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Dissertation Formatting Guidelines

Getting on with the writing

❶But if this is the case, then it is important to make it clear to the reader what the point of a long review is! Dedication optional On the dedication page the author names the person s for whom the book is written.

Introduction

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Doctoral Studies

Looking at pages and pages of text without any breaks can be daunting and overwhelming for a reader. You don't want to overwhelm someone who is going to mark your work and who is responsible for your success or failure. When writing your introduction, be clear, organised and methodical.

Tell the reader what they need to know and try to organise the information in a way that makes the most sense to you and your project. If in doubt, discuss this with your supervisor before you start writing. If you have conducted things like interviews or observations, you are likely to have transcripts that encompass pages and pages of work. Putting this all together cohesively within one chapter can be particularly challenging. This is true for two reasons. Secondly, unlike quantitative data, it can often be difficult to represent qualitative data through figures and tables, so condensing the information into a visual representation is simply not possible.

As a writer, it is important to address both these challenges. When considering how to present your qualitative data, it may be helpful to begin with the initial outline you have created and the one described above. Within each of your subsections, you are going to have themes or headings that represent impactful talking points that you want to focus on. If you have used multiple different instruments to collect data e.

This is so that you can demonstrate to more well-rounded perspective of the points you are trying to make. Once you have your examples firmly selected for each subsection, you want to ensure that you are including enough information. You must set up the examples you have chosen in a clear and coherent way. Students often make the mistake of including quotations without any other information. Usually this means writing about the example both before and after.

This was a focal point for 7 of my 12 participants, and examples of their responses included: The reoccurring focus by participants on the need for more teachers demonstrates [insert critical thought here]. By embedding your examples in the context, you are essentially highlighting to the reader what you want them to remember.

Aside from determining what to include, the presentation of such data is also essential. Participants, when speaking in an interview might not do so in a linear way. Instead they might jump from one thought to another and might go off topic here and there. So the quotes need to be paired down to incorporate enough information for the reader to be able to understand, while removing the excess. Finding this balance can be challenging. You have likely worked with the data for a long time and so it might make sense to you.

Try to see your writing through the eyes of someone else, which should help you write more clearly. Something to consider first with numeric data is that presentation style depends what department you are submitting to. In the hard sciences, there is likely an expectation of heavy numeric input and corresponding statistics to accompany the findings.

In the arts and humanities, however, such a detailed analysis might not be as common. Therefore as you write out your quantitative findings, take your audience into consideration. Just like with the qualitative data, you must ensure that your data is appropriately organised. Again, you've likely used a software program to run your statistical analysis, and you have an outline and subheadings where you can focus your findings.

There are many software programs available and it is important that you have used one that is most relevant to your field of study. For some, Microsoft Excel may be sufficient for basic analysis.

Whatever program you have used, make sure that you document what you have done and the variables that have affected your analysis. One common mistake found in student writing is the presentation of the statistical analysis. During your analysis of the data , you are likely to have run multiple different analyses from regressions to correlations.

Often, we see students presenting multiple different statistical analyses without any real understanding of what the tests mean. Presentation of quantitative data is more than just about numbers and tables. You could also explain how they relate to the research question. However, depending on how you have organised your work, this might end up in the discussion section. Students who are not confident with statistical analysis often have a tendency to revert back to their secondary school mathematics skills.

They commonly document the mean, median, and mode for all of their results. Now, these three outcomes can be important. But having a good understanding of why you are proceeding with this strategy of analysis is going to be essential in a primarily quantitative study. That noted, there are different expectations for an undergraduate dissertation and a PhD thesis, so knowing what these expectations are can be really helpful before you begin.

Depending on the presentation of your dissertation, you may be required to print out a final copy for the marker s. In many cases, this final copy must be printed in black and white. This means that any figures or graphs that you create must be readable in a black and white or greyscale format.

This can be challenging because there are only so many distinct shades of grey. In a pie chart, you might show one section as purple and the other as green. Yet when printed, both the purple and the green translate to approximately the same shade of grey, making your graph suddenly unreadable. Another common error is overwhelming the reader with graphs and tables.

Let's think about your outline and subheadings. If you're including a table under each subheadings, it needs to be relevant to the information that is being discussed in that chapter. There is no correct or incorrect number of graphs that should exist within the section, but you should use your judgement about what looks appropriate.

The final mistake we see is the duplication of writing or absence of writing when presenting a graph. Some students will present their findings in a graph or table and then write out this information again below the graph. This defeats the entire purpose of using the graph in the first place. So avoid this at all times. Conversely, other students sometimes include a graph or figure but nothing else.

Doing this denies the reader of context or purpose of said graph or figure. At some point, a balance needs to be struck where the reader has the information they require to really understand the point being made within the section. The structure of your discussion chapter is really going to depend on what you are trying to do and how you have structured your findings.

If you chose to structure your findings by theme, it might make sense to continue this into the analysis chapter. Other people might structure it according to the research questions.

This clearly indicates to the reader how you have addressed your study. Marking a dissertation usually requires the marker to comment on the extent to which the research questions have been addressed. So by structuring a dissertation that lays out each research question for the marker, you are making their job easier.

Needless to say, this a great thing. Like any other chapter in your thesis, an introduction is an essential component of your discussion. By this point, the reader has gone through your findings and is now looking for your interpretation. Therefore, at the end of your discussion introduction you should highlight the content that each of the subsections will cover. A conclusion to your discussion section or a chapter summary is also going to be beneficial. The length of the analysis chapter is usually quite long, so a wrap up of the key points at the end can help the reader digest your work.

It can also help ensure that the reader actually understands the points you are trying to highlight within your project. Without any critical thinking, you are really doing yourself a disservice. It will affect the mark that you obtain on your overall dissertation.

This is why the analysis chapter is usually weighted quite heavily on the marking rubric. We tell students about critical thinking and the importance of it on a daily basis. And yet, there does seem to be a general confusion about what critical thinking entails, i.

Critical thinking asks you to provide your own opinion on your topic, which can be daunting at first. For much of your academic career, you've likely been asked to use research to justify a position that has already been set. But even if you're new to it, try and get to grips with what critical thinking entails and use it in your work.

Subheadings need to be informative but not too long. It is possible to layer your subheadings, so you might have a Chapter 2, a Section 2. Usually anything after 3 numerical points does not get a number and would not appear in your table of contents. When creating titles for your subheadings, consider how they are going to look in the table of contents. They need to fit on one line, ideally, so putting your research question as the subheading might end up being too long.

Conversely, one- or two-word subheadings usually doesn't give enough information about the purpose of the section. Finding this balance is important. But remember you can always edit your subheadings retrospectively.

Ideally, you will be able to concisely and effectively link your research to what has been researched previously. But this can be a challenge. You don't want to repeat what has been said in your literature review or the findings. But you need to pull examples from both of these sections in order to make the points that you need to. One way is by referring the reader back to previous chapters, sections, or subsections. This process can generally be done at the end.

You can put in a place holder until you know how your sections will be numbered. For example you might write: Findings from this study indicate….

This also makes the proofreading process easier. If you are submitting an electronic version of this document, you may also consider hyperlinks to take the reader to the different sections. But be aware that this can be considerably more work, so you should allow for this in your timescale if it's something you wish to implement. The findings chapter is essentially the describe part. The next step is writing the proposal.

This should include a thorough literature review of the topic. It is important to show the advisor the importance of your topic. A literature review also helps divide a broad topic into a narrow one. When possible copy all the articles including books if possible. Be sure to keep a note of where all the sources came. The proposal is actually the first three chapters of the dissertation.

The proposal should begin with a statement of the problem and why it is important to research. The best way to divide different sections of the dissertation into smaller sections is to select the areas of the topic that you know the best.

Begin with these and they will increase your understanding of some of the difficult areas. Before we get too far into breaking down sections of the dissertation, it is important to think about who you want to use as your advisor. Select someone who can motivate you while listening to your problems and questions. Select a faculty member that will be willing to support you when you need it.

Back to dividing sections of the dissertation. Some examples of breaking the dissertation into smaller sections are:. These are only a few suggested sections to divide your custom-written dissertation into.


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Dissertation methods and discussion. Whatever topic you’re researching in the social sciences the structure and level of detail in your abstract and introduction are standard. When you reach the main sections of your dissertation – your methods and discussion – you .

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Dissertation Structure Based on BS the recommended sequence is as follows. The items in italics may not be relevant for your project and the following sections will try to explain the items most likely to be needed in your dissertation.

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Dissertation Outline. 1. Final Version 6/2/ This section will probably not be very long but it should be very powerful! d. dissertation text, however). This section should be reflective of deductive reasoning; starting broadly and narrowing the focus as the chapter progresses. Dissertation findings and discussion sections Depending on your preference for writing, the findings and discussion sections can be the most rewarding sections of your total dissertation. By this point, you actually get to write about what you have done, rather than .

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To help reduce the number of format revisions, the Graduate School has created templates for the first three pages of the thesis/dissertation. The templates for the title page, approval page, and abstract page are Word documents that can be downloaded, completed, and then inserted at the beginning of the thesis/dissertation. This section needs to be highly structured, and needs to include all of your references in the required referencing style. As you edit and rewrite your dissertation you will probably gain and lose references that you had in earlier versions.