Dissertation Chapter

(Updated on June 16, 2017 by Michelle Williams)


A dissertation is completed in chapters, like a book.  Each dissertation chapter is dedicated to a particular part.  The most common dissertation chapters are the introduction chapter, the literature review chapter, the methodology chapter, the results or discussion chapter, and the conclusion chapter.

Dissertation chapters are sometimes, but not always, actually called chapters.  Some dissertation guidelines require that students call the introduction "chapter one."  The literature review would be called "chapter two," and so on.  Other guidelines require that the word "chapter" be avoided and the chapters themselves called introduction, literature review, methodology, results or discussion, and conclusion.  Complete instructions for how to title a dissertation chapter can be found in the university's dissertation guidelines.

The introduction of the report directly follows the abstract .  The abstract is a short summary of the report and, although it comes before the rest of the text, it's often the last part that learners write simply because it's nearly impossible to have all of the information needed to write the abstract until the entire dissertation has been completed.

Dissertation ChapterThe introduction of the document should contain the thesis statement, which is a short blurb, often only one or two sentences, which makes an educated claim that the report then attempts to prove.  Because the thesis of the paper is the basis for the entire dissertation, it's often called the most important sentence in the entire paper.  A bad thesis statement can lead to a paper which is disorganized and inconclusive.

The literature review chapter of a university report is often the lengthiest component and the most tedious and difficult for students to write.  The literature review requires that students research existing literature on their topic and then complete a summary of their research.  To write a good literature review, a student must gather numerous credible references such as peer-reviewed journal articles and books, read the reference material they have gathered, and write a well-cited summary of everything they have read.  The literature review provides the basis of the study and the background information to how the topic has been studied in the past.

The methodology chapter of a report gives a complete description of how the study was performed, what measurement tools were used, how research participants were gathered and treated, and may also include the actual study documents which were used to gather the research.  The results or discussion chapter summarizes what the study uncovered and discusses whether or not the results were expected.  The conclusion chapter pulls everything together and makes recommendations for how the results can benefit the scientific community and whether or not further study is necessary.

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