We have written a detailed guide on how to structure and plan a dissertation to ensure that you get the best grade possible and that the work complies with UK universities guidelines.
Every dissertation/research paper is similar to a book in that it is divided into chapters. These are as follows:
- Cover page-The first page of the dissertation
- Abstract-introduction to your dissertation
- Dissertation table of contents
- Dissertation introduction and acknowledgements – some great examples of dissertation acknowledgements here –
- Main body of the dissertation
- Literature review
- Research methodology of the dissertation
- Dissertation findings
- Discussion and analysis of findings
- Conclusions and recommendations
- Dissertation appendix
We advise that you check with your supervisor on the required structure of the cover page. It generally includes:
your dissertation title, your full name, your student number, your course title and the name of your supervisor
To structure your dissertation abstract properly you need to have four components comprising of about 150 to 350 words:
- The first informs the reader of the background and the importance of your dissertation. Basically you have got to entice your readers to continue reading.
- The research strategy that was used
- The research results
- A brief summary of the conclusions that were made.
For more detailed information follow this link
Table of Contents
It is important that the contents page comes with hyperlinks to individual chapters and subheadings if the dissertation is to be submitted online to make for easier reading and navigation. Include page numbers, list of figures and tables used in the dissertation.
When you come to writing a dissertation introduction, it is similar to the abstract except that you present the dissertation questions and aims to the reader as well as provide a summary of the study. It is also advised to review the literature on your chosen topic as well as the theoretical framework used.
It is advisable that you do a rough outline of the introduction at the beginning of the study to act as a guide. Once the study is complete you can rewrite the introduction to be more relevant to the final product.
In this section you ensure that the reader understands how your research provides missing information within your chosen field.
To achieve this do the following:
- Outline the scope of your research
- Present your evaluation of the relevant information/literature that you reviewed and how this lead you to identifying a “gap” that needs further research.
- Explain how you intend to fill in this gap.
Research methodology of the dissertation
This can be part of the literature review or a separate section the main body of the dissertation. It must simply outline the underlying research philosophy, what research methods were chosen, how the data was gathered and analysed.
This can be done in one of two ways.
The first way is to present all the data (quantitative or qualitative) in whatever form is best, e.g. tables and/or diagrams. Follow with a short overview of the research findings and explain what they mean.
The second way is to present the findings individually (again depending on the data type) followed with a brief explanation. This is done with all the findings and at the very end is concluded with an overall synopsis that combines the explanations together.
Avoid giving speculations or reasons for the results as this forms part of the next section.
Discussion and analysis of findings
This is the part where you give an overview of the most important findings of the study. Continue with how it fills in, only partially fills in or doesn’t fill the gap that you discovered in the literature review. Finish with the limitations of the research and how it may have affected the usefulness of your results.
How to conclude a dissertation
Writing a dissertation conclusion is not simply summarising your research, but rather to conclude the main points that were discovered as a result of the research and implications for your field.
It is also important that present proof of having answered the research questions and provide recommendations for future research.
Ensure that your references are done in the required referencing style and remove any references that are not present in the dissertation. Likewise double check that all the references in the reference list are referred to in the text.
First, confirm with your lecturer if the appendix is included within the word count.
The appendices acts as space for material that cannot fit into the overall dissertation, will disrupt the flow of the research or are not really relevant to your work.
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