Elements in a Dissertation

A dissertation is a graduate-level research paper. While there is no set standard format, there is a general agreement in academia for the general elements that your dissertation should include. The typical dissertation features five chapters: an introduction, review of literature, methods, results and interpretation. Within each chapter, you should include several vital elements to help your dissertation meet rigorous academic standards.

Title and Abstract

The beginning of your dissertation should feature a title page and abstract. The title page contains your keywords and phrases. This provides a clear description of the nature of your study and the scope of your work. Your abstract is a summary of your study. It includes an introduction, background for your study, research hypothesis, list of methods, results and the overall conclusion to your paper.

Review of Literature

The review of literature is an analysis of available literature related to your study. In this section, discuss the topics and methodology of studies previously conducted on your topic. You will highlight what you have learned from your review, such as what theories are already well supported and what questions remain on your topic. This section allows you to explain where your dissertation fits within the field.


Your dissertation should include a detailed description of your research design and processes. You need to explain how you collected your data with clear reasons as to why you chose that process. This section should serve as road map to your dissertation. If your readers want to repeat your study, they should be able to follow your methods and recreate the study. This section should also include a data analysis section that describes how your data is organized.


The results section of your dissertation features the results or outcome of your research. The information presented in this element should reflect the data you collected. The section is typically organized by presenting your data first and then outlining your findings.

Interpretation and Recommendations

The information established in your results section sets the foundation for drawing conclusions and making recommendations. This is the key element of your dissertation. In this section, you summarize your entire study and present any conclusions you draw from the data. This section should include recommendations for real-world applications and any future research needed to complete your study.

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