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How to Write a Dissertation: Structure, Framework, and Format

Writing a dissertation is one of the most decisive moments in your academic career. Usually, one should devote enough time to complete every task assigned. But concerning a dissertation, make sure that you prepare even better.

This assignment is guaranteed to make you feel excited, frustrated, and thrilled at once. But when you hand it in, you'll experience one of the best moments of your academic life. However, it's only possible if you meet all submission requirements. And we are here to assist with the whole dissertation writing process. We'll explain peculiarities of this task and how to write it to help keep you on track. Hang tight! Once you finish reading this article, you will realize that writing a dissertation can be without headaches.

What Is a Dissertation?

First of all, let's find out the dissertation definition. A dissertation or thesis is a lengthy writing piece that demonstrates one's research abilities and process. Generally, students complete this task as part of Ph.D. or master's degree.

Dissertation writing is an excellent opportunity for proving your research skills while thoroughly exploring a particular subject area. One of many goals here is strengthening existing knowledge of an issue.

Before you start writing your dissertation, there are a couple of things to do:

  • Inquire from your academic advisor what dissertation requirements are in your institution
  • Find out which sources students are allowed to use in their research
  • Identify forms of analysis to perform as per your field of study
  • Know the due date and way of submitting your paper

How to Write a Dissertation: Step-by-Step Approach

Depending on studied discipline, theme, and methods, dissertation structure may differ. In many cases, this assignment will include each element that we will mention within this article. But sometimes, particular paragraphs can be merged into 1 long section. Therefore, it is crucial to ask your academic supervisor. This way, you will determine the preferred structure, format and understand what work expectations are.

We divided the writing process into 9 simple steps to make it much more manageable for students in need.

Think of Possible Dissertation Topics

How to choose a dissertation topic? This step may take a lot of time if you don't know what to write about. First of all, think of a research topic that asks a particular question. Next, add a bit of spice to that question. At this point, try conducting preliminary research of possible sources. Pick some materials as you will include them later. Finally, your chosen theme should be:

  1. Straightforward. Your research subject must be clear and tell readers what you will be researching and the topic's background. Avoid being imprecise at all costs.
  2. Exclusive. Your study should be original and pose questions that have possibly never occurred before. In case it's impossible, think of a different framework for such an issue.
  3. Meaningful. Don't stop asking simple questions. Instead, try finding one that can add value to your research. Focus on bringing additional profit to the research field. Otherwise, your dissertation will have little to no value, resulting in a lower grade.

Here you can see an example of a properly crafted research topic:

Example of a properly crafted research topic: “Vibro-Tactile Feedback for Visually Impaired Way-Finding Systems”

Develop a Dissertation Proposal

Suppose you've come up with a great topic for research. Now you can proceed with writing a dissertation proposal. It means convincing your academic institution to let you explore the chosen matter. Even if you strongly believe that your topic is outstanding, approval is what is still needed.

Here are a couple of things you should know about a dissertation research proposal. Usually, university committees take into account:

  1. Uniqueness and importance of chosen topic
  2. Literature that students will use while writing
  3. Methodology of choice (it's how you are going to collect data and evidence for analysis)

Don't panic just yet. There is no need to provide broad information here. The main idea is to show that you know the research point and methods to achieve desired results with the help of collected literary sources. We also suggest that you already think of a way to analyze your sources. It can either be qualitative or quantitative.

Define the Theoretical Framework

Conducting a preliminary dissertation literature review was one of the first tasks. Now we need to dive deeper under the surface and critically analyze all materials collected before. Review them thoroughly and try finding possible connections between points of focus. At this stage, you can also add more sources for future purposes if you find them relevant enough.

Within the dissertation literature review part, come up with a definite position supported with evidence. It will then lead to a confirmation of your research. As literature review forms grounds for your theoretical framework, make sure you address these points:

  • Reinforce your knowledge with additional data
  • Find another concept of your topic
  • Suggest a resolution to an unsettled issue
  • Address a possible disparity in literary sources

Once you are ready with the literature review part, temporarily put it aside. You will later include this section after the dissertation's opening paragraph.

Write a Dissertation Introduction

While writing a dissertation introduction, aim at making your reader acquainted with what you have researched. Let them think of this subject and identify the area of its concern. Show that your topic is appealing and relevant.

Your introduction should:

  1. Give basic details about the problem of choice
  2. Determine the area of research
  3. Include specific research questions and goals
  4. Provide a dissertation arrangement synopsis

Cutting it short, you need to "sell" your dissertation to your readers. And the introduction is a unique selling point. Provide answers to "what?" and "why?" you research. This way, you'll make your readers pay a ton to know what happens next.

In total, a good dissertation introduction should be several pages long. It may sound too much, but the scope of this assignment is way bigger than an ordinary essay's. After all, you want to make a positive impression so your readers will not get bored right away.

Create a Dissertation Methodology Chapter

Now we can start writing a dissertation methodology. This chapter usually shows your readers the way you carried out your research. It also allows them to assess whether your judgments are accurate and useful.

The main goal of this dissertation part is to convince the reader that your approach in analyzing the chosen issue was the best one. You can reach it by:

  • Demonstrating that your way of research helped to accomplish the assignment's target
  • Pointing out the research approach that was used (qualitative or quantitative)
  • Describing your strategy of collecting data and evidence
  • Defining any dilemmas you have faced and how they were dealt with
  • Mentioning the sources, tools, or equipment used while researching
  • Subjectively evaluating your personal methods

Outline the Dissertation Results

After the methodology chapter, it's time to reveal the findings of your dissertation. This section can be built around secondary questions or theories.

The results and discussion paragraphs can be merged or separated. It all depends on type of research you made while writing. Data would be linked with the analysis and described within one section if qualitative methods were used. In contrast, if the approach was quantitative, one should separate dissertation results from the discussion chapter.

Usually, a results chapter should include:

  • Statistical data
  • Figures and charts
  • Statement of how results matter for chosen research theme

If you have more data to share with readers, you may do that in an appendix.

Write a Dissertation Discussion Chapter

After you write the results part, what you need is to investigate research outcomes. The dissertation discussion chapter is meant for this purpose. Here you should connect your conclusions with your research topic. Examine the findings closely, outline what value they brought, and how they correspond to the theoretical framework settled within previous chapters.

While writing the discussion chapter, make sure you explain the meaning of research results and their significance. Even if there is something data couldn't tell, include that as well. You might want to suggest a point and explain that.

Keep in mind that the discussion part must have a strong bond with the sources used. So don't include any new evidence unless it was mentioned earlier.

End With a Dissertation Conclusion

Writing conclusion for dissertation is almost the last step in creating this paper. By now, you might already feel exhausted, but don't give up! Most of the job is already done. All that's left is drawing the final line.

The closing paragraph should respond to the main problem statement. It also must depict the input of your research. Here you explain how your findings contributed to the subject field and what new knowledge you have gathered.

In a conclusion, consider including helpful tips for future studies. One may also want to add a narrow self-reflection part. Explain how research process influenced you as an academic specialist and what new knowledge you have gained.

Proofread Your Dissertation

Once you're done writing, don't forget to thoroughly proofread and edit your paper to make it flawless before the dissertation defense. Go through your document a couple of times to see any stylistic, formatting, grammar mistakes, or typos. All of these can erase hours of hard work and result in a lower grade.

You might need to write a draft first before creating your final piece. Also, make sure to double-check all dissertation requirements from your supervisor and see whether the paper format is in line with these instructions. As a final touch, secure that you've got rid of all possible errors.

Other Parts of a Dissertation

Here we will describe other elements that one should include in this paper:

  1. Dissertation acknowledgments. This section is relatively short and shouldn't be more than 1 page long. Here, express gratitude to those who assisted you during research and writing process. This part is optional and can be omitted. However, if you decide to include it, don't forget to thank your academic advisor.
  2. Dissertation abstract. It's a brief recap of your entire paper. Here you present the issue your dissertation focuses on and specify your objectives. Concisely describe how you compiled and explored data. Don't make the abstract more than 300 words (1 double-spaced page) long.
  3. Dissertation table of contents. It's a plan that describes each part that goes after it. It shows the sections' titles and page numbers of each.
  4. List of tables and list of figures. These two are optional. You may include them in case there are many charts, tables, or illustrations throughout your paper.
  5. Glossary. Add it to your paper only if you've used many specific complicated terms that your readers might be unfamiliar with. Otherwise, it's not required in the dissertation structure.
  6. List of references. This part is obligatory. Mention all sources that you used during research and cited throughout the paper.
  7. Dissertation appendix. Valuable documents that can't be included in the dissertation's main body are added to the appendices. Remember that these records should also be referenced somewhere in the text.

For better understanding, check the dissertation structure example on this image below:

Example of a dissertation structure “1. Title page, 2. Acknowledgements, 3. Abstract, 4. Table of contents, 5. List of figures, 6. List of tables, 7. Glossary, 8. Introduction, 9. Literature review, 10. Methodology, 11. Results, 12. Discussion, 13. Conclusion, 14. Bibliography, 15. Appendix"


At this point, we've come to an end of our guide on how to write a dissertation. This journey was not so easy, but still, we managed to deal with it together. Now you can put theory into practice. Once you finish, through away any irrational thoughts, don't panic and prepare yourself for the final stage, which is the defense of the project. If you follow our recommendations and manage your time efficiently, success will be yours!

Even though many students can cope with completing such a lengthy assignment with ease, they might not have enough time or desire to do that. For these purposes, they can ask our dissertation writing service for help. Our proficient academic writers will execute a perfect paper while being in touch for immediate revisions all the time. Give us a shot, and you won't be disappointed!
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Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a dissertation?

Dissertation's length differs depending on educational levels, institutional requirements, and fields of study:

  • A bachelor's dissertation is usually 30-50 double-spaced pages.
  • A master's one typically takes 50-150 pages.
  • A Ph.D. paper is way longer and can take 200-300 pages.

Don't forget to check the guidelines published by your university to figure out how long your own dissertation should be.

What is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation?

Although a thesis and a dissertation are similar, there are also some differences between them:

  1. A dissertation is usually longer than a thesis.
  2. While writing a thesis, you conduct original research, whereas working on a dissertation implies using existing research materials.
  3. In some American academic institutions, each of these papers is meant for getting different degrees — for example, thesis for masters and dissertation for Ph.D.

Joe Eckel is an expert on Dissertations writing. He makes sure that each student gets precious insights on composing A-grade academic writing.

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