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A well-defined overview to write your dissertation easily

Writing a dissertation is one of the most challenging and time-consuming documents a student has to produce in his academic career. Along with the main document, an overview of the dissertation is also an integral element of the entire dissertation writing process. An overview helps to identify the structure and strategic goals of your dissertation. It acts as a precise plot design that postulates what tasks have to be completed in order to accomplish the goals of your dissertation project. It explains in a simplified manner what notions and concepts are compulsory to be included in your dissertation assignment.

Definition and purpose of dissertation overview

The purpose of the dissertation structure is to keep a scholar engrossed in the intended topic of the dissertation so that not even a minute of your precious time is lost and the content is not side-tracked at any point of the project. Planning a dissertation academically enables a student to collect data and organize it systematically in a logical way. An overview serves as an outline that gives an insight into what is included in each chapter of the dissertation. It also helps a student to effectively connect the arguments to the main research question and avoid confusion and repetition in the wordy and lengthy dissertation project.

Additionally, you can also submit your dissertation overview with your proposal to represent a rough sketch of your main document and the ideas you have for your chapters.

Different universities or institutes have different rules for structuring a dissertation. However, in most cases, the organization of the elements entails five major sections i.e. an introduction, a comprehensive literature review, methodology, analysis of presented data, and a conclusion paragraph.

Sneak peek into the overview/outline of a dissertation

It is important for you to understand that there is no fixed and rigid structure for a dissertation overview. It varies according to your research topic and subject. It is always better to check in with your university guidelines to know about the accepted pattern. Here is the comprehensive overview of the  most common elements included in any dissertation

The Anterior Matter

The arrangement and presentation pattern of the front matter of your dissertation can differ on the basis of the university or institution and the department of your subject.

The common elements included in the front matter are

  1. Title Page: A title echos the objective and content of your dissertation project. The title page should include a flawless and brief description of your dissertation topic, the author's name, concerned degree program for which the dissertation is being written, name of the university or institute, and the year and month in which the study was approved.
  • The ideal borders for a title page are set at 1.5 inches on the left side whereas 1 inch each for the right, top, and bottom borders.
  • Mention the title of your dissertation in block capital letters only.
  • Remember that it is the title of your dissertation that will be used for retrieval purposes by other scholars for literature search in the future.
  1. Copyright certificate: The copyright certificate is an optional element in a dissertation but is the most important one. It represents the legal right of the student over the written text in the dissertation. It helps a student to protect his piece of work.
  • The copyright symbol should be added with the name of the author and the year. These details should be aligned at the center of the lower part of the rear of the title page.
  • Remember to include, "All rights reserved", just below the symbol and name.

© Chirsty Nicole

All Rights Reserved

  1. Abstract: The abstract section of your dissertation study is a concise review of the entire dissertation project. It includes the statement of the problem or issues addressed in the paper, the aim of the project, the opportunities available for the project, data sources, the method applied, the main results of the study, their implications, and research tradition. The abstract of a dissertation is often limited to 350-600 words and is written at the end of your dissertation. It should be written from an outsider's perspective.
  2. Acknowledgments: Acknowledgements is another optional section in a dissertation that includes a brief appreciation for the contributions of colleagues, friends, family members, mentors, and committee members in supporting the presented dissertation project.
  3. Table of contents: The index or the content page acts as a sketch of the entire dissertation which includes the chapter name and the sub-headings along with the respective sheet numbers. This section helps the student to organize the components while encouraging accessibility for the readers of the dissertation.
  4. List of tables, illustrations, or figures: The index section of a dissertation is often tailed by a list of tables, record of figures, inventory of illustrations, directory of symbols, etc. If any of these lists are present in the dissertation, they are formatted in the same manner as the index page or the contents page.

Dissertation Chapters

The format, order, and sub-headings of each chapter in a dissertation are different as per the guidelines set by your university or department.

Here are some common chapters that can be found in almost every dissertation paper

Chapter 1 Introduction: The primary or the introduction section of your dissertation sets the foundation of your study and guides the readers towards the objective and content of your dissertation. An introduction should be informative enough that it is capable to stand alone as a text file. The components to be included in an introductory chapter are

  • Background of the topic- A general overview of the study area selected for the dissertation and from which the main research problem is drawn.
  • Statement of the Problem- A clear, concise, and detailed explanation of the problem to be studied. It should demonstrate the need for conducting the study and locating your dissertation in a broader field of knowledge.
  • Proclamation of the purpose- Mention the key objectives or goals of your project that will help a reader to recognize the dominant thrust of your research.
  • Research question- Mention the question to be explored in your dissertation study. This will help a student to define the direction his dissertation will move in.
  • Overview of methodology- Outline the methodological approach your dissertation follows along with the sample set, instruments used, and analysis method used for the study.
  • Rationale and significance- Provide arguments for justifying the study and address the benefits that will be derived after conducting the research for the dissertation.
  • Role of the researcher and his assumptions- Explain the part of the author in the development and management of the dissertation. This information is usually followed by the relevant assumptions, beliefs, and biases made by the author.
  • Definition of key terminologies- Some of the jargon or technical terms might seem like an alien language to the readers. These terms are operationally defined and explained in the introduction chapter only.
  • The organization of the study- This entails a brief concluding explanation of what is included in the upcoming episodes of the paper.

Chapter 2 Literature Review: The review of literature in a dissertation helps a student to situate his study in the context of former studies conducted in the selected field of study. Literature review defends how the study justifies an unexplored break or an unanswered difficulty in the literature. The components to be included in this chapter are

  • An introduction- Provides a description of the subject matter, opportunity, and association of the review as well as the approach used in the literature search to the presented study.
  • Evaluation of the literature selected for analysis- Offers a solid theoretical base meant for your dissertation by analyzing and producing a wide-ranging selection of previous work done in the selected field.
  • Conceptual framework- Provide an intangible framework that is based on the research, experience, and theory. It should analyze the connection between theories and notions.
  • Summary- Conclude the chapter with an inclusive amalgamation of the literature review presented.

Chapter 3 Methodology: Methodology is the foundation for formulating the conclusions of your dissertation project. A well-defined narrative of the participants in the research process, setting, limitations, methodology, and scope of your dissertation study are presented in this chapter. All this information provides recognition of uprightness to the readers with a source for agreeing or not agreeing with the derived results. The structure of this chapter is as follows

  • Introduction- Restate the purpose of your research and describe the organization of the chapter in the initial paragraphs.
  • The rationale for the research approach- Describe the research tradition or paradigm along with the research methodology with a viewpoint explaining their suitability to the entire dissertation topic as a whole.
  • Research setting- Describe and justify the mixture of your study setting by granting information on the history, background, and concerns related to the crisis highlighted.
  • Participants and sources of data- Explain & justify the sample targeted, the way partakers were picked, the characteristics of the sample, the magnitude of the test sample, along with the relevant demographic details associated with the research sample. The student should also outline the ethical considerations related to the participants in reference to principles of research integrities described by your university or institute.
  • Means of collecting data and analyzing it- Describe all the methods used to gather the data, techniques applied, instruments used, and procedures followed, along with the details of how, when, where, and by whom the facts were collected in this segment of your methodology chapter. Follow the data collection details along with the information about the approach and techniques used for the evaluation of the gathered data.
  • Limitations & scope- Identify the possible vulnerability of your dissertation and the opportunity available to your dissertation paper in this part of the chapter.
  • Summary- Conclude the chapter by adding an all-inclusive summary that enfolds all the segments of the chapter and recalls the significant pointers.

Chapter 4 Findings: This section is the basic groundwork required for the scrutinization of the data gathered and for deriving results and references that will emerge in the upcoming sections of the dissertation. The key elements of this chapter are

  • Introduction- Add in a to-the-point summary of how the information was analyzed and give in logical reasons to reach those analyses in the initial paragraphs of this chapter. Also, describe the arrangement of the chapter as per the research questions, intangible outline, or thematic classification.
  • Body- In this section of the findings chapter a student is supposed to add the details about how the findings have been built, present them in a clear narrative form, and include headings to guide the reader to move easily through the chapter. Any unexpected data that has arisen during the research process is also added in this section.
  • Summary- In this part, a student should explain what the section has recognized and also make the reader prepared for the forthcoming episodes by offering some vision for the content of the final episodes.

Chapter 5 Scrutiny and synthesis: The main focus of the analysis chapter is to identify the patterns and themes that have been developed in the findings section. The objective of the chapter is to explore what meaning can you make of the derived results by comparing them accurately. A considerate and captivating synthesis will give you the opportunities to make a valuable contribution to your academic program. The components of this chapter are

  • Introduction- Provide a synopsis of the section’s organization and text in the initial paragraphs of the chapter.
  • Discussion- Provide a detailed interpretation, scrutinization, and synthesis of the outcomes concluded from the study. Seek emergent patterns among findings, inspect whether the literature parallels with or opposes the interpretations made in the beginning. This section should also restate the limitations of the study.

Chapter 6: Conclusion: This chapter should reflect on the student's contribution to the field of knowledge and practice. Write a set of concluding statement and recommendations for future study in this chapter of the dissertation. Remember to tie the conclusions with each other. 

Once through, ask a fresh set of eyes to proofread your text thoroughly. It is highly recommended that you stay in touch with your supervisor, whenever you need some extra help with your dissertation. The above-mentioned guide will help you to avoid redundancy in the content of the dissertation and will also ensure that you do not miss out on any aspect of the topic. However, following the guide doesn't mean that your dissertation plan is now set in stone. You can always develop your dissertation as you work on it. No need to be worried if you move slightly away from your original plans.

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