Dissertations are known to be one of the most time-consuming assignments students need to complete. Unlike other assignments dissertations are different, they are close to academic books, not textbooks and expected to be research of the highest quality bringing the subject of the study to the next level.
Dissertations are aimed to bring new findings to the science, so they may contain surveys, laboratory studies or a case-study the author did. They may also present augmented research and critique of previous works.
Depending on the academic level the student would like to achieve the dissertation may require new research or second one to develop the science. No matter what kind of thesis is written there is a definite structure for this academic assignment.
What is the ideal structure for the dissertation? There is no answer since it may vary. So, let’s explore the basics you should be aware of.
Preliminary pages are usually preceding the paper and consist of a title page, abstract, acknowledgment, author’s declaration, contents, list of figures, list of tables, list of accompanying materials and definitions. Depending on the citation style and your institution the look of these pages may vary. You can find a lot of useful templates online to design them right.
You should remember that abstract or summary of your dissertation paper should for the reader’s view about the contents they will find inside. The abstract should be no more than one page.
Never forget to include declaration and acknowledgments to underline the financial, time or any other investment of other people involved in your research.
A dissertation body usually consists of several chapters depending on your discipline and the type of research you are conducting. Moreover, a degree you are obtaining also influences the structure of your paper. So, there is no universal answer to the question: “How many chapters should a dissertation have?”. Here is a possible structure of a dissertation paper (yet, it may vary, so you need to consult with your advisor before picking a structure from internet template for example.
- The introduction chapter is aimed to provide the detailed understanding of the subject area and your research as well as what will be discussed in the next sections.
- Literature review chapter contains information about current findings in your subject area and is aimed to underline the importance of your research.
- The research methods chapter should include information about the methods used in the study including ways you are collecting and analyzing data.
- The results chapter is showing the results of your research in numbers, tables or charts. Sometimes the results chapter is omitted because the subject area doesn’t provide information on integral components, i.e., quantitative data. In such cases, you usually use qualitative data which is placed in the analysis chapter of your dissertation.
- The analysis chapter is aimed to present the analysis of your findings, your interpretation of them. These can be statistical data analysis, laboratory data analysis, your conclusions, and feelings if we are speaking of more social sciences.
- Discussion chapter is aimed to remind the reader about the questions you’ve asked in the introduction and how your research answered or not answered them.
- Conclusions chapter is also connected with the introduction, and you are letting a reader know if the objectives have been achieved or no. In the second case, you should explain why it has happened.
- The future work chapter allows you to let others know what the next steps in the research area. You may not do the research yourself, but you can help others to do the following steps in the subject area development.
- References part include the list of references used in the paper, use the citation style of your institution.
“If required” parts of the dissertation
Depending on your subject area, the institution and materials you have used during writing your dissertation paper there are three ‘if required’ parts of the thesis. These are a bibliography, appendices, and glossary. At first glance, they are easy to write. However, you should remember that while conducting your research you need to save all the resources and the information where to find them to make adding these parts of dissertation possible.
How many pages are in a dissertation?
The length of the dissertation paper depends on the degree and the area of study. So, it can be from 50 to 250 pages long, and the median is 150 pages. You should remember that you need to keep each chapter in a reasonable length, so you cannot have 50 pages literature review and only three for analysis.
As you see the structure of the dissertation may vary depending on different factors, like you are of study, future degree and your findings. Moreover, some structural elements may not be included in your dissertation, and some chapters typical for other theses may be omitted.