Dissertation Outline : Complete Dissertation Structure
A dissertation is a written document that summarizes the research on a given topic. It is an opportunity during a doctorate program to contribute new knowledge, theories, or practices to your field. The point of a dissertation is to come up with an entirely new concept, develop it, and defend its worth.
Dissertations are structured as follows:
- Chapter 1: introduction (broad overview of the research)
- Chapter 2: literature review and conceptual framework
- Chapter 3: methodology
- Chapter 4: findings
- Chapter 5: interpretation conclusion and recommendation
Dissertation proposals include the elements in chapters 1 to 3 plus the references.
Chapter 1: Introduction
This chapter introduces and provides an overview of your research. It summarizes chapters 2 and 3 and hence it is advisable to write it after chapter 2 and 3. It includes:
a) Overview – Briefly explain why you are undertaking the study and the main problems that you will address.
b) Statement of the problem – Discuss the problem that you will address in the research. State the problem generally first, then state the specifics that your research will address.
c) Purpose – The purpose of a research is to acquire knowledge to address the problem or its certain aspects.
d) Research questions – Research questions address problems of the study. Each question seeks answers to a specific problem situation described in your study.
e) Significance of the study – Discuss the potential significance of the research. Significance comes from the uses that might be made of your results; how they might benefit your theory, knowledge, practice, policy, and future research.
f) Conceptual framework – Briefly summarize the conceptual framework derived from the literature review reported in chapter 2. Conceptual; framework is the theoretical foundation that helps you understand the problem situation and its dynamics.
g) Summary of methodology
i) Definition of terms
Chapter 2: Literature Review
The literature review should carefully examine prior research, which is though relevant to the key aspects of your anticipated research. It is used to inform:
- The problem to be addressed and its significance.
- The conceptual framework.
- The research questions.
- The research methodology.
This chapter includes:
a) Introduction. Indicate the topics that you will cover and the purpose of the review. Briefly describe the methods of review.
b) Description and critique of scholarly literature. Describe and briefly critique each major theoretical discourse and conceptual discussion. Identify both the strengths and weaknesses.
c) Assumptions for the forthcoming study. Analyze and synthesize across the individual sources that you have described.
The assumptions could be about:
- The problem addressed in your research and its significance.
- Possible research questions.
- Possible theoretical framework to be used.
- Possible research methodologies to be used.
d) The conceptual framework for the forthcoming study.
Chapter 3: Research and Design Methodology
The methods are the procedures that you will use to acquire evidence and analyze it for the purpose of answering research questions, testing hypotheses, and examining foreshadowed problems.
This chapter includes:
- Exploratory questions
- Research procedures
- Human participants and ethics precautions – Summarize potential risks to humans whom you collected your data from in your research and the precautions you have taken to ensure informed consent.
Chapter 4: Findings
Present important results in a table, graph, or chart and the less important ones in a table. Report the results in sufficient detail to justify any subsequent conclusions and recommendations.
Chapter 5: Interpretation Conclusion and Recommendation
In this chapter, you provide meaning to the results by tying them to past theory, research, policy and partly tying them to future theory. It includes:
- Summary – Begin with a brief summary of your problem and the main results of your research.