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The components of a doctoral dissertation and their order

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This is probably the most variable part of any research paper, and depends on the results and aims of the experiment. For quantitative research , it is a presentation of the numerical results and data, whereas for qualitative research it should be a broader discussion of trends, without going into too much detail.

For research generating a lot of results , then it is better to include tables or graphs of the analyzed data and leave the raw data in the appendix, so that a researcher can follow up and check your calculations. A commentary is essential to linking the results together, rather than just displaying isolated and unconnected charts and figures. It can be quite difficult to find a good balance between the results and the discussion section, because some findings, especially in a quantitative or descriptive experiment , will fall into a grey area.

Try to avoid repeating yourself too often. It is best to try to find a middle path, where you give a general overview of the data and then expand on it in the discussion - you should try to keep your own opinions and interpretations out of the results section, saving that for the discussion later on.

This is where you elaborate on your findings, and explain what you found, adding your own personal interpretations. Ideally, you should link the discussion back to the introduction, addressing each point individually. In keeping with the hourglass principle, you can expand on the topic later in the conclusion. The conclusion is where you build on your discussion and try to relate your findings to other research and to the world at large.

In a short research paper, it may be a paragraph or two, or even a few lines. In a dissertation, it may well be the most important part of the entire paper - not only does it describe the results and discussion in detail, it emphasizes the importance of the results in the field, and ties it in with the previous research. Some research papers require a recommendations section, postulating the further directions of the research, as well as highlighting how any flaws affected the results.

In this case, you should suggest any improvements that could be made to the research design. No paper is complete without a reference list , documenting all the sources that you used for your research. This should be laid out according to APA , MLA or other specified format, allowing any interested researcher to follow up on the research. One habit that is becoming more common, especially with online papers, is to include a reference to your own paper on the final page. Check out our quiz-page with tests about:.

Martyn Shuttleworth Jun 5, Parts of a Research Paper. Retrieved Sep 14, from Explorable. The text in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons-License Attribution 4. You can use it freely with some kind of link , and we're also okay with people reprinting in publications like books, blogs, newsletters, course-material, papers, wikipedia and presentations with clear attribution.

Check Out the Official Book Learn how to construct, style and format an Academic paper and take your skills to the next level. It summarizes the conclusions of the scientific investigation, the solutions to the problems stated in the beginning, suggestions for future research, and practical implications of the findings. This chapter should be relatively short and preferably written in a way that it can stand alone. Avoid copy-pasting sentences from the Abstract and the Introduction.

Long chapters can be divided into sections, which can be further divided into subsections and sub-subsections. When a chapter is divided in sections, there should be at least two of them. Just one section in a chapter is illogical and asymmetric — you should not have any sections at all in such case. The same applies to subsections and sub-subsections.

Numbering the sections and subsections in a chapter provides an easy way for cross-referencing. The most common numbering system is the multiple numeration system , where the number of each division is preceded by the number s of the higher division s. For instance, the number 3. The contents of the back matter are generally supplementary and often non-essential.

The back matter of a dissertation comprises the following parts:. The material found in the appendix is not essential to the dissertation, but can be helpful for the reader who seeks further information. The appendix should not be a repository of raw data that the author has not been able to work into the main text. If there are two or more appendices, they are designated by letters: Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.

The notes section must be arranged by chapters, with chapter numbers and even chapter titles serving as section titles. A reference list includes all sources cited in the work. A bibliography contains all sources the author has consulted, including sources that are not cited in the work: No matter whether you have a Reference List or a Bibliography, make sure that all works cited in the text are included there.

There is nothing worse than searching for a cited article in the back matter and not finding it there. Your email address will not be published. English Language Help Desk. The components of a doctoral dissertation and their order By Marina Pantcheva Do acknowledgements follow or precede the table of contents? The front matter includes in this order: This may look like this: Dedication optional On the dedication page the author names the person s for whom the book is written.

Examples of a dedication are: To my wonderful wife. To Samuel Anderson, in memoriam. Epigraph optional The epigraph is a short quotation or a poem, which usually serves to link the book to other, usually well-known, published works. List of Illustrations optional The list of illustrations contains all illustrations in the dissertation and the page numbers where they can be found.

List of Tables A list of tables usually titled just Tables but entered in the table of contents as List of Tables contains all tables and their page numbers. Abstract The abstract includes a concise description of the thesis — the problems discussed in it and their proposed solution. Acknowledgement In the acknowledgement you thank the people who have contributed to your doctoral degree by providing academic supervision, administrative support, food and shelter, friendship, etc.

Note on Transliteration Sometimes, the author may need to add a list of the transliterations used in the book. List of abbreviations The list of abbreviation contains all the abbreviations used in the body text of the dissertation, listed in an alphabetical order. Body matter The body matter contains the main text of the dissertation. The middle chapters The exact structure of the middle chapters may vary, depending on the scientific field.

Sections in a chapter Long chapters can be divided into sections, which can be further divided into subsections and sub-subsections. Numbering of sections Numbering the sections and subsections in a chapter provides an easy way for cross-referencing. Thus the term dysertacja is reserved for PhD and Habilitation degrees.

All the theses need to be "defended" by the author during a special examination for the given degree. Examinations for PhD and Habilitation degrees are public. The defense is done in a public presentation in which teachers, students, and the general public can participate. For the PhD, a thesis tese is presented for defense in a public exam. The exam typically extends over 3 hours. The examination board typically involves 5 to 6 scholars including the advisor or other experts with a PhD degree generally at least half of them must be external to the university where the candidate defends the thesis, but it may depend on the University.

In Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine an academic dissertation or thesis is called what can be literally translated as a "master's degree work" thesis , whereas the word dissertation is reserved for doctoral theses Candidate of Sciences. To complete a master's degree, a student is required to write a thesis and to then defend the work publicly.

Length of this manuscript usually is given in page count and depends upon educational institution, its departments, faculties, and fields of study [ citation needed ]. At universities in Slovenia, an academic thesis called diploma thesis is a prerequisite for completing undergraduate studies. The thesis used to be 40—60 pages long, but has been reduced to 20—30 pages in new Bologna process programmes.

To complete Master's studies, a candidate must write magistrsko delo Master's thesis that is longer and more detailed than the undergraduate thesis. The required submission for the doctorate is called doktorska disertacija doctoral dissertation.

In pre Bologna programmes students were able to skip the preparation and presentation of a Master's thesis and continue straightforward towards doctorate.

In Sweden, there are different types of theses. After that there are two types of post graduate degrees, Licentiate dissertation and PhD dissertation. A licentiate degree is approximately "half a PhD" in terms of size and scope of the thesis. Swedish PhD studies should in theory last for four years, including course work and thesis work, but as many PhD students also teach, the PhD often takes longer to complete.

Outside the academic community, the terms thesis and dissertation are interchangeable. A wide range of supervisory arrangements can be found in the British academy, from single supervisors more usual for undergraduate and Masters level work to supervisory teams of up to three supervisors. In teams, there will often be a Director of Studies, usually someone with broader experience perhaps having passed some threshold of successful supervisions.

The Director may be involved with regular supervision along with the other supervisors, or may have more of an oversight role, with the other supervisors taking on the more day-to-day responsibilities of supervision. At most universities, dissertation is the term for the required submission for the doctorate, and thesis refers only to the master's degree requirement.

Thesis is also used to describe a cumulative project for a bachelor's degree and is more common at selective colleges and universities, or for those seeking admittance to graduate school or to obtain an honors academic designation.

These projects are called "senior projects" or "senior theses"; they are generally done in the senior year near graduation after having completed other courses, the independent study period, and the internship or student teaching period the completion of most of the requirements before the writing of the paper ensures adequate knowledge and aptitude for the challenge.

Unlike a dissertation or master's thesis, they are not as long and they do not require a novel contribution to knowledge or even a very narrow focus on a set subtopic. Like them, they can be lengthy and require months of work, they require supervision by at least one professor adviser, they must be focused on a certain area of knowledge, and they must use an appreciable amount of scholarly citations.

They may or may not be defended before a committee but usually are not; there is generally no preceding examination before the writing of the paper, except for at very few colleges. Because of the nature of the graduate thesis or dissertation having to be more narrow and more novel, the result of original research, these usually have a smaller proportion of the work that is cited from other sources, though the fact that they are lengthier may mean they still have total citations.

Specific undergraduate courses, especially writing-intensive courses or courses taken by upperclassmen, may also require one or more extensive written assignments referred to variously as theses, essays, or papers.

Increasingly, high schools are requiring students to complete a senior project or senior thesis on a chosen topic during the final year as a prerequisite for graduation. The extended essay component of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme , offered in a growing number of American high schools, is another example of this trend. Generally speaking, a dissertation is judged as to whether or not it makes an original and unique contribution to scholarship.

Lesser projects a master's thesis, for example are judged by whether or not they demonstrate mastery of available scholarship in the presentation of an idea. The required complexity or quality of research of a thesis may vary significantly among universities or programs.

One of the requirements for certain advanced degrees is often an oral examination called a viva voce examination or just viva in the UK and certain other English-speaking countries.

This examination normally occurs after the dissertation is finished but before it is submitted to the university, and may comprise a presentation often public by the student and questions posed by an examining committee or jury. In North America, an initial oral examination in the field of specialization may take place just before the student settles down to work on the dissertation. An additional oral exam may take place after the dissertation is completed and is known as a thesis or dissertation " defense ", which at some universities may be a mere formality and at others may result in the student being required to make significant revisions.

The result of the examination may be given immediately following deliberation by the examiners in which case the candidate may immediately be considered to have received his or her degree , or at a later date, in which case the examiners may prepare a defense report that is forwarded to a Board or Committee of Postgraduate Studies, which then officially recommends the candidate for the degree. At most North American institutions the latter two verdicts are extremely rare, for two reasons.

First, to obtain the status of doctoral candidates, graduate students typically write a qualifying examination or comprehensive examination, which often includes an oral defense. Students who pass the qualifying examination are deemed capable of completing scholarly work independently and are allowed to proceed with working on a dissertation. Second, since the thesis supervisor and the other members of the advisory committee will normally have reviewed the thesis extensively before recommending the student proceed to the defense, such an outcome would be regarded as a major failure not only on the part of the candidate but also by the candidate's supervisor who should have recognized the substandard quality of the dissertation long before the defense was allowed to take place.

It is also fairly rare for a thesis to be accepted without any revisions; the most common outcome of a defense is for the examiners to specify minor revisions which the candidate typically completes in a few days or weeks. At universities on the British pattern it is not uncommon for theses at the viva stage to be subject to major revisions in which a substantial rewrite is required, sometimes followed by a new viva.

Very rarely, the thesis may be awarded the lesser degree of M. Phil Master of Philosophy instead, preventing the candidate from resubmitting the thesis. In Australia, doctoral theses are usually examined by three examiners although some, like the Australian Catholic University and the University of New South Wales , have shifted to using only two examiners; without a live defense except in extremely rare exceptions.

In the case of a master's degree by research the thesis is usually examined by only two examiners. Typically one of these examiners will be from within the candidate's own department; the other s will usually be from other universities and often from overseas.

Following submission of the thesis, copies are sent by mail to examiners and then reports sent back to the institution. Similar to a master's degree by research thesis, a thesis for the research component of a master's degree by coursework is also usually examined by two examiners, one from the candidate's department and one from another university.

For an Honours year, which is a fourth year in addition to the usual three-year bachelor's degree, the thesis is also examined by two examiners, though both are usually from the candidate's own department. Honours and Master's theses sometimes require an oral defense before they are accepted. In Germany, a thesis is usually examined with an oral examination. This applies to almost all Diplom , Magister , master's and doctoral degrees as well as to most bachelor's degrees.

However, a process that allows for revisions of the thesis is usually only implemented for doctoral degrees. There are several different kinds of oral examinations used in practice. The Disputation , also called Verteidigung "defense" , is usually public at least to members of the university and is focused on the topic of the thesis.

In contrast, the Rigorosum is not held in public and also encompasses fields in addition to the topic of the thesis. The Rigorosum is only common for doctoral degrees. Another term for an oral examination is Kolloquium , which generally refers to a usually public scientific discussion and is often used synonymously with Verteidigung. In each case, what exactly is expected differs between universities and between faculties. Some universities also demand a combination of several of these forms.

Like the British model, the PHD or MPhil student is required to submit their theses or dissertation for examination by two or three examiners.

The first examiner is from the university concerned, the second examiner is from another local university and the third examiner is from a suitable foreign university usually from Commonwealth countries.

The choice of examiners must be approved by the university senate. In some public universities, a PhD or MPhil candidate may also have to show a number publications in peer reviewed academic journals as part of the requirement. An oral viva is conducted after the examiners have submitted their reports to the university.

The oral viva session is attended by the Oral Viva chairman, a rapporteur with a PhD qualification, the first examiner, the second examiner and sometimes the third examiner.

Branch campuses of British, Australian and Middle East universities in Malaysia use the respective models of the home campuses to examine their PhD or MPhil candidates. In the Philippines, a thesis is followed by an oral defense. In most universities, this applies to all bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees. However, the oral defense is held in once per semester usually in the middle or by the end with a presentation of revisions so-called "plenary presentation" at the end of each semester.

The oral defense is typically not held in public for bachelor and master oral defenses, however a colloquium is held for doctorate degrees.


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Most dissertations follow the same basic structure and are made up of five parts: an abstract, introduction, methods and discussion, conclusions and references. Although the exact detail of each part can vary (such as the numbers of words allowed in the abstract), the inclusion of each part is standard and fixed.

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A dissertation has three major divisions: the front matter, the body matter, and the back matter. Each of them contains several parts. These parts and their customary ordering are presented below. Click on the link for more information about each particular part.

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In a dissertation, it may well be the most important part of the entire paper - not only does it describe the results and discussion in detail, it emphasizes the importance of the results in the field, and ties it in with the previous research. parts of dissertation: Writing your project or dissertation or thesis is a whole different kind of university activity or assignment. There’s no room for trial and error, neither are you allowed to make any adjustments once the work is finished, and it is the most important piece of writing you’ll need to earn your degree.

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Make the argument for the dissertation using the “studies in the existing literature that incorporate all the major variables or constructs that are present in the proposed study” (Rudestam & Newton, , p. 63). Figure (Rudestam & Newton, , p. 64) provides a visual conceptualization of relevance of literature. b. TITLE PAGEThe following information needs to be on the title page:• The title (and possibly the subtitle) of your thesis• First name and surname of the author(s)• Whether it is a ‘Bachelor’s thesis’ or a ‘Master’s thesis’• Faculty .