A dissertation is a lengthy piece of academic writing. The prime focus of writing a dissertation is to explore a new angle in the relevant study. It is a part of the study that a student has to submit in an undergraduate and postgraduate degree. There are several guidelines regarding the conducting of research. These guidelines usually depend upon your educational background. A dissertation has four or five chapters. A dissertation structure of social sciences is different from that of pure sciences.
A student needs to submit a productive piece of writing when he/she is drafting a dissertation. As a researcher, his work shows his capabilities to identify his area of interest. It also shows his in-depth subject exploration and research project management (Felix and Smith, 2019). Unfortunately, most of the time, students fail to follow the dissertation structure. If they fail to follow the structure, it will cause a serious problem at the time of graduation.
As mentioned above, a dissertation has four or five main chapters. It is the key responsibility of a researcher to discuss all these chapters in his research. The main chapters of the dissertation are given below;
- Literature review
- Overview of the research’s results
- Interpretation of results and their implications
These are the main chapters of a dissertation. A social sciences dissertation is more like a long essay. In this type of a dissertation, a researcher builds different arguments. He can build an argument with the help of primary and secondary data resources. Hence, a researcher can easily organize his research through the aspects of relevant chapters and case studies. Let’s discuss the role of the chapters as mentioned above in a dissertation, and why they’re important.
There are several other important elements that a dissertation should include. A researcher should add the title page, abstract, and references list as well to make the research credible.
It is the first page of your research. This page contains the dissertation’s topic, your name, and your department. Apart from this, you add your institution name, degree/program, and submission date. It also includes your student ID, and the supervisor's name, along you’re your university’s logo.
On this page, a researcher thanks everyone that helped him in writing the dissertation. On this page, a researcher can thank his supervisor and research participants. Apart from this, he can thank his family and friends. These are the people who supported him throughout his research work.
It is a short summary of a dissertation that is approximately 150-300 words in length. A researcher should write this part of the research once he has completed his research work. There are several important things that a researcher should remember in this part. He should properly describe the main research topic and it’s aims. He should discuss the research method he used while conducting the research as well. Later on, he should discuss his research results. After that, he should end this part with a short conclusion (Kathmandu, 2019). A researcher should write this part with the utmost care as it is the first part of research that people read.
Table of Contents:
It is another important element of a researcher’s dissertation work. This chapter enables him to list all the chapters and subheadings. It helps him in dividing subheadings along with page numbers. This page always helps the reader in determining the dissertation’s structure. Apart from this, this page helps the reader navigate the whole research work. So, you should add all parts of your research work, including references, in the table of contents. You can add this section of the study either manually or automatically. You can automatically add the table of contents through MS Word options. First, you should click on “references”, then “Table of Contents”, and then choose the Automatic option.
List of Figures and Tables
If your research work includes any figures and tables, then a numbered list will help you in this regard. You can include this section of the study using the Insert Caption feature of MS Word.
List of Abbreviations:
There are areas of study in which a research work includes a lot of abbreviations. If your work contains a lot of abbreviations, you should include a list for it. You should add them to the list in an alphabetical order. It will help the reader in looking for their meanings through an easy manner.
A dissertation always contains a lot of highly specialized terms. If the researcher fails to add them to his work, then it might be possible that he is compromising its quality. If your work contains specialized terms, then you should add a glossary section. In this section, you can briefly explain each term while listing them in an alphabetical way.
Above mentioned elements are the key areas of any research. As a researcher, you should include all these sections in your research. In the next few paragraphs, this article will discuss some of the major chapters of research work.
Introduction is usually the first chapter of any dissertation. A researcher starts this chapter with the research topic and its purpose. He explains the relevance of research with the area of study. Apart from this, he also highlights what makes this research work better than previous researches. There are a few more things a researcher should cater to while writing a dissertation introduction (Greetham, 2019). These include but are not limited to;
- Develop your research topic with the help of sufficient background information. It will help you in relating your research work.
- He should stick close to the topic and explain the research’s scope.
- He should discuss previous researches on his topic. It will help show his work relevance with the existing debate.
- He should discuss the research objectives and questions. Moreover, he should guide how his research will answer these research questions. This way, he will meet the research objectives.
- Moreover, he should discuss the dissertation structure in this part.
The introduction part of any dissertation consists of 10% of the whole word count. If you are writing a 10,000 words dissertation, then your introduction part will be 1000 words. In these 1000 words, you will discuss the points mentioned above. It is the key responsibility of the researcher to write a clear introduction. It will help him build relevance and he will engage with previous researches while discussing the current research’s objectives.
This section of the dissertation usually discusses existing research work. A researcher should ensure that it is related to the research work. The dissertation literature review section of the study focuses on;
- Collection of research material from books and journals.
- Evaluating and analysing each of the selected sources.
- Developing connections between selected sources to build arguments. A researcher can build connections by either discussing the themes or patterns. Apart from this, he can identify research gaps between the previous researches.
A researcher should not summarize the existing literature in this section. He/she should build relevant points. It will help him in justifying his research work (Hart, 2018). This section of the study consists of 30% of the total word count. If you are writing a 10000 words dissertation, then this section of the study will contain 3000 words. In this word count, you can discuss key theories and models that frame your research.
This section of the study helps a researcher explain how he conducted the whole research. Moreover, it will allow his reader to determine its validity. This section of study includes;
- The overall research approach and research type. It explains whether the research is qualitative or quantitative.
- Methods of data collection.
- Data analysing methods, e.g. statistical, or discourse analysis.
- Details of how and when this research took place.
- Tools and materials considered while conducting this research. For example, computer programs, software, and lab equipment.
- A valid justification of your research methods.
As a researcher, it is your key responsibility to explain what you did in your research. You should try your best to convince the reader regarding methodology selection. Furthermore, you should explain that this way the research goals aligned with its objectives (Durdella, 2017). This chapter contains 15% of the total word count. It means that in a 10000-word dissertation, this section will contain 1500 words.
The next section of a dissertation is the presentation of your research results. As a researcher, you can redesign this section of the dissertation. You can divide this section into sub-questions and hypotheses. But it is important to discuss only those results that are relevant to our research. In qualitative research, data is presented along with analysis. But in quantitative research, this section is a separate portion of the study. Later on, you should present a brief discussion on your research results.
It is better to get in touch with your research advisor and ask him about this section. It is also helpful if you present your research section with the help of graphs and tables. You should refrain from repeating things in this section. Apart from this, you should avoid adding any unnecessary information (Luning, 2021). This section of a study consists of 5% of the whole dissertation. It means that in a 10,000 words dissertation, this section will only comprise of 500 words.
In this section, a researcher explains the implications of research results. It is the key responsibility of a researcher to interpret the results in detail. Moreover, he should discuss whether they met to research expectations or not. If the result turned out against the expectations, be sure to provide enough explanation. For the interpretation of results, it is good to adopt a different approach. One should discuss the limitations of research that might have influenced the results. You should make sure that your research results are catering to the existing research. Apart from this, this section should provide future recommendations (Samuels, 2019). This section of a study consists of 30% of the whole dissertation. It means that in a 10,000 words dissertation, this section will comprise only 3,000 words.
This section of the study should answer the main research question. It will help the reader understand the central argument of your research. You should conclude your research work in this section. This section will help you in conveying to your reader regarding what you did in the research and how it was made possible. A researcher can discuss his research contributions in this section. This section of a study consists of 10% of the whole dissertation. It means that in a 10,000 words dissertation; this section will comprise of only 1,000 words.
At the end of your research work, you should provide a complete list of sources. These are the sources that you consulted throughout your research work. In addition, you should provide in-text citations to justify your point. Later on, you should add those references in the bibliography. Apart from this, you should also follow a reference style. Each style has strict and specific requirements. It will help you in formatting your resources within the reference list. For example, UK universities usually follow Harvard and Vancouver referencing styles. Your research advisor can guide you better on how to reference your sources. You can also use a citation generator to correctly cite your references within the list.
It is important for you to add the necessary information to your dissertation. You should only add information that contributes towards answering the research questions. There are several documents that you cannot use in your main body. Examples of these documents include interviews and surveys. You can add these parts within the appendices section.
Writing a dissertation is an uphill task if you are unfamiliar with academic writing. There are several techniques that you should follow. If you fail to follow those guidelines, your research work can turn into a complete disaster. A dissertation has five or six main chapters. Each of the chapters can include a set amount of words. Apart from this, you should add the areas of abstract and acknowledgement within your dissertations. Furthermore, you should adopt proper fonts and header styles. This article provides complete guidelines for writing a dissertation so you should follow the steps mentioned above while writing one. Through this, you will be able to draft an effective piece of academic writing.
- Durdella, N., 2017. Qualitative dissertation methodology: A guide for research design and methods. Sage Publications.
- Felix, M.S. and Smith, I., 2019. A Practical Guide to Dissertation and Thesis Writing. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
- Greetham, B., 2019. How to write your undergraduate dissertation. Macmillan International Higher Education.
- Hart, C., 2018. Doing a literature review: Releasing the research imagination.
- Kathmandu, N., 2019. Master’s Degree Dissertation Guidelines-2019 (Doctoral dissertation, Tribhuvan University Kathmandu, Nepal).
- Luning, C.R., 2021. Thesis and Dissertation Writing Workshop Part II.
- Samuels, P., 2019. Dissertation Support 7: Putting it all together.