Dissertation format

Depending on the context, this can range from being just a list of chapter headings and their starting page through to being an extensive list.

  • Chapter 1 Introduction
  • Chapter 2 Literature Review
  • Chapter 3 Research Methods
  • Chapter 4 Findings
  • Chapter 5 Discussion and analysis
  • Chapter 6 Conclusion and Recommendation
  • References

Chapter1: Introduction

The introduction serves the purpose of leading the reader from a general subject area to a particular field of research. It establishes the context of the research being conducted by summarizing current understanding and background information about the topic.

  • The background to the work(in relation to significant issues, questions, problems, ideas)
  • The aims of the research
  • Key definitions and concepts to be used
  • Highlight the potential outcomes of your study
  • Describe the remaining structure of the study

Chapter 2: Literature Review

It is essential that in the early stages of the report there is a review of the material that already exists on the topic in questions. The current research should build on existing knowledge. This part should demonstrated how the research being reported related to previous research aims.


  • An overview of the subject, issue or theory under consideration
    • Critically review current theoretical and empirical research, e.g. compare and contrast, show strengths and weaknesses in relation to your research topic.
    • Show how research discussed is relevant to your research topic.
    • Highlight any gaps or deficiencies in current research.


Chapter 3: Research Methodology

The methods section provides the information by which a study’s validity is judged. The method section answers two main questions: 1) How was the data collected or generated? 2) How was it analyzed?

  • Introduce the overall methodological approach for investigating your research problem, qualitative or quantitative.
  • Indicate how the approach fits the overall research design.
  • Describe the specific methods of data collection you are going to use, such as interviews, questionnaires.
  • Explain how you intend to analyze your results.
  • Provide a rationale for subject selection and sampling procedure.
  • Address potential limitations.


Chapter 4: Findings/Results

The results section is where you report the findings of your study based upon the information gathered as a result of the methodology you applied.

  • An introductory context for understanding the results by restating the research problem that underpins the purpose of your study.
  • A summary of your key findings arranged in a logical sequence.
  • Inclusion of non-textual elements, such as, figures, charts, photos, maps, tables, etc. to further illustrate the findings.
  • In the text, a systematic description of your results, highlighting for the reader observations that are most relevant to the topic under investigation.


Chapter 5: Discussion and Analysis

The findings that have been outlined are subjected to scrutiny in terms of what they might mean. They are literally discussed and analysed with reference to the theories and ideas, issues and problems that are noted earlier in the report as providing the context in which the research was conceived. The researcher ‘make sense’ of the findings by considering their implications beyond the confines of the current research.

  • Discuss the implications of your results for theory and practice
  • Examine your results in comparison with other research
  • Evaluate the model, method, experiment, questionnaire you used.


Chapter 6: Conclusion & Recommendations


The researcher needs to draw together the threads of the research to arrive at some general conclusion and to suggest some way forward. It can contain some of the following things,

  • A retrospective evaluation of the research and its contribution
  • Recommendations for improving the situation, guidelines or codes of practice
  • Identification of new directions for further research


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