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Dissertation Structure | Definition, Parts and Format, Layout Guidelines

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Dissertation Structure and Format

The dissertation structure is composed of a series of sections that total around 10,000 words.

The sections are the Introduction (2,000 words), body Chapters 1-5 (4,000 words each), and Conclusion (2,000 words).

All chapters have a similar format: an overview of the current literature in the field, followed by a critical evaluation of this literature and its contribution to your understanding of the research topic.

The body chapters also include your empirical research, conducted to answer the research question(s) posed in the Introduction.

The Conclusion reviews what has been covered in the body chapters and answers any outstanding questions.

In terms of organization, each chapter flows logically from the one before it, with clear signposting to aid the reader’s understanding.

Altogether, the dissertation structure provides a comprehensive and well-rounded account of your chosen topic.

How to structure and format a dissertation.

A dissertation is a long piece of writing that usually contains original research or scholarship. It is usually submitted as part of a Ph.D. or other doctoral degree program. The structure and format of a dissertation can vary depending on the field, but there are generally three main sections: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.

The introduction introduces the topic and provides an overview of the research that has been conducted in the field.

The body contains the bulk of the material, including literature reviews, data analysis, and discussion of findings.

The conclusion summarizes the main points of the dissertation and may offer recommendations for future research.

Dissertations can be challenging to write, but careful planning and organization will make the process easier.

Following the steps below will help you create a well-structured and well-formatted dissertation that meets all the requirements of your degree program.

1. Title page

This is the very first page of a dissertation is the title page. This needs to include your name, your degree, the title of your dissertation, the date, and the name and location of your school. Some schools will have additional requirements for the title page, so be sure to check with your advisor before you begin work on this step. The title page is important not only for its content but also for its appearance. Be sure to use a professional font and layout, as this will set the tone for the rest of your work.


The second step in structuring a dissertation is acknowledgment. The acknowledgments are a chance for you to thank everyone who has helped you during the research and writing process. This includes your supervisor, committee members, research assistants, librarians, and family and friends. You can also use this opportunity to thank any organizations or institutions that have provided funding or other support. Be sure to take the time to personalize your acknowledgments, as this will make them more meaningful for both you and your readers. By taking the time to express your gratitude, you will not only show your appreciation for the help you have received, but you will also strengthen your relationships with those who have supported you along the way.


A dissertation abstract is a critical part of your writing, and it can be very helpful to spend some time crafting it before moving on to the rest of the paper. In general, an abstract should be no more than 500 words. It should provide a concise overview of your research question, literature review, methodology, results, and conclusion. While it is important to be concise, you should also make sure that your abstract is clear and easy to read. It is often helpful to think of the abstract as a mini version of your dissertation; it should give the reader a good sense of what your paper will be about and what they can expect to find in it.

4. Table of content

After you have formatted your dissertation according to the required style guide, the next step is to create a table of contents. This will list all of the chapters and sections in your dissertation, as well as their respective page numbers. The table of contents should be generated automatically by your word processing software. However, you will need to check that it is formatted correctly and that all of the page numbers are correct.

5. List of figures and tables

This list will help you keep track of all the information that you include in your dissertation, making it easy to refer back to specific parts of your research. To create this list, simply make a list of all the figures and tables that you plan to include in your dissertation. Be sure to include a brief description of each figure or table, as well as its page number. Once you have created this list, you can refer back to it whenever you need to find specific information in your dissertation. By taking the time to create a list of figures and tables, you can ensure that your dissertation is well organized and easy to navigate.

6. List of abbreviations

The sixth step in structuring a dissertation is to create a list of abbreviations. This list should include all abbreviations used throughout the text, as well as those used in the references and appendices. Abbreviations should be listed in alphabetical order, and each entry should include the full name of the term being abbreviated, as well as the abbreviation itself. This list will help readers quickly identify and understand the meanings of unfamiliar terms. In addition, it will provide a convenient reference for future readers of the dissertation.

7. Glossary

A Glossary is an alphabetical list of all the terms used in your dissertation. It should include all the technical terms, as well as terms that have special meaning in your research. The Glossary should be placed after the List of Abbreviations and before the List of References. Including a Glossary is optional, but it may be helpful for readers who are not familiar with your research topic. If you do choose to include a Glossary, be sure to define each term carefully and use consistent formatting throughout.

8. Introduction

The introduction of your dissertation is important because it gives your reader an overview of what your paper will be about. It should be concise and to the point. You should also include a clear thesis statement in your introduction. In addition, it is often helpful to provide a brief overview of the main points that you will be discussing in your paper. By doing this, you can help to ensure that your reader understands the scope of your paper and can follow along easily. Finally, don’t forget to proofread your introduction carefully before submitting it.

9. Literature review

This is where you will review existing research on your topic and analyze how it relates to your research question. To do this effectively, you will need to understand the different types of literature reviews and how to critique each one. You will also need to be able to identify gaps in the existing research and develop an argument for why your research is needed. By taking the time to carefully craft a well-organized and well-written literature review, you will set yourself up for success as you move on to conducting your research.

10. Methodology

This is where the researcher will need to explain how the research was conducted and what methods were used. The methodology should be clear and concise, and it should be easy for the reader to follow. In addition, the researcher should explain why the chosen methods were used and how they helped to answer the research question. By providing a detailed explanation of the methodology, the researcher can help to ensure that the reader understands how the research was conducted and what conclusions were drawn from it.

11. Results

The results of a dissertation present the findings of the research conducted by the author. This is usually done through a discussion of the data collected during the study, as well as a presentation of the interpretation of those results. To effectively communicate their findings, authors should structure their results section clearly and logically. One way to do this is to first discuss the main findings of the study, and then provide a more detailed analysis of those results. In addition, authors should be sure to explain how their findings contribute to the larger body of research on the topic. By taking these steps, authors can ensure that their results section is both informative and engaging.

12. Discussion

One of the final steps in writing a dissertation is the discussion. This is where you reflect on the findings of your research and discuss their implications. The discussion should be grounded in your data, but it should also be interpretative and analytical. That is, you will not simply be summarizing your findings, but also considering what they mean and how they contribute to our understanding of the topic at hand. In addition, the discussion should connect your findings to the existing literature on the topic. This will help to situate your research within the larger field and highlight its contribution to our understanding. Finally, the discussion should offer some suggestions for future research. This may take the form of identifying gaps in the literature or suggesting new directions for future studies.


The conclusion is the final step in writing a dissertation. It should sum up the main points of the paper and provide a final perspective on the topic. The conclusion should be concise and clear, and it should not introduce new information or arguments. However, it should leave the reader with a strong impression of the paper’s argument. In some cases, the conclusion may also offer recommendations for further research or action. Regardless of its form, the conclusion should be well-reasoned and convincing, drawing on the evidence presented in the body of the paper. With a clear and effective conclusion, a dissertation can make a lasting impact on its readers.

14. Reference list

The reference list is the last step in structuring a dissertation. It provides the full citations for all of the sources you have used in your paper. This includes books, articles, websites, and any other outside sources. The reference list should be arranged alphabetically by author’s last name. If there is no author, then it should be arranged by the title of the source. Each entry should include all of the information needed to find the source, such as the author’s name, the title of the source, the date it was published, and the URL. including the full citation for each source will help to ensure that your paper is correctly referenced and that all of your sources are accounted for.

15. Appendices

Appendices are often added at the end of a document to provide supplementary information that is not essential to the main text, but which may be helpful for the reader. In a dissertation, appendices typically include data sets, questionnaires, survey instruments, and transcripts of interviews. The precise contents of an appendix will vary depending on the type of information being presented, but all appendices should be referenced in the main text. Appendices can be a useful way to present information that would otherwise interrupt the flow of your argument, and they can also help to make your work more accessible to readers who are interested in delving deeper into your research. When adding appendices to a dissertation, it is important to follow any specific formatting requirements that have been set by your institution.

Dissertation Editing and Proofreading

The editing and proofreading stage of the dissertation writing process is important but often overlooked. By the time you reach this stage, you have been working on your dissertation for months (if not years) and you may be quite attached to your ideas and arguments. It can be difficult to take a step back and see the forest for the trees, so to speak. However, it is essential to ensure that your dissertation is clear, well-argued, and free of errors. Here are some tips for editing and proofreading your work:

  • Read your dissertation aloud. This will help you to catch errors that you might otherwise miss.
  • Take a break between drafts. Once you have finished a draft, put it away for a day or two before coming back to it with fresh eyes.
  • Ask someone else to read your work. Another set of eyes can be invaluable when it comes to identifying errors and making suggestions for improvement.
  • Pay attention to detail. Make sure that all of your citations are accurate and that your references are properly formatted.
  • Check your facts. In particular, be sure to verify any data or statistics that you include in your dissertation.

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