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Dissertation Outline Writing Guide

21 Feb 2019

Since dissertation represents one of most challenging and time-consuming tasks, dissertation outline becomes an integral element that helps identify structure and strategic research goals. The task also includes writing dissertation thesis, which is an obligatory stage in every student´s postgraduate studies. Before one starts with creation of scientific masterpiece, it is necessary to develop an accurate plan for making inquiry clear and well-structured. In order to help you with essential steps that should be taken, we created dissertation proposal outline guide, including essay outline templates online and general rules. 

An outline should represent a guide that specifies what tasks have to be fulfilled in order to achieve academic goals. It aims to determine what ideas and concepts are obligatory for addition to one's paper. In the sections below, you will find brief explanation of what is expected in excellent dissertation paper outline and how to organize it correctly. 

What is an Outline: Definition and Purpose 

Dissertation structure has general purpose of keeping student focused on proposed topic, so no time is wasted and no extra ideas are introduced in progress. Planning thesis academically enables collecting required data and getting it organized scientifically in more logical and structured way. Paper draft serves as guideline that helps to achieve goals and connect arguments to main thesis. An outline helps to avoid confusion and repetition as lengthy paper is brought together. 

Additionally, when dissertation proposal outline is submitted to college or university professor, majority of young scientists have to work with a sketch that reveals topic and general ideas. Once composed correctly, it serves a role of proposal for overall assignment. In case you are stuck with proposal, lack time or cannot manage deadlines, you can always turn to professional writing service for any help with dissertation

Different university professors in the United States may follow different dissertation structure outline, yet in majority of cases common structure consists of five sections like in general scientific paper, consisting of intro, detailed literature review, methodology, analysis of presented data, and conclusion paragraph. Before we proceed with dissertation chapters, let us review several writing tips and things to check before starting! 

Dissertation Outline

Useful Outline Writing Tips 

  • Start with relevant topic and field of study you know and can support well with due amount of scientific sources. 
  • Look through academic journals, manuals, and reviews on subject in advance before choosing main thesis. 
  • Discuss every concern with academic advisor, focusing on approach, methodology, and argumentative position. Show outline or sources for approval.
  • Reading through scientific works on topic, take notes for outline. 
  • Compose each section of thesis offered, according to ideas presented without introduction of extra bits. 
  • Working on dissertation proposal, with appendix and notes.If you wonder “who can write my research proposal?" Edubirdie writers ready to help.
  • Present all available information to academic advisor, so all unnecessary information is left out. 
  • General rule is to avoid new ideas in conclusion and channel attention towards future objectives and calls to additional research. 
  • Compose list of objectives beforehand as personal checklist to "proofread dissertation" this way. 
  • Proofread and polish your paper or ask professionals to help with your thesis

Sections of Dissertation in a Nutshell 

It should be noted that there is no absolutely correct dissertation outline template that would fit every subject. While Social Sciences, for example, may include 4-5 parts, an assigned committee may introduce changes, so it is always better to check twice in advance. In our guide, we will focus on 5 chapter method with outline variations specified. 

  • Introduction 

As a rule, it encloses general introduction and background description of problem addressed. Next comes problem statement that serves as general thesis idea. Following part should present study purpose and research questions that are significant for this specific work. Next section should focus on significance of chosen study, which is usually including topic relevance. Do not forget to provide clear definitions of terms used. It is also where personal assumptions and discovered limitations are mentioned. For conclusion of primary section, ensure to provide additional study details, if necessary. 

  • Literature Review 

As name suggests, dissertation chapter 2 has all implemented literature described, listed, investigated, and studied in depth. One has to provide conceptual and/or theoretical framework to justify use of provided materials. Depending on topic variables, one should enclose detailed review of sources involved. 

Note: Third chapter may differ, depending on topic and methods chosen or required! 

  • Qualitative Methodology 

One of the trickiest sections since it has to show research design, scientific relevance questions, provide setting for analysis, describe participants or objects of study. Next, data collection paragraph is presented, which is followed by extensive analysis. This is where one must use citing, when and if necessary. Final part should contain brief overview of method justification. 

  • Quantitative Research Methods 

In this case, it follows research design with problem description, problem questions, and hypotheses made. What makes it different are provided samples and population statistics related to methodology. Moreover, it has to include instrumentation used for accurate collection of data. It ends with their analysis. 

  • Combined Methodology Analysis 

Choosing mixed approach, start with brief overview and strategy pattern. Continue by focusing on hypotheses and goals. Provide setting and sample(s) next. As you’ve finished to collect the data, it has to relate to chosen work methods. Analysis has to include both opinion and references to scientific journals. With such option, this section of dissertation has to make chosen methods obvious to audience. 

  • Research Outcomes 

Fourth chapter aims to explain findings. It is recommended to organize them either by research questions specified or hypotheses given. Remember that introduction has to speak of what has to be found, while conclusion is summary that explains whether it has been successful or not. 

  • Conclusion: Discussion and Future Research Suggestions 

Final part has to provide more detailed findings summary. It differs from previous chapter in depth of personal analysis involved. After one lists achieved goals, it is necessary to provide conclusion that includes analytical thought. To make things easier, continue with discussion of topic, describing paper's research. If appropriate and available, mention suggestions for additional investigation or what is necessary to add. Wrapping one's work together, remember to check twice not to forget anything. Last part of dissertation plan is good place to include opinion and justify style used.  

Dissertation Outline Template for Students

Here is a basic outline of dissertation sections that you can adjust to your paper topic and subject.

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • Intro
  • Issue & Its Background
  • Issue Statement
  • Research Purpose & Questions
  • Significance
  • Glossary of Terms (optional)
  • Limitations & Assumptions
  • Concluding paragraph

Chapter 2: Literature Review

  • Intro
  • Description of literature search
  • Framework
  • Review of Literature

Chapter 3: Methodology (Qualitative/Quantitative/Mixed)

  • Intro
  • Research Design
  • Research Hypotheses & Question
  • Setting/Sample & Population
  • Participants/Instrumentation
  • Data Collection
  • Data Analysis
  • Concluding section

Chapter 4: Findings

  • Intro
  • Findings
  • Conclusion

Chapter 5: Discussion and Suggestions for Further Research

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  • Intro
  • Findings Summary
  • Conclusions
  • Discussion
  • Suggestions for Further Investigation
  • Final Conclusion Part

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