How to Structure a Dissertation or Thesis

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How to Structure a Dissertation or Thesis

how to structure a dissertation


A well written dissertation incorporates specific writing and editing expertise. However, many students are uncertain about the structure of dissertation, and therefore they seek help from online resources. It should be noted that the structure of dissertation is usually determined by the area of research. Dissertations within humanities and social studies are different in structure as compared to those in engineering and sciences subjects. Dissertation-assembly guidelines are usually provided by the supervisors,
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But if you are still unsure then consider following the structure given below:

Title Page, Table of Contents, Declaration and Acknowledgement

Your dissertation will start with a Title page which will contain details of the author/researcher, research topic, and research supervisor. The name of your university should also be presented on the title page. The next section will be the Table of Contents where you will be required to write down page numbers next to each section and sub section. Declaration of originality section allows the researcher to confirm that the research work is solely his own. The Declaration section is followed by the Acknowledgements page where the author acknowledges the support and help that enabled him to complete his work.

Abstract/Executive Summary

Depending on your area of study, you will be asked to provide abstract or executive summary of your research. This usually provides you with the opportunity to write a digest or a short summary of your paper. The abstract or executive summary section should introduce the topic of discussion before providing information regarding the research methodology and analysis strategy employed. Make sure that you highlight the key points to help readers figure out the scope and findings of your research study without having to read the entire dissertation.

Related: How to Write the Abstract for Your Dissertation

Introduction and Literature Review

Introduction chapter briefly introduces the topic and list the key aims and objectives of research. Again, the field of your study will determine how tightly these objectives are specified. Literature Review chapter presents previous research performed on the topic. This is usually organized so as to compliment the primary research work which is completed at a later stage. It is absolutely vital to take your time when collecting academic reference resources for the Literature Review section. If possible, make sure that your chosen academic sources are authentic and up to date. The Literature Review chapter must be comprehensive in nature and address the aims and objectives as defined in the Introduction chapter.



The methods and techniques (including secondary and/or primary) employed to collect the research data are discussed in detail in the Methodology chapter. The methods of primary data collection include questionnaires, interviews, surveys etc. Essentially, the Methodology chapter allows the researcher to explain how he/she achieved the findings, why they are reliable, and how they helped him/her to test the research hypotheses.

Findings and Discussion

Findings of research are presented under the Findings section, which generally includes tables, graphs, figures to analyse the results. This is followed by Discussions which is considered as the heart of the dissertation writing. The discussion section is an opportunity for you to tie the knots together to address the research questions, and to present arguments and models. Discussion chapter does not require any new data or information, because it is more about the interpretation/meaning of the data you have already collected.

Conclusion and References

Conclusions corresponding to each research objective are provided in the Conclusions section. This is usually done by revisiting the research questions to finally close the dissertation loop. Some universities may specifically ask for Recommendations in order to evaluate your critical thinking. The academic sources used to complete the dissertation are listed in the References chapter.

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