As I stated earlier, I love reading books in the productivity/self-help sort of space. When I was starting to realize that things were going south in the first incarnation of my thesis, I turned to these types of resources. I knew that I needed to bring some clarity to the task at hand if I was going to succeed on this project. I went to every library system in the central Ohio area, CML, Grandview, Upper Arlington, OSU… and got every book I could that seemed related to writing in any variation of long-form writing or thesis writing. I read a lot of stuff, in books and online, and a pattern started to emerge. I cross-referenced this pattern with several theses that had been written recently in the department and it seem to hold true. This works in your favor quite a bit.
This is the pattern, or maybe more accurately, the observation made by myself and countless authors on the subject.
The Overall Thesis Structure
A thesis is an extremely formulaic type of writing.Every thesis follows pretty much the same organizational structure.
There are four primary parts of every single thesis. They may vary a little as to how many chapters each part has, but every thesis has at least one chapter covering thesis four parts.
- Introduction: Don’t mess around with it! The only purpose is to introduce the research. You will outline the problem you intend to investigate, state the aim of the research, limit the scope of the investigation, and provide an overview of what lies ahead. 3-5 pages is usually sufficient.
- Background: The purpose is to position your research into the context of what has gone on before, what is currently taking place, and prove you know how research is generally conducted in this area. This is generally where your literature review goes. You might have chapters that cover the brief history of the topic area, current theory or practice, and/or results of any preliminary studies you may have carried out to help define your problem.
- Your Own Work: This part is really comprised of two parts nearly always: Your methodology and your Data and Analysis. Your methodology is the design of research developed to test hypotheses or answer questions developed from the background section. Your Data & Analysis is just that, the data and results of your methodology.
- Synthesis: This is your new contribution to the body of knowledge and is usually handled in two parts. This first part is a discussion that examines your work (part 3) in light of the background you presented (part 2). This may lead to the development of a new model or theory. The second part is a set of conclusions that should arise directly out of the discussion and and respond directly to the aim of the work stated in the Introduction (part 1)
How Many Chapters?
Largely this will develop out of your content and will be a bit different for everyone, but for planning and visualizing the end goal, I found the following useful.
In “How to write a better thesis” by David Evans and Paul Gruba, it states these general guidelines for thinking about the overall structure.
- Each of your four parts, Intro, Background, Your Own Work, and Synthesis should have between 1-3 chapters. I can tell you now… your introduction will only be one chapter, and a short one.
- If you have more than 10 chapters total, you should suspect that some are actually only subsections of other chapters and start consolidating. You might be framing your chapters in a less than logical way or attempting to cover more than you need.
- We should expect no more than 8-10 chapters. Many theses are accomplished in 5-7 chapters.
For right now though, do not worry too much about this. Now just seemed like the most logical place to include this. For now, we are going to operate under the assumption that you are going to have exactly five “chapters”.
I know what you are thinking, five chapters? But Gabe, you said there were Four primary parts. You are right, and kudos to you for reading so attentively. I also said that the “Your Own Work” part (part 3) is nearly always accomplished in two parts: Your methodology and your Data and Analysis. This gives us five parts.
How to begin structuring a chapter
I do not want to get too into the specifics of chapter construction just yet, as this will be covered a bit more in the “Managing Writing” section, but chapters are also extremely formulaic. This should really be a refresher from your high school composition, but here is the big insight for now.
With the exception of the Introduction Chapter, which is its own sort of beast, every chapter will follow this basic structure:
- Introduction: Every chapter should have an introduction of some kind. People who read theses will scan these to decide if they want to read the chapter. This will link back to previous chapters, state the aim/purpose/function of the the chapter, and outline how you intend to achieve this aim/purpose/function.
- Content: The stuff of your chapter.
- Conclusion: Every Chapter should have a Conclusion. This should cover what has been achieved or established in the chapter that previously had not.
That is it. With this information your very first outline is already complete. It is very generic, but the basic structure is there ready for you to start capturing ideas and making the outline about YOUR thesis.
Your FIRST Outline
Just to make this easy on you, here is your first outline. You should be able to essentially copy and paste this into your text editor of choice and get to work organizing your ideas.A. Introduction - Content B. Background - Introduction - Content - Conclusion C. Methodology - Introduction - Content - Conclusion D. Data & Analysis - Introduction - Content - Conclusion E. Synthesis - Introduction - Content - Conclusion
Your outline will expand from here, but this is the bare minimum to achieve something resembling a thesis document. In case you are wondering, my outline started exactly this way, and this is what it grew into.
So now that we have your basic outline as a way to start wrangling the content of your thesis, time to address the materials that are related to this process.
Managing your Materials ->
Writing Chapter Four Dissertation: Tips and Tricks
‘Help me write chapter 4 of my dissertation’ this is one of the most common requests we get from our clients. The reason why a lot of students face challenges when writing chapter four of their dissertation is the fact that most of them have no clue about what to include in this chapter.
The first thing you need to know is what is included in this chapter. Chapter four mainly includes the introduction and findings and results. Once you know which items to include in chapter four, the next thing you need to do is to know what to include in each section.
The introduction section should remind the reader what your research is about. If it is a qualitative study, you will need to restate your research questions. On the other hand, if it is a quantitative research, you will need to include the research hypothesis.
How you write the results and findings sections is determined by the type of research you are doing. If it is a quantitative research, the information reported is known as results, Results are listed separately and explained in a separate paragraph known as the ‘discussion’ paragraph. However, if you are doing a qualitative research, the information you present is known as findings. Findings are the themes that emerge from the analysis you have made in your research. Make sure you know the difference between qualitative and quantitative research so that you do not mess up when presenting the information you have gathered from your research.
Steps for Writing a Methodology Chapter in a Dissertation
Writing a methodology chapter in a dissertation is as challenging as writing a dissertation introduction chapter. However, with the right approach, it is possible to write a great methodology chapter for your dissertation paper. There are a number of things you can do to improve your methodology chapter. These include:
- Justifying Your Approach: It is important to explain to the reader why you chose to use your approaches. This is important because it justifies the validity of your approach. However, do not provide an explanation as to why you did not use the other possible approaches in carrying out your research.
- Provide enough detail: The purpose of your methodology chapter is to provide the reader with enough insight into your approach. You should provide enough information such that if anyone tries to replicate your study, they can do so with ease.
- Pay Close Attention to Your Research Steps: You methodology should include every step you took during your research. Therefore, it might be a good idea to list down every step you take so that you do not forget when writing down your research.
- Use reported speech: Since you will be writing something that has already been done, it is important to use the reported speech when writing your report. This will make it sound more professional and will make it easier to understand.
- Ethics: If your research includes human subjects, it is important to explain the steps you took to ensure every participant was safe and unharmed throughout your research.
- Discuss Limitations: You should also discuss some of the challenges you experienced while carrying out the research. This is very important because it makes it possible for other researchers to prepare for the limitations when they decide to repeat your study.
How to Write a Chapter Outline for Dissertation in an Organized Manner
Although it seems like the simplest part of a dissertation to write, many people struggle with writing an outline for their dissertation. This is because a lot of people believe they have to write their outline in a specific style. When it comes to writing a chapter online, the rules are not set in stone. You can be a bit creative to make your work more organized and neat. One of the simplest tips you can use to write a great chapter outline is to organize it the way you intend to present your chapters. For instance, if the first chapter contains the introduction paragraph, simply list it as it is. The format of your outline should be linear with each chapter providing details about what the reader should expect to find in each chapter. You might also find it easier to update your chapter outline as you continue writing your dissertation. For every chapter you complete, include it in your outline and list every subtopic it contains. Just practice and you will realize that writing an outline is very easy.
How to Write a Dissertation Introduction Chapter like a Pro
The introduction chapter is probably the most important chapter in your dissertation. This is the chapter that gives the reader a clear understanding of what your dissertation is about and what kind of information they will gather once they are done reading your research. Therefore, you need to spend a lot of time on this section to ensure it is perfect. Your introductory paragraph ought to contain a brief explanation of your research and it should also contain your thesis statement. Always ensure your thesis statement is at the end of the paragraph and not the beginning. Also, use very interesting phrases and questions to make the reader even more interested in your work. It is advisable to work on your dissertation when you are done writing all the other sections of your paper. This is important because it allows you to spend as much time as possible on the section without worrying about the others.
If you do not know how to write a dissertation chapter, we can help. We have a team of competent writers who will help you write an impressive dissertation that will boost your grade. Call us now.