How to Compose a Strong PhD Dissertation: Writing Manual


A PhD dissertation is a collection of original research that you have done to fulfill a graduate degree.  Most times PhD dissertations end up being made up of various chapters that cover a wider description of results.  A dissertation is usually written over the last year of your graduate program, there is one thing you should always keep in mind as you work on it.    There is a minimum chance that anyone will ever read your dissertation.  Keeping this in mind will relieve any stress you might have to make it perfect because if you think like that, you will never finish your dissertation. 


Parts of Your Dissertation

  • The very first page is a title page with just your title on it. 
  • Next is your title page that has your title again, name, and academic information.  This can include your schools logo or any other information that you are required to have on this page.
  • Usually on the back of the title page is the copyright page.  Here you will put the copyright notice, publisher, and all the information that you would find on a books copyright page.
  • After that page you will put the dedication and epigraph pages.  The dedication page dedicates the work to someone.  The epigraph page is usually a quote or something else short that has something to do with your dissertation.
  • The next three pages are the table of contents, list of illustrations, and tables.  These three pages layout the parts of your dissertation and tell the reader where to find these elements.
  • After all of that you will compose your abstract that will break down your research.
  • Acknowledgement is next, this is different than the dedication page because the acknowledgement is where you thank all the people that have had any part of process of writing this paper.
  • If there are any symbols or abbreviations in the paper, you want to lay them out in the transliteration and abbreviation pages next. 
  • Now you are ready to get into the body of the dissertation.  This starts with a introduction chapter that lays out your work. 
  • There is format that most dissertations use for this part of the paper.  It’s called IMRAD, this stands for Introduction, methods, Results, and Discussion.  This is what your first part of your dissertation will be about.
  • The last chapter is your conclusion; this will pull all of your research together and not repeat it but to advance on the concept of your research.  Don’t just regurgitate your abstract or intro here.
  • Now you have reached the last pages, here you will put the appendix, notes, and reference list.  This pages are the pages where the readers can find where you got your information and where they can find sections in your dissertation.