How to structure a dissertation the right way


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A dissertation or thesis is a detailed piece of academic writing based on original research usually submitted as part of a PhD or master’s, and sometimes as part of a bachelor’s degree. A dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing students undertake while in college it can be quite challenging and intimidating if you don’t know where or how to start. Writing the perfect dissertation requires you to have excellent research and writing skills. Is writing a dissertation too hard for you? is a reliable and trustworthy online writing service that offers top-quality academic solutions. Place your order today and receive top-quality papers that are free from plagiarism and timely delivered.

Dissertation structure

Dissertations are structured differently depending on your location, discipline, topic and approach. For example, dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay, building an overall argument to support a central thesis, with chapters organized around different themes or case studies.

But if you’re doing empirical research in the sciences or social sciences, your dissertation should generally contain all of the following elements. In many cases, each will be a separate chapter, but sometimes you might combine them. For example, in certain kinds of qualitative social science, the results and discussion will be woven together rather than separated.

The order of sections can also vary between fields and countries. For example, some universities advise that the conclusion should always come before the discussion. If in doubt about how your thesis or dissertation should be structured, always check your department’s guidelines and consult with your supervisor.

Title page

The title page of your dissertation should include very your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. The title page is crucial since it introduces the research topic and focuses on the reader. The subject of the research includes the general area of research, while the focus specifies the item of your research. Many programs have strict requirements for formatting the dissertation title page. A good title should be clear, specific, descriptive and relevant to the research you have done. It’s crucial to format the claim according to the set guidelines of your respective field.


The acknowledgment section should not be more than one page and usually appears after the title page and before the abstract. In this section you acknowledge those who have contributed and supported you directly or indirectly during the research and writing process. The acknowledgements could be both personal and professional.


The abstract is the first part of your dissertation that people will read, so it’s crucial to make it short and get it right. An excellent abstract should:

  • State the main topic and aims of your research
  • Describe the methods used
  • Summarize the main results
  • State your conclusions

The best way to come up with an excellent abstract is by writing it last once you are sure of what you are summarizing. You can also start by writing an abstract to help you highlight the main points in your research, the outcome and purpose of the research. Moreover, beginning with an abstract will potentially act as a guide in the structuring of your dissertation.

Table of contents

The table of contents should contain the list all of your chapters and subheadings and their page numbers. A good table of content should be clear, concise and well-formatted to enable the reader to easily navigate the document.

List of figures and tables

If you document includes lots of tables and figures, you should include a list of figures and tables. This will enable the reader to easily find various illustrations, figure and tables. Your list of figures and tables should be listed in a clear and well-organized format.

List of abbreviations

A list of abbreviations is included if you have used a lot of abbreviations in your dissertation. You should include them in an alphabetized order the reader can easily look up their meanings.


It is crucial to include a glossary in your document if you have used a lot of technical terms that may not be familiar to your reader. List the terms alphabetically and provide a brief explain of each term.


The introduction plays a vital role by expounding the material summarized in the abstract. A good introduction should:

  • Provide necessary background information to contextualize your work
  • Narrow down the focus and define the scope of the research
  • Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
  • Clearly state your research questions and objectives
  • Give an overview of your dissertation’s structure

Literature review / Theoretical framework

A literature review is an overall overview of previous research on a topic. It involves a collection of the most relevant and crucial sources on that particular topic to provide a comprehensive overview. Make sure your sources are recent and uncontested. Provide an analysis of the information collected from the various sources. It’s crucial to make sure you justify the reasons for your research.

The literature review often becomes the basis for a theoretical framework where you define and analyze the key theories, concepts and models that support your research. In this section you can answer descriptive research questions about the relationship between concepts or variables.


This is where all the methods and techniques used to collect data on the research topic are discussed in a detailed report. You will need to be clear and precise on how you conducted the research and how the findings have helped you address the research problem. It’s also important to state when and where the research was conducted.


In this section, you provide your research outcomes that are relevant to your research questions or problems. It should not include any interpretation of the data.


This is where you interpret and explain the results or outcomes of your study. Use clear statements that address your research question or problem. Discuss the implications of your research in and show new insights and the significance they have in the respective field. It’s essential to show your reader the contributions of your research and why they should care. The discussion should also acknowledge the obstacles that were encountered during the research process and evaluate the impact they had in achieving the aim of the study.


Your conclusion should provide a summary of the main points made in your arguments to ensure the reader has a clear understanding of the research. The conclusion should identify possible gaps in the study and offer relevant solutions. In this section, it’s crucial to show the importance of your research in the field and also provide recommendations for future research on the particular field.


Full details of all the sources you cited must be included here. It’s crucial to list all your references using a consistent citation style.


In this section, documents that you have used but are not included in the main body of your essay can be added as appendices. The documents can be interview transcripts or survey questions.

Editing and proofreading

Making sure all the sections are in the right place is only the first step to a well-written dissertation. Leave plenty of time for editing and proofreading. Grammar mistakes and sloppy formatting errors can drag down the quality of your hard work.

You should plan to write and revise several drafts of your thesis or dissertation before focusing on language mistakes, typos and inconsistencies. You might want to consider using a professional dissertation editing service to make sure it’s perfect before submitting.