How to Come up with a Dissertation Outline - Guide & Rules

How to Come up with a Dissertation Outline - Guide & Rules

The master's thesis or a doctoral dissertation outline planning is the very first action that is necessary when writing one. The structure of the document must comply with strict requirements, include a certain number of chapters (sections), each of which will fully reveal the topic, and have a logical connection with the next chapter. This will allow us to consider a scientific paper as a complete work of authorship and evaluate it as a personal degree candidate's contribution to science.

Over the entire period of work on the dissertation, several outlines for a dissertation research can be drawn up. Often the last, final outline, embodied in the final text of the dissertation, can significantly differ from the working, initial one.

In this article we will tell you how such an outline is drawn up correctly, will give an example of a dissertation outline structure as a model for writing.

What is a dissertation outline and its main questions

An outline should never be made on the basis of "because the scientific supervisor already requires it." Having studied bibliographic sources on the topic of research, having estimated the direction and volume of their own development, their own capabilities and abilities, you should draw up a real outline. If ideas for future paper have not yet been formed up, you can draw up several options for it, or draw up a preliminary work outline by listing hyphenated questions that should be disclosed as part of the work on the dissertation or you can turn to pro dissertation writers for help.

The work outline should detail the stages of the research. It includes an introduction, a brief listing of chapters, a conclusion and a list of used scientific literature. The conclusion should contain an answer to the question or hypothesis under consideration, a solution to a scientific problem of important social, cultural or economic importance.

Key questions to be regarded:

  1. Setting goals, formulating tasks, defining a problem. Publishing a review article. 
  2. Choosing the method which the study will be conducted by. Attach a publication describing this phase of work.
  3. Experiment. The publication that describes the progress of the experiment.
  4. Implementation. A publication describing the research experience, as well as the results of the experiment.


Dissertation must be prepared by the degree applicant. When using literary sources in the text, it is obligatory to indicate references to them. It is important to clearly state the contribution of the dissertation author to science. All solutions proposed by the researcher must be supported by reasons and critically evaluated, comparing them to other known solutions. If the dissertation has applied knowledge, it is necessary to provide information on examples of the practical use of scientific results obtained by the author. If the dissertation is of a theoretical nature, it is important to highlight recommendations on the use of the conclusions presented by the paper.

There should be approximately the following information in a dissertation:

  • information on the volume of the dissertation, figures, tables, sources of links;
  • subject and object of research, the purpose of the dissertation;
  • research methods (techniques) and equipment;
  • the results of the dissertation, and its novelty;
  • recommendations for using the results of the dissertation;
  • results of testing the possibilities of practical use of the results;
  • suggestions on possible areas for continuing research;
  • a list of 5 ... 15 keywords that will be considered basic for the disclosure of the essence of the dissertation.

Dissertation itself has a strict structure. The consistency of presentation is very important. The main segments that make up the structure of any dissertation:

  1. Introduction. 5-10 sheets, in which the relevance of the topic, goals and objectives of the work, the subject and object of the study, the methodological and theoretical basis, the degree of development of the problem, information base, novelty, a list of scientific provisions and confirmation of their reliability, the practical significance of the study, approbation (also implementation) of the results, a description of the structure and scope of the paper compiled, an indication of publications on the topic.
  2. Main part. Three chapters:
    a) a critical analysis of the state of the research, based on a study of the sources,
    b) the introduction of fundamentally new solutions proposed by the author;
    c) a description of the results of the implementation of new solutions, a critical assessment of the work done.
  3. Conclusion. Key findings, a summary of all the results.
  4. Bibliographic list.
  5. Applications. Often, the thesis is supplemented with materials that are of a reference nature.

Outlining the main part of dissertation 

At the initial stage, there is no need to make headings and titles of chapters, due to the fact that their content and quantity will change during the work. The main task is to adhere to the previously developed structure of the detailed outline of the dissertation. It is important to observe several conditions:

  • Work on the internal structure of each chapter. In a scientific study, it is necessary to demonstrate the logical connection and sequence of studying the question posed.
  • Since the dissertation is of a research nature, it is necessary to use terminology in the text aimed at the establishment of a fact, proof, justification, clarification of details.
  • Before writing a dissertation outline, check each section for controversy. Mark all abstracts and positions depending on the information collected in them. Only then can we proceed to numbering.

The chapters of the main part of dissertation examine the technique and research methodology and give a generalized result. All materials that are not essential for solving a scientific assignment are submitted to the application. In these sections, the dissertation should briefly, reasonably and logically present the material in accordance with the requirements for scientific paper.

Despite the fact that there are no strict requirements for the number of chapters and subparagraphs in a dissertation, common sense should be followed here. It is clear that a dissertation should not consist of one chapter, and a chapter should not consist of one subparagraph. In any case, it is better if the subsequent paragraphs of the outline somehow flow logically from the previous ones, and also are balanced among themselves in volume (number of pages).