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The Basics of Dissertation Structure

No matter what discipline you are currently in, you will find it a huge challenge to cope with the structural requirements for dissertation writing. In fact, different dissertations will adhere to different structures, but you will still need to learn the basics of quality dissertation writing that are common for all disciplines. For instance, if you are studying philosophy, then most of your dissertation will be devoted to the analysis of the philosophic context in which the discipline evolves. If you are a science student, then you will have to devote most of your time to scientific research and advanced calculations.

Dissertation Structure


Despite certain differences, all dissertations without any exception must begin with an abstract. Its purpose is to present a brief summary of your project, its methods, and results. Your dissertation may contain as many as 100 pages, but your abstract will have to be very brief and concise. More often than not, the abstract will not specify the findings of your research. Rather, it will keep your readers intrigued. Make sure that your abstract does not exceed one page in length.

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After the abstract comes a strong introduction – this is the initial element of any Master's or PhD dissertation. Your introduction will have to be larger and longer than the abstract. Moreover, it will have to be different from what you have written on your abstract page. The purpose of an introduction is to set the context and share some background information on your topic. You will have to specify the purpose of your dissertation, preview the major sections of your project, and justify the importance of your findings.

Review of Literature

Now you can devote yourself to assembling a review of literature. In almost all cases, literature reviews make up the second major component of a dissertation, coming immediately after the introductory section of the project. It is in the literature review section that you revisit the key findings of other researchers and try to relate them to the purpose and subject of your dissertation research. Depending on the topic and issue, you may want to focus on the study of theories or review the existing body of empirical research to inform your own study.


Methodology is one of the critical components of a successful dissertation. Most likely, you will have to spend most of your time writing your methodology chapter. Remember that it is not enough to describe the methods of your study. Equally important is your ability to justify the importance and appropriateness of your selected methodology. For example, you will have to provide reasons why qualitative research best suits the purpose of your study and why qualitative interviews provide the most useful data to inform your results.

The body of your dissertation will come after the abstract, introduction, review of literature, and methodology. You will throw yourself into the analysis of your findings in the context of the previous and current research you have cited in your review of literature. The body of your dissertation may contain more than one chapter, depending on your professor's requirements and the nature of your study. For example, you may devote one chapter of your dissertation project to the analysis of your results. One more chapter can be devoted to the analysis of the strengths and limitations of your research. In all situations, don't forget to cite the researchers and findings you have mentioned in your dissertation.


In the concluding section of your dissertation, you will have to review and summarize the key results of your study. Please, provide a relevant justification of the importance of your topic and the study results. You will need to outline the implications your project findings have for future research and practice. Moreover, you will have to place your findings into the context of other studies. Your conclusion will be brief and concise, which is why you should avoid using clichés or boring phrases. Do not try to manipulate the attention and time given by the reader to review your dissertation. Stay up to the point and do not deviate from the topic. Be reasonable with your conclusions and do not say anything you cannot prove.


The length and complexity of your bibliography list will vary, depending on the purpose, nature, and complexity of your dissertation task. Moreover, you will have to follow the citation and formatting requirements provided by your tutor. If you have any questions, it is better to ask your immediate supervisor. This way you will not have to waste your time on re-doing or re-writing your bibliography.


Quite often, Master's and PhD dissertations include one or more appendices. You can use this opportunity to cite the initial results of your study, tabulate your statistical findings, or describe the qualitative research instruments you have used in research. This will save you a lot of space in the body of the dissertation. At the same time, you will be able to provide your readers with a better understanding of your project, its purpose, method, and results.

Just follow this advice, and you will become a brilliant dissertation writer!

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