Developing Dissertation Chapters: Top Tips

How to Write Dissertation Chapters

The following tips are designed to help you write a dissertation chapter as effectively and efficiently as possible.

The first step is choosing a topic.

You should ensure this topic is appropriate for a thesis or dissertation paper, and that it is relevant to your area of study e.g. business. Think too about what you want to happen once your paper is written. For instance, do you want or will you be expected to publish your research work in a scholarly journal or present your findings at a seminar or conference? Is it likely that the implications or practical application of your research work will be advantageous to some particular group of individuals or to an organization? Will your project contribute to or improve the way you do your present job or will it pave the way for you to go on to do a PhD course or embark on some professional career? How is your work likely to have tangible benefits over and above the paper itself? Talk to your tutor or the examinations board about these issues. While you are doing various coursework, think about what you might or would like to include in your thesis or dissertation.



The next step is reviewing any available literature and looking into the topic’s background. Read enough material so that you understand the topic in terms of its historical and other relevant contexts. Include materials in your literature review that relate to the topic and will in some way make a contribution to your field of study. Discuss your plans or intended course of action, you intended methodologies, and other aspects of your work with your tutor.

Proposal writing

Start by writing a proposal for your thesis or dissertation. This can vary in length from 15 to 20 pages to the paper’s first few chapters. A proposal may be comprised of the parts described below:

  • Introductory paragraph (approximately three pages) where you introduce your topic and say what aspects of that topic you would like to study.
  • A literature review (approximately ten pages) describing any relevant materials you have reviewed so far. While this need not be complete, it should demonstrate your interest in the subject and your diligence.
  • A description (approximately one page) of any issues or questions you propose to study.
  • A bibliography (approximately two to four pages)

Once your proposal is written, in a consultative capacity with your tutor, you will need to have a meeting with your examining committee. This is to discuss your plans and ensure everyone agrees.

This proposal then becomes part of your overall thesis or dissertation, which should be made up of several chapters, as follows:

First Chapter (approximately five to ten pages): Introduces the topic, research question, problem, literature review, and methodologies.

Second Chapter (approximately fifteen to twenty pages): This is the literature review chapter that describes any relevant works you have examined in respect of the research problem or question.

Third Chapter (approximately five to ten pages): This is the methodology chapter where you describe how you collected data e.g. if you used interviews, surveys, scientific investigations/analysis, etc.

Fourth Chapter (approximately twenty five to forty pages): This is the data analysis chapter where you present your data in a well-organized manner and under relevant themes to help you progress your argument (although research of the qualitative variety may alter as work progresses). Every theme should relate to the central argument or thesis of your paper.

Fifth Chapter (approximately five to ten pages): This is the concluding chapter. Here, you should revisit the main points and remind readers how the data you collected and analyzed supports your main argument and contributes to your field of study. Since this chapter is very important, it should be carefully developed.

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