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Structuring Your Dissertation

Before start working on your dissertation, make sure that you’ve fully understood the guidelines required by your university for your dissertation. A dissertation may have several sections. Let's discuss in detail in this article.

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The idea of preparing a dissertation is the single most reason why many students leave a graduate program. What they fail to realize that a dissertation can be accomplished by hard work, dedication, being organized, and asking for help when most needed.

Before starting to work on the dissertation, make sure that you’ve fully understood the guidelines required by your university for your dissertation, or even keep a copy of the dissertation guidelines document handy.

A dissertation may have several sections. The first section in the beginning includes headers such as an “Acknowledgments Page”, a “Table of Contents” page; and an “Abstract”, i.e. a one-page summary of the topic and your observations.

Following these will be the actual ‘chapters’ that you divide your research data into. You can write five ‘chapters’ that comprise your research. The first chapter will be the ‘Introduction’ where you state the topic or problem and give the purpose for your research.

The second chapter is where you will choose several previous studies from out of all the ones you've found and explain how these particular studies are related to your topic. You are also going to have to draw a conclusion from these studies as to why your study is needed.

The third chapter is where you breakdown the parts of your research project. What is your setting and population? What are your exact research questions? Are you going to interview people? Are you going to give them a test? What exactly are you going to study in this paper?

The fourth chapter is where you present your results while the fifth chapter is a “discussion” of these results, with a final recommendation of additional research that should be completed on your topic.

The dissertation should end with an “Appendices” page (or possibly a list of acronyms or a glossary of terms) and a “Reference List” (or bibliography). This is where you’ll have to follow the precise rules of citation without hindering anywhere. Your university may use either the APA or MLA formats of citation, so be sure as to which one your university requires in order to save any potential embarrassments. It’ll also save you a lot of time when you’ll make your final edits to the document.

By now it’s pretty obvious to you that a dissertation will look more like a small paperback book for a particular subject. While this idea may have de-motivated you in the beginningFind Article, don’t let it hold you back.

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