Dissertation Structure | How to Structure a Dissertation


Dissertation structure varies a lot depending upon the research type and extent. It also varies with the institution’s requirements. This article will give you insight into the standard format of dissertation writing. The dissertation shouldn’t look like an essay, but it should look somewhat like an academic book.

Methodology for structuring your dissertation:

Are you still ruminating on structuring your dissertation? The correct methodology for the task is: go get some dissertation samples from your library. This will give you an idea regarding the most credited dissertation structure in your university. You can also google the structure. Prepare the outline of the areas you are going to cover. This will divide your grandeur work into smaller chunks.

This article aims to provide a general outline for your dissertation along with the features you have to incorporate in each section.

What your dissertation should have?

Substantive chapters that every dissertation should have been:

  • Introduction
  • Dissertation methodology
  • Conclusions

What else you want to incorporate to make your dissertation descriptive is up to your choice or your course demand.

Following is the template for structuring the dissertation

1.    Title page:

This is the eye-catcher part. It gives the reader the threshold idea of your research part. It should be succinate. Although your department will provide you with the pattern mostly the title page has the:

  • The dissertation title
  • Your name
  • Discipline
  • Supervisor’s name
  • Date of submission
  • Some dissertations may have an extra “information page”.

2.    Preface:

The preface is a personal note from the author of the dissertation. In the preface, you can introduce yourself along with your educational background.

3.    Acknowledgment:

In the acknowledgement section, you can thank everyone who helped you in carrying out the research either intellectually or monetarily. You don’t have to add the details about those people.

4.    Abstract:

The abstract is the overall summary of your research. This should be engaging because after reading the abstract the reader will decide if your dissertation is helpful for him or not. The abstract should answer these questions

  • What was your problem statement?
  • What research you have done?
  • What are the results?
  • What conclusions can be drawn from these results?

5.    Table of content:

The table of content is the index where you add the headings and sub-headings along with the page number. This will assist anyone who is navigating through your dissertation to refer to the particular section.

6.    List of figures and tables:

Likewise, you can list down the figures and tables you have used for instance in elaborating the dissertation methodology. For your ease, if you use the “add caption” feature of a word then you can generate a list of those. Some dissertation structuring methodologies add a list of abbreviations shortly after the listing of tables. This homes all the abbreviations and keywords used throughout the dissertation. It’s up to your choice you can also add it at the end.

7.    Introduction:

The introduction is somewhat an explanation of the abstract and a signpost for the rest of the dissertation. A good approach is to leave this section until the completion of the research. When you will be done with your research, you will have more idea regarding how influentially you can introduce your dissertation.

8.    Literature review:

Methodologically this will probably be the first section you will be going to cover practically. This section aims to reflect what the present state of literature has to say regarding your problem statement. This means, how much work had been carried out in the concerned field. Indeed, this is a crucial part because it could reflect the originality of your work and a thorough understanding of previously done research because, on the basis of this section, you are going to decide what are you negating, modifying or rebuilding the previous researcher’s notion.

9.    Dissertation methodology:

This paraphrase all the subtle steps taken to carry out the research. The methodology section has philosophical aspects embedded. This covers all: the addressing to the problem statement, the approach used to do the research, the instrument used, the data collecting way you have chosen, in what ways you think that your method of choice is apt and lastly the data analysing techniques. In a nutshell, you are going to answer all the “how” questions in your research. You can cover all these under separate headings or paragraphs. But all your writing seems to flow from the same idea means they must be coherent. You must follow the standard sample given by your department.

10.    Result:

A scientific dissertation has very distinguishable results and conclusion sections. However, for a social science dissertation, you may find results and conclusion sections overlapping. Here they are often termed “findings”. This section narrates how your research went and what results were obtained from your research without inferring anything from your result.

11.    Conclusion:

This section is meant for the discussion of your result. Here you provide a conclusive answer to your problem statement. You can also relate this section of the dissertation with the literature review and can point out the changes you inculcated in previous work. It is a good approach to highlight the constraints of your research and how these are going to affect validity. Thus, in short, you have to give “real-world” applications along with the implications of your research.

12.    Bibliography:

Here you jot all the sorts of links from which you have taken any help. As a bibliography is subjected to evolution so is the research. So, the practical approach is to edit this section every time you seek a reference. Before concluding the final draft of your dissertation make sure that every cited item in the context is written in the bibliography.

13.    Appendices:

Any document like a map, flowchart, diagram, or questionnaire that assisted you in carrying out research but is irrelevant from the dissertation methodology context could be added in the appendix section. This gives the reader a detailed explanation of how the research was carried out.