How to Structure a Dissertation: Chapters Explained

| October 25, 2011 | 13 Comments

The following gives a structure which can be used for nursing dissertations which include primary research:

Title Page



Abstract  A summary of the dissertation.

Table of Contents

Introduction This introduces the study and establishes the research context. It should include a statement of the problem under consideration, the objective of the research, what or who is included in the study, and an overview of the structure of the dissertation.

Literature Review This gives an extensive background to relevant theory. It should inform the primary phase of the study, and explore past research and any explanatory models.   It should end with the research questions to be answered by the study.

Methodology This sets out the way the study was carried out, and should include subsections to explain: research philosophy, approach and strategy, data collection and analysis, issues with access to subjects / data, reliability, validity and generalisability, ethical issues and any limitations with your research.

Results This section sets out the results of your study. The emphasis is upon raw data rather than interpretations and conclusions.

Discussion Here the results are discussed in a wider context, and links with themes drawn out during the literature review are considered. Does the evidence provide support for the research hypothesis?  Each research question is discussed in turn with reference to the evidence. This section also provides a brief recapitulation of the literature review and methodology.

Conclusion This section summarises the study. No new material is to be introduced here, but drawbacks of the study can be included, and recommendations for future research can be made.

References These must be listed in the format approved by your university

Appendices These can include questionnaires, tables, transcripts of interviews and statistical outputs. As appendices are not part of your total word count, they can be useful for holding information where you are worried your word count is too high.

Secondary studies follow largely the same format, but the methodology section is likely to be much shorter, and is better situated before your literature review. In secondary studies, you should give more detail about how you collected your sources, for example which databases were used, and any key words you used for electronic searches. A discussion of ethics is also necessary.   The literature review may form a separate section in a secondary study, acting as an overview of current research, with substantive chapters following this, addressing each research question in turn and in light of current literature.


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Category: Dissertation Writing Guide

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