How to Build Dissertation Structure: Rules That'll Help You Succeed

posted by Andy Preisler 06 Aug 2021
Table of contents:

Unless you know how to build dissertation structure properly, you won’t be able to complete this project successfully. It consists of 6 major chapters and other smaller aspects, and your total grade depends on what details you include and how insightful they are. Many students have no idea what their dissertation structure should look like, and this endangers their future degree. Some ask for professional dissertation writing help while others are determined to do everything on their own. Our guide will be a great helper: we’ll show you how to write a dissertation and explain what its structure should be.

Learning How to Structure a Dissertation: What Steps Should Be Included?

Whether you work by yourself or ask someone, “Would you help me write my dissertation?”, the first thing you have to do is understand what your project even is. Dissertation is long, many-layered research students do for proving that they successfully learned everything about their subject and are ready for graduation as well as for earning their degree. In this guide, we’re going to address every stage you need to cover, from minor details of structure to actual chapters. After reading it, you won’t have any doubts such as what dissertation structure should include.

Start with the Title Page

Students should find out what academic style they need for their dissertation format and take a sample of a title page from their university. Generally, things like title, name of the author as well as supervisor, subject area, name of the educational establishment, and possibly a word count should be mentioned as a part of the structure. Proofread text carefully — any mistakes will stand out starkly since this is the first page your readers will see.

Mention People Who Helped You in Acknowledgements Page

What to include in a dissertation structure? Point out people who played their role in supporting you and your efforts during the months you spent working. This part is usually written after the whole project is complete. Don’t be overly formal here — after all, acknowledgements are for you and people who love you. At the same time, don’t overdo it. This is meant to be a short section with concise sentences. Most students write about their families, friends, supervisors, etc. — some even mention beloved pets who accompanied them during sleepless nights full of work and research.

Read also: Best place to get top-notch thesis help online.

Create Abstract or Executive Summary

This is one of those parts of a dissertation that students include in structure later, after they are done with chapters. It’s basically a short summary of an entire work that centers on key pillars of research as well as major findings. Describe a goal of your project, a methodology you chose, your insights and conclusions. Remember an important rule: abstract should provide enough relevant information to function independently from the rest of the text. If the committee reads it but not the entire dissertation structure, they should still understand what it’s about. How long should an abstract be? The size of an abstract or executive summary differs depending on the final word count of dissertation, which is another reason why it’s better to write it last. In most cases, it’s about a page long.

Format Table of Contents

Table of contents is one of the most underestimated parts of structure of a dissertation. It’s tricky because if a student adds any changes later, page count is going to be messed up. It is important to pay attention to this section last and double- or even triple-check everything. If table of contents states that “Literature review” chapter starts on page 15 according to structure, then it should start just there. The text should look neat. You won’t lose many points if it doesn’t, but it could still produce a negative first impression among members of the committee.

Add a List of Figures and Tables

We suggest that you clarify this section with your supervisor in advance. Different universities have different rules about how to layout a dissertation. For example, some ask for tables and figures to be used as they are referenced in text, but plenty of others prefer for all figures to be placed together at the start of the project. This way, when a reader sees a cited table, they could just go back to the beginning and check what it says. Be careful here: check formatting and aesthetic appeal. Adding overly large or tiny figures is not a great idea. Everyone should be able to read them without making an effort. Watch out for page numbers because sometimes addition of tables distorts paper structure and moves the rest of the text.

List Abbreviations and Their Meaning

Every professional dissertation structure plan includes a list with abbreviations used in a paper. It’s not always needed, mind you: if your project doesn’t have many abbreviations or they are all ridiculously standard, you don’t have to make a list like this. But for scientific and technical-heavy dissertations, it is polite to explain what you’re talking about to readers. Use an abbreviation and decipher what it stands for. Again, this is the detail we suggest discussing with a supervisor because the rules are different across states and educational establishments.

Create Glossary

Glossary plays a role similar to abbreviation list in any dissertation structure template. If your project has complex concepts that general audience wouldn’t know about, decipher them by providing a short explanation with their definition. Pick only truly difficult terms — don’t boost your word count by defining elementary and self-explanatory things.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Finally, we approached dissertation chapter structure. In general, there are six sections students need to write, each having its unique rules. Introduction is the start of everything. This is where you intrigue your audience and propose your hypothesis. The size of this part should be 10% from the whole content. As for which layers it should have, here they are:

  1. General background of the subject. Introduce the area of your future research. Use broad details and try to raise the interest of your interests. Swiftly but carefully, move on to the next paragraph.
  2. Narrow it down to your core topic. Start discussing the specific area you are going to explore. Be very particular, but don’t overwhelm your readers with details. There will be a separate time for it — right now, simply tease them with what you’ll be exploring in-depth later.
  3. State hypothesis with research questions. This is a crucial aspect that all dissertation chapters depend on. Think hard and formulate your hypothesis. It should be one very specific sentence that you’ll be investigating, and it must be accompanied by several related research questions. Your dissertation should answer them in the course of your paper. Imagine yourself as your own reader: would you understand the goal of a project by reading this one line? If not, refine it further. If yes, your job is done.
  4. Explain reasons for choosing it and underline existing limitations.  What is so relevant about this topic? How well is it researched? If you picked it for dissertation, it means you don’t think there is enough material about it. Why is that? Mention the existing studies on the same subject and describe their scope. What new things will your project bring to the table?
  5. Outline your plan of actions. Describe a typical undergraduate dissertation structure. It’ll include all chapters, so just briefly state what you will discuss in each of them. Avoid personal pronouns and dedicate no more than one sentence to each description.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

This chapter is what makes a big number of students look for dissertation literature review writing services: they aren’t certain they are ready to handle a task that requires so much research. It’s true that you’ll be investing many efforts into it, but if you like your topic, you won’t mind. Here’s what you should do.

  1. Find credible sources about your subject. How to start writing a dissertation literature review? With reading! Access credible academic databases and start looking for sources. It could be journal articles (preferably with DOI number), academic books, government sites, etc. Sort through them via keywords, read their abstracts, and pick the ones that fit your project most. Then read them entirely. If they are still perfect, include them in your paper structure.
  2. Combine them into thematic groups. Which authors agree with each other and which ones don’t? More than that, what studies align with your vision, and which go against it? Structure these sources into different groups; prepare to use them in this order for enhancing the points you’ll be making later.
  3. Describe each source through synthesis. Present a group of articles you’ve selected. Use authors in relation to one another — this is a vital thing in literature review dissertation structure. For instance, “Jones (2018) claims that the results were inconclusive, but Francis (2020) disagrees with him.” Providing individual summaries would be a wrong choice because your purpose is to analyze, not just describe what you’ve read.

Chapter 3: Methodology

Time to share what methods you chose when structuring a dissertation and making an outline. Are you wondering what they include? Look at the helpful tips we prepared below.

  1. Pick between three methods: qualitative, quantitative, or experimental. There are some more of them available, but these are the major ones. Qualitative research means that an author is conducting their own interviews or surveys, working with primary data. The quantitative method is about secondary data: you analyze findings someone else made and base your project on them. The experimental design combines two: as a dissertation writer, you perform your personal original research while also heavily using other studies.
  2. Indicate where you looked for your data. This could include hospitals, libraries, archives, schools, etc.
  3. Provide details. Discuss what and where you researched, what sample group you used, and so on. Indicate tools you relied upon.
  4. Give justifications. Assure readers that you followed ethical guidelines when collecting info and talk about any issues you encountered.

Chapter 4: Results

At this part of layout of a dissertation structure, students state whether their hypothesis was confirmed or refuted. They describe what they found, focusing on each relevant piece of findings. Share research conclusions, statistics, and tables for helping readers better visualize what you’re discussing. Don’t delve into explanations — for now, concentrate on the presentation of your results.

Chapter 5: Discussion

At this stage, many begin to wonder, how should a dissertation be structured? The thing is, results and discussions often merge together. They count as one section, not two. On the other hand, many universities prefer when there are two chapters present, so clarify this with a professor who’s supervising you. In any case, the goal of this part is obvious from its name alone. You should discuss your findings here, providing explanations that were missing from the previous chapter. In addition, you have to talk about the implications. What do your results mean from a bigger perspective? What do they imply on a local level? Talk, talk, then talk some more. This is your chance to underline the relevance of your whole paper.

Chapter 6: Conclusion

As the closing part, this section plays a big role in shaping readers’ opinion. There are many conclusion dissertation layout examples, so Google them to see what makes them important. Here, you repeat major points and make the final impact on your audience. Show some objectivity. Acknowledge that everything wasn’t flawless and topic still needs research. Offer solutions and underline your professionalism by providing recommendations for other experts who might feel interested in the same subject. We also suggest telling readers about the changes that might take place if more work is done in this area. It could be inspiring, encouraging others to look at the situation through your eyes.

Format Your Reference List

Sometimes when people ask academic experts, “Help write my essay,” they do not need an entire essay — they want help with one or two parts in structure. A reference list is among most common requests. In it, students structure all sources they used in an appropriate formatting style. Usually, entries are situated in alphabetic order, and such things as the name of the author, publication date, title, collection, journal, or other medium are mentioned. It is not a difficult task, but it’s time-consuming and requires knowledge of mechanics that not everyone has patience for.

Create an Appendix as a Final Component of Dissertation Layout

Appendices are sections where students add things that didn’t fit into the main parts of their assignment. It could be interview transcripts, text from surveys, some extra pictures, etc. Not everyone adds an appendix in structure, but it is usually a good thing. It allows making your dissertation more complete and scientifically appealing.

Editing and Proofreading

Few students want to spend their time perfecting their dissertation structure. Edit dissertations is an important process, just like proofreading. It gives you a chance to remove all mistakes, improve the content, or rewrite parts that don’t sound right. Yes, it requires effort, but this is a way to refine your work and make sure you did everything you could with it. As a couple of tips: re-read it aloud or print a draft version. This way, mistakes become more visible. Asking others for assistance could also be a good idea, try “fix my paper” service. 

Choose an Interesting Topic and Get to Love Your Dissertation

If you’re studying an interesting subject, then writing about it could be an exciting journey. You know how to start your dissertation now: follow the tips and enjoy research. If there are problems, you could always buy a dissertation and let professionals handle them. There are many solutions, so just pick whichever works best for you!

Andy Preisler

Blog writer for GrabMyEssay

Andy Preisler


Hey there!

I’m Andy Preisler, and I’m super happy to be joining the blog team at!

While I hail from Fayetteville, Arkansas (I know, not the most progressive state!), I left the Southern life behind me many years ago when I went to college for my first degree. I’ve received it in University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and I’m really proud of this. Since then, I have studied in the U.S., and later on, continued my education in Loughborough University, UK, where I actually my second Bachelor’s Degree along the way.

With my perpetual studies (my parents wonder if it will ever stop), I have become a bit of an expert on college life – academic, social, and financial – and love sharing my experiences and my methods of “circumventing the system” with others.  I will be sharing all of these great tips and strategies with my readers, so stay tuned!

When I am not blogging or enrolling in some new course that interests me, I am backpacking through Europe and staying in hostels, working on my second novel (a riveting murder mystery), and pursuing my interest in music. Yes, I travel with my guitar, and you would be amazed at the amount of cash I can accumulate, just performing on the streets of European cities (they are so much more tolerant of vagabond musicians). 

My other passion is environmental. In my short 27 years of life on this planet, I have witnessed the extinction of species, the destruction of rain forests, and irreparable harm to our oceans. I contribute both time and money to several international environmental organizations, because we all must do our part to save Mother Earth.

But I digress! If you are interested in the “ins and outs” of college life, and want some great tales of navigating through the game of “degree attainment,” as well as tips for easing the pain of those pesky essay and paper assignments, follow my blog!

I would love to hear from you, to give you advice, and to lend a listening ear. You can contact me at [email protected] anytime! And follow my posts – you won’t be disappointed!

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