You are likely to have got the structure of an academic essay perfected throughout your studies. However, when it comes to a dissertation, there is a lot more to consider. Think more in line with journal articles you may have read while researching; this is the writing you will need to pull together when writing a dissertation.

Check with your Tutor

In most institutions, your tutors will ask to review separate sections of your dissertation as you work through it. This is beneficial for both them and you; it will ensure that you are on track with your project and are approaching it correctly.

Checking in with your tutor can help get any questions answered, and reassure you that things are progressing well. If, for any reason, you feel you are not getting the support you require from your tutor, reach out to your program leader and they should be able to help.

Check Assessment Requirements

We have compiled a general order of where each section of your dissertation should be placed. Remember, your discipline or department may require extra chapters. Be sure to check in your assessment criteria to ensure all aspects of the dissertation are covered.

We hope that this general structure helps when writing your dissertation. Once you are clear on what goes where, you should be able to insert any extra chapters where necessary, if required.

Ensure that you check the required word count limit and if there is any scope to go above or below it, should you need to. It will also be sensible to check what is included in the word count, for example the introduction and abstract.

Structuring the Dissertation

Once you have the majority of your dissertation in place, even if it is all still in separate sections, you will need to think about structure. The assessment criteria for your dissertation is likely to award points for correct structure and flow of your project. In fact, correct structure of your dissertation could be some easy extra marks.

Title, Abstract and Contents Page

Naturally, when writing a dissertation, the title must come first. This is likely to be on a cover page with any other information required by your assessor. You will find these requirements in the marking criteria.

After the title and before the contents page comes the abstract. An abstract must provide an overview of the whole research project, including research methods, findings, analysis and discussions. The point of an abstract is so that the reader can get a high-level summary of the research project and see if it is worth reading the rest. This should be no longer than one A4 page. Once again, check marking criteria for any word count for this section.

Next comes the contents page. This should be a detailed table of contents which breaks down every title, subtitle and subsection of the document, making it as easy as possible for the reader to navigate.

Introduction & Research Intentions

The introduction to your dissertation should highlight the issue which you have identified and decided to investigate as part of the research project. Remember to keep it in the third person.

Make sure you include any relevant facts, figures and sources which back up your reasoning to explore the particular topic. Intentions for the research should also be stated, indicating why there is a need for this particular research to take place.

You should also include research aims, objectives and research questions in this section, after the introduction to the topic. Make these as clear as possible for the reader.

Literature Review & Methodology

Your literature review should cover all of the topics surrounding the area of research. It needs to be a comprehensive review of varied information and research. If you need help getting started to write your literature review, take a look at our blog on how to write a literature review.

Your methodology will include the research design. This includes the research methods and philosophical underpinnings behind them. Your methodology should also explain the methods for your data collection, such as a quantitative or qualitative approach and the techniques within those. Read our guide on understanding research methods if you need a recap.

Consider any strengths and weaknesses with your methodology; these may be easier to identify once the research is complete, but you should be able to find pros and cons for any type of research.

Results of Analysis

At this point, you should present the results from your research in as much detail as possible the results from your research, Do not analyse them at this point, just present them in a clear manner for the reader to understand, showing graphs or tables where relevant.

Discussion of Findings and Conclusions

This is the section where you should critically analyse the results of the research. Present the key findings and select any important themes which arose from the data collection. This is where you can refer your findings back to points from the literature review and explain whether they complement or contrast to what you found.

You will need to make conclusions and recommendations in this section, relating to whatever it was you were researching. You can also identify areas for future research which have surfaced as a result of this research.

Whatever your research aims and objectives are, link back to them here. Your conceptual framework from your research design should also be referred back to here through your results.

References and Appendices

Once you have concluded all your findings, your reference list must be presented. This will show all the sources you have used throughout your project. Ensure that you have adhered to your department’s referencing guidelines and that you have checked everything over properly.

If you have referred to any appendices throughout your dissertation, they should be listed after the references. Items that should be included in the appendices are those that a reader would want to see, but which would disrupt the flow if placed within the main text.

Proofreading and Editing your Dissertation

Proofreading and editing your dissertation will ensure that any small errors are taken care of before submission.

At Copyfy we specilise in content services, if you would like a second opinion before you hit submit, our professional proofreaders and editors can review your dissertation for you. We offer a professional academic dissertation editing service. We can make sure that your work is the best it can be before you send it to your tutors. We will check spelling, grammar, syntax and sentence structure, making sure your dissertation flows and is error free.