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How to Write the Thesis Or Dissertation Introduction – Guide

Published by Carmen Troy at August 31st, 2021 , Revised On January 24, 2024

Introducing your Dissertation Topic

What would you tell someone if they asked you to introduce yourself? You’d probably start with your name, what you do for a living…etc., etc., etc. Think of your dissertation. How would you go about it if you had to introduce it to the world for the first time?

Keep this forefront in your mind for the remainder of this guide: you are introducing your research to the world that doesn’t even know it exists. Every word, phrase and line you write in your introduction will stand for the strength of your dissertation’s character.

This is not very different from how, in real life, if someone fails to introduce themselves properly (such as leaving out what they do for a living, where they live, etc.) to a stranger, it leaves a lasting impression on the stranger.

Don’t leave your dissertation a stranger among other strangers. Let’s review the little, basic concepts we already have at the back of our minds, perhaps, to piece them together in one body: an introduction.

What Goes Inside an Introduction

The exact ingredients of a dissertation or thesis introduction chapter vary depending on  your chosen research topic, your university’s guidelines, and your academic subject – but they are generally mixed in one sequence or another to introduce an academic argument.

The critical elements of an excellent dissertation introduction include a definition of the selected research topic , a reference to previous studies on the subject, a statement of the value of the subject for academic and scientific communities, a clear aim/purpose of the study, a list of your objectives, a reference to viewpoints of other researchers and a justification for the research.

Topic Discussion versus Topic Introduction

Discussing and introducing a topic are two highly different aspects of dissertation introduction writing. You might find it easy to discuss a topic, but introducing it is much trickier.

The introduction is the first thing a reader reads; thus, it must be to the point, informative, engaging, and enjoyable. Even if one of these elements is missing, the reader will not be motivated to continue reading the paper and will move on to something different.

So, it’s critical to fully understand how to write the introduction of a dissertation before starting the actual write-up.

When writing a dissertation introduction, one has to explain the title, discuss the topic and present a background so that readers understand what your research is about and what  results you expect to achieve at the end of the research work.

As a standard practice, you might work on your dissertation introduction chapter several times. Once when you’re working on your proposal and the second time when writing your actual dissertation.

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Many academics argue that the Introduction chapter should be the last section of the dissertation paper you should complete, but by no means is it the last part you would think of because this is where your research starts from.

Write the draft introduction as early as possible. You should write it at the same time as the proposal submission, although you must revise and edit it many times before it takes the final shape.

Considering its importance, many students remain unsure of how to write the introduction of a dissertation. Here are some of the essential elements of how to write the introduction of a dissertation that’ll provide much-needed dissertation introduction writing help.

Below are some guidelines for you to learn to  write a flawless first-class dissertation paper.

Steps of Writing a Dissertation Introduction

1. research background – writing a dissertation introduction.

This is the very first section of your introduction. Building a background of your chosen topic will help you understand more about the topic and help readers know why the general research area is problematic, interesting, central, important, etc.

Your research background should include significant concepts related to your dissertation topic. This will give your supervisor and markers an idea that you’ve investigated the research problem thoroughly and know the various aspects of your topic.

The introduction to a dissertation shouldn’t talk only about other research work in the same area, as this will be discussed in the literature review section. Moreover, this section should not include the research design  and  data collection method(s) .

All about  research strategy  should be covered in the  methodology chapter . Research background only helps to build up your research in general.

For instance, if your research is based on job satisfaction measures of a specific country, the content of the introduction chapter will generally be about job satisfaction and its impact.

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2.     Significance of the Research

As a researcher, you must demonstrate how your research will provide value to the scientific and academic communities. If your dissertation is based on a specific company or industry, you need to explain why that industry and company were chosen.

If you’re comparing, explain why you’re doing so and what this research will yield. Regardless of your chosen research topic, explain thoroughly in this section why this research is being conducted and what benefits it will serve.

The idea here is to convince your supervisor and readers that the concept should be researched to find a solution to a problem.

3.     Research Problem

Once you’ve described the main research problem  and the importance of your research, the next step would be to present your  problem statement , i.e., why this research is being conducted and its purpose.

This is one of the essential aspects of writing a dissertation’s introduction. Doing so will help your readers understand what you intend to do in this research and what they should expect from this study.

Presenting the research problem competently is crucial in persuading your readers to read other parts of the dissertation paper . This research problem is the crux of your dissertation, i.e., it gives a direction as to why this research is being carried out, and what issues the study will consider.

For example, if your dissertation is based on measuring the job satisfaction of a specific organisation, your research problem should talk about the problem the company is facing and how your research will help the company to solve that.

If your dissertation is not based on any specific organisation, you can explain the common issues that companies face when they do not consider job satisfaction as a pillar of business growth and elaborate on how your research will help them realise its importance.

Citing too many references in the introduction chapter isn’t recommended because here, you must explain why you chose to study a specific area and what your research will accomplish. Any citations only set the context, and you should leave the bulk of the literature for a later section.

4.     Research Question(s)

The central part of your introduction is the research question , which should be based on your research problem and the dissertation title. Combining these two aspects will help you formulate an exciting yet manageable research question.

Your research question is what your research aims to answer and around which your dissertation will revolve. The research question should be specific and concise.

It should be a one- or two-line question you’ve set out to answer through your dissertation. For the job satisfaction example, a sample research question could be, how does job satisfaction positively impact employee performance?

Look up dissertation introduction examples online or ask your friends to get an idea of how an ideal research question is formed. Or you can review our dissertation introduction example here  and  research question examples here .

Once you’ve formed your research question, pick out vital elements from it, based on which you will then prepare your theoretical framework  and literature review. You will come back to your research question again when  concluding your dissertation .

Sometimes, you might have to formulate a hypothesis in place of a research question. The hypothesis is a simple statement you prove with your  results ,  discussion and analysis .

A sample hypothesis could be job satisfaction is positively linked to employee job performance . The results of your dissertation could be in favour of this dissertation or against it.

Tip: Read up about what alternative, null, one-tailed and two-tailed hypotheses are so you can better formulate the hypothesis for your dissertation. Following are the definitions for each term, as retrieved from Trochim et al.’s Research Methods: The Essential Knowledge Base (2016):

  • Alternative hypothesis (H 1 ): “A specific statement of prediction that usually states what you expect will happen in your study.”
  • Null hypothesis (H 0 ): “The hypothesis that describes the possible outcomes other than the alternative hypothesis. Usually, the null hypothesis predicts there will be no effect of a program or treatment you are studying.”
  • One-tailed hypothesis: “A hypothesis that specifies a direction; for example, when your hypothesis predicts that your program will increase the outcome.”
  • Two-tailed hypothesis: “A hypothesis that does not specify a direction. For example, if you hypothesise that your program or intervention will affect an outcome, but you are unwilling to specify whether that effect will be positive or negative, you are using a two-tailed hypothesis.”

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Interesting read: 10 ways to write a practical introduction fast .

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Uk’s best academic support services. how would you know until you try, 5.     research aims and objectives.

Next, the research aims and objectives. Aims and objectives are broad statements of desired results of your dissertation . They reflect the expectations of the topic and research and address the long-term project outcomes.

These statements should use the concepts accurately, must be focused, should be able to convey your research intentions and serve as steps that communicate how your  research question  will be answered.

You should formulate your aims and objectives based on your topic, research question, or hypothesis. These are simple statements and are an extension of your research question.

Through the aims and objectives, you communicate to your readers what aspects of research you’ve considered and how you intend to answer your research question.

Usually, these statements initiate with words like ‘to explore’, ‘to study’, ‘to assess’, ‘to critically assess’, ‘to understand’, ‘to evaluate’ etc.

You could ask your supervisor to provide some thesis introduction examples to help you understand better how aims and objectives are formulated. More examples are here .

Your aims and objectives should be interrelated and connect to your research question and problem. If they do not, they’ll be considered vague and too broad in scope.

Always ensure your research aims and objectives are concise, brief, and relevant.

Once you conclude  your dissertation , you will have to revert back to address whether your research aims and objectives have been met.

You will have to reflect on how your dissertation’s findings , analysis, and discussion related to your aims and objectives and how your research has helped in achieving them.

6.     Research Limitations

This section is sometimes a part of the  dissertation methodology section ; however, it is usually included in the introduction of a dissertation.

Every research has some limitations. Thus, it is normal for you to experience certain limitations when conducting your study.

You could experience  research design limitations, data limitations or even financial limitations. Regardless of which type of limitation you may experience, your dissertation would be impacted. Thus, it would be best if you mentioned them without any hesitation.

When including this section in the introduction, make sure that you clearly state the type of constraint you experienced. This will help your supervisor understand what problems you went through while working on your dissertation.

However, one aspect that you should take care of is that your results, in no way, should be influenced by these restrictions. The results should not be compromised, or your dissertation will not be deemed authentic and reliable.

After you’ve mentioned your research limitations, discuss how you overcame them to produce a perfect dissertation .

Also, mention that your limitations do not adversely impact your results and that you’ve produced research with accurate results the academic community can rely on.

Also read:   How to Write Dissertation Methodology .

7.     Outline of the Dissertation

Even though this isn’t a mandatory sub-section of the introduction chapter, good introductory chapters in dissertations outline what’s to follow in the preceding chapters.

It is also usual to set out an  outline of the rest of the dissertation . Depending on your university and academic subject, you might also be asked to include it in your research proposal .

Because your tutor might want to glance over it to see how you  plan your dissertation and what sections you’d include; based on what sections you include and how you intend to research and cover them, they’d provide feedback for you to improve.

Usually, this section discusses what sections you plan to include and what concepts and aspects each section entails. A standard dissertation consists of five sections : chapters, introduction,  literature review ,  methodology ,  results  and  discussion , and  conclusion .

Some  dissertation assignments do not use the same chapter for results and discussion. Instead, they split it into two different chapters, making six chapters. Check with your supervisor regarding which format you should follow.

When discussing the  outline of your dissertation , remember that you’d have to mention what each section involves. Discuss all the significant aspects of each section to give a brief overview of what your dissertation contains, and this is precisely what our dissertation outline service  provides.

Writing a dissertation introduction might seem complicated, but it is not if you understand what is expected of you. To understand the required elements and make sure that you focus on all of them.

Include all the aspects to ensure your supervisor and other readers can easily understand how you intend to undertake your research.

“If you find yourself stuck at any stage of your dissertation introduction, get introduction writing help from our writers! At ResearchProspect, we offer a dissertation writing service , and our qualified team of writers will also assist you in conducting in-depth research for your dissertation.

Dissertation Introduction Samples & Examples

Check out some basic samples of dissertation introduction chapters to get started.

FAQs about Dissertation Introduction

What is the purpose of an introduction chapter.

It’s used to introduce key constructs, ideas, models and/or theories etc. relating to the topic; things that you will be basing the remainder of your dissertation on.

How do you start an introduction in a dissertation?

There is more than one way of starting a dissertation’s introductory chapter. You can begin by stating a problem in your area of interest, review relevant literature, identify the gap, and introduce your topic. Or, you can go the opposite way, too. It’s all entirely up to your discretion. However, be consistent in the format you choose to write in.

How long can an introduction get?

It can range from 1000 to 2000 words for a master’s dissertation , but for a higher-level dissertation, it mostly ranges from 8,000 to 10,000 words ’ introduction chapter. In the end, though, it depends on the guidelines provided to you by your department.

Steps to Writing a Dissertation Introduction

You may also like.

Dissertation discussion is where you explore the relevance and significance of results. Here are guidelines to help you write the perfect discussion chapter.

A literature review is a survey of theses, articles, books and other academic sources. Here are guidelines on how to write dissertation literature review.

Anyone who supports you in your research should be acknowledged in dissertation acknowledgments. Learn more on how to write dissertation acknowledgements.






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How to write a fantastic thesis introduction (+15 examples)

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The thesis introduction, usually chapter 1, is one of the most important chapters of a thesis. It sets the scene. It previews key arguments and findings. And it helps the reader to understand the structure of the thesis. In short, a lot is riding on this first chapter. With the following tips, you can write a powerful thesis introduction.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase using the links below at no additional cost to you . I only recommend products or services that I truly believe can benefit my audience. As always, my opinions are my own.

Elements of a fantastic thesis introduction

Open with a (personal) story, begin with a problem, define a clear research gap, describe the scientific relevance of the thesis, describe the societal relevance of the thesis, write down the thesis’ core claim in 1-2 sentences, support your argument with sufficient evidence, consider possible objections, address the empirical research context, give a taste of the thesis’ empirical analysis, hint at the practical implications of the research, provide a reading guide, briefly summarise all chapters to come, design a figure illustrating the thesis structure.

An introductory chapter plays an integral part in every thesis. The first chapter has to include quite a lot of information to contextualise the research. At the same time, a good thesis introduction is not too long, but clear and to the point.

A powerful thesis introduction does the following:

  • It captures the reader’s attention.
  • It presents a clear research gap and emphasises the thesis’ relevance.
  • It provides a compelling argument.
  • It previews the research findings.
  • It explains the structure of the thesis.

In addition, a powerful thesis introduction is well-written, logically structured, and free of grammar and spelling errors. Reputable thesis editors can elevate the quality of your introduction to the next level. If you are in search of a trustworthy thesis or dissertation editor who upholds high-quality standards and offers efficient turnaround times, I recommend the professional thesis and dissertation editing service provided by Editage . 

This list can feel quite overwhelming. However, with some easy tips and tricks, you can accomplish all these goals in your thesis introduction. (And if you struggle with finding the right wording, have a look at academic key phrases for introductions .)

Ways to capture the reader’s attention

A powerful thesis introduction should spark the reader’s interest on the first pages. A reader should be enticed to continue reading! There are three common ways to capture the reader’s attention.

An established way to capture the reader’s attention in a thesis introduction is by starting with a story. Regardless of how abstract and ‘scientific’ the actual thesis content is, it can be useful to ease the reader into the topic with a short story.

This story can be, for instance, based on one of your study participants. It can also be a very personal account of one of your own experiences, which drew you to study the thesis topic in the first place.

Start by providing data or statistics

Data and statistics are another established way to immediately draw in your reader. Especially surprising or shocking numbers can highlight the importance of a thesis topic in the first few sentences!

So if your thesis topic lends itself to being kick-started with data or statistics, you are in for a quick and easy way to write a memorable thesis introduction.

The third established way to capture the reader’s attention is by starting with the problem that underlies your thesis. It is advisable to keep the problem simple. A few sentences at the start of the chapter should suffice.

Usually, at a later stage in the introductory chapter, it is common to go more in-depth, describing the research problem (and its scientific and societal relevance) in more detail.

You may also like: Minimalist writing for a better thesis

Emphasising the thesis’ relevance

A good thesis is a relevant thesis. No one wants to read about a concept that has already been explored hundreds of times, or that no one cares about.

Of course, a thesis heavily relies on the work of other scholars. However, each thesis is – and should be – unique. If you want to write a fantastic thesis introduction, your job is to point out this uniqueness!

In academic research, a research gap signifies a research area or research question that has not been explored yet, that has been insufficiently explored, or whose insights and findings are outdated.

Every thesis needs a crystal-clear research gap. Spell it out instead of letting your reader figure out why your thesis is relevant.

* This example has been taken from an actual academic paper on toxic behaviour in online games: Liu, J. and Agur, C. (2022). “After All, They Don’t Know Me” Exploring the Psychological Mechanisms of Toxic Behavior in Online Games. Games and Culture 1–24, DOI: 10.1177/15554120221115397

The scientific relevance of a thesis highlights the importance of your work in terms of advancing theoretical insights on a topic. You can think of this part as your contribution to the (international) academic literature.

Scientific relevance comes in different forms. For instance, you can critically assess a prominent theory explaining a specific phenomenon. Maybe something is missing? Or you can develop a novel framework that combines different frameworks used by other scholars. Or you can draw attention to the context-specific nature of a phenomenon that is discussed in the international literature.

The societal relevance of a thesis highlights the importance of your research in more practical terms. You can think of this part as your contribution beyond theoretical insights and academic publications.

Why are your insights useful? Who can benefit from your insights? How can your insights improve existing practices?

model introduction dissertation

Formulating a compelling argument

Arguments are sets of reasons supporting an idea, which – in academia – often integrate theoretical and empirical insights. Think of an argument as an umbrella statement, or core claim. It should be no longer than one or two sentences.

Including an argument in the introduction of your thesis may seem counterintuitive. After all, the reader will be introduced to your core claim before reading all the chapters of your thesis that led you to this claim in the first place.

But rest assured: A clear argument at the start of your thesis introduction is a sign of a good thesis. It works like a movie teaser to generate interest. And it helps the reader to follow your subsequent line of argumentation.

The core claim of your thesis should be accompanied by sufficient evidence. This does not mean that you have to write 10 pages about your results at this point.

However, you do need to show the reader that your claim is credible and legitimate because of the work you have done.

A good argument already anticipates possible objections. Not everyone will agree with your core claim. Therefore, it is smart to think ahead. What criticism can you expect?

Think about reasons or opposing positions that people can come up with to disagree with your claim. Then, try to address them head-on.

Providing a captivating preview of findings

Similar to presenting a compelling argument, a fantastic thesis introduction also previews some of the findings. When reading an introduction, the reader wants to learn a bit more about the research context. Furthermore, a reader should get a taste of the type of analysis that will be conducted. And lastly, a hint at the practical implications of the findings encourages the reader to read until the end.

If you focus on a specific empirical context, make sure to provide some information about it. The empirical context could be, for instance, a country, an island, a school or city. Make sure the reader understands why you chose this context for your research, and why it fits to your research objective.

If you did all your research in a lab, this section is obviously irrelevant. However, in that case you should explain the setup of your experiment, etcetera.

The empirical part of your thesis centers around the collection and analysis of information. What information, and what evidence, did you generate? And what are some of the key findings?

For instance, you can provide a short summary of the different research methods that you used to collect data. Followed by a short overview of how you analysed this data, and some of the key findings. The reader needs to understand why your empirical analysis is worth reading.

You already highlighted the practical relevance of your thesis in the introductory chapter. However, you should also provide a preview of some of the practical implications that you will develop in your thesis based on your findings.

Presenting a crystal clear thesis structure

A fantastic thesis introduction helps the reader to understand the structure and logic of your whole thesis. This is probably the easiest part to write in a thesis introduction. However, this part can be best written at the very end, once everything else is ready.

A reading guide is an essential part in a thesis introduction! Usually, the reading guide can be found toward the end of the introductory chapter.

The reading guide basically tells the reader what to expect in the chapters to come.

In a longer thesis, such as a PhD thesis, it can be smart to provide a summary of each chapter to come. Think of a paragraph for each chapter, almost in the form of an abstract.

For shorter theses, which also have a shorter introduction, this step is not necessary.

Especially for longer theses, it tends to be a good idea to design a simple figure that illustrates the structure of your thesis. It helps the reader to better grasp the logic of your thesis.

model introduction dissertation

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Writing a Dissertation: The Introduction

The introduction to your dissertation or thesis may well be the last part that you complete, excepting perhaps the abstract. However, it should not be the last part that you think about.

You should write a draft of your introduction very early on, perhaps as early as when you submit your research proposal , to set out a broad outline of your ideas, why you want to study this area, and what you hope to explore and/or establish.

You can, and should, update your introduction several times as your ideas develop. Keeping the introduction in mind will help you to ensure that your research stays on track.

The introduction provides the rationale for your dissertation, thesis or other research project: what you are trying to answer and why it is important to do this research.

Your introduction should contain a clear statement of the research question and the aims of the research (closely related to the question).

It should also introduce and briefly review the literature on your topic to show what is already known and explain the theoretical framework. If there are theoretical debates in the literature, then the introduction is a good place for the researcher to give his or her own perspective in conjunction with the literature review section of the dissertation.

The introduction should also indicate how your piece of research will contribute to the theoretical understanding of the topic.

Drawing on your Research Proposal

The introduction to your dissertation or thesis will probably draw heavily on your research proposal.

If you haven't already written a research proposal see our page Writing a Research Proposal for some ideas.

The introduction needs to set the scene for the later work and give a broad idea of the arguments and/or research that preceded yours. It should give some idea of why you chose to study this area, giving a flavour of the literature, and what you hoped to find out.

Don’t include too many citations in your introduction: this is your summary of why you want to study this area, and what questions you hope to address. Any citations are only to set the context, and you should leave the bulk of the literature for a later section.

Unlike your research proposal, however, you have now completed the work. This means that your introduction can be much clearer about what exactly you chose to investigate and the precise scope of your work.

Remember , whenever you actually write it, that, for the reader, the introduction is the start of the journey through your work. Although you can give a flavour of the outcomes of your research, you should not include any detailed results or conclusions.

Some good ideas for making your introduction strong include:

  • An interesting opening sentence that will hold the attention of your reader.
  • Don’t try to say everything in the introduction, but do outline the broad thrust of your work and argument.
  • Make sure that you don’t promise anything that can’t be delivered later.
  • Keep the language straightforward. Although you should do this throughout, it is especially important for the introduction.

Your introduction is the reader’s ‘door’ into your thesis or dissertation. It therefore needs to make sense to the non-expert. Ask a friend to read it for you, and see if they can understand it easily.

At the end of the introduction, it is also usual to set out an outline of the rest of the dissertation.

This can be as simple as ‘ Chapter 2 discusses my chosen methodology, Chapter 3 sets out my results, and Chapter 4 discusses the results and draws conclusions ’.

However, if your thesis is ordered by themes, then a more complex outline may be necessary.

Drafting and Redrafting

As with any other piece of writing, redrafting and editing will improve your text.

This is especially important for the introduction because it needs to hold your reader’s attention and lead them into your research.

The best way to ensure that you can do this is to give yourself enough time to write a really good introduction, including several redrafts.

Do not view the introduction as a last minute job.

Continue to: Writing a Literature Review Writing the Methodology

See also: Dissertation: Results and Discussion Dissertation: Conclusions and Extra Sections Academic Referencing | Research Methods

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How to Write a Dissertation | A Guide to Structure & Content

A dissertation or thesis is a long piece of academic writing based on original research, submitted as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

The structure of a dissertation depends on your field, but it is usually divided into at least four or five chapters (including an introduction and conclusion chapter).

The most common dissertation structure in the sciences and social sciences includes:

  • An introduction to your topic
  • A literature review that surveys relevant sources
  • An explanation of your methodology
  • An overview of the results of your research
  • A discussion of the results and their implications
  • A conclusion that shows what your research has contributed

Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an argument by analysing primary and secondary sources . Instead of the standard structure outlined here, you might organise your chapters around different themes or case studies.

Other important elements of the dissertation include the title page , abstract , and reference list . If in doubt about how your dissertation should be structured, always check your department’s guidelines and consult with your supervisor.

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Table of contents

Acknowledgements, table of contents, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review / theoretical framework, methodology, reference list.

The very first page of your document contains your dissertation’s title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo. Many programs have strict requirements for formatting the dissertation title page .

The title page is often used as cover when printing and binding your dissertation .

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The acknowledgements section is usually optional, and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you.

The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150-300 words long. You should write it at the very end, when you’ve completed the rest of the dissertation. In the abstract, make sure to:

  • State the main topic and aims of your research
  • Describe the methods you used
  • Summarise the main results
  • State your conclusions

Although the abstract is very short, it’s the first part (and sometimes the only part) of your dissertation that people will read, so it’s important that you get it right. If you’re struggling to write a strong abstract, read our guide on how to write an abstract .

In the table of contents, list all of your chapters and subheadings and their page numbers. The dissertation contents page gives the reader an overview of your structure and helps easily navigate the document.

All parts of your dissertation should be included in the table of contents, including the appendices. You can generate a table of contents automatically in Word.

If you have used a lot of tables and figures in your dissertation, you should itemise them in a numbered list . You can automatically generate this list using the Insert Caption feature in Word.

If you have used a lot of abbreviations in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetised list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.

If you have used a lot of highly specialised terms that will not be familiar to your reader, it might be a good idea to include a glossary . List the terms alphabetically and explain each term with a brief description or definition.

In the introduction, you set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance, and tell the reader what to expect in the rest of the dissertation. The introduction should:

  • Establish your research topic , giving necessary background information to contextualise your work
  • Narrow down the focus and define the scope of the research
  • Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
  • Clearly state your objectives and research questions , and indicate how you will answer them
  • Give an overview of your dissertation’s structure

Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant to your research. By the end, the reader should understand the what , why and how of your research. Not sure how? Read our guide on how to write a dissertation introduction .

Before you start on your research, you should have conducted a literature review to gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic. This means:

  • Collecting sources (e.g. books and journal articles) and selecting the most relevant ones
  • Critically evaluating and analysing each source
  • Drawing connections between them (e.g. themes, patterns, conflicts, gaps) to make an overall point

In the dissertation literature review chapter or section, you shouldn’t just summarise existing studies, but develop a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear basis or justification for your own research. For example, it might aim to show how your research:

  • Addresses a gap in the literature
  • Takes a new theoretical or methodological approach to the topic
  • Proposes a solution to an unresolved problem
  • Advances a theoretical debate
  • Builds on and strengthens existing knowledge with new data

The literature review often becomes the basis for a theoretical framework , in which you define and analyse the key theories, concepts and models that frame your research. In this section you can answer descriptive research questions about the relationship between concepts or variables.

The methodology chapter or section describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to assess its validity. You should generally include:

  • The overall approach and type of research (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, experimental, ethnographic)
  • Your methods of collecting data (e.g. interviews, surveys, archives)
  • Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
  • Your methods of analysing data (e.g. statistical analysis, discourse analysis)
  • Tools and materials you used (e.g. computer programs, lab equipment)
  • A discussion of any obstacles you faced in conducting the research and how you overcame them
  • An evaluation or justification of your methods

Your aim in the methodology is to accurately report what you did, as well as convincing the reader that this was the best approach to answering your research questions or objectives.

Next, you report the results of your research . You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses, or topics. Only report results that are relevant to your objectives and research questions. In some disciplines, the results section is strictly separated from the discussion, while in others the two are combined.

For example, for qualitative methods like in-depth interviews, the presentation of the data will often be woven together with discussion and analysis, while in quantitative and experimental research, the results should be presented separately before you discuss their meaning. If you’re unsure, consult with your supervisor and look at sample dissertations to find out the best structure for your research.

In the results section it can often be helpful to include tables, graphs and charts. Think carefully about how best to present your data, and don’t include tables or figures that just repeat what you have written  –  they should provide extra information or usefully visualise the results in a way that adds value to your text.

Full versions of your data (such as interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix .

The discussion  is where you explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research questions. Here you should interpret the results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data and discuss any limitations that might have influenced the results.

The discussion should reference other scholarly work to show how your results fit with existing knowledge. You can also make recommendations for future research or practical action.

The dissertation conclusion should concisely answer the main research question, leaving the reader with a clear understanding of your central argument. Wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you did and how you did it. The conclusion often also includes recommendations for research or practice.

In this section, it’s important to show how your findings contribute to knowledge in the field and why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known?

You must include full details of all sources that you have cited in a reference list (sometimes also called a works cited list or bibliography). It’s important to follow a consistent reference style . Each style has strict and specific requirements for how to format your sources in the reference list.

The most common styles used in UK universities are Harvard referencing and Vancouver referencing . Your department will often specify which referencing style you should use – for example, psychology students tend to use APA style , humanities students often use MHRA , and law students always use OSCOLA . M ake sure to check the requirements, and ask your supervisor if you’re unsure.

To save time creating the reference list and make sure your citations are correctly and consistently formatted, you can use our free APA Citation Generator .

Your dissertation itself should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents you have used that do not fit into the main body of your dissertation (such as interview transcripts, survey questions or tables with full figures) can be added as appendices .

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Think of yourself as a member of a jury, listening to a lawyer who is presenting an opening argument. You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, "This essay is going to try to convince me of something. I'm not convinced yet, but I'm interested to see how I might be."

An effective thesis cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." A thesis is not a topic; nor is it a fact; nor is it an opinion. "Reasons for the fall of communism" is a topic. "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" is a fact known by educated people. "The fall of communism is the best thing that ever happened in Europe" is an opinion. (Superlatives like "the best" almost always lead to trouble. It's impossible to weigh every "thing" that ever happened in Europe. And what about the fall of Hitler? Couldn't that be "the best thing"?)

A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay.

Steps in Constructing a Thesis

First, analyze your primary sources.  Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication. Does the author contradict himself or herself? Is a point made and later reversed? What are the deeper implications of the author's argument? Figuring out the why to one or more of these questions, or to related questions, will put you on the path to developing a working thesis. (Without the why, you probably have only come up with an observation—that there are, for instance, many different metaphors in such-and-such a poem—which is not a thesis.)

Once you have a working thesis, write it down.  There is nothing as frustrating as hitting on a great idea for a thesis, then forgetting it when you lose concentration. And by writing down your thesis you will be forced to think of it clearly, logically, and concisely. You probably will not be able to write out a final-draft version of your thesis the first time you try, but you'll get yourself on the right track by writing down what you have.

Keep your thesis prominent in your introduction.  A good, standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of an introductory paragraph, especially in shorter (5-15 page) essays. Readers are used to finding theses there, so they automatically pay more attention when they read the last sentence of your introduction. Although this is not required in all academic essays, it is a good rule of thumb.

Anticipate the counterarguments.  Once you have a working thesis, you should think about what might be said against it. This will help you to refine your thesis, and it will also make you think of the arguments that you'll need to refute later on in your essay. (Every argument has a counterargument. If yours doesn't, then it's not an argument—it may be a fact, or an opinion, but it is not an argument.)

This statement is on its way to being a thesis. However, it is too easy to imagine possible counterarguments. For example, a political observer might believe that Dukakis lost because he suffered from a "soft-on-crime" image. If you complicate your thesis by anticipating the counterargument, you'll strengthen your argument, as shown in the sentence below.

Some Caveats and Some Examples

A thesis is never a question.  Readers of academic essays expect to have questions discussed, explored, or even answered. A question ("Why did communism collapse in Eastern Europe?") is not an argument, and without an argument, a thesis is dead in the water.

A thesis is never a list.  "For political, economic, social and cultural reasons, communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" does a good job of "telegraphing" the reader what to expect in the essay—a section about political reasons, a section about economic reasons, a section about social reasons, and a section about cultural reasons. However, political, economic, social and cultural reasons are pretty much the only possible reasons why communism could collapse. This sentence lacks tension and doesn't advance an argument. Everyone knows that politics, economics, and culture are important.

A thesis should never be vague, combative or confrontational.  An ineffective thesis would be, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because communism is evil." This is hard to argue (evil from whose perspective? what does evil mean?) and it is likely to mark you as moralistic and judgmental rather than rational and thorough. It also may spark a defensive reaction from readers sympathetic to communism. If readers strongly disagree with you right off the bat, they may stop reading.

An effective thesis has a definable, arguable claim.  "While cultural forces contributed to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the disintegration of economies played the key role in driving its decline" is an effective thesis sentence that "telegraphs," so that the reader expects the essay to have a section about cultural forces and another about the disintegration of economies. This thesis makes a definite, arguable claim: that the disintegration of economies played a more important role than cultural forces in defeating communism in Eastern Europe. The reader would react to this statement by thinking, "Perhaps what the author says is true, but I am not convinced. I want to read further to see how the author argues this claim."

A thesis should be as clear and specific as possible.  Avoid overused, general terms and abstractions. For example, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because of the ruling elite's inability to address the economic concerns of the people" is more powerful than "Communism collapsed due to societal discontent."

Copyright 1999, Maxine Rodburg and The Tutors of the Writing Center at Harvard University

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
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  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
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  • Executive Summary
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
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  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • Scholarly vs. Popular Publications
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  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
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  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
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  • USC Libraries Tutorials and Other Guides
  • Bibliography


The Creating a Research Space [C.A.R.S.] Model was developed by John Swales based upon his analysis of journal articles representing a variety of discipline-based writing practices. His model attempts to explain and describe the organizational pattern of writing the introduction to scholarly research studies. Following the C.A.R.S. Model can be useful approach because it can help you to: 1) begin the writing process [getting started is often the most difficult task]; 2) understand the way in which an introduction sets the stage for the rest of your paper; and, 3) assess how the introduction fits within the larger scope of your study. The model assumes that writers follow a general organizational pattern in response to two types of challenges [“competitions”] relating to establishing a presence within a particular domain of research: 1) the competition to create a rhetorical space and, 2) the competition to attract readers into that space. The model proposes three actions [Swales calls them “moves”], accompanied by specific steps, that reflect the development of an effective introduction for a research paper. These “moves” and steps can be used as a template for writing the introduction to your own social sciences research papers.

"Introductions." The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Coffin, Caroline and Rupert Wegerif. “How to Write a Standard Research Article.” Inspiring Academic Practice at the University of Exeter; Kayfetz, Janet. "Academic Writing Workshop." University of California, Santa Barbara, Fall 2009; Pennington, Ken. "The Introduction Section: Creating a Research Space CARS Model." Language Centre, Helsinki University of Technology, 2005; Swales, John and Christine B. Feak. Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Skills and Tasks. 2nd edition. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2004.

Creating a Research Space Move 1: Establishing a Territory [the situation] This is generally accomplished in two ways: by demonstrating that a general area of research is important, critical, interesting, problematic, relevant, or otherwise worthy of investigation and by introducing and reviewing key sources of prior research in that area to show where gaps exist or where prior research has been inadequate in addressing the research problem. The steps taken to achieve this would be:

  • Step 1 -- Claiming importance of, and/or  [writing action = describing the research problem and providing evidence to support why the topic is important to study]
  • Step 2 -- Making topic generalizations, and/or  [writing action = providing statements about the current state of knowledge, consensus, practice or description of phenomena]
  • Step 3 -- Reviewing items of previous research  [writing action = synthesize prior research that further supports the need to study the research problem; this is not a literature review but more a reflection of key studies that have touched upon but perhaps not fully addressed the topic]

Move 2: Establishing a Niche [the problem] This action refers to making a clear and cogent argument that your particular piece of research is important and possesses value. This can be done by indicating a specific gap in previous research, by challenging a broadly accepted assumption, by raising a question, a hypothesis, or need, or by extending previous knowledge in some way. The steps taken to achieve this would be:

  • Step 1a -- Counter-claiming, or  [writing action = introduce an opposing viewpoint or perspective or identify a gap in prior research that you believe has weakened or undermined the prevailing argument]
  • Step 1b -- Indicating a gap, or  [writing action = develop the research problem around a gap or understudied area of the literature]
  • Step 1c -- Question-raising, or  [writing action = similar to gap identification, this involves presenting key questions about the consequences of gaps in prior research that will be addressed by your study. For example, one could state, “Despite prior observations of voter behavior in local elections in urban Detroit, it remains unclear why do some single mothers choose to avoid....”]
  • Step 1d -- Continuing a tradition  [writing action = extend prior research to expand upon or clarify a research problem. This is often signaled with logical connecting terminology, such as, “hence,” “therefore,” “consequently,” “thus” or language that indicates a need. For example, one could state, “Consequently, these factors need to examined in more detail....” or “Evidence suggests an interesting correlation, therefore, it is desirable to survey different respondents....”]

Move 3: Occupying the Niche [the solution] The final "move" is to announce the means by which your study will contribute new knowledge or new understanding in contrast to prior research on the topic. This is also where you describe the remaining organizational structure of the paper. The steps taken to achieve this would be:

  • Step 1a -- Outlining purposes, or  [writing action = answering the “So What?” question. Explain in clear language the objectives of your study]
  • Step 1b -- Announcing present research [writing action = describe the purpose of your study in terms of what the research is going to do or accomplish. In the social sciences, the “So What?” question still needs to addressed]
  • Step 2 -- Announcing principle findings  [writing action = present a brief, general summary of key findings written, such as, “The findings indicate a need for...,” or “The research suggests four approaches to....”]
  • Step 3 -- Indicating article structure  [writing action = state how the remainder of your paper is organized]

"Introductions." The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Atai, Mahmood Reza. “Exploring Subdisciplinary Variations and Generic Structure of Applied Linguistics Research Article Introductions Using CARS Model.” The Journal of Applied Linguistics 2 (Fall 2009): 26-51; Chanel, Dana. "Research Article Introductions in Cultural Studies: A Genre Analysis Explorationn of Rhetorical Structure." The Journal of Teaching English for Specific and Academic Purposes 2 (2014): 1-20; Coffin, Caroline and Rupert Wegerif. “How to Write a Standard Research Article.” Inspiring Academic Practice at the University of Exeter; Kayfetz, Janet. "Academic Writing Workshop." University of California, Santa Barbara, Fall 2009; Pennington, Ken. "The Introduction Section: Creating a Research Space CARS Model." Language Centre, Helsinki University of Technology, 2005; Swales, John and Christine B. Feak. Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Skills and Tasks . 2nd edition. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2004; Swales, John M. Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings . New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990; Chapter 5: Beginning Work. In Writing for Peer Reviewed Journals: Strategies for Getting Published . Pat Thomson and Barbara Kamler. (New York: Routledge, 2013), pp. 93-96.

Writing Tip

Swales showed that establishing a research niche [move 2] is often signaled by specific terminology that expresses a contrasting viewpoint, a critical evaluation of gaps in the literature, or a perceived weakness in prior research. The purpose of using these words is to draw a clear distinction between perceived deficiencies in previous studies and the research you are presenting that is intended to help resolve these deficiencies. Below is a table of common words used by authors.

NOTE : You may prefer not to adopt a negative stance in your writing when placing it within the context of prior research. In such cases, an alternative approach is to utilize a neutral, contrastive statement that expresses a new perspective without giving the appearance of trying to diminish the validity of other people's research. Examples of how to take a more neutral contrasting stance can be achieved in the following ways, with A representing the findings of prior research, B representing your research problem, and X representing one or more variables that have been investigated.

  • Prior research has focused primarily on A , rather than on B ...
  • Prior research into A can be beneficial but to rectify X , it is important to examine B ...
  • These studies have placed an emphasis in the areas of A as opposed to describing B ...
  • While prior studies have examined A , it may be preferable to contemplate the impact of B ...
  • After consideration of A , it is important to also distinguish B ...
  • The study of A has been thorough, but changing circumstances related to X support a need for examining [or revisiting] B ...
  • Although research has been devoted to A , less attention has been paid to B ...
  • Earlier research offers insights into the need for A , though consideration of B would be particularly helpful to...

In each of these example statements, what follows the ellipsis is the justification for designing a study that approaches the problem in the way that contrasts with prior research but which does not devalue its ongoing contributions to current knowledge and understanding.

Dretske, Fred I. “Contrastive Statements.” The Philosophical Review 81 (October 1972): 411-437; Kayfetz, Janet. "Academic Writing Workshop." University of California, Santa Barbara, Fall 2009; Pennington, Ken. "The Introduction Section: Creating a Research Space CARS Model." Language Centre, Helsinki University of Technology, 2005; Swales, John M. Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings . New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990

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What’s Included: The Dissertation Template

If you’re preparing to write your dissertation, thesis or research project, our free dissertation template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples .

The template’s structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research projects such as dissertations and theses. The template structure reflects the overall research process, ensuring your dissertation or thesis will have a smooth, logical flow from chapter to chapter.

The dissertation template covers the following core sections:

  • The title page/cover page
  • Abstract (sometimes also called the executive summary)
  • Table of contents
  • List of figures /list of tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction  (also available: in-depth introduction template )
  • Chapter 2: Literature review  (also available: in-depth LR template )
  • Chapter 3: Methodology (also available: in-depth methodology template )
  • Chapter 4: Research findings /results (also available: results template )
  • Chapter 5: Discussion /analysis of findings (also available: discussion template )
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion (also available: in-depth conclusion template )
  • Reference list

Each section is explained in plain, straightforward language , followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover within each section. We’ve also included practical examples to help you understand exactly what’s required in each section.

The cleanly-formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

FAQs: Dissertation Template

What format is the template (doc, pdf, ppt, etc.).

The dissertation template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What types of dissertations/theses can this template be used for?

The template follows the standard best-practice structure for formal academic research projects such as dissertations or theses, so it is suitable for the vast majority of degrees, particularly those within the sciences.

Some universities may have some additional requirements, but these are typically minor, with the core structure remaining the same. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalise your structure.

Will this work for a research paper?

A research paper follows a similar format, but there are a few differences. You can find our research paper template here .

Is this template for an undergrad, Masters or PhD-level thesis?

This template can be used for a dissertation, thesis or research project at any level of study. It may be slight overkill for an undergraduate-level study, but it certainly won’t be missing anything.

How long should my dissertation/thesis be?

This depends entirely on your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. As a general ballpark, Masters-level projects are usually 15,000 – 20,000 words in length, while Doctoral-level projects are often in excess of 60,000 words.

What about the research proposal?

If you’re still working on your research proposal, we’ve got a template for that here .

We’ve also got loads of proposal-related guides and videos over on the Grad Coach blog .

How do I write a literature review?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack how to write a literature review from scratch. You can check out the literature review section of the blog here.

How do I create a research methodology?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack research methodology, both qualitative and quantitative. You can check out the methodology section of the blog here.

Can I share this dissertation template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template. If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, all we ask is that you reference this page as your source.

Can Grad Coach help me with my dissertation/thesis?

Within the template, you’ll find plain-language explanations of each section, which should give you a fair amount of guidance. However, you’re also welcome to consider our dissertation and thesis coaching services .

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Dissertation – Format, Example and Template

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Dissertation is a lengthy and detailed academic document that presents the results of original research on a specific topic or question. It is usually required as a final project for a doctoral degree or a master’s degree.

Dissertation Meaning in Research

In Research , a dissertation refers to a substantial research project that students undertake in order to obtain an advanced degree such as a Ph.D. or a Master’s degree.

Dissertation typically involves the exploration of a particular research question or topic in-depth, and it requires students to conduct original research, analyze data, and present their findings in a scholarly manner. It is often the culmination of years of study and represents a significant contribution to the academic field.

Types of Dissertation

Types of Dissertation are as follows:

Empirical Dissertation

An empirical dissertation is a research study that uses primary data collected through surveys, experiments, or observations. It typically follows a quantitative research approach and uses statistical methods to analyze the data.

Non-Empirical Dissertation

A non-empirical dissertation is based on secondary sources, such as books, articles, and online resources. It typically follows a qualitative research approach and uses methods such as content analysis or discourse analysis.

Narrative Dissertation

A narrative dissertation is a personal account of the researcher’s experience or journey. It typically follows a qualitative research approach and uses methods such as interviews, focus groups, or ethnography.

Systematic Literature Review

A systematic literature review is a comprehensive analysis of existing research on a specific topic. It typically follows a qualitative research approach and uses methods such as meta-analysis or thematic analysis.

Case Study Dissertation

A case study dissertation is an in-depth analysis of a specific individual, group, or organization. It typically follows a qualitative research approach and uses methods such as interviews, observations, or document analysis.

Mixed-Methods Dissertation

A mixed-methods dissertation combines both quantitative and qualitative research approaches to gather and analyze data. It typically uses methods such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups, as well as statistical analysis.

How to Write a Dissertation

Here are some general steps to help guide you through the process of writing a dissertation:

  • Choose a topic : Select a topic that you are passionate about and that is relevant to your field of study. It should be specific enough to allow for in-depth research but broad enough to be interesting and engaging.
  • Conduct research : Conduct thorough research on your chosen topic, utilizing a variety of sources, including books, academic journals, and online databases. Take detailed notes and organize your information in a way that makes sense to you.
  • Create an outline : Develop an outline that will serve as a roadmap for your dissertation. The outline should include the introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.
  • Write the introduction: The introduction should provide a brief overview of your topic, the research questions, and the significance of the study. It should also include a clear thesis statement that states your main argument.
  • Write the literature review: The literature review should provide a comprehensive analysis of existing research on your topic. It should identify gaps in the research and explain how your study will fill those gaps.
  • Write the methodology: The methodology section should explain the research methods you used to collect and analyze data. It should also include a discussion of any limitations or weaknesses in your approach.
  • Write the results: The results section should present the findings of your research in a clear and organized manner. Use charts, graphs, and tables to help illustrate your data.
  • Write the discussion: The discussion section should interpret your results and explain their significance. It should also address any limitations of the study and suggest areas for future research.
  • Write the conclusion: The conclusion should summarize your main findings and restate your thesis statement. It should also provide recommendations for future research.
  • Edit and revise: Once you have completed a draft of your dissertation, review it carefully to ensure that it is well-organized, clear, and free of errors. Make any necessary revisions and edits before submitting it to your advisor for review.

Dissertation Format

The format of a dissertation may vary depending on the institution and field of study, but generally, it follows a similar structure:

  • Title Page: This includes the title of the dissertation, the author’s name, and the date of submission.
  • Abstract : A brief summary of the dissertation’s purpose, methods, and findings.
  • Table of Contents: A list of the main sections and subsections of the dissertation, along with their page numbers.
  • Introduction : A statement of the problem or research question, a brief overview of the literature, and an explanation of the significance of the study.
  • Literature Review : A comprehensive review of the literature relevant to the research question or problem.
  • Methodology : A description of the methods used to conduct the research, including data collection and analysis procedures.
  • Results : A presentation of the findings of the research, including tables, charts, and graphs.
  • Discussion : A discussion of the implications of the findings, their significance in the context of the literature, and limitations of the study.
  • Conclusion : A summary of the main points of the study and their implications for future research.
  • References : A list of all sources cited in the dissertation.
  • Appendices : Additional materials that support the research, such as data tables, charts, or transcripts.

Dissertation Outline

Dissertation Outline is as follows:

Title Page:

  • Title of dissertation
  • Author name
  • Institutional affiliation
  • Date of submission
  • Brief summary of the dissertation’s research problem, objectives, methods, findings, and implications
  • Usually around 250-300 words

Table of Contents:

  • List of chapters and sections in the dissertation, with page numbers for each

I. Introduction

  • Background and context of the research
  • Research problem and objectives
  • Significance of the research

II. Literature Review

  • Overview of existing literature on the research topic
  • Identification of gaps in the literature
  • Theoretical framework and concepts

III. Methodology

  • Research design and methods used
  • Data collection and analysis techniques
  • Ethical considerations

IV. Results

  • Presentation and analysis of data collected
  • Findings and outcomes of the research
  • Interpretation of the results

V. Discussion

  • Discussion of the results in relation to the research problem and objectives
  • Evaluation of the research outcomes and implications
  • Suggestions for future research

VI. Conclusion

  • Summary of the research findings and outcomes
  • Implications for the research topic and field
  • Limitations and recommendations for future research

VII. References

  • List of sources cited in the dissertation

VIII. Appendices

  • Additional materials that support the research, such as tables, figures, or questionnaires.

Example of Dissertation

Here is an example Dissertation for students:

Title : Exploring the Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Academic Achievement and Well-being among College Students

This dissertation aims to investigate the impact of mindfulness meditation on the academic achievement and well-being of college students. Mindfulness meditation has gained popularity as a technique for reducing stress and enhancing mental health, but its effects on academic performance have not been extensively studied. Using a randomized controlled trial design, the study will compare the academic performance and well-being of college students who practice mindfulness meditation with those who do not. The study will also examine the moderating role of personality traits and demographic factors on the effects of mindfulness meditation.

Chapter Outline:

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • Background and rationale for the study
  • Research questions and objectives
  • Significance of the study
  • Overview of the dissertation structure

Chapter 2: Literature Review

  • Definition and conceptualization of mindfulness meditation
  • Theoretical framework of mindfulness meditation
  • Empirical research on mindfulness meditation and academic achievement
  • Empirical research on mindfulness meditation and well-being
  • The role of personality and demographic factors in the effects of mindfulness meditation

Chapter 3: Methodology

  • Research design and hypothesis
  • Participants and sampling method
  • Intervention and procedure
  • Measures and instruments
  • Data analysis method

Chapter 4: Results

  • Descriptive statistics and data screening
  • Analysis of main effects
  • Analysis of moderating effects
  • Post-hoc analyses and sensitivity tests

Chapter 5: Discussion

  • Summary of findings
  • Implications for theory and practice
  • Limitations and directions for future research
  • Conclusion and contribution to the literature

Chapter 6: Conclusion

  • Recap of the research questions and objectives
  • Summary of the key findings
  • Contribution to the literature and practice
  • Implications for policy and practice
  • Final thoughts and recommendations.

References :

List of all the sources cited in the dissertation

Appendices :

Additional materials such as the survey questionnaire, interview guide, and consent forms.

Note : This is just an example and the structure of a dissertation may vary depending on the specific requirements and guidelines provided by the institution or the supervisor.

How Long is a Dissertation

The length of a dissertation can vary depending on the field of study, the level of degree being pursued, and the specific requirements of the institution. Generally, a dissertation for a doctoral degree can range from 80,000 to 100,000 words, while a dissertation for a master’s degree may be shorter, typically ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 words. However, it is important to note that these are general guidelines and the actual length of a dissertation can vary widely depending on the specific requirements of the program and the research topic being studied. It is always best to consult with your academic advisor or the guidelines provided by your institution for more specific information on dissertation length.

Applications of Dissertation

Here are some applications of a dissertation:

  • Advancing the Field: Dissertations often include new research or a new perspective on existing research, which can help to advance the field. The results of a dissertation can be used by other researchers to build upon or challenge existing knowledge, leading to further advancements in the field.
  • Career Advancement: Completing a dissertation demonstrates a high level of expertise in a particular field, which can lead to career advancement opportunities. For example, having a PhD can open doors to higher-paying jobs in academia, research institutions, or the private sector.
  • Publishing Opportunities: Dissertations can be published as books or journal articles, which can help to increase the visibility and credibility of the author’s research.
  • Personal Growth: The process of writing a dissertation involves a significant amount of research, analysis, and critical thinking. This can help students to develop important skills, such as time management, problem-solving, and communication, which can be valuable in both their personal and professional lives.
  • Policy Implications: The findings of a dissertation can have policy implications, particularly in fields such as public health, education, and social sciences. Policymakers can use the research to inform decision-making and improve outcomes for the population.

When to Write a Dissertation

Here are some situations where writing a dissertation may be necessary:

  • Pursuing a Doctoral Degree: Writing a dissertation is usually a requirement for earning a doctoral degree, so if you are interested in pursuing a doctorate, you will likely need to write a dissertation.
  • Conducting Original Research : Dissertations require students to conduct original research on a specific topic. If you are interested in conducting original research on a topic, writing a dissertation may be the best way to do so.
  • Advancing Your Career: Some professions, such as academia and research, may require individuals to have a doctoral degree. Writing a dissertation can help you advance your career by demonstrating your expertise in a particular area.
  • Contributing to Knowledge: Dissertations are often based on original research that can contribute to the knowledge base of a field. If you are passionate about advancing knowledge in a particular area, writing a dissertation can help you achieve that goal.
  • Meeting Academic Requirements : If you are a graduate student, writing a dissertation may be a requirement for completing your program. Be sure to check with your academic advisor to determine if this is the case for you.

Purpose of Dissertation

some common purposes of a dissertation include:

  • To contribute to the knowledge in a particular field : A dissertation is often the culmination of years of research and study, and it should make a significant contribution to the existing body of knowledge in a particular field.
  • To demonstrate mastery of a subject: A dissertation requires extensive research, analysis, and writing, and completing one demonstrates a student’s mastery of their subject area.
  • To develop critical thinking and research skills : A dissertation requires students to think critically about their research question, analyze data, and draw conclusions based on evidence. These skills are valuable not only in academia but also in many professional fields.
  • To demonstrate academic integrity: A dissertation must be conducted and written in accordance with rigorous academic standards, including ethical considerations such as obtaining informed consent, protecting the privacy of participants, and avoiding plagiarism.
  • To prepare for an academic career: Completing a dissertation is often a requirement for obtaining a PhD and pursuing a career in academia. It can demonstrate to potential employers that the student has the necessary skills and experience to conduct original research and make meaningful contributions to their field.
  • To develop writing and communication skills: A dissertation requires a significant amount of writing and communication skills to convey complex ideas and research findings in a clear and concise manner. This skill set can be valuable in various professional fields.
  • To demonstrate independence and initiative: A dissertation requires students to work independently and take initiative in developing their research question, designing their study, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions. This demonstrates to potential employers or academic institutions that the student is capable of independent research and taking initiative in their work.
  • To contribute to policy or practice: Some dissertations may have a practical application, such as informing policy decisions or improving practices in a particular field. These dissertations can have a significant impact on society, and their findings may be used to improve the lives of individuals or communities.
  • To pursue personal interests: Some students may choose to pursue a dissertation topic that aligns with their personal interests or passions, providing them with the opportunity to delve deeper into a topic that they find personally meaningful.

Advantage of Dissertation

Some advantages of writing a dissertation include:

  • Developing research and analytical skills: The process of writing a dissertation involves conducting extensive research, analyzing data, and presenting findings in a clear and coherent manner. This process can help students develop important research and analytical skills that can be useful in their future careers.
  • Demonstrating expertise in a subject: Writing a dissertation allows students to demonstrate their expertise in a particular subject area. It can help establish their credibility as a knowledgeable and competent professional in their field.
  • Contributing to the academic community: A well-written dissertation can contribute new knowledge to the academic community and potentially inform future research in the field.
  • Improving writing and communication skills : Writing a dissertation requires students to write and present their research in a clear and concise manner. This can help improve their writing and communication skills, which are essential for success in many professions.
  • Increasing job opportunities: Completing a dissertation can increase job opportunities in certain fields, particularly in academia and research-based positions.

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  • Indian J Anaesth
  • v.66(1); 2022 Jan

Dissertation writing in post graduate medical education

Department of Anaesthesiology, Dr. B R Ambedkar Medical College, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Mridul M Panditrao

1 Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Adesh Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (AIMSR), Bathinda, Punjab, India

2 Department of Anaesthesiology, Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India

Sukhminder Jit Singh Bajwa

3 Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Gian Sagar Medical College and Hospital, Patiala, Punjab, India

Nishant Sahay

4 Department of Anaesthesiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, Bihar, India

Thrivikrama Padur Tantry

5 Department of Anaesthesiology, A J Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Kuntikana, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Associated Data

A dissertation is a practical exercise that educates students about basics of research methodology, promotes scientific writing and encourages critical thinking. The National Medical Commission (India) regulations make assessment of a dissertation by a minimum of three examiners mandatory. The candidate can appear for the final examination only after acceptance of the dissertation. An important role in a dissertation is that of the guide who has to guide his protégés through the process. This manuscript aims to assist students and guides on the basics of conduct of a dissertation and writing the dissertation. For students who will ultimately become researchers, a dissertation serves as an early exercise. Even for people who may never do research after their degree, a dissertation will help them discern the merits of new treatment options available in literature for the benefit of their patients.


The zenith of clinical residency is the completion of the Master's Dissertation, a document formulating the result of research conducted by the student under the guidance of a guide and presenting and publishing the research work. Writing a proper dissertation is most important to present the research findings in an acceptable format. It is also reviewed by the examiners to determine a part of the criteria for the candidate to pass the Masters’ Degree Examination.

The predominant role in a dissertation is that of the guide who has to mentor his protégés through the process by educating them on research methodology, by: (i) identifying a pertinent and topical research question, (ii) formulating the “type” of study and the study design, (iii) selecting the sample population, (iv) collecting and collating the research data accurately, (v) analysing the data, (vi) concluding the research by distilling the outcome, and last but not the least (vii) make the findings known by publication in an acceptable, peer-reviewed journal.[ 1 ] The co-guide could be a co-investigator from another department related to the study topic, and she/he will play an equivalent role in guiding the student.

Research is a creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge.[ 2 ] This work, known as a study may be broadly classified into two groups in a clinical setting:

  • Trials: Here the researcher intervenes to either prevent a disease or to treat it.
  • Observational studies: Wherein the investigator makes no active intervention and merely observes the patients or subjects allocated the treatment based on clinical decisions.[ 3 ]

The research which is described in a dissertation needs to be presented under the following headings: Introduction, Aim of the Study, Description of devices if any or pharmacology of drugs, Review of Literature, Material and Methods, Observations and Results, Discussion, Conclusions, Limitations of the study, Bibliography, Proforma, Master chart. Some necessary certificates from the guide and the institute are a requirement in certain universities. The students often add an acknowledgement page before the details of their dissertation proper. It is their expression of gratitude to all of those who they feel have been directly or indirectly helpful in conduct of the study, data analysis, and finally construction of the dissertation.

Framing the research question (RQ)

It is the duty of the teacher to suggest suitable research topics to the residents, based on resources available, feasibility and ease of conduct at the centre. Using the FINER criteria, the acronym for feasibility, topical interest, novelty, ethicality and relevance would be an excellent way to create a correct RQ.[ 4 ]

The PICOT method which describes the patient, intervention, comparison, outcome and time, would help us narrow down to a specific and well-formulated RQ.[ 5 , 6 ] A good RQ leads to the derivation of a research hypothesis, which is an assumption or prediction of the outcome that will be tested by the research. The research topic could be chosen from among the routine clinical work regarding clinical management, use of drugs e.g., vasopressors to prevent hypotension or equipment such as high flow nasal oxygen to avoid ventilation.

Review of literature

To gather this information may be a difficult task for a fresh trainee however, a good review of the available literature is a tool to identify and narrow down a good RQ and generate a hypothesis. Literature sources could be primary (clinical trials, case reports), secondary (reviews, meta-analyses) or tertiary (e.g., reference books, compilations). Methods of searching literature could be manual (journals) or electronic (online databases), by looking up references or listed citations in existing articles. Electronic database searches are made through the various search engines available online e.g., scholar.google.com, National Library of Medicine (NLM) website, clinical key app and many more. Advanced searches options may help narrow down the search results to those that are relevant for the student. This could be based on synthesising keywords from the RQ, or by searching for phrases, Boolean operators, or utilising filters.

After choosing the topic, an apt and accurate title has to be chosen. This should be guided by the use of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terminology from the NLM, which is used for indexing, cataloguing, and searching of biomedical and health-related information.[ 7 ] The dissertation requires a detailed title which may include the objective of the study, key words and even the PICOT components. One may add the study design in the title e.g. “a randomised cross over study” or “an observational analytical study” etc.

Aim and the objectives

The Aims and the Objectives of the research study have to be listed clearly, before initiating the study.[ 8 ] “Gaps” or deficiencies in existing knowledge should be clearly cited. The Aim by definition is a statement of the expected outcome, while the Objectives (which might be further classed into primary and secondary based on importance) should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic or relevant, time-bound and challenging; in short, “SMART!” To simplify, the aim is a statement of intent, in terms of what we hope to achieve at the end of the project. Objectives are specific, positive statements of measurable outcomes, and are a list of steps that will be taken to achieve the outcome.[ 9 ] Aim of a dissertation, for example, could be to know which of two nerve block techniques is better. To realise this aim, comparing the duration of postoperative analgesia after administration of the block by any measurable criteria, could be an objective, such as the time to use of first rescue analgesic drug. Similarly, total postoperative analgesic drug consumption may form a secondary outcome variable as it is also measurable. These will generate data that may be used for analysis to realise the main aim of the study.

Inclusion and exclusions

The important aspect to consider after detailing when and how the objectives will be measured is documenting the eligibility criteria for inclusion of participants. The exclusion criteria must be from among the included population/patients only. e.g., If only American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) I and II are included, then ASA III and IV cannot be considered as exclusion criteria, since they were never a part of the study. The protocol must also delineate the setting of the study, locations where data would be collected, and specify duration of conduct of the dissertation. A written informed consent after explaining the aim, objectives and methodology of the study is legally mandatory before embarking upon any human study. The study should explicitly clarify whether it is a retrospective or a prospective study, where the study is conducted and the duration of the study.

Sample size: The sample subjects in the study should be representative of the population upon whom the inference has to be drawn. Sampling is the process of selecting a group of representative people from a larger population and subjecting them for the research.[ 10 ] The sample size represents a number, beyond which the addition of population is unlikely to change the conclusion of the study. The sample size is calculated taking into consideration the primary outcome criteria, confidence interval (CI), power of the study, and the effect size the researcher wishes to observe in the primary objective of the study. Hence a typical sample size statement can be - “Assuming a duration of analgesia of 150 min and standard deviation (SD) of 15 min in first group, keeping power at 80% and CIs at 95% (alpha error at 0.05), a sample of 26 patients would be required to detect a minimum difference (effect size) of 30% in the duration of analgesia between the two groups. Information regarding the different sampling methods and sample size calculations may be found in the Supplementary file 1 .

Any one research question may be answered using a number of research designs.[ 11 ] Research designs are often described as either observational or experimental. The various research designs may be depicted graphically as shown in Figure 1 .

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Graphical description of available research designs

The observational studies lack “the three cornerstones of experimentation” – controls, randomisation, and replication. In an experimental study on the other hand, in order to assess the effect of treatment intervention on a participant, it is important to compare it with subjects similar to each other but who have not been given the studied treatment. This group, also called the control group, may help distinguish the effect of the chosen intervention on outcomes from effects caused by other factors, such as the natural history of disease, placebo effects, or observer or patient expectations.

All the proposed dissertations must be submitted to the scientific committee for any suggestion regarding the correct methodology to be followed, before seeking ethical committee approval.

Ethical considerations

Ethical concerns are an important part of the research project, right from selection of the topic to the dissertation writing. It must be remembered, that the purpose of a dissertation given to a post-graduate student is to guide him/her through the process by educating them on the very basics of research methodology. It is therefore not imperative that the protégés undertake a complicated or risky project. If research involves human or animal subjects, drugs or procedures, research ethics guidelines as well as drug control approvals have to be obtained before tabling the proposal to the Institutional Ethics Committee (IEC). The roles, responsibilities and composition of the Ethics Committee has been specified by the Directorate General of Health Services, Government of India. Documented approval of the Ethics committee is mandatory before any subject can be enroled for any dissertation in India. Even retrospective studies require approval from the IEC. Details of this document is available at: https://cdsco.gov.in/opencms/resources/UploadCDSCOWeb/2018/UploadEthicsRegistration/Applmhrcrr.pdf .

The candidate and the guide are called to present their proposal before the committee. The ethical implications, risks and management, subjects’ rights and responsibilities, informed consent, monetary aspects, the research and analysis methods are all discussed. The patient safety is a topmost priority and any doubts of the ethical committee members should be explained in medically layman's terms. The dissertation topics should be listed as “Academic clinical trials” and must involve only those drugs which are already approved by the Drugs Controller General of India. More commonly, the Committee suggests rectifications, and then the researchers have to resubmit the modified proposal after incorporating the suggestions, at the next sitting of the committee or seek online approval, as required. At the conclusion of the research project, the ethics committee has to be updated with the findings and conclusions, as well as when it is submitted for publication. Any deviation from the approved timeline, as well as the research parameters has to be brought to the attention of the IEC immediately, and re-approval sought.

Clinical trial registration

Clinical Trial Registry of India (CTRI) is a free online searchable system for prospective registration of all clinical studies conducted in India. It is owned and managed by the National Institute of Medical Statistics, a division of Indian Council of Medical Research, Government of India. Registration of clinical trials will ensure transparency, accountability and accessibility of trials and their results to all potential beneficiaries.

After the dissertation proposal is passed by the scientific committee and IEC, it may be submitted for approval of trial registration to the CTRI. The student has to create a login at the CTRI website, and submit all the required data with the help of the guides. After submission, CTRI may ask for corrections, clarifications or changes. Subject enrolment and the actual trial should begin only after the CTRI approval.


In an experimental study design, the method of randomisation gives every subject an equal chance to get selected in any group by preventing bias. Primarily, three basic types employed in post-graduate medical dissertations are simple randomisation, block randomisation and stratified randomisation. Simple randomisation is based upon a single sequence of random assignments such as flipping a coin, rolling of dice (above 3 or below 3), shuffling of cards (odd or even) to allocate into two groups. Some students use a random number table found in books or use computer-generated random numbers. There are many random number generators, randomisation programs as well as randomisation services available online too. ( https://www-users.york.ac.uk/~mb55/guide/randsery.htm ).

There are many applications which generate random number sequences and a research student may use such computer-generated random numbers [ Figure 2 ]. Simple randomisation has higher chances of unequal distribution into the two groups, especially when sample sizes are low (<100) and thus block randomisation may be preferred. Details of how to do randomisation along with methods of allocation concealment may be found in Supplementary file 2 .

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Figure depicting how to do block randomisation using online resources. (a) generation of a random list (b) transfer of the list to an MS excel file

Allocation concealment

If it is important in a study to generate a random sequence of intervention, it is also important for this sequence to be concealed from all stake-holders to prevent any scope of bias.[ 12 ] Allocation concealment refers to the technique used to implement a random sequence for allocation of intervention, and not to generate it.[ 13 ] In an Indian post-graduate dissertation, the sequentially numbered, opaque, sealed envelopes (SNOSE) technique is commonly used [ Supplementary file 2 ].

To minimise the chances of differential treatment allocation or assessments of outcomes, it is important to blind as many individuals as possible in the trial. Blinding is not an all-or-none phenomenon. Thus, it is very desirable to explicitly state in the dissertation, which individuals were blinded, how they achieved blinding and whether they tested the success of blinding.

Commonly used terms for blinding are

  • Single blinding: Masks the participants from knowing which intervention has been given.
  • Double blinding: Blinds both the participants as well as researchers to the treatment allocation.
  • Triple blinding: By withholding allocation information from the subjects, researchers, as well as data analysts. The specific roles of researchers involved in randomisation, allocation concealment and blinding should be stated clearly in the dissertation.

Data which can be measured as numbers are called quantitative data [ Table 1 ]. Studies which emphasise objective measurements to generate numerical data and then apply statistical and mathematical analysis constitute quantitative research. Qualitative research on the other hand focuses on understanding people's beliefs, experiences, attitudes, behaviours and thus these generate non-numerical data called qualitative data, also known as categorical data, descriptive data or frequency counts. Importance of differentiating data into qualitative and quantitative lies in the fact that statistical analysis as well as the graphical representation may be very different.

Data collection types

In order to obtain data from the outcome variable for the purpose of analysis, we need to design a study which would give us the most valid information. A valid data or measurement tool, is the degree to which the tool measures what it claims to measure. For example, appearance of end tidal carbon dioxide waveform is a more valid measurement to assess correct endotracheal tube placement than auscultation of breath sounds on chest inflation.

The compilation of all data in a ‘Master Chart’ is a necessary step for planning, facilitating and appropriate preparation and processing of the data for analysis. It is a complete set of raw research data arranged in a systematic manner forming a well-structured and formatted, computable data matrix/database of the research to facilitate data analysis. The master chart is prepared as a Microsoft Excel sheet with the appropriate number of columns depicting the variable parameters for each individual subjects/respondents enlisted in the rows.

Statistical analysis

The detailed statistical methodology applied to analyse the data must be stated in the text under the subheading of statistical analysis in the Methods section. The statistician should be involved in the study during the initial planning stage itself. Following four steps have to be addressed while planning, performing and text writing of the statistical analysis part in this section.

Step 1. How many study groups are present? Whether analysis is for an unpaired or paired situation? Whether the recorded data contains repeated measurements? Unpaired or paired situations decide again on the choice of a test. The latter describes before and after situations for collected data (e.g. Heart rate data ‘before’ and ‘after’ spinal anaesthesia for a single group). Further, data should be checked to find out whether they are from repeated measurements (e.g., Mean blood pressure at 0, 1 st , 2 nd , 5 th , 10 th minutes and so on) for a group. Different types of data are commonly encountered in a dissertation [ Supplementary file 3A ].

Step 2. Does the data follow a normal distribution?[ 14 ]

Each study group as well as every parameter has to be checked for distribution analysis. This step will confirm whether the data of a particular group is normally distributed (parametric data) or does not follow the normal distribution (non-parametric data); subsequent statistical test selection mainly depends on the results of the distribution analysis. For example, one may choose the Student's’ test instead of the ‘Mann-Whitney U’ for non-parametric data, which may be incorrect. Each study group as well as every parameter has to be checked for distribution analysis [ Supplementary File 3B ].

Step 3. Calculation of measures of central tendency and measures of variability.

Measures of central tendency mainly include mean, median and mode whereas measures of variability include range, interquartile range (IQR), SD or variance not standard error of mean. Depending on Step 2 findings, one needs to make the appropriate choice. Mean and SD/variance are more often for normally distributed and median with IQR are the best measure for not normal (skewed) distribution. Proportions are used to describe the data whenever the sample size is ≥100. For a small sample size, especially when it is approximately 25-30, describe the data as 5/25 instead of 20%. Software used for statistical analysis automatically calculates the listed step 3 measures and thus makes the job easy.

Step 4. Which statistical test do I choose for necessary analysis?

Choosing a particular test [ Figure 3 ] is based on orderly placed questions which are addressed in the dissertation.[ 15 ]

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Chosing a statistical test, (a). to find a difference between the groups of unpaired situations, (b). to find a difference between the groups of paired situations, (c). to find any association between the variables, (d). to find any agreement between the assessment techniques. ANOVA: Analysis of Variance. Reproduced with permission from Editor of Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, and the author, Dr Barun Nayak[ 15 ]

  • Is there a difference between the groups of unpaired situations?
  • Is there a difference between the groups of paired situations?
  • Is there any association between the variables?
  • Is there any agreement between the assessment techniques?

Perform necessary analysis using user-friendly software such as GraphPad Prism, Minitab or MedCalc,etc. Once the analysis is complete, appropriate writing in the text form is equally essential. Specific test names used to examine each part of the results have to be described. Simple listing of series of tests should not be done. A typical write-up can be seen in the subsequent sections of the supplementary files [Supplementary files 3C – E ]. One needs to state the level of significance and software details also.

Role of a statistician in dissertation and data analysis

Involving a statistician before planning a study design, prior to data collection, after data have been collected, and while data are analysed is desirable when conducting a dissertation. On the contrary, it is also true that self-learning of statistical analysis reduces the need for statisticians’ help and will improve the quality of research. A statistician is best compared to a mechanic of a car which we drive; he knows each element of the car, but it is we who have to drive it. Sometimes the statisticians may not be available for a student in an institute. Self-learning software tools, user-friendly statistical software for basic statistical analysis thus gain importance for students as well as guides. The statistician will design processes for data collection, gather numerical data, collect, analyse, and interpret data, identify the trends and relationships in data, perform statistical analysis and its interpretation, and finally assist in final conclusion writing.

Results are an important component of the dissertation and should follow clearly from the study objectives. Results (sometimes described as observations that are made by the researcher) should be presented after correct analysis of data, in an appropriate combination of text, charts, tables, graphs or diagrams. Decision has to be taken on each outcome; which outcome has to be presented in what format, at the beginning of writing itself. These should be statistically interpreted, but statistics should not surpass the dissertation results. The observations should always be described accurately and with factual or realistic values in results section, but should not be interpreted in the results section.

While writing, classification and reporting of the Results has to be done under five section paragraphs- population data, data distribution analysis, results of the primary outcome, results of secondary outcomes, any additional observations made such as a rare adverse event or a side effect (intended or unintended) or of any additional analysis that may have been done, such as subgroup analysis.

At each level, one may either encounter qualitative (n/N and %) or quantitative data (mean [SD], median [IQR] and so on.

In the first paragraph of Results while describing the population data, one has to write about included and excluded patients. One needs to cite the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) flow chart to the text, at this stage. Subsequently, highlighting of age, sex, height, body mass index (BMI) and other study characteristics referring to the first table of ‘patients data’ should be considered. It is not desirable to detail all values and their comparison P values in the text again in population data as long as they are presented in a cited table. An example of this pattern can be seen in Supplementary file 3D .

In the second paragraph, one needs to explain how the data is distributed. It should be noted that, this is not a comparison between the study groups but represents data distribution for the individual study groups (Group A or Group B, separately)[ Supplementary file 3E ].

In the subsequent paragraph of Results , focused writing on results of the primary outcomes is very important. It should be attempted to mention most of the data outputs related to the primary outcomes as the study is concluded based on the results of this outcome analysis. The measures of central tendency and dispersion (Mean or median and SD or IQR etc., respectively), alongside the CIs, sample number and P values need to be mentioned. It should be noted that the CIs can be for the mean as well as for the mean difference and should not be interchanged. An example of this pattern can be seen in Supplementary file 3F .

A large number of the dissertations are guided for single primary outcome analysis, and also the results of multiple secondary outcomes are needed to be written. The primary outcome should be presented in detail, and secondary outcomes can be presented in tables or graphs only. This will help in avoiding a possible evaluator's fatigue. An example of this pattern can be seen in Supplementary file 3G .

In the last paragraph of the Results, mention any additional observations, such as a rare adverse event or side effect or describe the unexpected results. The results of any additional analysis (subgroup analysis) then need to be described too. An example of this pattern can be seen in Supplementary file 3H .

The most common error observed in the Results text is duplication of the data and analytical outputs. While using the text for summarising the results, at each level, it should not be forgotten to cite the table or graph but the information presented in a table should not be repeated in the text. Further, results should not be given to a greater degree of accuracy than that of the measurement. For example, mean (SD) age need to be presented as 34.5 (11.3) years instead of 34.5634 (11.349). The latter does not carry any additional information and is unnecessary. The actual P values need to be mentioned. The P value should not be simply stated as ‘ P < 0.05’; P value should be written with the actual numbers, such as ‘ P = 0.021’. The symbol ‘<’ should be used only when actual P value is <0.001 or <0.0001. One should try avoiding % calculations for a small sample especially when n < 100. The sample size calculation is a part of the methodology and should not be mentioned in the Results section.

The use of tables will help present actual data values especially when in large numbers. The data and their relationships can be easily understood by an appropriate table and one should avoid overwriting of results in the text format. All values of sample size, central tendency, dispersions, CIs and P value are to be presented in appropriate columns and rows. Preparing a dummy table for all outcomes on a rough paper before proceeding to Microsoft Excel may be contemplated. Appropriate title heading (e.g., Table 1 . Study Characteristics), Column Headings (e.g., Parameter studied, P values) should be presented. A footnote should be added whenever necessary. For outputs, where statistically significant P values are recorded, the same should be highlighted using an asterisk (*) symbol and the same *symbol should be cited in the footnote describing its value (e.g., * P < 0.001) which is self-explanatory for statistically significance. One should not use abbreviations such as ‘NS’ or ‘Sig’ for describing (non-) significance. Abbreviations should be described for all presented tables. A typical example of a table can be seen in Figure 4 .

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Example of presenting a table

Graphical images

Similar to tables, the graphs and diagrams give a bird's-eye view of the entire data and therefore may easily be understood. bar diagrams (simple, multiple or component), pie charts, line diagrams, pictograms and spot maps suit qualitative data more whereas the histograms, frequency polygons, cumulative frequency, polygon scatter diagram, box and whisker plots and correlation diagrams are used to depict quantitative data. Too much presentation of graphs and images, selection of inappropriate or interchanging of graphs, unnecessary representation of three-dimensional graph for one-dimensional graphs, disproportionate sizes of length and width and incorrect scale and labelling of an axis should be avoided. All graphs should contain legends, abbreviation descriptions and a footnote. Appropriate labelling of the x - and the y -axis is also essential. Priori decided scale for axis data should be considered. The ‘error bar’ represents SDs or IQRs in the graphs and should be used irrespective of whether they are bar charts or line graphs. Not showing error bars in a graphical image is a gross mistake. An error bar can be shown on only one side of the line graph to keep it simple. A typical example of a graphical image can be seen in Figure 5 . The number of subjects (sample) is to be mentioned for each time point on the x -axis. An asterisk (*) needs to be put for data comparisons having statistically significant P value in the graph itself and they are self-explanatory with a ‘stand-alone’ graph.

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Example of an incorrect (a) and correct (b) image

Once the results have been adequately analysed and described, the next step is to draw conclusions from the data and study. The main goal is to defend the work by staging a constructive debate with the literature.[ 16 ] Generally, the length of the ‘ Discussion ’ section should not exceed the sum of other sections (introduction, material and methods, and results).[ 17 ] Here the interpretation, importance/implications, relevance, limitations of the results are elaborated and should end in recommendations.

It is advisable to start by mentioning the RQ precisely, summarising the main findings without repeating the entire data or results again. The emphasis should be on how the results correlate with the RQ and the implications of these results, with the relevant review of literature (ROL). Do the results coincide with and add anything to the prevalent knowledge? If not, why not? It should justify the differences with plausible explanation. Ultimately it should be made clear, if the study has been successful in making some contribution to the existing evidence. The new results should not be introduced and any exaggerated deductions which cannot be corroborated by the outcomes should not be made.

The discussion should terminate with limitations of the study,[ 17 ] mentioned magnanimously. Indicating limitations of the study reflects objectivity of the authors. It should not enlist any errors, but should acknowledge the constraints and choices in designing, planning methodology or unanticipated challenges that may have cropped up during the actual conduct of the study. However, after listing the limitations, the validity of results pertaining to the RQ may be emphasised again.

This section should convey the precise and concise message as the take home message. The work carried out should be summarised and the answer found to the RQ should be succinctly highlighted. One should not start dwelling on the specific results but mention the overall gain or insights from the observations, especially, whether it fills the gap in the existing knowledge if any. The impact, it may have on the existing knowledge and practices needs to be reiterated.

What to do when we get a negative result?

Sometimes, despite the best research framework, the results obtained are inconclusive or may even challenge a few accepted assumptions.[ 18 ] These are frequently, but inappropriately, termed as negative results and the data as negative data. Students must believe that if the study design is robust and valid, if the confounders have been carefully neutralised and the outcome parameters measure what they are intended to, then no result is a negative result. In fact, such results force us to critically re-evaluate our current understanding of concepts and knowledge thereby helping in better decision making. Studies showing lack of prolongation of the apnoea desaturation safety periods at lower oxygen flows strengthened belief in the difficult airway guidelines which recommend nasal insufflations with at least 15 L/min oxygen.[ 19 , 20 , 21 ]

Publishing the dissertation work

There are many reporting guidelines based upon the design of research. These are a checklist, flow diagram, or structured text to guide authors in reporting a specific type of research, developed using explicit methodology. The CONSORT[ 22 ] and Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) initiatives,[ 23 ] both included in the Enhancing the Quality and Transparency of Health Research (EQUATOR) international network, have elaborated appropriate suggestions to improve the transparency, clarity and completeness of scientific literature [ Figure 6 ].

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Equator publishing tree

All authors are advised to follow the CONSORT/STROBE checklist attached as Supplementary file 4 , when writing and reporting their dissertation.

For most dissertations in Anaesthesiology, the CONSORT, STROBE, Standards for Reporting Diagnostic accuracy studies (STARD) or REporting recommendations for tumour MARKer prognostic studies (REMARK) guidelines would suffice.

Abstract and Summary

These two are the essential sections of a dissertation.

It should be at the beginning of the manuscript, after the title page and acknowledgments, but before the table of contents. The preparation varies as per the University guidelines, but generally ranges between 150 to 300 words. Although it comes at the very beginning of the thesis, it is the last part one writes. It must not be a ‘copy-paste job’ from the main manuscript, but well thought out miniaturisation, giving the overview of the entire text. As a rule, there should be no citation of references here.

Logically, it would have four components starting with aims, methods, results, and conclusion. One should begin the abstract with the research question/objectives precisely, avoiding excessive background information. Adjectives like, evaluate, investigate, test, compare raise the curiosity quotient of the reader. This is followed by a brief methodology highlighting only the core steps used. There is no need of mentioning the challenges, corrections, or modifications, if any. Finally, important results, which may be restricted to fulfilment (or not), of the primary objective should be mentioned. Abstracts end with the main conclusion stating whether a specific answer to the RQ was found/not found. Then recommendations as a policy statement or utility may be made taking care that it is implementable.

Keywords may be included in the abstract, as per the recommendations of the concerned university. The keywords are primarily useful as markers for future searches. Lastly, the random reader using any search engine may use these, and the identifiability is increased.

The summary most often, is either the last part of the Discussion or commonly, associated with the conclusions (Summary and Conclusions). Repetition of introduction, whole methodology, and all the results should be avoided. Summary, if individually written, should not be more than 150 to 300 words. It highlights the research question, methods used to investigate it, the outcomes/fallouts of these, and then the conclusion part may start.


Writing References serves mainly two purposes. It is the tacit acknowledgement of the fact that someone else's written words or their ideas or their intellectual property (IP) are used, in part or in toto , to avoid any blame of plagiarism. It is to emphasise the circumspective and thorough literature search that has been carried out in preparation of the work.

Vancouver style for referencing is commonly used in biomedical dissertation writing. A reference list contains details of the works cited in the text of the document. (e.g. book, journal article, pamphlet, government reports, conference material, internet site). These details must include sufficient details so that others may locate and access those references.[ 24 ]

How much older the references can be cited, depends upon the university protocol. Conventionally accepted rule is anywhere between 5-10 years. About 85% of references should be dispersed in this time range. Remaining 15%, which may include older ones if they deal with theories, historical aspects, and any other factual content. Rather than citing an entire book, it is prudent to concentrate on the chapter or subsection of the text. There are subjective variations between universities on this matter. But, by and large, these are quoted as and when deemed necessary and with correct citation.

Bibliography is a separate list from the reference list and should be arranged alphabetically by writing name of the ‘author or title’ (where no author name is given) in the Vancouver style.

There are different aspects of writing the references.[ 24 ]

Citing the reference in the form of a number in the text. The work of other authors referred in the manuscript should be given a unique number and quoted. This is done in the order of their appearance in the text in chronological order by using Arabic numerals. The multiple publications of same author shall be written individually. If a reference article has more than six authors, all six names should be written, followed by “ et al .” to be used in lieu of other author names. It is desirable to write the names of the journals in abbreviations as per the NLM catalogue. Examples of writing references from the various sources may be found in the Supplementary file 5 .

Both the guide and the student have to work closely while searching the topic initially and also while finalising the submission of the dissertation. But the role of the guide in perusing the document in detail, and guiding the candidate through the required corrections by periodic updates and discussions cannot be over-emphasised.

Assessment of dissertations

Rarely, examiners might reject a dissertation for failure to choose a contemporary topic, a poor review of literature, defective methodology, biased analysis or incorrect conclusions. If these cannot be corrected satisfactorily, it will then be back to the drawing board for the researchers, who would have to start from scratch to redesign the study, keeping the deficiencies in mind this time.

Before submission, dissertation has to be run through “plagiarism detector” software, such as Turnitin or Grammarly to ensure that plagiarism does not happen even unwittingly. Informal guidelines state that the percentage plagiarism picked up by these tools should be <10%.

No work of art is devoid of mistakes/errors. Logically, a dissertation, being no exception, may also have errors. Our aim, is to minimise them.

The dissertation is an integral part in the professional journey of any medical post-graduate student. It is also an important responsibility for a guide to educate his protégé, the basics of research methodology through the process. Searching for a gap in literature and identification of a pertinent research question is the initial step. Careful planning of the study design is a vitally important aspect. After the conduct of study, writing the dissertation is an art for which the student often needs guidance. A good dissertation is a good description of a meticulously conducted study under the different headings described, utilising the various reporting guidelines. By avoiding some common errors as discussed in this manuscript, a good dissertation can result in a very fruitful addition to medical literature.

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Conflicts of interest.

There are no conflicts of interest.


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  • © 2024

An Introduction to Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Birte U. Forstmann 0 ,
  • Brandon M. Turner 1

Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Psychology Department, The Ohio State University, Columbus, USA

  • Accessible to both neuroscientists and mathematical modelers
  • Presents several tutorial chapters
  • Features applications emphasizing the value of models for neuroscience

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Table of contents (14 chapters), front matter, general introduction to model-based cognitive neuroscience.

  • Birte U. Forstmann, Brandon M. Turner

Linking Models with Brain Measures

  • Bradley C. Love

Reinforcement Learning

  • Vincent Man, John P. O’Doherty

An Introduction to the Diffusion Model of Decision-Making

  • Philip L. Smith, Roger Ratcliff

Discovering Cognitive Stages in M/EEG Data to Inform Cognitive Models

  • Jelmer P. Borst, John R. Anderson

Spiking, Salience, and Saccades: Using Cognitive Models to Bridge the Gap Between “How” and “Why”

  • Gregory E. Cox, Thomas J. Palmeri, Gordon D. Logan, Philip L. Smith, Jeffrey D. Schall

Ultrahigh Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Model-Based Neuroscience

  • Nikos Priovoulos, Ícaro Agenor Ferreira de Oliveira, Wietske van der Zwaag, Pierre-Louis Bazin

An Introduction to EEG/MEG for Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Bernadette C. M. van Wijk

Advancements in Joint Modeling of Neural and Behavioral Data

  • Brandon M. Turner, Giwon Bahg, Matthew Galdo, Qingfang Liu

Cognitive Models as a Tool to Link Decision Behavior with EEG Signals

  • Guy E. Hawkins, James F. Cavanagh, Scott D. Brown, Mark Steyvers

Toward a Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience of Working Memory Subprocesses

  • Russell J. Boag, Steven Miletić, Anne C. Trutti, Birte U. Forstmann

Assessing Neurocognitive Hypotheses in a Likelihood-Based Model of the Free-Recall Task

  • Sean M. Polyn

Cognitive Modeling in Neuroeconomics

  • Sebastian Gluth, Laura Fontanesi

Cognitive Control of Choices and Actions

  • Andrew Heathcote, Frederick Verbruggen, C. Nico Boehler, Dora Matzke

Back Matter

  • cognitive neuroscience
  • computational neuroscience
  • decision making
  • mathematical models
  • model-based neuroscience

Birte U. Forstmann

Brandon M. Turner

Birte Forstmann is a Professor for Cognitive Neurosciences at the University of Amsterdam as well as honorary professor at the University of Leiden. She earned her PhD in 2006 at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. After completing her postdoc in 2008 at the University of Amsterdam, she became tenured Research Fellow at the Cognitive Science Center Amsterdam with the focus of model-based cognitive neurosciences. Since then she has contributed to a range of topics in cognitive neuroscience, experimental psychology, mathematical psychology, and lately also in quantitative neuroanatomy. 

Brandon M. Turner is a Professor in the Psychology Department at The Ohio State University. He received a B.S. from Missouri State University in mathematics and psychology in 2008, a MAS in statistics from The Ohio State University in 2010, and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 2011. He then spent one year as a postdoctoralresearcher at University of California, Irvine, and two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. His research interests include dynamic models of cognition, perceptual decision making, selective attention and learning, efficient methods for performing likelihood-free and likelihood-informed Bayesian inference, and unifying behavioral and neural explanations of cognition. 

Book Title : An Introduction to Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience

Editors : Birte U. Forstmann, Brandon M. Turner

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-45271-0

Publisher : Springer Cham

eBook Packages : Behavioral Science and Psychology , Behavioral Science and Psychology (R0)

Copyright Information : The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2024

Hardcover ISBN : 978-3-031-45270-3 Published: 31 March 2024

Softcover ISBN : 978-3-031-45273-4 Due: 01 May 2024

eBook ISBN : 978-3-031-45271-0 Published: 30 March 2024

Edition Number : 2

Number of Pages : VI, 388

Number of Illustrations : 9 b/w illustrations, 50 illustrations in colour

Topics : Neurosciences , Neuropsychology

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Spatial heterogeneity is ubiquitous across life and the universe; the same is true for phase-separating pharmaceutical formulations, cells, and tissues. To interrogate these spatially-varying complicated samples, simple analysis techniques such as fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) can provide information on molecular transport. Conventional FRAP approaches localize analysis to small spots, which may not be representative of trends across the full field of view.

Taking advantage of strategies used for structures illumination, an approach has been developed to use patterned illumination in combination with FRAP for probing large fields of view while representatively sampling. Patterned illumination is used to establish a concentration gradient across a sample by irreversibly photobleaching fluorophores, such as with the simple comb pattern photobleach presented in Chapters 1 and 4. Patterned photobleaching allows spatial Fourier-domain analysis of multiple spatial harmonics simultaneously. In the spatial FT-domain the real-space photobleach signal is integrated into puncta, greatly increasing the signal to noise ratio compared to conventional point-bleach FRAP. The order of the spatial harmonic is directly related to the length-scale of translational diffusion measured, with a series of harmonics accessing diffusion over many length scales in a single experiment. Measurements of diffusion at multiple length scales informs on the diffusion mechanism by sensitively reporting on deviations away from normal diffusion.

Complementing the physical hardware for inducing patterned illumination, this dissertation introduces novel algorithms for reconstructing spatially-resolved diffusion maps in heterogeneous materials by combining Fourier domain analysis with patterned photobleaching. FT-FRAP is introduced in Chapter 1 for interrogating phase-separating samples using beam-scanning instrumentation for comb-bleach illumination. This analysis allowed disentangling separate contributions to diffusion from normal bulk diffusion and an interfacial exchange mechanism only available due to multi-harmonic analysis. The introduction of a dot-array bleach pattern using widefield microscopy is presented in Chapter 2 for high-throughput detection of mobility in simple binary systems as well as for segmentation in phase-separating pharmaceutical formulations. The analysis becomes more complicated as more components are added to the system such as a surfactant. Introduced in chapter 3, FT-FRAP with dot-array photobleaching was shown to be useful for characterizing diffusion of phase-separating micro-domain smaller than a single pixel of the camera. Supported by simulations, a biexponential fitting model was developed for quantification of diffusion by multiple species simultaneously. Chapter 4 introduces imaging inside of 3D particles comprised of an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) in microencapsulated agglomerates which exhibited strong interfacial exchange. Multi-photon excited fluorescence enabled imaging a small focal volume within the particles.

Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy

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  • West Lafayette

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  • Analytical spectrometry

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2024 Theses Doctoral

In search of the missing piece: advancing social rights through administrative law reform

Mamberti, Maria Emilia

This dissertation discusses ways to advance social rights, considering the significant gap between their ambitious normative recognition and their poor implementation in practice. It presents some of the challenges that social rights typically face and explores ways to overcome them, noting the role that courts can play in triggering solutions. The project zooms into the connection between social rights and administrative institutions to argue that, while often under-discussed, social rights’ fulfillment is largely dependent on administrative law and administrative action. The dissertation further claims that “canonical” administrative law, however, is unfit to facilitate the fulfillment of social rights and discusses possible ways to rethink discrete administrative institutions. While the dissertation focuses on Latin America, its arguments are of relevance for other parts of the world. The project is structured around two case studies of social rights litigation in Argentina (Chapter 2) and Colombia (Chapter 3), which triggered relevant innovations that can help respond to frequent challenges around social rights. Both cases involve similar circumstances of historical unfulfillment of human rights, particularly the rights to a healthy environment, health, and housing. They also illustrate similar capacity constraints in relevant administrative institutions (such as norms and staff volatility and bureaucratic fragmentation). Both cases represent what has been often called “structural litigation ” and were decided in similar legal backgrounds. The case studies are as detailed as possible, in an effort to supplement long standing theoretical debates on social rights with a nuanced analysis of the results of cases on the ground (as even though recent research has focused on empirical assessments, most relevant scholarship uses normative and doctrinal approaches ). The research conducted for this project therefore involved reviewing judicial records, legislation, press coverage and other secondary sources; and for the Argentine case, talking to public officials, judicial employees, non-governmental organizations, and other key actors, visiting the river basin and courts’ offices, and filing freedom of information requests. My research perspective is also informed by my previous work with different non-governmental organizations devoted to advancing social rights. I therefore came to this project with practical knowledge of how relevant institutions, mainly in Argentina, function in practice, with the consequent subjectivity of a practitioner from the Global South. The dissertation connects to existing literature on social rights and on the reform of administrative law. It also speaks, more indirectly, to ongoing conversations on effective government, State capacity, the growth of the administrative state, and structural litigation. Throughout the dissertation, I use a common analytical framework: experimentalism. I describe this framework in detail in the Introduction to this dissertation. When confronted with existing scholarship, the dissertation shows that many concerns around social rights in general, and social rights’ litigation in particular, do not necessarily play out in practice as traditional literature would anticipate. For example, the case studies prove that litigation does not necessarily exclude more confrontational alternatives for rights-claiming, and that middle class plaintiffs are not always prioritized in courts’ work. Both cases essentially show a decision-making model that is court-led but places responsibilities for policy making on local administrations. Under this model, courts set goals that administrations then need to pursue by themselves, with strong court oversight. As such, the model moves beyond the dichotomy between judicial abdication and judicial usurpation that traditional literature routinely describes. Traditional models of social rights adjudication also suggest a stark division between approaches based on the substance of rights and other based on procedures that the dissertation proves to be more nuanced, as in the case studies courts define some substance of rights, but also set strong procedures directed precisely at further defining rights’ substance. Importantly, this alternative model shows how courts intervention can lead to improved institutional capacities (directed mainly at increasing transparency and coordination) in responsible administrative entities. The cases finally show the barriers that traditional administrative law can create for the innovations needed to advance social rights. The last Chapter of the dissertation consequently explores ways to reimagine administrative law, to promote principles and institutions which are more aligned with the demands of social rights, such as recognizing informal administrative action and promoting administrative coordination.

Geographic Areas

  • Social rights
  • Administrative law

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Carnegie Mellon University

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Porous Materials via Freeze Casting: 3D MXene, Ceramics, and Their Composites for Energy Storage Applications

 Freeze casting, an innovative materials processing technique, offers significant potential to create porous structures with high surface-to-volume ratio for high performance devices. This thesis presents a comprehensive study on the fabrication of porous structures using 2D MXene nanomaterials, silica, and alumina, with a focus on achieving controllable interconnected porosity and demonstration of such structures for steelmaking and energy storage. This thesis is divided into three sections. The first part of the thesis examines the freeze casting process for fabricating porous ceramics using silica and camphene. A full-factorial design of experiments is conducted to correlate freeze casting parameters with pore characteristics. Variables like solid loading, particle size, cooling temperature, and distance from the cooling surface are scrutinized. The fabricated samples are cross-sectioned and analyzed using scanning electron microscopy and image processing, yielding detailed data on areal porosity, pore size, shape, and orientation. The study successfully demonstrates the ability to steer pore orientation using bidirectional freezing, supported by a finite-element model, providing a quantitative understanding of the effects of freeze casting parameters on the part porosity. In the second part, the research establishes the suitability of freeze-cast alumina for high-temperature applications such as structural ceramics for molten metal and glass processing. Specific tests such as gas permeability, dilatometry and steel penetration tests for porous alumina are carried out in collaboration with Vesuvius Plc., a global leader in molten metal flow engineering and technology, towards this goal. By varying process parameters like solid loading and freezing conditions, the study creates alumina with microscale, interconnected, and directional pores, achieving controlled gas permeability and mechanical strength. The optimized alumina exhibits 70% porosity, impressive gas permeability, high compressive strength, and a suitable dynamic elastic modulus; along with consistent performance under high temperatures, as evidenced by the steel penetration tests. These findings highlight the potential of freeze-cast alumina in advanced industrial applications. The final part of the thesis addresses the challenge of assembling MXene nanomaterials in 3D space without restacking. A novel material system is introduced, comprising a 3D MXene network on a porous ceramic backbone, fabricated using freeze casting. This MXene-infiltrated porous silica (MX-PS) system demonstrates high conductivity and effective performance as supercapacitor electrodes. The successful creation of 3D architectures of 2D MXenes opens new avenues in various fields, including energy storage and catalysis. Overall, this thesis contributes significantly to the literature on porous ceramics and MXene-based nanomaterials, providing valuable insights into their controllable and scalable manufacturing, characterization, and application in high-performance devices and industrial settings. 

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  • Mechanical Engineering

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Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

Published on September 9, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your thesis or dissertation . One way to come up with some ideas or maybe even combat writer’s block is to check out previous work done by other students on a similar thesis or dissertation topic to yours.

This article collects a list of undergraduate, master’s, and PhD theses and dissertations that have won prizes for their high-quality research.

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Award-winning undergraduate theses, award-winning master’s theses, award-winning ph.d. dissertations, other interesting articles.

University : University of Pennsylvania Faculty : History Author : Suchait Kahlon Award : 2021 Hilary Conroy Prize for Best Honors Thesis in World History Title : “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the “Noble Savage” on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807”

University : Columbia University Faculty : History Author : Julien Saint Reiman Award : 2018 Charles A. Beard Senior Thesis Prize Title : “A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man”: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947

University: University College London Faculty: Geography Author: Anna Knowles-Smith Award:  2017 Royal Geographical Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Title:  Refugees and theatre: an exploration of the basis of self-representation

University: University of Washington Faculty:  Computer Science & Engineering Author: Nick J. Martindell Award: 2014 Best Senior Thesis Award Title:  DCDN: Distributed content delivery for the modern web

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University:  University of Edinburgh Faculty:  Informatics Author:  Christopher Sipola Award:  2018 Social Responsibility & Sustainability Dissertation Prize Title:  Summarizing electricity usage with a neural network

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Education Author:  Matthew Brillinger Award:  2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Humanities Prize Title:  Educational Park Planning in Berkeley, California, 1965-1968

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty: Social Sciences Author:  Heather Martin Award:  2015 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  An Analysis of Sexual Assault Support Services for Women who have a Developmental Disability

University : University of Ottawa Faculty : Physics Author : Guillaume Thekkadath Award : 2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Sciences Prize Title : Joint measurements of complementary properties of quantum systems

University:  London School of Economics Faculty: International Development Author: Lajos Kossuth Award:  2016 Winner of the Prize for Best Overall Performance Title:  Shiny Happy People: A study of the effects income relative to a reference group exerts on life satisfaction

University : Stanford University Faculty : English Author : Nathan Wainstein Award : 2021 Alden Prize Title : “Unformed Art: Bad Writing in the Modernist Novel”

University : University of Massachusetts at Amherst Faculty : Molecular and Cellular Biology Author : Nils Pilotte Award : 2021 Byron Prize for Best Ph.D. Dissertation Title : “Improved Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Helminths”

University:  Utrecht University Faculty:  Linguistics Author:  Hans Rutger Bosker Award: 2014 AVT/Anéla Dissertation Prize Title:  The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech

University: California Institute of Technology Faculty: Physics Author: Michael P. Mendenhall Award: 2015 Dissertation Award in Nuclear Physics Title: Measurement of the neutron beta decay asymmetry using ultracold neutrons

University:  Stanford University Faculty: Management Science and Engineering Author:  Shayan O. Gharan Award:  Doctoral Dissertation Award 2013 Title:   New Rounding Techniques for the Design and Analysis of Approximation Algorithms

University: University of Minnesota Faculty: Chemical Engineering Author: Eric A. Vandre Award:  2014 Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award in Fluid Dynamics Title: Onset of Dynamics Wetting Failure: The Mechanics of High-speed Fluid Displacement

University: Erasmus University Rotterdam Faculty: Marketing Author: Ezgi Akpinar Award: McKinsey Marketing Dissertation Award 2014 Title: Consumer Information Sharing: Understanding Psychological Drivers of Social Transmission

University: University of Washington Faculty: Computer Science & Engineering Author: Keith N. Snavely Award:  2009 Doctoral Dissertation Award Title: Scene Reconstruction and Visualization from Internet Photo Collections

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Social Work Author:  Susannah Taylor Award: 2018 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  Effacing and Obscuring Autonomy: the Effects of Structural Violence on the Transition to Adulthood of Street Involved Youth

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    Time to recap…. And there you have it - the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows: Title page. Acknowledgments page. Abstract (or executive summary) Table of contents, list of figures and tables.

  11. Developing A Thesis

    Keep your thesis prominent in your introduction. A good, standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of an introductory paragraph, especially in shorter (5-15 page) essays. Readers are used to finding theses there, so they automatically pay more attention when they read the last sentence of your introduction.

  12. The C.A.R.S. Model

    Following the C.A.R.S. Model can be useful approach because it can help you to: 1) begin the writing process [getting started is often the most difficult task]; 2) understand the way in which an introduction sets the stage for the rest of your paper; and, 3) assess how the introduction fits within the larger scope of your study.

  13. Free Dissertation & Thesis Template (Word Doc & PDF)

    The cleanly-formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX. Download The Dissertation Template. Download Grad Coach's comprehensive dissertation and thesis template for free. Fully editable - includes detailed instructions and examples.

  14. PDF Building a Dissertation Conceptual and Theoretical Framework: A Recent

    Introduction . While progressing on my doctoral journey I struggled to learn, and then navigate, what it meant ... dissertation study, it was a combination of all of those things, although I didn't realize it at first. ... compliance model. This study was designed to measure schools' compliance with various

  15. Dissertation

    The format of a dissertation may vary depending on the institution and field of study, but generally, it follows a similar structure: Title Page: This includes the title of the dissertation, the author's name, and the date of submission. Abstract: A brief summary of the dissertation's purpose, methods, and findings.

  16. Writing a Research Paper Introduction (with 3 Examples)

    1-) Start with a Catchy Hook. Your first sentence is one of the factors that most influence a reader's decision to read your paper. This sentence determines the tone of your paper and attracts the reader's attention. For this reason, we recommend that you start your introduction paragraph with a strong and catchy hook sentence.

  17. Writing the Introduction Chapter for a Thesis or Dissertation: Examples

    This article is a summary of a YouTube video "How To Write The Introduction Chapter To A Thesis Or Dissertation (Examples + Model)" by Academic English Now TLDR The introduction chapter of a thesis or dissertation should be concise, justify the study, state the aim and research questions, highlight the contributions, and provide a summary of ...

  18. Dissertation writing in post graduate medical education

    INTRODUCTION. The zenith of clinical residency is the completion of the Master's Dissertation, a document formulating the result of research conducted by the student under the guidance of a guide and presenting and publishing the research work. Writing a proper dissertation is most important to present the research findings in an acceptable format.

  19. Writing a Research Paper Introduction

    Table of contents. Step 1: Introduce your topic. Step 2: Describe the background. Step 3: Establish your research problem. Step 4: Specify your objective (s) Step 5: Map out your paper. Research paper introduction examples. Frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

  20. How to write a dissertation introduction, conclusion and abstract

    Clarify the focus of your study. Point out the value of your research (including secondary research) Specify your specific research aims and objectives. While the 'background information' usually appears first in a dissertation introduction, the structure of the remaining three points is completely up to you.

  21. An Introduction to Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience

    The second edition of Introduction to Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience explores important new advances in the field including joint modeling and applications in areas such as computational psychiatry, neurodegenerative diseases, and social decision-making.

  22. Diffusion Quantification in Spatially Heterogeneous Materials

    The introduction of a dot-array bleach pattern using widefield microscopy is presented in Chapter 2 for high-throughput detection of mobility in simple binary systems as well as for segmentation in phase-separating pharmaceutical formulations. ... a biexponential fitting model was developed for quantification of diffusion by multiple species ...

  23. In search of the missing piece: advancing social rights through

    This dissertation discusses ways to advance social rights, considering the significant gap between their ambitious normative recognition and their poor implementation in practice. It presents some of the challenges that social rights typically face and explores ways to overcome them, noting the role that courts can play in triggering solutions. The project zooms into the connection between ...

  24. Porous Materials via Freeze Casting: 3D MXene, Ceramics, and Their

    Freeze casting, an innovative materials processing technique, offers significant potential to create porous structures with high surface-to-volume ratio for high performance devices. This thesis presents a comprehensive study on the fabrication of porous structures using 2D MXene nanomaterials, silica, and alumina, with a focus on achieving controllable interconnected porosity and ...

  25. Full article: Characterization of landuse and landcover dynamics and

    1. Introduction. Climate change stands as the primary obstacle to agriculture, the security of food supply for billions of people, and rural livelihoods around the world (Hussain et al. Citation 2022).Due to the growth of society, the hydrological cycle and water resource management have been significantly impacted by a wide range of human activities, exacerbated by climate change.

  26. Invitation to the Thesis Defense of Mr. Marius Santino C. Sotto

    The Department of Information Systems and Computer Science invites you to the Thesis entitled " Automatic Evaluation For Retrieval-Augmented Generative Question Answering " by Mr. Marius Santino C. Sotto MS CS Adviser: Dr. John Paul C. Vergara ... A Curriculum Adaptation Model. Wed, 17 Apr 2024 Thesis / Dissertation Defense

  27. 'Translanguaging for Empowerment and Equity' book launch

    23 Mar 2024 02:00 pm. 23 March 2024 was a twofold success for the English Department of Ateneo de Manila University as it held a back-to-back lecture and book launch on translanguaging in multilingual contexts. "Translanguaging in Multilingual Local and Global Spaces'' was a talk by Dr Robin Atilano De Los Reyes, a Professor at the Ateneo de ...

  28. Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

    Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples. Published on September 9, 2022 by Tegan George.Revised on July 18, 2023. It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your thesis or dissertation.One way to come up with some ideas or maybe even combat writer's block is to check out previous work done by other students on a similar thesis or dissertation topic to yours.

  29. Tiny Language Models Come of Age

    In the first paper, they trained a model to learn the programming language Python using snippets of code generated by GPT-3.5 along with carefully curated code from the internet. In the second, they augmented the training data set with synthetic "textbooks," covering a wide range of topics, to train a general-purpose language model. In ...