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How to Structure a Dissertation

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Structure a Dissertation

There are many models that can be used for structuring a dissertation. The structure of your paper depends on your field and prompts that you’ve been given. On the other hand, there are certain common standards that apply to all dissertations. For instance, there are almost the same requirements for introductions and conclusions, regardless of the field.

Present Your Literature Review

Start your dissertation with a brief introduction. It serves several purposes. First of all, it provides your readers with the basic information on your topic. It must give your readers an understanding of some crucial terms and allow them to get a grasp on the background of your subject. To make sure that your introduction covers all necessary details, we suggest writing it once you’ve written the entire dissertation.

After this, get to the literature review. It’s aimed to provide your readers with used sources so that they can check all related materials, better understanding your point and making sure that you use proven facts. If your dissertation is based on a previous research, don’t forget to explain what is special about your own work and why it’s important. Tell your readers what gaps are present in this field and why there’s a need for a new research.


The methodology section is another crucial part of the dissertation because it explains how you collected data and what methods you used. Write a list of people who participated in your research and what contribution they made to it. Explain why you decided to choose these people. You must also mention any ethical concerns associated with your study.

Explain what tools you used to make any measurements. If you used a completely new approach, don’t forget to describe it in details so that your readers can understand the whole process. If the validity of your research can be jeopardized for any reasons, you must mention this fact and explain all circumstances that may affect the results of your research.

Keep in mind that the main purpose of the methodology section is to provide readers with necessary information so that they can recreate the whole process you’ve been going through.

Develop Your Study

List the results that you’ve obtained during the research. You don’t have to include all results but you must make sure that your dissertation contains all important information that you got. Try not to interpret obtained results. You have to leave more space for other people who may write new dissertations about your findings.

Elaborate your arguments. Your research must be based on a certain idea. In turn, the central idea of your dissertation must be supported by strong arguments. To make your idea more persuasive, we suggest avoiding debatable statements and questions that don’t have concrete answers. Don’t use approximate numbers if your study requires accurate data.

Write a Conclusion

Your conclusions must illustrate the importance of your findings as well as your deep understanding of the results. Even if you think that your conclusions are obvious, you must explain how the results of your research are related to the main question of the dissertation and what they lead to.

After this, point out the need for further research and the direction in which it may move. Perhaps you’ve obtained unexpected results and so you think that other people can better understand them in the future. Or maybe you’ve been expecting certain results that you didn’t manage to obtain. You can write any suggestions on further research in this field. For example, tell what is especially important to focus on and how some general issues may be narrowed down by other experts.

This section of your dissertation is mostly aimed towards explaining the strong and weak sides of your research. You must mention all the factors that limited you and how such limitations could affect your results. Describing all related difficulties in details, you also provide very important information for those who want to study this issue in the future so they can be prepared for unexpected situations.

Polish Your Dissertation

The way of structuring your dissertation generally depends on your advisor. Make sure that you understand and follow all requirements of your committee and department. We suggest reading previously approved dissertations so that you can notice some features of their structure and use some models in your own work. Check the following list of the most important things:

  • Your word limit and parts of the dissertation that are calculated in the total number of words.
  • Specifics of your field: what material is acceptable, and what you shouldn’t include?
  • What materials are considered the most important by the committee?

Finally, make sure that you follow the necessary citation format. Check your title page, abstract, and any additional materials. They must meet certain format requirements of your institution.

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