How to Structure a Dissertation: Chapters & Sub Chapters

| October 25, 2011 | 24 Comments

The following post includes a concise and in-depth overview of the chapters and subchapters normally contained within a dissertation. These would be very useful when deciding what should go where, and what you should write next. We use this template at WritePass when assisting students with their dissertations. We hope you benefit strongly from it as well.

 

Dissertations should be structured in the following manner:

  • TITLE PAGE
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
  • DEDICATION
  • ABSTRACT
  • TABLE OF CONTENTS
    • LIST OF TABLES (If available)
    • LIST OF FIGURES (if available)
  • INTRODUCTION
    • INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
    • ORGANISATION UNDER STUDY
    • PROBLEM STATEMENT
    • RESEARCH OBJECTIVE
    • DISSERTATION STRUCTURE
  • LITERATURE REVIEW
    • INTRODUCTION
    • LITERATURE REVIEW
    • FINAL SUBCHAPTERS SHOULD INCLUDE:
    • LITERATURE REVIEW SUMMARY
    • RESEARCH QUESTION

Do not be descriptive in your literature review. For every one of 2 reviews on a particular subject, come up with equal critiques by opposing authors to have a balanced critique of the subject you are reviewing.

  • METHODOLOGY
    • RESEARCH PHILOSOPHY
    • RESEARCH APPROACH
    • RESEARCH STRATEGY
    • DATA COLLECTION
    • DATA ANALYSIS
    • ACCESS
    • RELIABILITY, VALIDITY, AND GENERALISABILITY
    • ETHICAL ISSUES
    • RESEARCH LIMITATIONS

 

For most sections of the methodology, you should include an appropriate rationale for why you chose to use that particular methodology over an opposing methodology. If you choose positivist over interpretivist, why did you do it?

 

  • RESULTS
    • If Quantitative, you should include all the figures, along with a description of the results.
    • If Qualitative or Case Study, you should include the relevant findings in a descriptive format.
  • DISCUSSION
    • Justification of research topic (why you chose that topic)
    • Recap of Literature Review, and Methodology
    • Justification of Sample
    • Brief Recap of Results
    • Analysis – Split the research question into different sections, and answer each one of the sub questions, based on Literature Review and Results. Then eventually, write a summary that answers the whole research question.
    • Analysis – Make sure you answer the research question. The results should be analyzed in line with the Literature you reviewed in Chapter 2.
  • CONCLUSION
  • RECOMMENDATIONS
  • REFERENCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
  • APPENDIX

You must be a good storyteller to write a dissertation. You are not expected to interview or survey anybody, but you must be able to understand the organisation, literature review and methodology, up until the point that you can write a convincing thesis to answer your proposed research question (ask for samples if you need them).

I suggest and totally recommend that you start from the literature review. Since you are not really conducting the interviews and reports, the literature review would give you a well-rounded overview of the topic.

Most social sciences and Law dissertations adopt secondary research, compared to business dissertations that primarily use Primary Research. Ensure that your choice of research is the most adequate for the topic you are working on.

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Category: Dissertation Writing Guide

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