Tips on Structuring Your Dissertation

Like any other paper that required research, your dissertation has to be properly structured. Although its components are usually the same, there might slight differences in their arranging depending on the field, topic, and type of research you undertake. You definitely should be aware of a number of peculiarities before starting the writing process. These short pieces of advice will help you with structuring the dissertation in a proper way.

An Introductory Part

Begin the paper with an introduction where you identify the most crucial elements of the research. In this part, you should show what areas you research and what the purpose of your work is. Also, mention data that might be necessary for a reader to appreciate your findings. Because the introduction should include information about the entire dissertation, it is strongly advised to write it when the rest of the paper is ready. Only then, you will be able to paint the whole picture.

Another important part of the introductory section of a dissertation is a literature review. Here, you should name what authors have already addressed similar or related issues and explain how these works are useful and relevant to your dissertation. In addition, show areas in which the literature is non-exhaustive. You should point out the elements that have not been previously studied by other scholars at all. In other words, determine the gaps in knowledge.

Remember to demonstrate the benefit your research will bring to the field of study. Dissertations are written to solve certain social, economic, or scientific problems. That is why in the introductory part, you should describe how you are going to solve one of them and why you have chosen this particular issue. Also, dissertations should be authentic. If you need any assistance with making your research stand out, you should not hesitate to ask your academic supervisor for advice.

Methodology Section

Next, you should describe how you have collected data on which your findings are based on. This is the purpose of the methodology section of every research. It is always better to start with summarizing your research goals in order for a reader to see why your chosen methods are relevant. After reading this part, the audience will be ready for a detailed explanation of the research methods.

Definition of the methodology is one of the most crucial elements of the dissertation. This part will affect the way your findings are perceived. For this reason, describe each method in detail including information about a sample, instruments used, data collections process fully explained, etc. For instance, if you have used a questionnaire you have developed by yourself, include every question that was used as well as the reasons why these particular questions were asked. After you have explained the research methods, add the information regarding the way the data gathered was categorized, measured, systematized, and analyzed.

The participants of your research project should be identified in this section as well. Describe people who took part in the measurement process and how they joined or left it. Importantly, mention the mode of selecting participants regardless of whether people were chosen randomly or based on some specific traits since it may be significant to the findings of the dissertation. Moreover, include relevant issues that arose in the process of hiring or dismissing the participants.

Remember about the reproducibility of your data collection and analysis processes. You should elaborate on how these aspects of the research were handled and describe all the stages for other researchers to be able to verify your results or just repeat the experiment. It is important to mention any issues, for instance, the health of the participants or weather conditions, that may influence the outcome. This description should be comprehensive and complete. Otherwise, someone attempting to repeat your actions might face difficulties.

Research Findings

In this part of the dissertation, you should list the findings of the research. Importantly, do not just list every single conclusion you have made. Instead, summarize the main points of the research and results of the experiments you have conducted. You should not add an extensive justification since it has been already included. Instead, use diagrams or charts to make the results visualized. Break your findings into several parts and present them separately. Each part should concern only one research question and contain an answer to it. Such questions should be formulated before writing a dissertation and presented in the introductory part. Make sure that they are formulated clearly and the answers to them are explicit and unambiguous.

When working on the wording of the findings, do not use any controversial statements. You do the research to achieve certain goals, and any confusions or unverified information may corrupt the results. In order to avoid this unpleasant effect, use only those statements that are supported by other researchers, statistical data, or your own experiments. In such a way, you will face no problems in communication with the supervisor.

Conclusions

Even after you have presented the findings of your research, the dissertation is not complete. You should also place the results in context and show their importance to the field as well as their connections with other disciplines. Without these interpretations, the dissertation may be misinterpreted. Besides, in this section, you should mention any ideas for future research. Virtually every dissertation does not explain all relevant issues comprehensively. For this reason, indicate any directions that other researchers may use in order to explore the subject more thoroughly. For example, you may suggest using the abnormalities in your statistical data for further research or just state that a certain issue should be researched in greater detail in future.

Inevitably, your research will face obstacles that preclude you from conducting the experiments as they were initially planned. It is acceptable ad understandable, but you need to make sure to indicate such limitations in this section of the dissertation. As the one who was working on the project, only you are aware of these obstacles. Include them to show what choices you have made and what were your reasons to do so. Furthermore, you will help future researchers who might want to repeat the experiment.

Formatting

Your scientific supervisor and the academic committee will have their own vision of how the dissertation should look like. It is always better to make sure you know these requirements even before you begin your research and consider them all the time. One of the best ways to receive some insight into what is required from you is to review previously submitted dissertations. In case you decide to contact the committee for advice, there are a number of issues you can clarify. First, check what is the word limit and to what parts of the dissertation it should be applied. Second, ask what literature should be reviewed and what information is not required to be included in the dissertation. Last, ensure you understand what parts of the research are crucial for the committee and what parts may be briefly described.

Prepare the title page after the research is completed. Sometimes, universities require specific information to be included, so you should be aware of these requirements. In any other case, you may use the standard dissertation title page and add the following information to it:

  • title of the paper;
  • required degree for the dissertation completion;
  • title of the educational institution;
  • name of the author;
  • date.

After the title page is ready, prepare an abstract to the paper. It should contain the main points of the research and show their important. Then, discuss applied research methods as well as the results to which their application led. Lastly, describe the conclusions of the dissertation in several sentences. When working on an abstract, keep in mind that it should be brief and should not exceed 150-250 words. The abstract should introduce your own research, not to the literature you have reviewed. That is why you should not use any citations in this part. However, if your whole research is based on another author’s work, indicate this information as it is crucial to the understanding of the paper.

Although it is not mandatory, you can add acknowledgments after the abstract. In this part of the dissertation, researchers usually indicate individuals or organizations that in one way or another assisted in the research process. There are no requirements regarding the length of this section, so feel free to acknowledge everyone you would like to thank to. Keep in mind that this information also provides readers with the understanding of the background of the dissertation and its author.

Next, prepare a content page outlining the main parts of the research. Start an entry on the new page and add a relevant heading. Then, indicate the sections and subsections of the dissertations as well as the pages where they can be found. Furthermore, check the applicable academic style requirements and cite all sources in an appropriate format. Be sure you find out what citation style is common in the school since they all differ slightly. For instance, in APA and MLA, you should use in-text citations in parentheses while in Chicago style, you are expected to cite literature using footnotes. Also, prepare a page with references that presents all books, academic articles, and any other sources used in the dissertation.

Finally, prepare appendices to the dissertation. In this part, you may include tables, surveys, or any other extensive information that is not essential to the content of the paper but necessary in terms of the experiment. Importantly, appendices should not be too long as the data used in them is not crucial. Albeit this section is not usually included in the overall word count, check whether there are any specific requirements regarding this point with the academic committee.