Dissertations follow a common structure regardless of the discipline of study, the length or the institution. It is the details of each section that differentiate one paper from the other. Here are the basic elements that must be present in any paper regardless of the title, institution or length.
Title- it indicates what will be covered in the entire paper. You may be required to choose the title or engage the assistance of the committee in coming up with the title.
Abstract- it runs for 100 to 150 words and gives a summary of what to expect in the paper. It allows readers to understand the main focus of your work.
Acknowledgement- this is an opportunity for the writer to recognize the contributions made by other people through the writing process. These contributions are in monetary terms, time, encouragement and any other support.
Table of Contents- gives a sequence of different sections in your dissertation and the pages the sections appear. It makes it easy for the reader to jump to the right page without having to peruse through the entire document.
Introduction- This is your opportunity to explain what you are about to undertake. You should move from the general to the specific and explain why your work is significant. Take the chance to give the reader a preview of what to expect.
Literature Review- this section contains the opinions and views of other people regarding the subject at hand. You must read enough academic materials to understand the existing knowledge in your field and identify a unique entry point. It will also assist you to avoid repeating what has already been said.
Research Question Objectives and Hypothesis- this section gives the aims of your study and the specific questions you wish to address. They should be logical and discuss what is contained in the literature review.
Research Design and Methodology- this is a clarification of how you will obtain data and the justification for choice of such a method. The design and method must be reliable and valid for your area of study.
Research Findings or Results- this is a discussion of what you have identified after experiments and thorough reading. The results should be interpreted and a relationship drawn with your hypothesis.
Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendations - the section reflects on the findings obtained from the results, gives an inference from the findings and makes recommendations, especially for further research and shortcomings of your study.
References and Appendix - reference gives a list of all books and academic materials reviewed while appendix contains materials that assisted in information gathering.