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A Comprehensive Guide to Dissertation Structuring

A Comprehensive Guide to Dissertation Structuring
Table of Contents

Embarking on the journey of organizing your dissertation can be daunting, especially when it’s the lengthiest writing project you’ve ever tackled. This article is designed to navigate you through the specifics of what to include in your dissertation and where it fits best. Let’s first take a swift look at the essential elements that constitute a thesis or dissertation before diving deeper into each section.

Key Elements of a Dissertation

The format of dissertations can be vastly diverse – you might choose to incorporate various chapters or utilize different headers, depending on the specifics of your research. However, the subsequent structure is frequently used for empirical research in the fields of science and social science:

  1. Title page
  2. Appreciations
  3. Summary
  4. Contents
  5. Inventory of images and tables
  6. Index of abbreviations
  7. Terminology
  8. Prologue
  9. Review of literature/ theoretical framework
  10. Approach
  11. Findings
  12. Analysis
  13. Conclusion
  14. Bibliography
  15. Addendums

Proportions of Each Section

Students frequently question the recommended length of each segment. The lengths may differ depending on the type of research you’re conducting, but typically, the literature review and discussion sections make up the larger part of your dissertation. Sections such as the methodology, results, and conclusion are generally more concise.

An In-Depth Overview of Each Section


Title, Appreciation, and Summary

Your title page should contain your dissertation’s title, your name, department, university, degree program, and date of submission. The title page is followed by an appreciation page, where you express gratitude to those who have guided you, like your mentors. An abstract, a brief summary of your dissertation of 150-300 words, follows the acknowledgments.

Contents and Terminology

Include a table of contents to simplify navigation through your dissertation. If your research contains a high number of figures, tables, or abbreviations, consider creating lists of these for easy lookup. It might be helpful to include a glossary if your work involves many specialized terms, but this is often optional.

Prologue, Literature Review, and Approach

The introduction should present your topic, its purpose, and relevance, and provide a glimpse of what to expect in the remainder of the dissertation. The literature review does more than summarizing existing research—it constructs a coherent structure and argument that paves a clear path for your research. The methodology section details your research process, enabling readers to gauge its reliability and validity.

Findings, Analysis, and Conclusion

The Findings section reports the relevant outcomes of your research. The Analysis section delves into the implications of your findings concerning your research questions, providing reasons for any unanticipated results. Your conclusion should crisply answer the principal research question, leaving the reader with a vivid understanding of your primary argument.

Bibliography and Addendums

Acknowledge the research of others you’ve built upon within the text and provide a bibliography. It’s crucial to adhere to a consistent citation style.

Getting Your Dissertation Underway

A practical way to set your dissertation in motion is to craft a Word document, insert the headers of each section, and draft bullet points of what you aim to address in each section. This strategy offers a lucid blueprint for your writing. Best of luck with your dissertation journey – remember, you’ve got this! Keep an eye out for more content related to dissertation composition and academic insights. We appreciate your time in reading and look forward to delivering more valuable content.

About the author:

Picture of Dr. Friederike Jurth
Dr. Friederike Jurth

Possibly you already heard of me through different media channels. My name is Dr. Friederike Jurth, and I hold a certificate from Harvard in Higher Education Teaching. Since 2010, I have given lectures on Methodology, Empirical Research, Anthropology, and Transcultural (Music) Studies in collaboration with universities in the United States, Germany, Spain, and Brazil. In 2010, I began a 7-year-long fieldwork project in Rio de Janeiro and have since presented my research at conferences worldwide, including in Japan, the United States, Australia, Brazil, Thailand, Switzerland, and many other countries. Additionally, I have worked as a lecturer and researcher with Germany’s renowned UNESCO Chair.

After completing my doctoral dissertation with summa cum laude, I aimed to unite, condense, and share the steps, ways, and details of my unique methodological and structural approach that I developed during my Ph.D. and that ultimately helped me achieve this result. By concentrating and putting them together into an elaborate academic conception, MyThesis Academy was born. Motivated by the sole aim and objective to help my students through all steps and stages of their thesis journey, MyThesis Academy enables them to achieve their best possible results in the shortest time, independent of their specific area of research.

In addition to my extensive teaching and research experience, I am part of the authors of the Cambridge Companion to Music in Brazil 2024, published by Cambridge University Press & Assessment, where I contribute as a Cambridge Author. This work is a co-operative project conducted remotely from Cambridge, England, United Kingdom.

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