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How to Write Dissertation Outline – Template, Sample

How to Write Dissertation Outline – Template, Sample

What is Dissertation Outline

A dissertation is undoubtedly one of the most intricate academic tasks. Dissertation outline serves as a roadmap, ensuring clarity and a well-organized approach. This article offers a comprehensive guide on creating a dissertation outline, highlighting the significance of each section and providing practical tips for success. Preparing dissertation outline is an art and a way to make the dissertation writing process systematic and easy to follow. In this perspective, the cheap dissertation writing services offered by our uk dissertation writers are of great value for students who try to get help from online services in preparing their dissertation outline or any other chapter. 

In dissertation outline, you have to write the main points or section headings of the material written in the body of the dissertation. Also, you have to write the structure of your dissertation in the outline which clearly tells the reader what comes next. Commonly, the dissertation outline is restricted to the headings of the contents only. The main discussion will require a more detailed breakdown.

The second important thing in writing a dissertation outline is to offer some glimpse of the proposed research here. Keep in mind that people best recall those things that they read first and last in any article. So, a well written outline can make a good dissertation or a badly written outline can ruin it.

Understanding Dissertation Outline

A dissertation outline is a blueprint that keeps students anchored to their topic, ensuring a focused and systematic approach. It prevents unnecessary diversions and repetitions, making the lengthy document coherent.

Moreover, presenting a well-structured outline to your professor can set the stage for your entire research. While the structure might vary across universities in the U.S., a typical dissertation often comprises five main sections: introduction, literature review, methodology, data analysis, and conclusion. Before diving into these sections, let’s explore some essential writing tips.

Key Tips for Writing an Effective Outline

  1. Choose a topic and field you’re familiar with and can back up with substantial research.
  2. Review academic journals and other literature related to your topic before finalizing your thesis.
  3. Consult with your academic advisor regularly, especially regarding your approach and methodology.
  4. Take notes from scientific works related to your topic to aid in outline creation.
  5. Stick to the main ideas without introducing extraneous information.
  6. Prepare a comprehensive dissertation proposal, including appendices and notes.
  7. Share all your findings with your academic advisor to filter out irrelevant details.
  8. In your conclusion, focus on future research directions rather than introducing new ideas.
  9. Create a checklist of objectives to guide your proofreading process.
  10. Ensure your paper is polished, or consider seeking professional assistance.

Sections of Dissertation

  • Introduction: This section provides a general background of the topic, the problem statement, research objectives, and the significance of the study. It also outlines any assumptions or limitations.
  • Literature Review: Here, you delve deep into existing literature, providing a comprehensive review of sources and establishing a theoretical framework.
  • Methodology: Depending on your research type (qualitative, quantitative, or mixed), this section details your research design, participants, data collection methods, and analysis approach.
  • Research Outcomes: This chapter presents your findings, organized by research questions or hypotheses.
  • Conclusion: This section offers a deeper analysis of your findings, discussions on the topic, and suggestions for future research.

A Basic Dissertation Outline Template

  1. Introduction

    • Background of the Issue
    • Problem Statement
    • Research Objectives & Questions
    • Significance
    • Terms Glossary (Optional)
    • Limitations & Assumptions
    • Conclusion
  2. Literature Review

    • Introduction
    • Literature Search Description
    • Theoretical Framework
    • Comprehensive Literature Review
  3. Methodology (Qualitative/Quantitative/Mixed)

    • Introduction
    • Research Design
    • Hypotheses & Research Questions
    • Sample & Setting
    • Participants & Instruments
    • Data Collection & Analysis
    • Conclusion
  4. Findings

    • Introduction
    • Detailed Findings
    • Conclusion
  5. Discussion & Future Research Suggestions

    • Introduction
    • Summary of Findings
    • In-depth Conclusions
    • Topic Discussion
    • Recommendations for Further Research
    • Final Thoughts

Remember, while this guide provides a general structure, it’s essential to tailor your outline to your specific topic and academic requirements. If you ever feel overwhelmed, consider seeking professional assistance to ensure your dissertation is of the highest quality.

What should be in a Dissertation Outline

Include definition and important terms

You can write theoretical and operational definitions and important terms here. You have to write all of the terms which are confusing or generally found in this type of research. A properly prepared list of keywords and their definition will positively impact the acceptance and applaud of the readers.

Assumptions of the dissertation

When you start writing a dissertation you need to give some details of your assumptions of the research work. In this section you will offer some hints or brief description of what you assume about the research work and the results of it.  A statement that is taken true even though the direct evidence of it is absent or not clear is called assumption. Write all the important assumptions including that which is not available to you. 

Limitations of the study

Offering some details of the limitation of the research work is a good practice which clearly tells what limitations you encountered and how the future researchers would overcome these limitations. A hindrance or weakness that potentially reduces the validity of the results is called a limitation. In other words it is defined as a boundary to which the study is penned. While conducting an independent research work you will have to face some limitations which you may define in this section. Sometimes the limitations consist of a statement about general ability of results that may be inconceivable to meet. 

Sample of the dissertation outline

 dissertation outline

If you are going to prepare a dissertation outline but not sure what to include and what to exclude then the following sample of the dissertation outline will be of much value to you.

Introduction to the central theme

First of all you have to give a short introduction about the dissertation and have to write few words about each section.

Statement of the problem

As the heading suggests, you need to offer details of the problem that you intend to address in this research work. The problem statement would offer insight to the readers about what the academic problem exits that has motivated the researcher to explore and come up with solid and authentic remedy of it. So, you have to write the background statement of the problem and highlight what area of the research work are still unexplored and what is left behind which you intend to cover.  

Purpose of the study

A brief description of the purpose of the study will help readers what you want to cover in his research work and why this topic is worth for researching? Write here something in favor of your selected topic. Also write if it is interesting or from those things which you like most.

Significance of the study

In this section tell about the necessity of the study on this topic. Also give some suggestions about how to study this topic.

Research questions and Hypothesis

First you need to make your research questions clear and what is your hypothesis. So, in this section you have to write the research questions that should be answered in your dissertation body. Also tell about the hypothesis on what you are doing research work.

Review of the Literature

The review of the dissertation is the lengthiest part of the dissertation. The review of the previous studies should cover all the research work done on the topic so you may be able to critically review and analyze previous studies and what are their strengths and weaknesses. So, after writing the significance of the study, give some sub headings of the review of the literature. Anything interesting or informative in your work paper should be written here.

Dissertation Methodology (qualitative or quantitative)

There are two major types of research methods: qualitative and quantitative. Write the exact methodology what you used in the dissertation. It can be either qualitative or quantitative.  

Research design Population and sample or Participants

Here you have to write the research design or any sample in support of your dissertation design.

Method of Data analysis

Analyze your primary data shortly here. You may split this section into the following  sub headings:

  • Research population
  • Research design
  • Sampling
  • Ethical considerations

It is necessary to analyze the data to offer valid and authentic conclusions.

Research Design

Write the role of participants who helped you as researcher for the information.


At the end, write the results of your all research work in this section.

Conclusions, Findings or interpretation of results

In this section you have to submit conclusions or findings of your research work and its results.  

References & Appendixes

At the end of all, you have to add a list of references about your dissertation body for the ease of the reader. This section is called as reference list or appendix.

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