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How To Write A Dissertation Paper Chapter Outline: Basic Instructions


Dissertations, also known as theses, are incredibly important if you’re seeking education beyond a four-year Bachelor’s degree. Your dissertation is one of the most important things that you’ll do in your entire educational career, and it’s integral to successfully obtaining your degree. A dissertation, which is based in original research and analysis, is typically much longer than a standard research paper. Due to its length, a thesis paper is generally divided up into chapters. For many students, it’s incredibly helpful to create an outline of the paper’s chapters as part of the writing process. Your dissertation will involve a lot of ongoing research, and it helps to have a structure in mind before you write the paper.

There’s no one mandatory format for thesis papers, but the chapters do need to be structured appropriately with a clear, logical progression. There are also several key sections that almost every thesis paper will include. Although thesis paper structure can vary between quantitative subjects, like the sciences or economics, and qualitative subjects, like the humanities, most theses follow a basic structure. They tend to include an introduction; a review of the existing literature; a discussion of methods used in research; a discussion of the findings; and a conclusion. This basic outline structure is commonly used both in graduate theses, and in published academic journal articles from professional researchers. Here is an example of a what a typical dissertation outline might look like.

  • Chapter I: Introduction
    • Discussion of the general background surrounding the problem that the paper will address.
    • A discussion of the overall purpose of the research, as it relates to the field as a whole.
    • The theoretical framework that the research fits into.
    • Statement of the hypothesis (if applicable)
    • Importance and scope of the research
  • Chapter II: Review of the Existing Literature
    • Discussion of the research and analyses that have already been conducted and published about the topic.
  • Research Methods
    • Design of the study (if applicable)
    • Participants in the study (if applicable)
    • Instruments and equipment used in research (if applicable)
    • Procedures
    • Analysis of the data
    • Assumptions and limitations
    • Ethical considerations (if applicable)
    • Summary of research methods
  • Research Findings
    • Discussion of what results were obtained through the research
    • Analysis of how findings relate to previous published research, and how it can contribute to the overall study of the subject.
  • Conclusion
    • Summary of the study
    • Summary of findings
    • Conclusion based on research findings
    • Suggestions for further research that could be conducted in the future

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