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What Is a Dissertation? | Guide, Examples, & Template
A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program.
Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you’ve ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating to know where to begin.
Your department likely has guidelines related to how your dissertation should be structured. When in doubt, consult with your supervisor.
You can also download our full dissertation template in the format of your choice below. The template includes a ready-made table of contents with notes on what to include in each chapter, easily adaptable to your department’s requirements.
Download Word template Download Google Docs template
- In the US, a dissertation generally refers to the collection of research you conducted to obtain a PhD.
- In other countries (such as the UK), a dissertation often refers to the research you conduct to obtain your bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Table of contents
Dissertation committee and prospectus process, how to write and structure a dissertation, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your dissertation, free checklist and lecture slides.
When you’ve finished your coursework, as well as any comprehensive exams or other requirements, you advance to “ABD” (All But Dissertation) status. This means you’ve completed everything except your dissertation.
Prior to starting to write, you must form your committee and write your prospectus or proposal . Your committee comprises your adviser and a few other faculty members. They can be from your own department, or, if your work is more interdisciplinary, from other departments. Your committee will guide you through the dissertation process, and ultimately decide whether you pass your dissertation defense and receive your PhD.
Your prospectus is a formal document presented to your committee, usually orally in a defense, outlining your research aims and objectives and showing why your topic is relevant . After passing your prospectus defense, you’re ready to start your research and writing.
The structure of your dissertation depends on a variety of factors, such as your discipline, topic, and approach. Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an overall argument to support a central thesis , with chapters organized around different themes or case studies.
However, hard science and social science dissertations typically include a review of existing works, a methodology section, an analysis of your original research, and a presentation of your results , presented in different chapters.
We’ve compiled a list of dissertation examples to help you get started.
- Example dissertation #1: Heat, Wildfire and Energy Demand: An Examination of Residential Buildings and Community Equity (a dissertation by C. A. Antonopoulos about the impact of extreme heat and wildfire on residential buildings and occupant exposure risks).
- Example dissertation #2: Exploring Income Volatility and Financial Health Among Middle-Income Households (a dissertation by M. Addo about income volatility and declining economic security among middle-income households).
- Example dissertation #3: The Use of Mindfulness Meditation to Increase the Efficacy of Mirror Visual Feedback for Reducing Phantom Limb Pain in Amputees (a dissertation by N. S. Mills about the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on the relationship between mirror visual feedback and the pain level in amputees with phantom limb pain).
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The very first page of your document contains your dissertation title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo.
Read more about title pages
The acknowledgements section is usually optional and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you. In some cases, your acknowledgements are part of a preface.
Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces
The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150 to 300 words long. Though this may seem very short, it’s one of the most important parts of your dissertation, because it introduces your work to your audience.
Your abstract should:
- State your main topic and the aims of your research
- Describe your methods
- Summarize your main results
- State your conclusions
Read more about abstracts
The table of contents lists all of your chapters, along with corresponding subheadings and page numbers. This gives your reader an overview of your structure and helps them easily navigate your document.
Remember to include all main parts of your dissertation in your table of contents, even the appendices. It’s easy to generate a table automatically in Word if you used heading styles. Generally speaking, you only include level 2 and level 3 headings, not every subheading you included in your finished work.
Read more about tables of contents
While not usually mandatory, it’s nice to include a list of figures and tables to help guide your reader if you have used a lot of these in your dissertation. It’s easy to generate one of these in Word using the Insert Caption feature.
Read more about lists of figures and tables
Similarly, if you have used a lot of abbreviations (especially industry-specific ones) in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.
Read more about lists of abbreviations
In addition to the list of abbreviations, if you find yourself using a lot of highly specialized terms that you worry will not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary. Here, alphabetize the terms and include a brief description or definition.
Read more about glossaries
The introduction serves to set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance. It tells the reader what to expect in the rest of your dissertation. The introduction should:
- Establish your research topic , giving the background information needed to contextualize your work
- Narrow down the focus and define the scope of your research
- Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
- Clearly state your research questions and objectives
- Outline the flow of the rest of your work
Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant. By the end, the reader should understand the what, why, and how of your research.
Read more about introductions
A formative part of your research is your literature review . This helps you gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic.
Literature reviews encompass:
- Finding relevant sources (e.g., books and journal articles)
- Assessing the credibility of your sources
- Critically analyzing and evaluating each source
- Drawing connections between them (e.g., themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps) to strengthen your overall point
A literature review is not merely a summary of existing sources. Your literature review should have a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear justification for your own research. It may aim to:
- Address a gap in the literature or build on existing knowledge
- Take a new theoretical or methodological approach to your topic
- Propose a solution to an unresolved problem or advance one side of a theoretical debate
Read more about literature reviews
Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework. Here, you define and analyze the key theories, concepts, and models that frame your research.
Read more about theoretical frameworks
Your methodology chapter describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to critically assess its credibility. Your methodology section should accurately report what you did, as well as convince your reader that this was the best way to answer your research question.
A methodology section should generally include:
- The overall research approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative ) and research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
- Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment )
- Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
- Any tools and materials you used (e.g., computer programs, lab equipment)
- Your data analysis methods (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
- An evaluation or justification of your methods
Read more about methodology sections
Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses , or themes, but avoid including any subjective or speculative interpretation here.
Your results section should:
- Concisely state each relevant result together with relevant descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
- Briefly state how the result relates to the question or whether the hypothesis was supported
- Report all results that are relevant to your research questions , including any that did not meet your expectations.
Additional data (including raw numbers, full questionnaires, or interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix. You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results. Read more about results sections
Your discussion section is your opportunity to explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research question. Here, interpret your results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. Refer back to relevant source material to show how your results fit within existing research in your field.
Some guiding questions include:
- What do your results mean?
- Why do your results matter?
- What limitations do the results have?
If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data.
Read more about discussion sections
Your dissertation’s conclusion should concisely answer your main research question, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your central argument and emphasizing what your research has contributed to the field.
In some disciplines, the conclusion is just a short section preceding the discussion section, but in other contexts, it is the final chapter of your work. Here, you wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you found, with recommendations for future research and concluding remarks.
It’s important to leave the reader with a clear impression of why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known? Why is your research necessary for the future of your field?
Read more about conclusions
It is crucial to include a reference list or list of works cited with the full details of all the sources that you used, in order to avoid plagiarism. Be sure to choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your dissertation. Each style has strict and specific formatting requirements.
Common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA , but which style you use is often set by your department or your field.
Create APA citations Create MLA citations
Your dissertation should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents such as interview transcripts or survey questions can be added as appendices, rather than adding them to the main body.
Read more about appendices
Making sure that all of your sections are in the right place is only the first step to a well-written dissertation. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for editing and proofreading, as grammar mistakes and sloppy spelling errors can really negatively impact your work.
Dissertations can take up to five years to write, so you will definitely want to make sure that everything is perfect before submitting. You may want to consider using a professional dissertation editing service to make sure your final project is perfect prior to submitting.
After your written dissertation is approved, your committee will schedule a defense. Similarly to defending your prospectus, dissertation defenses are oral presentations of your work. You’ll present your dissertation, and your committee will ask you questions. Many departments allow family members, friends, and other people who are interested to join as well.
After your defense, your committee will meet, and then inform you whether you have passed. Keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality; most committees will have resolved any serious issues with your work with you far prior to your defense, giving you ample time to fix any problems.
As you write your dissertation, you can use this simple checklist to make sure you’ve included all the essentials.
My title page includes all information required by my university.
I have included acknowledgements thanking those who helped me.
My abstract provides a concise summary of the dissertation, giving the reader a clear idea of my key results or arguments.
I have created a table of contents to help the reader navigate my dissertation. It includes all chapter titles, but excludes the title page, acknowledgements, and abstract.
My introduction leads into my topic in an engaging way and shows the relevance of my research.
My introduction clearly defines the focus of my research, stating my research questions and research objectives .
My introduction includes an overview of the dissertation’s structure (reading guide).
I have conducted a literature review in which I (1) critically engage with sources, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of existing research, (2) discuss patterns, themes, and debates in the literature, and (3) address a gap or show how my research contributes to existing research.
I have clearly outlined the theoretical framework of my research, explaining the theories and models that support my approach.
I have thoroughly described my methodology , explaining how I collected data and analyzed data.
I have concisely and objectively reported all relevant results .
I have (1) evaluated and interpreted the meaning of the results and (2) acknowledged any important limitations of the results in my discussion .
I have clearly stated the answer to my main research question in the conclusion .
I have clearly explained the implications of my conclusion, emphasizing what new insight my research has contributed.
I have provided relevant recommendations for further research or practice.
If relevant, I have included appendices with supplemental information.
I have included an in-text citation every time I use words, ideas, or information from a source.
I have listed every source in a reference list at the end of my dissertation.
I have consistently followed the rules of my chosen citation style .
I have followed all formatting guidelines provided by my university.
The end is in sight—your dissertation is nearly ready to submit! Make sure it's perfectly polished with the help of a Scribbr editor.
If you’re an educator, feel free to download and adapt these slides to teach your students about structuring a dissertation.
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How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis
8 straightforward steps to craft an a-grade dissertation.
By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Expert Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020
Writing a dissertation or thesis is not a simple task. It takes time, energy and a lot of will power to get you across the finish line. It’s not easy – but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a painful process. If you understand the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis, your research journey will be a lot smoother.
In this post, I’m going to outline the big-picture process of how to write a high-quality dissertation or thesis, without losing your mind along the way. If you’re just starting your research, this post is perfect for you. Alternatively, if you’ve already submitted your proposal, this article which covers how to structure a dissertation might be more helpful.
How To Write A Dissertation: 8 Steps
- Clearly understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is
- Find a unique and valuable research topic
- Craft a convincing research proposal
- Write up a strong introduction chapter
- Review the existing literature and compile a literature review
- Design a rigorous research strategy and undertake your own research
- Present the findings of your research
- Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications
Step 1: Understand exactly what a dissertation is
This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but all too often, students come to us for help with their research and the underlying issue is that they don’t fully understand what a dissertation (or thesis) actually is.
So, what is a dissertation?
At its simplest, a dissertation or thesis is a formal piece of research , reflecting the standard research process . But what is the standard research process, you ask? The research process involves 4 key steps:
- Ask a very specific, well-articulated question (s) (your research topic)
- See what other researchers have said about it (if they’ve already answered it)
- If they haven’t answered it adequately, undertake your own data collection and analysis in a scientifically rigorous fashion
- Answer your original question(s), based on your analysis findings
In short, the research process is simply about asking and answering questions in a systematic fashion . This probably sounds pretty obvious, but people often think they’ve done “research”, when in fact what they have done is:
- Started with a vague, poorly articulated question
- Not taken the time to see what research has already been done regarding the question
- Collected data and opinions that support their gut and undertaken a flimsy analysis
- Drawn a shaky conclusion, based on that analysis
If you want to see the perfect example of this in action, look out for the next Facebook post where someone claims they’ve done “research”… All too often, people consider reading a few blog posts to constitute research. Its no surprise then that what they end up with is an opinion piece, not research. Okay, okay – I’ll climb off my soapbox now.
The key takeaway here is that a dissertation (or thesis) is a formal piece of research, reflecting the research process. It’s not an opinion piece , nor a place to push your agenda or try to convince someone of your position. Writing a good dissertation involves asking a question and taking a systematic, rigorous approach to answering it.
If you understand this and are comfortable leaving your opinions or preconceived ideas at the door, you’re already off to a good start!
Step 2: Find a unique, valuable research topic
As we saw, the first step of the research process is to ask a specific, well-articulated question. In other words, you need to find a research topic that asks a specific question or set of questions (these are called research questions). Sounds easy enough, right? All you’ve got to do is identify a question or two and you’ve got a winning research topic. Well, not quite…
A good dissertation or thesis topic has a few important attributes. Specifically, a solid research topic should be:
Let’s take a closer look at these:
Attribute #1: Clear
Your research topic needs to be crystal clear about what you’re planning to research, what you want to know, and within what context. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity or vagueness about what you’ll research.
Here’s an example of a clearly articulated research topic:
An analysis of consumer-based factors influencing organisational trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms.
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Attribute #2: Unique
Your research should be asking a question(s) that hasn’t been asked before, or that hasn’t been asked in a specific context (for example, in a specific country or industry).
For example, sticking organisational trust topic above, it’s quite likely that organisational trust factors in the UK have been investigated before, but the context (online low-cost equity brokerages) could make this research unique. Therefore, the context makes this research original.
One caveat when using context as the basis for originality – you need to have a good reason to suspect that your findings in this context might be different from the existing research – otherwise, there’s no reason to warrant researching it.
Attribute #3: Important
Simply asking a unique or original question is not enough – the question needs to create value. In other words, successfully answering your research questions should provide some value to the field of research or the industry. You can’t research something just to satisfy your curiosity. It needs to make some form of contribution either to research or industry.
For example, researching the factors influencing consumer trust would create value by enabling businesses to tailor their operations and marketing to leverage factors that promote trust. In other words, it would have a clear benefit to industry.
So, how do you go about finding a unique and valuable research topic? We explain that in detail in this video post – How To Find A Research Topic . Yeah, we’ve got you covered 😊
Step 3: Write a convincing research proposal
Once you’ve pinned down a high-quality research topic, the next step is to convince your university to let you research it. No matter how awesome you think your topic is, it still needs to get the rubber stamp before you can move forward with your research. The research proposal is the tool you’ll use for this job.
So, what’s in a research proposal?
The main “job” of a research proposal is to convince your university, advisor or committee that your research topic is worthy of approval. But convince them of what? Well, this varies from university to university, but generally, they want to see that:
- You have a clearly articulated, unique and important topic (this might sound familiar…)
- You’ve done some initial reading of the existing literature relevant to your topic (i.e. a literature review)
- You have a provisional plan in terms of how you will collect data and analyse it (i.e. a methodology)
At the proposal stage, its (generally) not expected that you’ve extensively reviewed the existing literature , but you will need to show that you’ve done enough reading to identify a clear gap for original (unique) research. Similarly, they generally don’t expect that you have a rock-solid research methodology mapped out, but you should have an idea of whether you’ll be undertaking qualitative or quantitative analysis , and how you’ll collect your data (we’ll discuss this in more detail later).
Long story short – don’t stress about having every detail of your research meticulously thought out at the proposal stage – this will develop as you progress through your research. However, you do need to show that you’ve “done your homework” and that your research is worthy of approval .
Step 4: Craft a strong introduction chapter
Once your proposal’s been approved, its time to get writing your actual dissertation or thesis! The good news is that if you put the time into crafting a high-quality proposal, you’ve already got a head start on your first three chapters – introduction, literature review and methodology – as you can use your proposal as the basis for these.
Handy sidenote – our free dissertation & thesis template is a great way to speed up your dissertation writing journey.
What’s the introduction chapter all about?
The purpose of the introduction chapter is to set the scene for your research (dare I say, to introduce it…) so that the reader understands what you’ll be researching and why it’s important. In other words, it covers the same ground as the research proposal in that it justifies your research topic.
What goes into the introduction chapter?
This can vary slightly between universities and degrees, but generally, the introduction chapter will include the following:
- A brief background to the study, explaining the overall area of research
- A problem statement , explaining what the problem is with the current state of research (in other words, where the knowledge gap exists)
- Your research questions – in other words, the specific questions your study will seek to answer (based on the knowledge gap)
- The significance of your study – in other words, why it’s important and how its findings will be useful in the world
As you can see, this all about explaining the “what” and the “why” of your research (as opposed to the “how”). So, your introduction chapter is basically the salesman of your study, “selling” your research to the first-time reader and (hopefully) getting them interested to read more.
How do I write the introduction chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this post .
Step 5: Undertake an in-depth literature review
As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need to do some initial review of the literature in Steps 2 and 3 to find your research gap and craft a convincing research proposal – but that’s just scratching the surface. Once you reach the literature review stage of your dissertation or thesis, you need to dig a lot deeper into the existing research and write up a comprehensive literature review chapter.
What’s the literature review all about?
There are two main stages in the literature review process:
Literature Review Step 1: Reading up
The first stage is for you to deep dive into the existing literature (journal articles, textbook chapters, industry reports, etc) to gain an in-depth understanding of the current state of research regarding your topic. While you don’t need to read every single article, you do need to ensure that you cover all literature that is related to your core research questions, and create a comprehensive catalogue of that literature , which you’ll use in the next step.
Reading and digesting all the relevant literature is a time consuming and intellectually demanding process. Many students underestimate just how much work goes into this step, so make sure that you allocate a good amount of time for this when planning out your research. Thankfully, there are ways to fast track the process – be sure to check out this article covering how to read journal articles quickly .
Literature Review Step 2: Writing up
Once you’ve worked through the literature and digested it all, you’ll need to write up your literature review chapter. Many students make the mistake of thinking that the literature review chapter is simply a summary of what other researchers have said. While this is partly true, a literature review is much more than just a summary. To pull off a good literature review chapter, you’ll need to achieve at least 3 things:
- You need to synthesise the existing research, not just summarise it. In other words, you need to show how different pieces of theory fit together, what’s agreed on by researchers, what’s not.
- You need to highlight a research gap that your research is going to fill. In other words, you’ve got to outline the problem so that your research topic can provide a solution.
- You need to use the existing research to inform your methodology and approach to your own research design. For example, you might use questions or Likert scales from previous studies in your your own survey design .
As you can see, a good literature review is more than just a summary of the published research. It’s the foundation on which your own research is built, so it deserves a lot of love and attention. Take the time to craft a comprehensive literature review with a suitable structure .
But, how do I actually write the literature review chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this video post .
Step 6: Carry out your own research
Once you’ve completed your literature review and have a sound understanding of the existing research, its time to develop your own research (finally!). You’ll design this research specifically so that you can find the answers to your unique research question.
There are two steps here – designing your research strategy and executing on it:
1 – Design your research strategy
The first step is to design your research strategy and craft a methodology chapter . I won’t get into the technicalities of the methodology chapter here, but in simple terms, this chapter is about explaining the “how” of your research. If you recall, the introduction and literature review chapters discussed the “what” and the “why”, so it makes sense that the next point to cover is the “how” –that’s what the methodology chapter is all about.
In this section, you’ll need to make firm decisions about your research design. This includes things like:
- Your research philosophy (e.g. positivism or interpretivism )
- Your overall methodology (e.g. qualitative , quantitative or mixed methods)
- Your data collection strategy (e.g. interviews , focus groups, surveys)
- Your data analysis strategy (e.g. content analysis , correlation analysis, regression analysis)
If these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these in plain language in other posts. It’s not essential that you understand the intricacies of research design (yet!). The key takeaway here is that you’ll need to make decisions about how you’ll design your own research, and you’ll need to describe (and justify) your decisions in your methodology chapter.
2 – Execute: Collect and analyse your data
Once you’ve worked out your research design, you’ll put it into action and start collecting your data. This might mean undertaking interviews, hosting an online survey or any other data collection method. Data collection can take quite a bit of time (especially if you host in-person interviews), so be sure to factor sufficient time into your project plan for this. Oftentimes, things don’t go 100% to plan (for example, you don’t get as many survey responses as you hoped for), so bake a little extra time into your budget here.
Once you’ve collected your data, you’ll need to do some data preparation before you can sink your teeth into the analysis. For example:
- If you carry out interviews or focus groups, you’ll need to transcribe your audio data to text (i.e. a Word document).
- If you collect quantitative survey data, you’ll need to clean up your data and get it into the right format for whichever analysis software you use (for example, SPSS, R or STATA).
Once you’ve completed your data prep, you’ll undertake your analysis, using the techniques that you described in your methodology. Depending on what you find in your analysis, you might also do some additional forms of analysis that you hadn’t planned for. For example, you might see something in the data that raises new questions or that requires clarification with further analysis.
The type(s) of analysis that you’ll use depend entirely on the nature of your research and your research questions. For example:
- If your research if exploratory in nature, you’ll often use qualitative analysis techniques .
- If your research is confirmatory in nature, you’ll often use quantitative analysis techniques
- If your research involves a mix of both, you might use a mixed methods approach
Again, if these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these concepts and techniques in other posts. The key takeaway is simply that there’s no “one size fits all” for research design and methodology – it all depends on your topic, your research questions and your data. So, don’t be surprised if your study colleagues take a completely different approach to yours.
Step 7: Present your findings
Once you’ve completed your analysis, it’s time to present your findings (finally!). In a dissertation or thesis, you’ll typically present your findings in two chapters – the results chapter and the discussion chapter .
What’s the difference between the results chapter and the discussion chapter?
While these two chapters are similar, the results chapter generally just presents the processed data neatly and clearly without interpretation, while the discussion chapter explains the story the data are telling – in other words, it provides your interpretation of the results.
For example, if you were researching the factors that influence consumer trust, you might have used a quantitative approach to identify the relationship between potential factors (e.g. perceived integrity and competence of the organisation) and consumer trust. In this case:
- Your results chapter would just present the results of the statistical tests. For example, correlation results or differences between groups. In other words, the processed numbers.
- Your discussion chapter would explain what the numbers mean in relation to your research question(s). For example, Factor 1 has a weak relationship with consumer trust, while Factor 2 has a strong relationship.
Depending on the university and degree, these two chapters (results and discussion) are sometimes merged into one , so be sure to check with your institution what their preference is. Regardless of the chapter structure, this section is about presenting the findings of your research in a clear, easy to understand fashion.
Importantly, your discussion here needs to link back to your research questions (which you outlined in the introduction or literature review chapter). In other words, it needs to answer the key questions you asked (or at least attempt to answer them).
For example, if we look at the sample research topic:
In this case, the discussion section would clearly outline which factors seem to have a noteworthy influence on organisational trust. By doing so, they are answering the overarching question and fulfilling the purpose of the research .
For more information about the results chapter , check out this post for qualitative studies and this post for quantitative studies .
Step 8: The Final Step Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications
Last but not least, you’ll need to wrap up your research with the conclusion chapter . In this chapter, you’ll bring your research full circle by highlighting the key findings of your study and explaining what the implications of these findings are.
What exactly are key findings? The key findings are those findings which directly relate to your original research questions and overall research objectives (which you discussed in your introduction chapter). The implications, on the other hand, explain what your findings mean for industry, or for research in your area.
Sticking with the consumer trust topic example, the conclusion might look something like this:
This study set out to identify which factors influence consumer-based trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms. The results suggest that the following factors have a large impact on consumer trust:
While the following factors have a very limited impact on consumer trust:
Notably, within the 25-30 age groups, Factors E had a noticeably larger impact, which may be explained by…
The findings having noteworthy implications for British low-cost online equity brokers. Specifically:
The large impact of Factors X and Y implies that brokers need to consider….
The limited impact of Factor E implies that brokers need to…
As you can see, the conclusion chapter is basically explaining the “what” (what your study found) and the “so what?” (what the findings mean for the industry or research). This brings the study full circle and closes off the document.
Let’s recap – how to write a dissertation or thesis
You’re still with me? Impressive! I know that this post was a long one, but hopefully you’ve learnt a thing or two about how to write a dissertation or thesis, and are now better equipped to start your own research.
To recap, the 8 steps to writing a quality dissertation (or thesis) are as follows:
- Understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is – a research project that follows the research process.
- Find a unique (original) and important research topic
- Craft a convincing dissertation or thesis research proposal
- Write a clear, compelling introduction chapter
- Undertake a thorough review of the existing research and write up a literature review
- Undertake your own research
- Present and interpret your findings
Once you’ve wrapped up the core chapters, all that’s typically left is the abstract , reference list and appendices. As always, be sure to check with your university if they have any additional requirements in terms of structure or content.
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our research writing mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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Great to hear that – thanks for the feedback. Good luck writing your dissertation/thesis.
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Just listening to the name of the dissertation makes the student nervous. As writing a top-quality dissertation is a difficult task as it is a lengthy topic, requires a lot of research and understanding and is usually around 10,000 to 15000 words. Sometimes due to studies, unbalanced workload or lack of research and writing skill students look for dissertation submission from professional writers.
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Listed below are some of the best examples of research projects and dissertations from undergraduate and taught postgraduate students at the University of Leeds We have not been able to gather examples from all schools. The module requirements for research projects may have changed since these examples were written. Refer to your module guidelines to make sure that you address all of the current assessment criteria. Some of the examples below are only available to access on campus.
- Undergraduate examples
- Taught Masters examples
How to Write a Dissertation: Step-by-Step Guide
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- Doctoral students write and defend dissertations to earn their degrees.
- Most dissertations range from 100-300 pages, depending on the field.
- Taking a step-by-step approach can help students write their dissertations.
Whether you're considering a doctoral program or you recently passed your comprehensive exams, you've probably wondered how to write a dissertation. Researching, writing, and defending a dissertation represents a major step in earning a doctorate.
But what is a dissertation exactly? A dissertation is an original work of scholarship that contributes to the field. Doctoral candidates often spend 1-3 years working on their dissertations. And many dissertations top 200 or more pages.
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Ready to Start Your Journey?
Starting the process on the right foot can help you complete a successful dissertation. Breaking down the process into steps may also make it easier to finish your dissertation.
How to Write a Dissertation in 12 Steps
A dissertation demonstrates mastery in a subject. But how do you write a dissertation? Here are 12 steps to successfully complete a dissertation.
Choose a Topic
It sounds like an easy step, but choosing a topic will play an enormous role in the success of your dissertation. In some fields, your dissertation advisor will recommend a topic. In other fields, you'll develop a topic on your own.
Read recent work in your field to identify areas for additional scholarship. Look for holes in the literature or questions that remain unanswered.
After coming up with a few areas for research or questions, carefully consider what's feasible with your resources. Talk to your faculty advisor about your ideas and incorporate their feedback.
Conduct Preliminary Research
Before starting a dissertation, you'll need to conduct research. Depending on your field, that might mean visiting archives, reviewing scholarly literature , or running lab tests.
Use your preliminary research to hone your question and topic. Take lots of notes, particularly on areas where you can expand your research.
Read Secondary Literature
A dissertation demonstrates your mastery of the field. That means you'll need to read a large amount of scholarship on your topic. Dissertations typically include a literature review section or chapter.
Create a list of books, articles, and other scholarly works early in the process, and continue to add to your list. Refer to the works cited to identify key literature. And take detailed notes to make the writing process easier.
Write a Research Proposal
In most doctoral programs, you'll need to write and defend a research proposal before starting your dissertation.
The length and format of your proposal depend on your field. In many fields, the proposal will run 10-20 pages and include a detailed discussion of the research topic, methodology, and secondary literature.
Your faculty advisor will provide valuable feedback on turning your proposal into a dissertation.
Research, Research, Research
Doctoral dissertations make an original contribution to the field, and your research will be the basis of that contribution.
The form your research takes will depend on your academic discipline. In computer science, you might analyze a complex dataset to understand machine learning. In English, you might read the unpublished papers of a poet or author. In psychology, you might design a study to test stress responses. And in education, you might create surveys to measure student experiences.
Work closely with your faculty advisor as you conduct research. Your advisor can often point you toward useful resources or recommend areas for further exploration.
Look for Dissertation Examples
Writing a dissertation can feel overwhelming. Most graduate students have written seminar papers or a master's thesis. But a dissertation is essentially like writing a book.
Looking at examples of dissertations can help you set realistic expectations and understand what your discipline wants in a successful dissertation. Ask your advisor if the department has recent dissertation examples. Or use a resource like ProQuest Dissertations to find examples.
Doctoral candidates read a lot of monographs and articles, but they often do not read dissertations. Reading polished scholarly work, particularly critical scholarship in your field, can give you an unrealistic standard for writing a dissertation.
Write Your Body Chapters
By the time you sit down to write your dissertation, you've already accomplished a great deal. You've chosen a topic, defended your proposal, and conducted research. Now it's time to organize your work into chapters.
As with research, the format of your dissertation depends on your field. Your department will likely provide dissertation guidelines to structure your work. In many disciplines, dissertations include chapters on the literature review, methodology, and results. In other disciplines, each chapter functions like an article that builds to your overall argument.
Start with the chapter you feel most confident in writing. Expand on the literature review in your proposal to provide an overview of the field. Describe your research process and analyze the results.
Meet With Your Advisor
Throughout the dissertation process, you should meet regularly with your advisor. As you write chapters, send them to your advisor for feedback. Your advisor can help identify issues and suggest ways to strengthen your dissertation.
Staying in close communication with your advisor will also boost your confidence for your dissertation defense. Consider sharing material with other members of your committee as well.
Write Your Introduction and Conclusion
It seems counterintuitive, but it's a good idea to write your introduction and conclusion last . Your introduction should describe the scope of your project and your intervention in the field.
Many doctoral candidates find it useful to return to their dissertation proposal to write the introduction. If your project evolved significantly, you will need to reframe the introduction. Make sure you provide background information to set the scene for your dissertation. And preview your methodology, research aims, and results.
The conclusion is often the shortest section. In your conclusion, sum up what you've demonstrated, and explain how your dissertation contributes to the field.
Edit Your Draft
You've completed a draft of your dissertation. Now, it's time to edit that draft.
For some doctoral candidates, the editing process can feel more challenging than researching or writing the dissertation. Most dissertations run a minimum of 100-200 pages , with some hitting 300 pages or more.
When editing your dissertation, break it down chapter by chapter. Go beyond grammar and spelling to make sure you communicate clearly and efficiently. Identify repetitive areas and shore up weaknesses in your argument.
Writing a dissertation can feel very isolating. You're focused on one topic for months or years, and you're often working alone. But feedback will strengthen your dissertation.
You will receive feedback as you write your dissertation, both from your advisor and other committee members. In many departments, doctoral candidates also participate in peer review groups to provide feedback.
Outside readers will note confusing sections and recommend changes. Make sure you incorporate the feedback throughout the writing and editing process.
Defend Your Dissertation
Congratulations — you made it to the dissertation defense! Typically, your advisor will not let you schedule the defense unless they believe you will pass. So consider the defense a culmination of your dissertation process rather than a high-stakes examination.
The format of your defense depends on the department. In some fields, you'll present your research. In other fields, the defense will consist of an in-depth discussion with your committee.
Walk into your defense with confidence. You're now an expert in your topic. Answer questions concisely and address any weaknesses in your study. Once you pass the defense, you'll earn your doctorate.
Writing a dissertation isn't easy — only around 55,000 students earned a Ph.D. in 2020, according to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. However, it is possible to successfully complete a dissertation by breaking down the process into smaller steps.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dissertations
- Collapse All
What is a dissertation?
A dissertation is a substantial research project that contributes to your field of study. Graduate students write a dissertation to earn their doctorate.
The format and content of a dissertation vary widely depending on the academic discipline. Doctoral candidates work closely with their faculty advisor to complete and defend the dissertation, a process that typically takes 1-3 years.
How long is a dissertation?
The length of a dissertation varies by field. Harvard's graduate school says most dissertations fall between 100-300 pages .
Doctoral candidate Marcus Beck analyzed the length of University of Minnesota dissertations by discipline and found that history produces the longest dissertations, with an average of nearly 300 pages, while mathematics produces the shortest dissertations at just under 100 pages.
What's the difference between a dissertation vs. a thesis?
Dissertations and theses demonstrate academic mastery at different levels. In U.S. graduate education, master's students typically write theses, while doctoral students write dissertations. The terms are reversed in the British system.
In the U.S., a dissertation is longer, more in-depth, and based on more research than a thesis. Doctoral candidates write a dissertation as the culminating research project of their degree. Undergraduates and master's students may write shorter theses as part of their programs.
Explore More College Resources
How to write an effective thesis statement.
How to Write a Research Paper: 11-Step Guide
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If you need some dissertation help or inspiration for writing your dissertation proposal, PhD thesis or MBA dissertation topics , then you've come to the right place.
On this page we have a range of Dissertation examples in various subject topics from Business, Management and Marketing, to Economics and Finance, Law and History.
Why not have a look at our other sample papers? We also have example essays and example reports available on our resources page.
Business, Management & Leadership Dissertations
The current dissertation aims to evaluate the impact made by diverse motivational practices on the individual employee performance in software SMEs located in London. It is argued that the methods of boosting the motivation of the personnel can be produced from the key theories of human motivation and the concept of leadership. Primary data is gathered to achieve the outlined purpose. It is shown that the employees of the investigated firms are predominantly affected by monetary remuneration, workplace relationships, employee development and emotional support. A statistically significant link between motivation and individual performance is identified. Generalisability is considered as the main limitation of this study.
Written by Philip S.
To view the full Dissertation click here
This project attempts to examine the impact of supply chain risk on organisational performance in the context of the UK manufacturing sector. For this purpose, primary quantitative data was collected from 100 managers and supply chain employees of British manufacturing companies with the help of self-administered questionnaires. The obtained data was processed graphically and statistically in Excel and SPSS. It was revealed that manufacturing firms’ exposure to supply chain risk negatively influenced their productivity and cost-effectiveness. The lack of generalisability is the main limitation of this study. The researchers who investigate the role of supply chain management in organisational performance might be interested in this dissertation.
Written by Laura N.
The implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives can turn out to be successful in some organisations and fail for no apparent reasons in others. This research project was conducted with the aim to find out whether these differences can be explained by organisational culture. The impact of culture on CSR involvement was analysed at the example of Hyundai, a global automotive manufacturer. To operationalise the concept of organisational culture, the Cultural Web model was adopted as the core theoretical framework. The survey method was employed for primary data collection. 73 usable questionnaires were collected from the employees of Hyundai’s branch in the UK.
Written by Katy J.
The constant changes in the external environment and disruptive innovation trends have severely undermined the relevance of such theories as Lewin’s 3-Stage Model of Change (Hossan, 2015, p.53). While these classical concepts assume that organisational transformations occur in a planned and predictable manner, the majority of challenges faced by modern businesses are emergent and urgent in their nature. This problem is especially evident in the UK context where the outcomes of the Brexit referendum create high levels of uncertainty forcing all country organisations to get ready for both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ regulatory paths (Bratton and Gold, 2017, p.32).
Written by Steve S.
To view the full dissertation click here
Many organisations are now adopting a process of lifecycle management in an effort to maximise the longevity and thus profitability from their products. This process refers to the management of a product through all stages from inception, primary sales period and decline, and can be a lengthy process, particularly in industries where the early stages of research and development are long (Stark, 2015). The rationale for adopting this approach is that as Prajapati et al, (2013) note, when a product’s lifecycle is extended, there is competitive edge, and improved management of resources. This is particularly important when the research and development of a project is a lengthy process, and subject to stringent regulations, such as in the pharmaceutical industry.
Written by Rowan T.
Click to view the full dissertation sample
The dissertation focused on the soft and hard skills possessed by hospitality management graduates in the UK. The primary goal was to investigate the relationship between these capabilities and the employer’s perceptions of first-time job seekers. The study measured 3 indicators of employer’s perceptions, namely the time taken to find a job, the willingness to continue working for the current company and employer’s satisfaction with an applicant’s competencies. Quantitative questionnaire data was used to achieve the research objectives. The findings indicated that flexibility, marketing competencies and interpersonal skills were among the key factors that determined employer’s perceptions. The providers of educational services to future hospitality managers were recommended to design new curricula focused on the provision of these skills.
Written by Laura N
View the full sample dissertation
See a sample dissertation methodology chapter based on the topic of 'How Does the Offering of Auxiliary Services by White Goods Sellers Influence the Purchase Intentions of UK Customers?'
View the full dissertation methodology chapter
See a sample dissertation conclusion chapter based on the topic of 'Just-in-Time Workforce: Principal-Agent Problems Experienced by Small Businesses'.
View the full dissertation conclusion chapter
The empirical research on the impact of pricing strategies on sales volumes is scarce because of the challenges associated with obtaining actual sales data from retailers. This dissertation contributes to bridging this gap in academic knowledge by investigating the influence of pricing methods on the sales volume dynamics in three UK-based, online consumer electronics vendors. The data is collected by means of semi-structured interviews with one owner/manager and two general managers of small and medium-sized online retailers. The key finding is that the companies experiencing an increase in their sales volumes over the past year followed the same pricing strategy, which combined competitive pricing, discounting and personalised pricing. For the firm employing the mix of competitive pricing, discounting and bundling, the sales volume increase was marginal, despite the overall positive dynamics of online electronics sales in the UK over the past year.
Written by Anna D.
The current research project aims to investigate into the relationship between the social media presence and brand trust of Cadbury, a UK-based confectionary company. Primary quantitative data is obtained to achieve this aim. It is established that Cadbury relies on robust social media presence including a variety of channels (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) as well as on different engagement strategies such as purely promotional messages and direct customer interactions. However, these marketing efforts were insufficient to achieve a consistently high level of brand trust in the company’s online communities. Social media training as well as content marketing are recommended for Cadbury as possible solutions to this problem.
Written by Josh A.
In the age of social media, customers increasingly turn to them as a source of information on whether certain beauty products or services are worth purchasing (Immediate Future, 2016, p. 1). According to the 2015 survey by BuzzMyVideos, 85% of British customers aged 16-45 would trust a review by a YouTube beauty blogger over any other advertising medium (BuzzMyVideos, 2015, p. 1). There is evidence that the global beauty industry might be heavily underutilising the potential of social media. In the US, 69% of personal care companies failed to regularly update their websites and 12% did not remove out-of-date promotions (Miguel, 2014, p. 1). This dissertation aims at testing on whether the situation in the UK beauty industry is better and if their social media strategies are generally effective in reaching customers.
Written by Jess C.
Example of how to write a dissertation discussion chapter. This chapter focuses on Content Marketing Preferences of Fashion Product Buyers in Thailand.
View the full discussion chapter here .
Economics & Finance Dissertations
The aim of the present paper is to assess whether mergers and acquisitions (M&A) create value. For this purpose, a sample of 30 largest M&A deals in the UK is investigated. The sample covers the period of 2013-2015 which allows for examining both short-term and long-term performance as well as minimise the potential impact of the global financial crisis. The cumulative abnormal returns (CARs) and buy-and-hold abnormal returns (BHARs) are employed to estimate the performance of the acquirers. The analysis relies on testing the deviations of abnormal returns from zero by performing several cross-sectional tests for different event windows and holding periods.
Written by Carl R.
The purpose of this research is to explore the effects of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows on economic growth of emerging economies in the Latin American and South East Asian regions. This aim is attained by employing econometric methods based on panel regression analysis. The study investigates a sample of ten countries for the period from 1990 to 2016. The results of the research show that FDI inflows do not produce a statistically significant positive effect on economic growth in developing countries but there are slight regional differences. The study faced limitations associated with the quality of proxies for human capital as a factor of economic growth. Recommendations for future improvement of the research are provided at the end of the paper.
Written by Matthew R.
The aim of the dissertation is to investigate the influence of corporate governance practices on firm performance of FTSE 100 companies. Explanatory variables belong to three categories, namely board parameters, CEO characteristics and ownership specifics. The period of investigation is 2005-2015. An analysis is conducted using a panel ordinary least squares regression and the Hausman specification test applied to determine whether a model with fixed or random effect is more appropriate to employ.
Written by Adrian L.
This study focuses on the modelling of oil price behaviour during the period 2012-2017. The Geometric Brownian Motion (GBM) and Mean-Reversion Jump Diffusion (MRJD) models are used for this purpose. Based on the results, no substantial difference has been found between the simulated prices due to the slow speed of mean reversion and low jump intensity estimated for the MRJD model. This can be explained by the potential existence of two distinct regimes of the oil price behaviour associated with the 2014 drop in oil prices. The MRJD model reproduces volatility smiles for the arithmetic average options showing that lower volatility is associated with the at-the-money options.
Written by Anton V.
This study attempts to identify the impact of the United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from the European Union (EU) on the access of British non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to EU funding. Primary quantitative data was gathered from 43 managers and employees of four UK-based NGOs. The analysis outcomes demonstrated that Brexit had considerably limited UK-based NGOs’ ability to meet the nationality requirement as well as their access to funding from the European Union. The main limitation of this project refers to the small size of the sample. The researchers who investigate the consequences of Brexit for the UK’s economic and social context could be interested in this dissertation.
Written by Emily S.
This study employs panel data analysis to investigate whether the market size, availability of infrastructure, price stability, trade openness, political stability, absence of violence and terrorism, control of corruption and government effectiveness affect the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow to ten developing countries from Europe, Middle East and Africa using data for a period of twenty years (1996-2016). Unlike previous studies that focused on one specific region, this dissertation provides evidence for three different regions. Results of the panel data analysis show that the market size and inflation rate are statistically significant factors that influence FDI in the selected countries.
The aim of the study is to assess the weak form of market efficiency in the context of Qatar and Saudi Arabia during the period 2001-2017. The QE General index and Tadawul All Share index are used to represent these two markets respectively. Daily data has been retrieved to capture short-term volatility in these markets and assess randomness of stock returns. The methodology of this research is based on such methods as the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, the runs test, the autocorrelation test, the Augmented Dickey-Fuller test for a unit root and the variance ratio test.
Written by Sheikh A.
The aim of this dissertation is to assess the relationship between earnings management and internal and external audit practices in the UK. A sample of non-financial UK firms is investigated throughout the years 2010-2016. Abnormal accruals are used to represent earnings management. The results show no significant effect of audit committee characteristics such as size and meeting frequency on earnings management. At the same time, the findings from this dissertation suggest that companies audited by the Big Four are less likely to engage in earning management activities. The findings generally agree with the existing literature.
Written by Rachel E.
The importance of the problem of corruption is explained by the fact that it affects the very roots of the economy. Corruption violates equity rights which has far-reaching consequences for both economic efficiency and asset ownership. It makes the work of social and political institutions less efficient and thus endangers democracy. Moreover, corruption activities are often undertaken tacitly which makes the fight against it a complicated and resource-consuming process.
This thesis examines the impact of restorative justice values has made within the youth justice framework in the UK over the past ten years and determines whether the current practice aspires to the international standard of restorative justice ideals. The focus of the thesis will be on the development of the theoretical and conceptual foundations of restorative justice within criminal justice with an additional focus on UK current practice. The thesis will also examine the development of restorative justice in other jurisdictions such as Canada and New Zealand to compare and contrast the impact of the development and practice of restorative justice processes in dealing with youth offending. A primary focus will be to use the conceptual foundations of restorative justice in addition to the development of restorative justice practice in other jurisdictions to inform analysis on the UK’s approach to incorporate restorative justice within criminal justice. Additionally the thesis will evaluate whether the current restorative justice model has any potential flaws and where improvements can be made to adjust youth criminal justice towards a more integrated approach to adopting practices more restorative in nature.
Written by Mike H.
To view the full Dissertation click here
The EU’s architecture comprises a combination of supranational and intergovernmental institutions. However the UK’s government has always argued that supranationalism especially in the form of the supremacy of EU laws undermines national sovereignty. The intergovernmentalist approach is closely related to the international relations theory of realism which argues that in an anarchical world devoid of any form of supranational governance, all power and sovereignty lies with nation states. They apply this reasoning to the European integration process by arguing that power in the European Union lies with national governments. Barnard and Peers sums this up by stating, “The central thesis is that States are the driving force behind integration, that supranational actors are there largely at their behest and that such actors as such have little independent impact on the pace of integration.” This paper will examine the way supremacy of EU law has been developed and the extent to which it poses a challenge to national governments.
Written by Michael S.
History, International Relations & Politics Dissertations
Poonindie mission station was founded in 1850 to provide a place for aborigines educated at the missionary schools in the Adelaide and Port Lincoln areas of South Australia to live in a Christian way of life. Although Poonindie’s aim to annihilate aborigine society and culture and absorb its residents into a Christian, European one may seem wrong to us today, to Poonindie’s founder, Mathew Blagden Hale, the notion of these people finding contentment in a culture which did not meet European standards was impossible. It is important that a historian assesses the past by the standards of their own times instead of judging them by our own.
Written by Joanna W.
Language and Linguistics Dissertations
Second Language Acquisition is a staged and systematic process that occurs on a development continuum. This means that learners work their way through a number of predictable stages or developmental sequences in the acquisition of a language. In light of this, most SLA researchers claim that rather than relying on the conscious teaching of language skills, we must allow for the natural development of progress in stages of learning and acquisition through natural exposure of the language. Such a method of learning mirrors the unconscious ways in which children acquire a first language. This idea subsequently leads to the debate of whether a second language is thus acquired and learnt more easily at an early age also (see Krashen 1985). Many researchers believe that children have a neurological advantage in language learning, before the maturation of the brain, which occurs within the teens (Penfield and Roberts, 1959).
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Writing a dissertation proposal.
What is a dissertation proposal?
Dissertation proposals are like the table of contents for your research project , and will help you explain what it is you intend to examine, and roughly, how you intend to go about collecting and analysing your data. You won’t be required to have everything planned out exactly, as your topic may change slightly in the course of your research, but for the most part, writing your proposal should help you better identify the direction for your dissertation.
When you’ve chosen a topic for your dissertation , you’ll need to make sure that it is both appropriate to your field of study and narrow enough to be completed by the end of your course. Your dissertation proposal will help you define and determine both of these things and will also allow your department and instructors to make sure that you are being advised by the best person to help you complete your research.
A dissertation proposal should include:
- An introduction to your dissertation topic
- Aims and objectives of your dissertation
- A literature review of the current research undertaken in your field
- Proposed methodology to be used
- Implications of your research
- Limitations of your research
Although this content all needs to be included in your dissertation proposal, it isn’t set in stone so it can be changed later if necessary, depending on your topic of study, university or degree. Think of your dissertation proposal as more of a guide to writing your dissertation rather than something to be strictly adhered to – this will be discussed later.
Why is a dissertation proposal important?
A dissertation proposal is very important because it helps shape the actual dissertation, which is arguably the most important piece of writing a postgraduate student will undertake. By having a well-structured dissertation proposal, you will have a strong foundation for your dissertation and a good template to follow. The dissertation itself is key to postgraduate success as it will contribute to your overall grade. Writing your dissertation will also help you to develop research and communication skills, which could become invaluable in your employment success and future career. By making sure you’re fully briefed on the current research available in your chosen dissertation topic, as well as keeping details of your bibliography up to date, you will be in a great position to write an excellent dissertation.
Next, we’ll be outlining things you can do to help you produce the best postgraduate dissertation proposal possible.
How to begin your dissertation proposal
1. Narrow the topic down
It’s important that when you sit down to draft your proposal, you’ve carefully thought out your topic and are able to narrow it down enough to present a clear and succinct understanding of what you aim to do and hope to accomplish in your dissertation.
How do I decide on a dissertation topic?
A simple way to begin choosing a topic for your dissertation is to go back through your assignments and lectures. Was there a topic that stood out to you? Was there an idea that wasn’t fully explored? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you have a great starting point! If not, then consider one of your more personal interests. Use Google Scholar to explore studies and journals on your topic to find any areas that could go into more detail or explore a more niche topic within your personal interest.
Keep track of all publications
It’s important to keep track of all the publications that you use while you research. You can use this in your literature review.
You need to keep track of:
- The title of the study/research paper/book/journal
- Who wrote/took part in the study/research paper
- Chapter title
- Page number(s)
The more research you do, the more you should be able to narrow down your topic and find an interesting area to focus on. You’ll also be able to write about everything you find in your literature review which will make your proposal stronger.
While doing your research, consider the following:
- When was your source published? Is the information outdated? Has new information come to light since?
- Can you determine if any of the methodologies could have been carried out more efficiently? Are there any errors or gaps?
- Are there any ethical concerns that should be considered in future studies on the same topic?
- Could anything external (for example new events happening) have influenced the research?
Read more about picking a topic for your dissertation .
How long should the dissertation proposal be?
Aiming for 1,000 words or more, your dissertation proposal will give an outline of the topic of your dissertation, some of the questions you hope to answer with your research, what sort of studies and type of data you aim to employ in your research, and the sort of analysis you will carry out.
Different courses may have different requirements for things like length and the specific information to include, as well as what structure is preferred, so be sure to check what special requirements your course has.
2. What should I include in a dissertation proposal?
The introduction will state your central research question and give background on the subject, as well as relating it contextually to any broader issues surrounding it. Read more about picking a topic for your dissertation .
The dissertation proposal introduction should outline exactly what you intend to investigate in your final research project.
Make sure you outline the structure of the dissertation proposal in your introduction, i.e. part one covers methodology, part two covers a literature review, part three covers research limitations, and so forth.
The dissertation methodology will break down what sources you aim to use for your research and what sort of data you will collect from it, either quantitative or qualitative. You may also want to include how you will analyse the data you gather and what, if any, bias there may be in your chosen methods.
Depending on the level of detail that your specific course requires, you may also want to explain why your chosen approaches to gathering data are more appropriate to your research than others.
Consider and explain how you will conduct empirical research. For example, will you use interviews? Surveys? Observation? Lab experiments?
In your dissertation methodology, outline the variables that you will measure in your research and how you will select your data or participant sample to ensure valid results.
Finally, are there any specific tools that you will use for your methodology? If so, make sure you provide this information in the methodology section of your dissertation proposal.
- Aims and objectives
Your dissertation proposal should also include the aims and objectives of your research. Be sure to state what your research hopes to achieve, as well as what outcomes you predict. You may also need to clearly state what your main research objectives are, in other words, how you plan to obtain those achievements and outcomes.
Your aim should not be too broad but should equally not be too specific.
An example of a dissertation aim could be: ‘To examine the key content features and social contexts that construct successful viral marketing content distribution on Twitter’.
In comparison, an example of a dissertation aim that is perhaps too broad would be: ‘‘To investigate how things go viral on Twitter’.
The aim of your dissertation proposal should relate directly to your research question.
- Literature review
The literature review will list the books and materials that you used to do your research. This is where you can list materials that gave you more background on your topic, or contain research carried out previously that you referred to in your own studies.
The literature review is also a good place to demonstrate how your research connects to previous academic studies and how your methods may differ from or build upon those used by other researchers. While it’s important to give enough information about the materials to show that you have read and understood them, don’t forget to include your analysis of their value to your work.
Where there are shortfalls in other pieces of academic work, identify these and address how you will overcome these shortcomings in your own research.
Constraints and limitations of your research
Lastly, you will also need to include the constraints of your research. Many topics will have broad links to numerous larger and more complex issues, so by clearly stating the constraints of your research, you are displaying your understanding and acknowledgment of these larger issues, and the role they play by focusing your research on just one section or part of the subject.
In this section it is important to Include examples of possible limitations, for example, issues with sample size, participant drop out, lack of existing research on the topic, time constraints, and other factors that may affect your study.
- Ethical considerations
Confidentiality and ethical concerns are an important part of any research.
Ethics are key, as your dissertation will need to undergo ethical approval if you are working with participants. This means that it’s important to allow for and explain ethical considerations in your dissertation proposal.
Keep confidentiality in mind and keep your participants informed, so they are aware of how the data provided is being used and are assured that all personal information is being kept confidential.
Consider how involved your patients will be with your research, this will help you think about what ethical considerations to take and discuss them fully in your dissertation proposal. For example, face-to-face participant interview methods could require more ethical measures and confidentiality considerations than methods that do not require participants, such as corpus data (a collection of existing written texts) analysis.
3. Dissertation proposal example
Once you know what sections you need or do not need to include, it may help focus your writing to break the proposal up into separate headings, and tackle each piece individually. You may also want to consider including a title. Writing a title for your proposal will help you make sure that your topic is narrow enough, as well as help keep your writing focused and on topic.
One example of a dissertation proposal structure is using the following headings, either broken up into sections or chapters depending on the required word count:
- Research constraints
In any dissertation proposal example, you’ll want to make it clear why you’re doing the research and what positives could come from your contribution.
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Introduction · Establish your research topic, giving the background information needed to contextualize your work · Narrow down the focus and define the scope of
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have used. • Explain how your work could be advanced or point to new directions in future research. Introduction: An example of a good
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