Structuring Your Dissertation Properly
A thesis or dissertation is a piece of academic writing that is relatively long and based on original research. The author submits it as part of a bachelor's, master's, or Ph.D. degree.
A dissertation is arguably the most extended academic writing piece undertaken in higher learning institutions, and candidates get confused on how to start. In this article, you will get to know the components of a dissertation. It is even possible to get access to the dissertation template, complete with a table of contents comprising of notes on what to write in each chapter.
Dissertations do not have the same structure, but they do have some similarities. The dissertation structure depends on the approach, topic, discipline, and location. For instance, humanities dissertations are similar to long essays that build an overall argument supporting the central thesis.
- Title page
It is the initial page of the dissertation document. The title page has the following information: the submission date, degree program, institution, department and or school/faculty, your name, and title. In some instances, you might include the university logo, supervisors' names, and student numbers.
This section is optional. If present, it allows the student to pen a thank you note to those who offered some help when conducting the research and writing the dissertation. It is customary to include family members, friends, research participants, and your supervisor.
It is a short and concise summary of the dissertation. It is approximately 150 to 300 words. Since it is a summary, it is always the last thing to write once all other sections are complete. The abstract includes the following contents:
- Summary of the key results
- Methods used
- The key topic and aims of the research
- Table of contents
It is the listing of the dissertation chapters and major headings and subheadings together with their page numbers. The table of contents offers the reader a grasp of the dissertation structure and helps navigate the dissertation document.
- List of tables and figures
It would be best if you itemized your figures and tables in your dissertation so that your readers can quickly locate them. Word processors have tools that can help you generate tables and figures automatically together with their page numbers.
- List of abbreviations
Consider having a list of abbreviations if your abbreviations in your thesis document are many. For ease of access, arrange them in alphabetic order.
Glossary is essential if your dissertation uses specialized terms that your audience might not be familiar with. A dictionary is a list of such words arranged in alphabetic order for ease of access.
The introduction set the dissertation's relevance, purpose, and topic. It also informs the readers what you need to expect in the rest of the thesis. The contents of the introduction should be relevant, engaging, and straightforward.
- Theoretical framework/ Literature review
Review of literature is the first thing you should do before you start your research. The literature review's objective is to familiarize you with the body of knowledge in your area of study.
This section describes how you will conduct your research and includes data gathering and analysis tools you will rely on to arrive at your conclusion.
The objective of the methodology is to detail how you will conduct your research accurately.
This section presents your research findings to your audience. One way to cover this section is to structure it around themes, hypotheses, or research questions. In other areas, the results section is separate from the discussion.
In this section, you provide your audience with the interpretation of the results concerning research questions. Your interpretations of products should be in detail, and let your audience know if you met your expectations or not.
Your conclusion needs to give concise answers to your key research question, allowing your audience to have a vivid understanding of your key argument.
- Reference list
Remember to have an exhaustive list of all sources that your dissertation relied on. Follow a reliable citation style given by your institution.
If you have used huge documents in your dissertations, such as tables and maps that do not fit in the other sections, consider including them as part of the appendix.
Proofreading and editing
Ensure that all sections get included and well written.