Elements in a Dissertation

A dissertation is an academic paper that gives students experience formulating, executing and compiling a research study. Students start by selecting a thesis statement, which acts as a basis of all their arguments during dissertation writing. In their writing, students explain the process they follow to make all decisions, defend their arguments and describe data selection procedures as well as findings and conclusions.

Dissertation Title

A dissertation title tells the reader the purpose of conducting the research and the content of the study. It’s a precise statement that defines the main topic and outlines the key variables a student intends to investigate, the type of methodology and participants. A title serves two main purposes: It is used by others to find your study and also acts as a guideline for the research. An example of a dissertation title that fulfills all these requirements is "Barriers to Adopting Internet Banking: A Qualitative Study among Corporate Customers in South Korea."


An abstract gives a brief description of the dissertation and is usually restricted to a minimum of 350 words. It summarizes the study and pays particular attention to the purpose of the study, method, conclusion and findings. According to Rowman and Littlefield, an abstract usually contains five fundamental elements: the thesis statement, the purpose of the study, methods, findings and conclusions.

Table of Contents

A table of contents gives an outline of the report by listing the document headings and their respective page numbers. It is mainly used to help the researcher organize her writing and also makes it easier to read the dissertation. Headings in the table of contents are derived from the dissertation subheadings and must use the exact words used in the text for consistency.


A dissertation introduction describes the rationale of the study and its significance. In this section, the student gives an extensive summary of background information relating to the study, which also includes a theoretical framework. In another subheading, the statement of the research problem, research questions for non-experimental studies or hypotheses for experimental studies are discussed. It also defines the process of data collection and analysis. A researcher also provides the definition of terms used in the report for clarity and lists the limitations and delimitations of the study in the introduction. Delimitations narrow the scope of the study, while limitations refer to conditions that may affect the results. The scholar justifies the need to carry out the study by outlining the contribution it makes to the discipline.

Literature Review

In this section, a student analyzes literature that is relevant to the study. A literature review is drawn from previous works by other people and enhances the knowledge of the researcher on the study area. According to Southern Illinois University, a literature review revolves around the study objectives, historical events or theories. One of the common mistakes most students make while writing the literature review is using too many quotes instead of providing a critical analysis of works from different authors to support their arguments.


In this section, the student provides a comprehensive description of the research design and the data collection and analysis procedures. A researcher will define the sample and justify the process of selecting it. It is in this section that the scholar explains the procedure of data collection by providing a clear description of each and every step followed in conducting the research. A comprehensive description of the research process ensures that other people can replicate the study by using similar conditions. Remember that the research methodology selected must test each and every research hypothesis and answer all the research questions.


In this section of the dissertation, the student presents the outcome of the study after analyzing the data collected. In most cases, the student starts by providing descriptive data in form of graphs, tables and charts and then organizes the findings to answer the research questions.


In this last chapter of the dissertation, the researcher uses previous information to explore the findings. He writes the summary of the study and its results, interprets the study and explores the conclusions he derives from the information. He also gives recommendations and implications of his research for practice. Also, the researcher issues a statement calling for future research to improve the outcome of the study.

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