Writing a Dissertation: The Structure of a Disertation

4tg35gt35gt35A dissertation generally adopts this basic structure:

  • Chapter 1 Abstract and Introduction
  • Chapter 2 Literature Review
  • Chapter 3 Findings and Methodology
  • Chapter 4 Data Analysis
  • Chapter 5 Conclusion and References

Abstract and Introduction

The abstract and introduction section should provide information as to the aims and objectives of the dissertation and should provide a brief overview of the subsequent chapters/sections (Stephenson & Brigden, 2008). To set the scene of what is to come.

Subsections include:

1.1 Research background

Here you give current discussions/ trending information about your topic of discussion. You should also explain why you have found this topic interesting and what motivates you to do research)

1.2 Research Rationale

First write theoretical rationale: How your research contributes to the existing body of literatures; what new concepts do you seek to bring in theory?

Then write practical rationale: i.e. how your research intends to assist stakeholders in this industry; could be managers, corporates, consumers etc.

1.3 Research aim and objectives

The research aim is a restatement of the research topic

Objectives (At least 3 objectives)

1. To ….

2. To ……

3. To…..

1.4 Structure of Research

State what each chapter i.e. from chapter 1 to chapter 5 (what each chapter will entail)

2. Literature Review

This is the section where you required to present your understanding of the published peer reviewed academic literature available (le.ac.uk). It should contain a summary of the key literature on the topic. Remember to start broad and then become more focused. Finding out research gaps (an aspect that you find interesting that might not have been talked about) in the literature can ensure originality’ of the dissertation and demonstrate your ability of critique. Google scholar is a useful starting point which often connects into Locate.’

Note that almost every sentence has a source in a comprehensive literature review.

3. Findings and Methodology

The methodology is the section where you justify the research design by referring to your philosophical position (Randolph, 2009). Under this section, it is all about making informed choices and explaining these choices. Methodology section must be logical, coherent, and internally consistent – what you say must link throughout the document. Do not make statements that pose in your reader’s mind so what.’ (scribbr.com)

Subsections include:

3.1. Research philosophy

Brief intro of research philosophy i.e. what is research philosophy (one sentence); then state philosophy that was adopted by your research; finish by justifying why this philosophy (Queen & Squires, 2011).

3.2. Research approach

Brief intro of research approach i.e. what is research approach (one sentence); then state approach that was adopted by your research (Deductive of inductive approach); finish by justifying why this approach (Queen & Squires, 2011).

3.3 Research strategy

Case study, survey, desk research, ethnography among others

3.4 Research instruments

Examples are questionnaires, interviews, etc.

Justify which one is to be used and why this one?

3.5 Sampling

Which sampling procedure and why that sampling approach?

3.6 Data collection

Give account how data was collected; chronological account; time period it took; how the research persons were contacted; any permissions sought, how was data collected; phone, mail, one-on-one etc.

3.7 Data analysis

Specify how data was analyzed SPSS etc.

Talk about the data collection strategy, such as how you undertook your literature search (Randolph, 2009). That is the databases (including libraries) you have used, the search terms and criteria employed to generate an initial list of potential references and the criteria you used to select those sources you have eventually included in your analysis.

3.8 Research validity and reliability

3.9 Research ethics adopted

3.10 Summary of methodology

4. Data analysis

Under this section, an application of theoretical frameworks to literature review should be conducted. This should be the main and hence largest section of your dissertation (Queen & Squires, 2011).

It is where you present the data and your analysis of the data/ results from the application of a framework, model or theory to a case study. There are a number of decisions to be made in terms of when, where, and how to present analyzed data in this section.

This is also about discussing the findings more in-depth and more relevant to the industry. Most importantly, do the results of your analysis link to the theory? If not, why not (Queen & Squires, 2011).

Perhaps you have identified a gap in the literature or previous empirical studies that call for further investigation. This is the sort of narrative that scores the higher marks (dissertationhelp.com).


4.1 Introduce what this chapter entails

4.2 Interviewee and Questionnaire respondents Profile

4.3 Analysis of Findings

Analyze each objective separately by adopting subheadings i.e.

4.3.1 Analyze the demographics (if questionnaire)

4.3.2 Analyze the First objective

4.3.3 Analyze the objective 2


4.0 Summary of data analysis findings

5. Conclusion, recommendation, and limitation

5.1 Conclusion

Conclude each objective in a paragraph

Section 5 being the section of your work, you should draw logical and justifiable conclusions, that present the most important points from the discussion section. It should, indeed must demonstrate how well the research questions have been addressed (Stephenson & Brigden, 2008). It might be that they remain unanswered but you must connect them through to the conclusion. Attention to this section is most important because your marker often reads this first in order to see that it has connected to the introduction

5.2 Recommendation

Recommendations are either for applied research, what managers could do now or for further studies. These recommendations need to be feasible (something that could be done) and justifiable (say, in terms of what benefits could be obtained in order to establish and maintain competitive advantage) can be also discussed.

5.3 Limitations of your study

You may also wish to discuss the limitations of your study (samples, timeframes, access to data, methodology etc.) (Stephenson & Brigden, 2008). Should also include the summary, Academic/Managerial implications and limitations of the research

5.4 Suggestion for future similar studies

In this part you will try to show how future studies can be carried out effectively and how they would avoid the above mentioned limitations.

6.0 List of References, tables, and appendices 


Queen, R., & Squires, L. (2011). Writing a Dissertation. Journal of English Linguistics, 39(3), 300-305.

Randolph, J. J. (2009). A guide to writing the dissertation literature review. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 14(13), 1-13.

Stephenson, P., & Brigden, D. (2008). Writing a dissertation. Student BMJ, 16.

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