Nova A.
Nova A.

Dissertation Structure - Expert Writing Tips and Examples

11 min read

Published on: Nov 9, 2021

Last updated on: Jan 31, 2024

dissertation structure

Writing a dissertation is a significant challenge for many students, especially when it comes to structuring the document effectively. 

Without a proper structure, a dissertation can become confusing and fail to convey the intended message.

In this blog, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to dissertation structure. 

We'll explain the essential components of a dissertation. Plus, we’ll provide you with tips and tricks for structuring your document effectively.

By the end of this blog, you'll have a clear understanding of how to organize your dissertation and communicate your ideas clearly.

Let’s get started!

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How to Structure a Dissertation?

The first and foremost step to take after choosing a dissertation topic is figuring out how you want your work laid out. This can be tricky, but if we break it down into simple terms, then everything should become much more straightforward!

A dissertation structure is based on several essential elements that each contribute to the overall success of your project. Although not every dissertation is structured similarly, you need to know what kind (or variant) will suit your needs best.

The structure of your dissertation will depend on the type of paper you’re writing. For example, a humanities-related document has different guidelines than one that deals with science-based topics and theories.

Usually, the structure and format in which your dissertation should be written are provided for you. Make sure to read them thoroughly before outlining any sections or writing up conclusions!

The elements that can be used to structure all types of dissertations are as follows:

Section

Description

Title Page

Includes the title, author's name, institution, and submission date

Abstract

A concise summary of the dissertation's objectives and findings

Table of Contents

Lists all the sections and sub-sections in the dissertation

Introduction

Presents the research problem, objectives, and significance

Literature Review

Reviews relevant literature and provides context for the study

Methodology

Describes the research design, data collection, and analysis methods

Results

Presents the findings of the research

Discussion

Interprets the results, relates them to existing literature

Conclusion

Summarizes the key findings and their implications

References

Lists all the sources cited in the dissertation

Appendices

Includes additional supporting materials, such as surveys or data

Remember, this is a generic structure. The specific requirements may vary depending on the field of study and the guidelines provided by your institution or advisor.

Let's discuss these points in detail.

Title/Cover Page

The cover or title page of your dissertation is the first page. This includes important details such as:

  • Title
  • Your name
  • Your roll number
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your department name
  • Institute’s name
  • Degree program
  • Submission date
  • Institute’s logo

It is important to know that a title page will be written according to the format of your dissertation. For example, if you write in MLA or Chicago style, make sure this information is on cover pages accordingly.

Check out the sample below of a title page in MLA format.

Abstract

A dissertation abstract is the summary of your entire paper. It should contain about 150-300 words and must be written after writing the whole thing to avoid any confusion or mistakes.

The following information should include in the dissertation:

  • The main topic of your dissertation
  • Objectives and research methods used in it
  • The most important part is to summarize what you found out during analysis. So that other people can read about them while not wasting too much time on details!

To make people want to read your dissertation, you need an interesting and informative abstract. Ensure that all relevant information is included in this first paragraph without any unnecessary details; prove how great it would be for them to read!

Table of Contents

The table of contents is a list that shows which chapter and heading each passage belongs in. Each entry has page numbers, so you can easily find the right place for any given piece of writing!

The table of content is one of the most important parts of any document. It helps readers navigate and provides an overview of how your dissertation will be structured, so make sure to include it.

List of Tables and Figures

Tables, charts, and figures are an integral part of any dissertation. This section lists them all down for your readers to follow along with what you're saying.

Glossary

The glossary is a useful resource for those who want to understand the terms and concepts in the text. It includes definitions of unfamiliar words to make it easier for you.

To ensure that no important term is left out, list all the glossary terms alphabetically and provide their definition or explanation. Usually, this step comes after writing your dissertation but can be done earlier if needed.

Introduction

The introduction of the dissertation is often where you make your first impression. It's important that this section grabs the reader’s attention. 

It should provide sufficient information about what they will be reading throughout all future sections. For that, it should contain some exciting content.

The introduction of your dissertation is an opportunity to introduce readers to all the relevant information they need before diving into research. It includes objectives, purposes for writing this particular paper, and the thesis statement, which will be explained in more detail later on.

The following information contains in the dissertation introduction:

  • Introduce the research topic
  • Give some background information
  • Provide the focus of your study
  • Present your research scope
  • Provide a reference for your topic’s existing research
  • Tell how your research contributes to the broader issue
  • State your major research question
  • State our dissertation aims
  • Give an overview of the dissertation structure elements

All the information in your introduction should be explicitly presented to engage readers. Ensure that you give them a complete picture of what, why, and how this research was conducted. 

So, they can have an enjoyable time reading about it!

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Literature Review

The literature review is an integral part of the dissertation. It's written to have a complete understanding of your topic through already existing works by academics in that field.

To write a literature review, you need to follow these steps:

  • Choose the most relevant and credible sources to gather information for your work (books or journals).
  • Evaluate and analyze each source
  • Make a connection between the themes, gaps, conflicts, etc.

A literature review is more than just a summary of the relevant studies. Instead, it requires you to develop an argument and structure that further becomes its basis for justification. This provides insights into your work and summarizes other people's findings.

  • Existing work gaps
  • Discuss your research outcome into the theoretical framework and underlying assumptions
  • State a solution to a problem
  • Start a theoretical debate
  • Strengthens the knowledge with new information

Methodology

The methodology chapter is a crucial step in the process, as it discusses how to conduct your research and collect data.

This section begins by explaining how the writer achieved their findings and reasons for reliability. The methodology includes:

  • What is the approach of the research? (whether it is qualitative, quantitative, ethnographic, or experimental)
  • What techniques do you use to collect the data? (interviews, surveys, etc.)
  • Define the “how, what, when, and where” of the research.
  • What type of research will you do? (empirical or non-empirical research and is it primary or dissertation structure for secondary research)
  • What methods were used to analyze the data (for example, statistical analysis, etc.)
  • The materials and tools used in gathering the data should be clearly described. For example, computer programs (Excel or STAT)
  • State research limitations and problems faced during the research.
  • Provide an evaluation of the methods used.

The major objective of writing this section is to report what the writer did in their research. Moreover, it persuades readers that approaches and methods used successfully solve problems. This makes them feel more confident about exploring a similar situation themselves!

Results

The research results are reported in this section. The goal of writing it is to make only relevant information available that supports your argument or objective. This ensures that you don't waste space with unimportant statistics and details.

The final dissertation chapter is often summarizing all the information gathered throughout. It can be difficult to keep track, so it's best if this part has tables and charts too! This will help readers understand what was said and how it fits into their own life or work environment.

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Discussion

The meaning and implications of research findings are discussed in a discussion section concerning your main question. Interpretations can be more detailed by including relevant examples or analogies that illustrate points better than discussing them on paper.

The discussion section is an opportunity for the writer to make recommendations about future research. This can be done by noting any new findings or predictions related to their study and how these results fit into existing knowledge.

Conclusion

The conclusion section should leave readers clear on what they need to know about the main argument. It can be written to answer any remaining questions or strengthen points made earlier.

It should be analytical enough not to seem sentimental when closing out an entire paper with its conclusions. The conclusion is the final stage in a dissertation, where you can share your thoughts about what has been learned from conducting research and how it will help others.

Bibliography

The bibliography or reference list is where all the information about sources is provided. This includes citations relevant to your research explanations and authorship details for each entry included in your dissertation.

The bibliography is written following the chosen citation referencing style, APA and MLA. This section has certain requirements that need to be fulfilled for each specific format of citations, given they're different from one another.

Dissertation Examples

Students need examples to understand the format and structure of a dissertation proposal. Experts also recommend looking at a few already written samples to make sure they write theirs successfully!

Here are some great dissertation examples to help you write your own winning paper.

Still struggling to write your dissertation? Given below are a few additional examples of dissertation structures.

Expert Tip

Looking for more examples? Take a look at your blog featuring dissertation examples.

Dissertation Writing Tips

When it comes to writing a dissertation, it's not just about the structure but also about the quality of your content. Here are some valuable tips to enhance your dissertation writing:

  • Start Early: Begin your dissertation as early as possible to allow ample time for research, writing, and revisions. Procrastination can lead to unnecessary stress and compromise the quality of your work.
  • Research Thoroughly: Conduct a comprehensive literature review to familiarize yourself with the existing body of knowledge related to your topic. This will help you identify research gaps and formulate relevant research questions.
  • Plan Your Time: Create a realistic timeline or schedule that outlines specific tasks and milestones. Break down your work into manageable sections to stay organized and motivated throughout the process.
  • Organize Your Thoughts: Create an outline or a mind map to structure your ideas logically. This will help you maintain a clear flow of information and ensure that your arguments are presented coherently.
  • Write in Clear and Concise Language: Use simple and precise language to convey your ideas effectively. Avoid unnecessary jargon or complex terminology that may confuse readers.
  • Revise and Edit: Take the time to review and refine your work. Proofread for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Additionally, critically evaluate the clarity and coherence of your arguments.
  • Seek Feedback: Share your work with your supervisor, peers, or other trusted individuals. Constructive feedback can provide valuable insights and help you improve the quality of your dissertation.
  • Follow Guidelines and Formatting Requirements: Adhere to the specific guidelines and formatting requirements provided by your institution. Pay attention to citation styles, referencing, and formatting of headings, tables, and figures.

By implementing these tips, you can enhance the overall quality of your dissertation and increase your chances of success.

Looking for more insights on structuring your dissertation? Check out this video below.

In conclusion, writing a dissertation can be a challenging but rewarding process. By understanding the essential components and structuring your document, you can convey your ideas clearly. 

Remember that organizing your dissertation is essential. Instructors and the audience expect work advancing their knowledge in this field. So it’s important to be organized with all aspects of it, from writing skills down to research accuracy.

If you are struggling to write a dissertation, seek help from our writing service.

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Nova A.

WRITTEN BY

Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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