What is a dissertation?

A dissertation (or thesis, depending on which the country you are studying in) is basically a research project that is usually undertaken as the final project in your doctoral study or master’s program. To put it another way, your mission is to pose a research question (or series of research questions), then go out to seek the solution (s).

The problem, though, is that you have to conduct this research study in an academic context, and there is a ton of academic jargon that makes it all (appear) very perplexing. Nevertheless, a dissertation is fundamentally about conducting research (investigating something). Understanding this is crucial because it demonstrates your capacity to conduct research in a methodical, analytical, and academically rigorous manner—a vital quality that your university is attempting to foster in you and will be tested on.

Thesis and dissertation projects are usually undertaken by students of higher learning, either those pursuing a master’s degree or master’s program or a doctoral program or doctoral degree. This dissertation process guide is both suited for doctoral students or doctoral dissertation and other students completing master’s thesis. Whichever the level or purpose of completing a dissertation, the process and structure is usually the same.

Dissertation Structure

The dissertation format or structure is the first thing you need to comprehend in order to write a high-quality dissertation. Our dissertation experts at essaywrites.com have created this dissertation guide to answer succinctly what is a dissertation, take you step by step through the general dissertation structure and formatting . Starting with the overall picture, we’ll next close in on each chapter to quickly go through its main points. If you’re just beginning your own research, you should start with this post because it outlines the overall procedure for writing a dissertation or thesis. Here is a simple overview of a dissertation structure.

  • Title page
  • Acknowledgements page
  • Abstract or executive summary
  • Table of contents, list of figures and tables
  • The core dissertation chapters
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Results
  • Chapter 5: Discussion
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list
  • Appendix

The Dissertation Title Page

The title page is the very first page of your dissertation. In contains:

·       The dissertation title or research topic

·       Student’s name

·       Type of your paper (dissertation, research paper)

·       Institution and department

·       Degree program

·       Date due

It also includes the student’s registration number, name of the instructor and university logo. It is used as the cover when binding your dissertation. However, the title page requirements is likely to differ depending on the university thesis and dissertation guidelines.


This section gives you a chance to express your gratitude to people who supported you during the dissertation writing process. In most cases, it’s optional (and won’t affect your grade), but it’s good academic form to add this.

There are no set requirements, although it’s customary to mention the following individuals:

·       Your committee or dissertation supervisor.

·       Any academics or instructors who helped you comprehend the subject or approaches

·       Any advisers, mentors, or tutors.

·       Your spouse, family, and friends in particular (for adult learners studying part-time).

Just be sincere and simply explain who and what you are grateful for.

Dissertation Abstract

The purpose of the dissertation abstract or executive summary is to give the first-time reader a broad overview of your research endeavor. Your dissertation abstract must stand alone so that readers may comprehend the most important research-related findings and conclusions without having to read the remainder of the report.

Your abstract should, at the very least, address the following crucial topics for it to stand alone:

·       The main research question or issues your research seeks to answers for.

·       Methodology or your research approach to researching the subject and obtaining the answers to your research question(s)

·       Your research findings resulting from the study

·       Research conclusions based on the findings.

Your abstract or executive summary should therefore mirror the research process, from the first stage of posing the original question to the last stage of providing a solution, much like the dissertation format does.

Practically speaking, you should write up this section last, once your core chapters have been finished. If not, you’ll have to write and rewrite this part several times (just wasting time).

Chapter 1: Dissertation Introduction

It’s important to remember that, even though your abstract gave a general overview of your research, your introduction must be written as if the reader hasn’t already read it (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). As a result, your introduction chapter must begin at the beginning and should answer the following inquiries:

·       What will you be looking into (in a broad, simple manner)?

·       Why is that something to look into?

·       How does academia or industry benefit from it?

·        How does it have enough originality?

·       What are the purpose(s) and/or questions of your research? Keep in mind that the research questions may occasionally be offered after the literature review (next chapter).

·       What is the purview of your research? What exactly will you and won’t you cover, then?

·       How will you conduct your study? What approach, in other words, will you take?

·       What format will your dissertation take? What will you do in each of the main chapters and what are they?

These are really the very minimum specifications for your introduction chapter. Make sure to thoroughly study your brief or speak with your research supervisor if you think the introduction chapter needs more bells and whistles because some colleges may require them.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

The literature review is the second stage after your introduction chapter has established a clear path. In order to comprehend the following questions, you will analyze the existing research in this area (which is often published in reputable industry journals and academic journal articles).

·       What is currently being written about the subject you are researching?

·       Is there enough or enough established literature? Is it split or in conflict?

·       What role does your study have in the overall scheme of things?

·       What original research contribution does your research make?

·       How can the methods of previous studies aid in the creation of your own?

Towards the end of your literature chapter, you may need to include the conceptual framework (or theoretical framework), which you will test in your actual research.

Also note that certain colleges will want you to concentrate more on some of these areas than others, while others may have different criteria. As always, it is crucial to examine your brief and/or speak with your supervisor so that you are clear on the requirements for your literature chapter.

Chapter 3: Dissertation Methodology

After you have examined the present state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and you are now familiar with the existing research, prevalent key theories, models, and frameworks, it is time to present your study design.

The dissertation methodology section is the most important that addresses two crucial questions:

·       Exactly what is your desired research design, or HOW will you conduct your original research?

·       WHY specifically have you decided to proceed in this manner (i.e., how do you defend your design)?

Keep in mind that the dissertation component of your degree is primarily about developing and showcasing your independent research skills.

The examiners want to see that you are knowledgeable about the appropriate approaches to use, that you can clearly explain why you choose them, and that you are skilled in their efficient application, which is more crucial during the dissertation defense.

Don’t hold back on the details since that is what this chapter needs. Clearly describe what you’ll be doing, who you’ll be doing it with, where, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, be careful to provide a rationale for every design decision you make.

In reality, you’ll probably return to this chapter after you collect data and analysis to make revisions based on the discoveries you made. This is totally acceptable. Based on where your new data lead you, it is normal for you to add a new analysis technique, drop an old one, etc.

Chapter 4: Dissertation Results/Findings

Now that you have gathered your relevant data, you can analyze it using qualitative, quantitative, or blended methodologies. You’ll offer the unprocessed outcomes of your analysis in this chapter. In a quantitative study for instance, you might show the demographic information, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, etc.

Typically, this chapter does not examine the significance of the existing data; rather, it merely presents and describes the facts. In other words, it is more descriptive than analytical; Chapter 5 discusses what this means. Nevertheless, some institutions will request that you combine chapters 4 and 5 so that you can simultaneously analyze data and present the meaning of the facts. Ask your graduate school what preference they have.

Chapter 5: Dissertation Discussion

The discussion section discusses and analyzes the fresh data outcomes and what they signify, particularly in regard to your study question.

What you discuss here will be greatly influenced by the methods you use. If you used a quantitative approach, you might, for instance, talk about the relationships between the variables. If you chose a qualitative approach, you may talk about the major themes and their implications. It all depends on the choices you made for your research design.

Most importantly, you must relate your dissertation findings to your research objectives and research questions as well as to the body of existing research. What can you infer about your research questions from the findings? Do they match the current research?

 Chapter 6: Dissertation Conclusion

You’ve made it to the last chapter! Once you’ve stated how you interpreted the findings, it’s time to start over with the conclusion chapter. Alternatively put, it’s time to (try to) respond to your initial research question (s) (from way back in chapter 1). Outline your conclusions in relation to your research question (s). Although you may have touched on this in the prior chapter, it is crucial to bring the subject full circle and present your answer(s) to the research question (s) precisely.

You usually address the significance of your findings after that. That is to say, you have found the answers to your research question (s). How the research contributes the actual world (or even academia)? What has to be changed now that you have this new knowledge?

Finally, you should talk about the research’s limits and what this means for other studies in the field or future research. No research is flawless, let alone even a master’s thesis or a doctoral study. Talk about the limitations of your own original research. It’s possible that your technique was insufficient; your sample size was insufficient or not representative, etc. The markers want to see that you can see the limitations of your dissertation, so don’t be reluctant to criticize it. This is not a weakness, but strength; so do not hold it back. Also, finalize by offering recommendations for further research on the field.

List of references

The reference list is uncomplicated. It should include a list of all the materials you cited in your dissertation, formatted according to the specifications, such as APA, Harvard, etc.


The appendix or collection of appendices is the very last component of your dissertation. Any supporting information and supporting evidence should go here.

Get Help in Writing a Dissertation

It is our hope that this post has made the typical thesis and dissertation structure and layout clear to you. However, if you are stuck in any section of your dissertation or lack time for the task, our professional dissertation writers are ready and willing to help you.

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