Organizing a PhD Dissertation in 8 Steps

Figuring out how to start writing your dissertation may be almost as hard as coming up with your thesis. So here are eight easy steps to organizing a PhD dissertation.

  • Step one: Solidify your thesis. This is the first step because your thesis should be the foundation and guide for your entire paper. The thesis is the summary of the assertions that you will make in your dissertation. By the end of your paper, your evidence and analysis should lead the reader to your conclusion.
  • Step two: Create an outline. Creating a rough outline before you begin to write your dissertation will help you focus your research as well as determine the flow of your paper. Plus it will help to keep your thoughts and arguments organized as you go through the next steps.
  • Step three: Determine your approach. You must determine the approach you will take to support your thesis by deciding if you are going to make a theoretical, more philosophical approach to support your argument, or if you are going to use mostly empirical data to prove your thesis.
  • Step four: Decide the methodology. The methodology is the way you plan to support your thesis with quantitative or qualitative analysis. Whatever your methodology, you should be able to write a statement that explains why you will use this method, why this is the best method to support your thesis and how this method will help you answer the questions raised in your paper.
  • Step five: Gather literature. Now that you’ve laid the ground work, you are ready to begin to gather information from literature to support your thesis.
  • Step six: Analyze your data. This is where you will take the data that you have collected from experiments, surveys, observations and other methods and analyze those results. The results of the data will either prove your theory, disprove it or somewhere in between. Your job is to analyze it and show the results.
  • Step seven: Write your first draft. You now have all of the information you will need to complete your dissertation. Your first draft should be the first of several drafts before your dissertation is ready for submission.
  • Step eight: Solidify your conclusion. You are now ready to bring all of these steps together and summarize the results of all of your work into your conclusion.

Eight steps to organizing your PhD dissertation.


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