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How Much Evidence Is Needed In A Thesis Or Dissertation?

Published by at March 13th, 2024 , Revised On April 9, 2024

The journey towards completing a thesis or dissertation is marked by rigorous research, meticulous analysis, and ultimately, the need to present a compelling argument supported by sound evidence and sources. 

This seemingly straightforward question carries significant weight, influencing the direction and outcome of your entire work. While there is no single, universal answer that fits every thesis or dissertation, understanding the purpose of evidence, its varying forms, and best practices for its integration can guide you toward a well-supported and convincing final product.

Role Of Evidence In Thesis A Thesis Or Dissertation

Evidence serves as the cornerstone of any academic argument. The tangible data, findings, and reasoning substantiate your claims and convince your reader of the validity of your research

Whether it’s through empirical data, qualitative analysis, or established scholarly work, evidence paints a clear picture of your research journey and the conclusions you draw.

The type and quantity of evidence you will need depend largely on your research question, methodology, and field of study. Here’s a glimpse into the diverse landscape of evidence commonly encountered:

Quantitative Data

Statistical analyses, tables, charts, and graphs often form the backbone of evidence in quantitative research, providing numerical insights into the relationships and patterns you’ve uncovered.

Qualitative Data

In-depth interviews, participant observations, and textual analysis contribute qualitative evidence, offering detailed descriptions and interpretations of subjective experiences and meanings.

Literature Review

Scholarly articles, books, and other credible sources serve as vital evidence when you engage in critical discussions, build upon existing knowledge, and position your research within the broader academic landscape.

Striking The Right Balance: Quality Over Quantity

While the volume of evidence can be tempting to prioritise, remember that quality reigns supreme. A handful of well-chosen, robust pieces of evidence, meticulously analysed and presented, are far more impactful than an overwhelming collection that lacks depth or coherence.

Here are some key considerations for ensuring your evidence is high-quality:


Ensure every piece of evidence directly connects to your research question and effectively supports your claims. Avoid including irrelevant information that may distract or confuse your reader.


The sources you rely on must be credible and trustworthy. This means drawing from established scholars, authoritative publications, and reliable data sources relevant to your field.


The data collection methods, whether quantitative or qualitative, must be rigorous and valid. This ensures the reliability and accuracy of your findings and strengthens the foundation of your argument.

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How To Effectively Use Evidence In A Thesis Or A Dissertation

Beyond the quality and quantity of evidence, how you integrate it into your work is equally crucial. Aim for a seamless blend of evidence and your own analysis, interpretation, and critical thinking. Here are some effective strategies:


Introduce each piece of evidence by providing a clear context and explaining its source, purpose, and connection to your argument.

Analyse & Interpret

Don’t simply present data as standalone facts. Analyse it rigorously, explain its meaning in relation to your research question, and interpret its significance in the context of your broader argument.

Acknowledge Limitations

Be transparent about any limitations or potential biases associated with your chosen methods or data sources. This demonstrates your awareness of the research landscape and strengthens the overall credibility of your work.

Frequently Asked Questions

The evidence required in a thesis or dissertation varies depending on the field, topic, and academic standards. Generally, it should be sufficient to support the research questions or hypotheses, provide comprehensive analysis, and justify conclusions. Quality and relevance of evidence are paramount over quantity.

A 10,000-word dissertation typically requires approximately 30 to 50 sources, though this can vary based on the discipline, complexity of the topic, and specific requirements of the institution or advisor. It’s essential to prioritise quality over quantity, selecting sources that are relevant, credible, and contribute significantly to the research.

The data needed for a dissertation depends on the research question, methodology, and analysis techniques. Generally, aim for a sufficient quantity to investigate the topic and support conclusions thoroughly. Data adequacy is determined by its relevance, quality, and ability to address the research objectives effectively.

A 5000-word dissertation may be sufficient for certain topics or disciplines, especially if it’s focused and well-structured. However, ensuring that the word count allows for comprehensive coverage of the research questions, analysis, and discussion is essential, as well as meeting the academic standards and requirements set by the institution or advisor.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.