a separate chapter or merge them with the discussion section; the nature of the study and the academic subject will influence this decision.

Moreover, a dissertation using experimental or quantitative data must show findings and analysis/discussion in the appendix.

11.  Discussion

This part investigates the significance and implications of your findings related to your research topic. Therefore, you should analyze the results in detail, addressing whether they validated your query, met the expectations, and how well they suit the framework you created in previous chapters.

  • What do the findings conclude, according to your analysis?
  • Investigate the ramifications: why do the outcomes matter?
  • Recognize your limitations: what can’t the results tell us?

Similarly, if any of the results are unforeseen, provide explanations for why. For instance, COVID-19 did not allow you to conduct face to face interviews. So in a way, discussions can be a good place to mention why you considered different interpretations of your data. Even so, you should look to credible sources to demonstrate how your findings fit empirical evidence.

12.  Conclusion

You are expected to find conclusions for each research objective in this section. This is usually accomplished by revisiting the research questions to summarize the phd dissertation writing service thread. Several universities may specifically request a recommendation’s section to assess your critical thinking abilities.

Moreover, a well-executed conclusion ensures readers clearly understand the fundamental case by the end. Besides, it emphasizes what research methodology was used and what you learned from this investigation.

13.  Reference List

All academic resources come in this part of the dissertation. You must cite text and add a reference list (known as a bibliography), so the readers can easily find the information sources.

Likewise, several universities recommend Harvard referencing style. It has rigorous and specific requirements for formatting a reference resource. Other popular referencing styles include APA, MLA, and Oxford.

14.  Appendices

Relevant information should be included in each chapter of the dissertation. In addition, any information not directly related to your research topic but that might interest readers (such as interview transcripts) should be present in the Appendixes section.

How Can Dissertation Experts Be Helpful?

If you are unsure about dissertation structure, lack the motivation to begin, or are struggling in writing your dissertation project, you might think about taking dissertation help online.

Multiple writing brands help students write outstanding dissertations and adhere to the professors’ and university requirements. Whether you need help with chapters, abstracts, proposals, or an entire dissertation, you can contact these professional experts online easily!

AJ Alvi

Ahmed Jamal is a digital marketer and a writer. Ahmed has used his voice to empower the young. He writes for people of all ages but most importantly for upcoming writers. He worked in the corporate sector for more than three years and has thousands of young individuals through writing workshops and empowering storytelling.

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