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dissertation chapter 5 template

Writing Dissertation Chapter 5: The Biggest Mistake Students Make

Published by steve tippins on june 4, 2020 june 4, 2020.

Last Updated on: 29th August 2022, 08:29 am

Chapter 5 of your dissertation is different from all of the previous four chapters.

If you’re beginning to write Chapter 5 of your dissertation, you know that most of the writing you’ve done up until now was fairly formulaic. You’ve probably been following templates with strict requirements about what needs to be included in each section and subsection. Even in Chapter 5, many schools will give you a template. But don’t let that fool you.

Regardless of whether you receive a rubric for it, Chapter 5 of your dissertation is unique. 

Your dissertation’s Chapter 5 is where you get to be more individualistic than in any other chapter and really “sing your song.” Why? It’s where you tell the reader what your results mean. Not just what they are, but what they mean. You tell them what they should take away from your study. You describe how your results can help others in the world or in the field. 

The Most Common Mistake Students Make When Writing Chapter 5 of Their Dissertation

close-up shot of a woman writing notes with a cup of cofee

The biggest mistake students make when writing their dissertation’s Chapter 5 is not writing enough. In fact, students often submit an “implications” section that’s only a few paragraphs.

As a committee member , it’s hard to see someone who has spent a year on a research topic and written 100+ pages about it and then get to the implications in Chapter 5 and see two paragraphs. This begs the question, “You mean this is all you have to say?”

Don’t cheat yourself in Chapter 5. Really explain and tell the story of what your results mean.

This is where you get to bring out your intellectual curiosity and help others really understand what you did and why you did it, what it means, and why it’s important. Of course, you’ll need to do this all within the guidelines of what your university will allow you to do. 

Normally Chapter 5 of a dissertation is about 15-20 pages. If it’s under ten pages, you’re really underselling your research. When you get to around 30-40 pages, your committee is going to wonder, “did all this come from your study?” or “couldn’t this have been said more succinctly?” 

Tips for Writing Dissertation Chapter 5

woman with orange sunglasses typing on her laptop next to a big window

Reference the Literature. If you’re stumped for things to write, look at what you said in Chapter 2 and tell the reader what your results mean in relation to what the researchers you quoted in Chapter 2 were talking about.l How you have added knowledge to the field?

Consider Your Defense. When you do the defense of your final document, Chapter 5 is where you end up at the end of your presentation. This is the last thing you talk about before you get to questions, and it’s where you may be able to answer questions before they come up. 

Address Your Problem and Purpose. Don’t forget to remind the reader what your problem statement and research questions were at the beginning of Chapter 5. Explain how your results apply to the problem and purpose.

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Back Everything Up. Also remember that even though it’s your chance to interpret and even express yourself, you still have to back everything up. Use quotes or data points from your results section and relate it to other research.

Use a Bird’s Eye View. This is where you can use graphics, charts, graphs, or other data that are much broader in scope than you might use elsewhere. In Chapter 4, for example, you’re going to use a graph that specifically relates to a statistical test you did. In Chapter 5, you might use one that’s broader in scope if it fits the flow of what you’re writing.

Tell a story. While other chapters might have been written in more of a compartmentalized style because of their formulaic nature, in Chapter 5 you’re really telling the story of your research. In line with that, the writing will need more of a flow. 

Dissertation Chapter 5 Sample Template With Explanations

woman in all black clothes typing on her laptop


In the introduction, tell the reader what they’re going to learn in Chapter 5. Reiterate the problem and purpose statements and your research questions and, if appropriate, reference the results from Chapter 4.


This is where you tell people here’s what the results of your study mean and why they are important. It also acts as a summary or “summing up” of the data. “These people said this,” or “this statistic was significant.” Make sure to support what you say with the research findings and avoid drawing conclusions that are beyond the scope of the study results.

Then discuss the real-world application of your findings. For example, “This is an approach that could be used by schools to help autistic children have better learning outcomes,” or “this is a technique that investors can use to predict valuable stock market returns.” Again, make sure to stay within the scope of your study.

Place your study in context. Describe how the results respond to the study problem, align with the purpose, demonstrate significance, and contribute to the existing literature described in Chapter 2. 


The recommendations section is where you get to say, “and if you want to take this further, here are some suggestions for ways that this could be broadened or enhanced.” Here are some examples of what these suggestions could look like:

The conclusion of Chapter 5 is where you get to wrap up your story. “And so, boys and girls, this is what all this came down to.” Okay, you might not want to phrase it like that. But that’s essentially what you’re doing.

Don’t try to add new information in the conclusion. Remember, it’s like a speech: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. 

Finishing Your Dissertation

Writing Chapter 5 and defending your dissertation is a big step towards getting your degree. Many students benefit from the support of a coach who is an experienced Dissertation Committee Chair at this point. A coach can conduct a mock defense with you in order to prepare you for the types of questions your committee will ask. Having answers to these questions can determine whether or not you pass your defense.

Check out my dissertation coaching services or contact me to book a free 30-minute consultation.

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Steve Tippins

Steve Tippins, PhD, has thrived in academia for over thirty years. He continues to love teaching in addition to coaching recent PhD graduates as well as students writing their dissertations. Learn more about his dissertation coaching and career coaching services. Book a Free Consultation with Steve Tippins

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