Guide on The Components of a Doctoral Dissertation

Like any other article or academic work, a doctoral dissertation has three main parts: the introduction, main body, and conclusion. Each of the components is also made up of various sections and sub-sections. In this piece, we will go through the mandatory parts of a doctoral thesis and the order in which they appear.  Here the dissertation would be treated as a book.

The Front Component

The front component of a doctoral dissertation include:

  • Half-title page

Also known as the “bastard title page,” it is the first page of your dissertation and contains only the title.

  • Title page

The title page includes the main title and subtitle, the author’s full name, name of the university, the pursued degree, date of submission, and place.

  • Copyright page

This page appears at the back of the title page. It, among other things, contains a copyright notice, publisher name, and ISSN number.

The copyright page should follow the guideline or recommendations of your university. If no such guidelines exist, you can liaise with your supervisor to find the best way out.

  • Table of Contents

The table of content contains all the headings and sub-headings as they appear in the dissertation. The numbering of the pages should start from the beginning page, and all that follows until the last page.

  • Abstract

The abstract is a brief description of what the dissertation entails. This includes the problem under investigation, objectives, the research question, and the findings. It is a standalone page and shouldn’t contain references. It would be best if you always wrote the abstract once you’ve completed other chapters of the dissertation.

  • Acknowledgment

On this page, you extend gratitude to contributors to your research. It may include but is not limited to funders, research partners, supervisors, colleagues, and friends. You should arrange them in the order of relevance.

Other front components include a list of abbreviations.

The Body Component

The body components make up the main contents of the dissertation. The chapters under this are:

  • The introduction

This is the first chapter of the dissertation, and it is where you introduce readers to the subject matter. The first few paragraphs should contain a hook that would attract readers’ attention. It should also have a statement of the problem, objectives, and research question. The chapter also comprises the literature review, which elaborates other researchers’ works on which your studies are based.

  • The middle chapters

The makeup of the chapter may differ from one field of study to the other. In the sciences field, the format includes (Introduction – Methods, Results, and Discussion). However, the introduction generally belongs to the first chapter.

  • Final part

Also called the conclusion, this part of your dissertation summarises the main points in your research. It comprises the research objectives, findings, implications of the results, and recommendations.

The Back Component

Most people term this part of the dissertation non-essential; however, your project wouldn’t be complete without it. The sections include:

  • Appendix

This may be a non-essential part of the dissertation and helps direct readers seeking more information about an aspect of your project. It may contain information on survey questionnaires, source texts, tables, and charts.

  • Bibliography/Reference List

The reference encompasses all significant sources used in the academic work, while the bibliography includes all the sources used, whether cited in the work or not. A bibliography may consist of other background readings done purposely for the research.

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