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What Are The Main Parts Of A Dissertation?

Published by at April 18th, 2024 , Revised On April 23, 2024

Embarking on the journey of writing a dissertation can be both exhilarating and daunting. It is the peak of years of study, research, and academic rigour, and it represents a significant milestone in one’s academic journey. However, understanding the framework of a dissertation is essential for going through this process effectively. In this comprehensive guide, we will dissect the main components of a dissertation. Let’s look further. 

Main Parts Of A Dissertation

A dissertation mainly has the following sections


The introduction sets the stage for the entire dissertation. Its primary purpose is to provide an overview of the research topic, highlight its significance, and establish the research context. This section typically includes:

  • Background and context of the study.
  • Research problem or question.
  • Objectives or aims of the research.
  • Scope and limitations of the study.
  • Significance and relevance of the research.

Crafting a compelling introduction requires clarity, conciseness, and a strong rationale for the research. It serves as a roadmap, guiding the reader through the dissertation’s purpose and structure.

Literature Review

The literature review is a critical component of the dissertation, providing a comprehensive analysis of existing content related to the research topic. It involves:

  • Reviewing relevant theories, concepts, and frameworks.
  • Synthesising previous research findings.
  • Identifying gaps, contradictions, or areas for further exploration.
  • Establishing the theoretical foundation for the study.
  • Demonstrating the researcher’s understanding of the field and its evolving discourse.

A well-executed literature review demonstrates scholarly engagement, critical thinking, and the ability to situate one’s research within the broader academic landscape.


The methodology section outlines the research design, approach, and methods employed to address the research questions or objectives. It includes:

  • Research philosophy and paradigm.
  • Research design (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, mixed-methods).
  • Data collection methods (e.g., surveys, interviews, experiments).
  • Sampling strategy and sample size.
  • Data analysis techniques.

Clarity and transparency are crucial in the methodology section, as they allow readers to evaluate the study’s validity, reliability, and generalisability.


The results section presents the findings of the research in a clear and systematic manner. It involves:

  • Presenting raw data or empirical evidence.
  • Organising data using tables, charts, or graphs.
  • Describing patterns, trends, or correlations.
  • Providing interpretations or explanations of the findings.

Accuracy, objectivity, and coherence are essential when reporting results, ensuring that the findings align with the research questions and contribute to the overall argument.


The discussion section includes the implications of the findings and their significance within the broader context of the research field. It involves:

  • Interpreting the results in relation to the research questions or hypotheses.
  • Analysing the implications of the findings.
  • Comparing and contrasting with existing literature.
  • Identifying limitations and addressing potential biases.
  • Proposing recommendations for future research or practice.

The discussion section is where the researcher demonstrates critical thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to draw meaningful conclusions from the data.

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The conclusion serves as the final summation of the dissertation, reiterating the main findings, implications, and contributions of the study. It involves:

  • Summarising the key findings and arguments.
  • Reflecting on the research process and outcomes.
  • Addressing any unresolved questions or areas for further inquiry.
  • Emphasising the significance of the research within the broader academic or practical context.

A well-crafted conclusion provides closure and leaves a lasting impression on the reader, reinforcing the study’s importance and relevance.


The references section lists all the sources cited in the dissertation, following a specific citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). It involves:

  • Alphabetising the references.
  • Formatting citations according to the prescribed style.
  • Ensuring accuracy and consistency in citation format.

Adhering to proper citation practices is essential for academic integrity and acknowledging the contributions of other scholars.


The appendices contain supplementary material that supports the dissertation but is not essential to the main body of the text. This may include:

  • Raw data.
  • Survey questionnaires.
  • Interview transcripts.
  • Additional charts or graphs.

Appendices provide readers with access to additional information that enhances their understanding of the research but may be too detailed or voluminous to include in the main text.


A dissertation is a complex and multifaceted academic undertaking, comprising several interconnected parts that contribute to its overall coherence, rigour, and scholarly merit. By understanding the main components of a dissertation and their respective roles, researchers can navigate through the writing process with clarity, purpose, and confidence. 

Each part serves a distinct function, yet collectively, they form a cohesive narrative that advances knowledge, addresses research gaps, and makes a meaningful contribution to the academic discourse.

Frequently Asked Questions

A dissertation typically comprises several key components: an introduction outlining the research aims and objectives, a literature review summarising existing scholarship, a methodology section detailing research methods, findings presenting results, a discussion analysing findings, and a conclusion summarising key insights. Additionally, appendices may include supplementary material.

The most crucial part of a dissertation is the discussion section. Here, the researcher critically analyzes and interprets the findings in the context of existing literature and research questions, demonstrating the significance of the study’s outcomes and contributing to the broader academic discourse in the field.

A typical dissertation structure includes an introduction, literature review, methodology, findings/results, discussion, and conclusion. The introduction sets the stage, the literature review contextualises the research, the methodology details the approach, the findings present results, the discussion interprets findings, and the conclusion summarises key points and implications, offering closure to the study.

The most challenging aspect of a dissertation varies for each researcher, but commonly, it’s the process of synthesising extensive literature into a coherent literature review. This involves critical analysis, organisation, and identifying gaps in existing research. Additionally, managing time, overcoming writer’s block, and maintaining motivation can also pose significant difficulties.

To write a strong dissertation, begin with a clear research question and thorough planning. Conduct a comprehensive literature review, choose appropriate methodology, and meticulously collect and analyse data. Maintain logical structure, and coherent argumentation, and adhere to academic conventions. Seek feedback, revise diligently, and ensure clarity, originality, and contribution to the field.

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.