A minimum of two to three citations to the literature per paragraph is advisable. The paragraphs must be a summary of unresolved issues, conflicting findings, social concerns, or educational, national, or international issues, and lead to the next section, the statement of the problem.
The problem is the gap in the knowledge. The focus of the Background of the Problem is where a gap in the knowledge is found in the current body of empirical research literature. Arising from the background statement is this statement of the exact gap in the knowledge discussed in previous paragraphs that reviewed the most current literature found. A gap in the knowledge is the entire reason for the study, so state it specifically and exactly.
The Purpose of the Study is a statement contained within one or two paragraphs that identifies the research design, such as qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, ethnographic, or another design. The research variables, if a quantitative study, are identified, for instance, independent, dependent, comparisons, relationships, or other variables.
The population that will be used is identified, whether it will be randomly or purposively chosen, and the location of the study is summarized. Most of these factors will be discussed in detail in Chapter 3. The significance is a statement of why it is important to determine the answer to the gap in the knowledge, and is related to improving the human condition. The contribution to the body of knowledge is described, and summarizes who will be able to use the knowledge to make better decisions, improve policy, advance science, or other uses of the new information.
The primary research question is the basis for data collection and arises from the Purpose of the Study. There may be one, or there may be several. When the research is finished, the contribution to the knowledge will be the answer to these questions. Do not confuse the primary research questions with interview questions in a qualitative study, or survey questions in a quantitative study.
The research questions in a qualitative study are followed by both a null and an alternate hypothesis. A hypothesis is a testable prediction for an observed phenomenon, namely, the gap in the knowledge. Each research question will have both a null and an alternative hypothesis in a quantitative study. Qualitative studies do not have hypotheses. The two hypotheses should follow the research question upon which they are based.
Hypotheses are testable predictions to the gap in the knowledge. In a qualitative study the hypotheses are replaced with the primary research questions. In Chapter 1 this is a summary of the methodology and contains a brief outline of three things: a the participants in a qualitative study or thesubjects of a quantitative study human participants are referred tyo as participants, non-human subjects are referred to as subjects , b the instrumentation used to collect data, and c the procedure that will be followed.
All of these elements will be reported in detail in Chapter 3. In a quantitative study, the instrumentation will be validated in Chapter 3 in detail. In a qualitative study, if it is a researcher-created questionnaire, validating the correctness of the interview protocol is usually accomplished with a pilot study.
For either a quantitative or a qualitative study, using an already validated survey instrument is easier to defend and does not require a pilot study; however, Chapter 3 must contain a careful review of the instrument and how it was validated by the creator. In a qualitative study, which usually involves interviews, the instrumentation is an interview protocol — a pre-determined set of questions that every participant is asked that are based on the primary research questions.
In the humanities, a demographic survey should be circulated with most quantitative and qualitative studies to establish the parameters of the participant pool. Demographic surveys are nearly identical in most dissertations. In the sciences, a demographic survey is rarely needed. The theoretical framework is the foundational theory that is used to provide a perspective upon which the study is based.
There are hundreds of theories in the literature. In the sciences, research about new species that may have evolved from older, extinct species would be based on the theory of evolution pioneered by Darwin. Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area.
No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal! This marks the end of your core chapters — woohoo! The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e. APA, Harvard, etc. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually — its far too error prone.
To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same. A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation.
So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one. The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count see this post which covers how to reduce word count.
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:. Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process asking, investigating and answering your research question. Moreover, the research question s should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us.
Also, be sure to check out the rest of the Grad Coach Blog. Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research! Very helpful and accessible. Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions.
Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question. The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
The conclusion chapter attempts to answer the core research question. Title page The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title.
Acknowledgements This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies. Any tutors, mentors or advisors. Your family and friends, especially spouse for adult learners studying part-time. Abstract or executive summary The dissertation abstract or executive summary for some degrees serves to provide the first-time reader and marker or moderator with a big-picture view of your research project.
For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points at a minimum : Your research questions and aims — what key question s did your research aim to answer? Your methodology — how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question s? Your findings — following your own research, what did do you discover? Your conclusions — based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question s?
Need a helping hand? Table of contents This section is straightforward. So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions: What will you be investigating in plain-language, big picture-level? Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original? What are your research aims and research question s? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review next chapter.
What is the scope of your study? How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt? How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them? Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement? How does your research fit into the bigger picture? How does your research contribute something original?
How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own? In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions: Exactly HOW will you carry out your research i. Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way i. Reference list The reference list is straightforward. Appendices The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. Time to recap… And there you have it — the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. Derek Jansen on July 8, at am.