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Writing dissertation chapter 5: the biggest mistake students make, published by steve tippins on june 4, 2020 june 4, 2020.

Last Updated on: 2nd February 2024, 04:50 am

Chapter 5 of your dissertation is different from all of the previous four chapters.

If you’re beginning to write Chapter 5 of your dissertation, you know that most of the writing you’ve done up until now was fairly formulaic. You’ve probably been following templates with strict requirements about what needs to be included in each section and subsection. Even in Chapter 5, many schools will give you a template. But don’t let that fool you.

Regardless of whether you receive a rubric for it, Chapter 5 of your dissertation is unique. 

Your dissertation’s Chapter 5 is where you get to be more individualistic than in any other chapter and really “sing your song.” Why? It’s where you tell the reader what your results mean. Not just what they are, but what they mean. You tell them what they should take away from your study. You describe how your results can help others in the world or in the field. 

The Most Common Mistake Students Make When Writing Chapter 5 of Their Dissertation

close-up shot of a woman writing notes with a cup of cofee

The biggest mistake students make when writing their dissertation’s Chapter 5 is not writing enough. In fact, students often submit an “implications” section that’s only a few paragraphs.

As a committee member , it’s hard to see someone who has spent a year on a research topic and written 100+ pages about it and then get to the implications in Chapter 5 and see two paragraphs. This begs the question, “You mean this is all you have to say?”

Don’t cheat yourself in Chapter 5. Really explain and tell the story of what your results mean.

This is where you get to bring out your intellectual curiosity and help others really understand what you did and why you did it, what it means, and why it’s important. Of course, you’ll need to do this all within the guidelines of what your university will allow you to do. 

Normally Chapter 5 of a dissertation is about 15-20 pages. If it’s under ten pages, you’re really underselling your research. When you get to around 30-40 pages, your committee is going to wonder, “did all this come from your study?” or “couldn’t this have been said more succinctly?” 

Tips for Writing Dissertation Chapter 5

woman with orange sunglasses typing on her laptop next to a big window

Reference the Literature. If you’re stumped for things to write, look at what you said in Chapter 2 and tell the reader what your results mean in relation to what the researchers you quoted in Chapter 2 were talking about.l How you have added knowledge to the field?

chapter 5 dissertation length

Consider Your Defense. When you do the defense of your final document, Chapter 5 is where you end up at the end of your presentation. This is the last thing you talk about before you get to questions, and it’s where you may be able to answer questions before they come up. 

Address Your Problem and Purpose. Don’t forget to remind the reader what your problem statement and research questions were at the beginning of Chapter 5. Explain how your results apply to the problem and purpose.

Back Everything Up. Also remember that even though it’s your chance to interpret and even express yourself, you still have to back everything up. Use quotes or data points from your results section and relate it to other research.

Use a Bird’s Eye View. This is where you can use graphics, charts, graphs, or other data that are much broader in scope than you might use elsewhere. In Chapter 4, for example, you’re going to use a graph that specifically relates to a statistical test you did. In Chapter 5, you might use one that’s broader in scope if it fits the flow of what you’re writing.

Tell a story. While other chapters might have been written in more of a compartmentalized style because of their formulaic nature, in Chapter 5 you’re really telling the story of your research. In line with that, the writing will need more of a flow. 

Dissertation Chapter 5 Sample Template With Explanations

woman in all black clothes typing on her laptop


In the introduction, tell the reader what they’re going to learn in Chapter 5. Reiterate the problem and purpose statements and your research questions and, if appropriate, reference the results from Chapter 4.


This is where you tell people here’s what the results of your study mean and why they are important. It also acts as a summary or “summing up” of the data. “These people said this,” or “this statistic was significant.” Make sure to support what you say with the research findings and avoid drawing conclusions that are beyond the scope of the study results.

Then discuss the real-world application of your findings. For example, “This is an approach that could be used by schools to help autistic children have better learning outcomes,” or “this is a technique that investors can use to predict valuable stock market returns.” Again, make sure to stay within the scope of your study.

Place your study in context. Describe how the results respond to the study problem, align with the purpose, demonstrate significance, and contribute to the existing literature described in Chapter 2. 


The recommendations section is where you get to say, “and if you want to take this further, here are some suggestions for ways that this could be broadened or enhanced.” Here are some examples of what these suggestions could look like:

  • Different samples and populations
  • Ways to get at any limitations you reported in your study
  • Different approaches: qualitative if your study was quantitative, or quantitative if yours was qualitative, for example. Describe approaches that would be complementary to your study.
  • Related research that you’re already working on. Sometimes researchers work on multiple complementary projects simultaneously. Occasionally, they’ll include another related study that they’re working on in their recommendations section. This establishes a clear path of knowledge.
  • Practical, real-world suggestions. “Here are some recommendations for how this research could be used in the real world.”

The conclusion of Chapter 5 is where you get to wrap up your story. “And so, boys and girls, this is what all this came down to.” Okay, you might not want to phrase it like that. But that’s essentially what you’re doing.

chapter 5 dissertation length

Don’t try to add new information in the conclusion. Remember, it’s like a speech: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. 

Finishing Your Dissertation

Writing Chapter 5 and defending your dissertation is a big step towards getting your degree. Many students benefit from the support of a coach who is an experienced Dissertation Committee Chair at this point. A coach can conduct a mock defense with you in order to prepare you for the types of questions your committee will ask. Having answers to these questions can determine whether or not you pass your defense.

Check out my dissertation coaching services or contact me to book a free 30-minute consultation.

Steve Tippins

Steve Tippins, PhD, has thrived in academia for over thirty years. He continues to love teaching in addition to coaching recent PhD graduates as well as students writing their dissertations. Learn more about his dissertation coaching and career coaching services. Book a Free Consultation with Steve Tippins

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Sociology Dissertation Examples

chapter 5 dissertation length

Writing a dissertation can be an overwhelming task. There are so many steps that it can be a bit hectic to keep track of them all!

If you're currently in the process of completing your dissertation, then you know that Chapter 5 is one of the most important parts. In this blog post, we will provide a detailed guide on whatever you need to know about Chapter 5 of your dissertation.

What is Chapter 5?

In dissertation, chapter 5 is the conclusion chapter. In chapter 5, you will summarize your research findings and draw conclusions. This chapter should also include future implications for further research related to your topic.

Overview of Chapter 5

The fifth chapter is where you report on your research findings. It means discussing both qualitative and quantitative data collected during your study. You should also include any trends or patterns in the data that may apply to your conclusions.

It’s important to discuss any unexpected results that may have arisen during your study as well as any limitations of the research methodology employed. Finally, this chapter should also provide an analysis of the implications of your work for future research.

Important Things to Consider While Writing Chapter 5

 a.  Length

The conclusion chapter should not be too long or too short. It should be long enough to summarize the key findings and contributions of the research adequately but not so long that it becomes repetitive or overly detailed. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a length of around 10% of the total dissertation word count.

To get detailed insight into how long your dissertation should be, you can visit this link:

How long should my dissertation be?

b.  Significance

In the concluding chapter, it's important to emphasize the significance of the research. It means highlighting not just what was discovered but why it matters. What are the implications of the research for the field or society as a whole? How does it advance knowledge or solve a practical problem? By answering these questions, the writer can help the reader understand the broader impact of the research.

In chapter 5 dissertation’s tone should be sophisticated and professional. However, it's also important to strike a balance between being objective and enthusiastic. While it's important to avoid making unsupported claims or over-hyping the significance of the research, it's also okay to express some excitement about the findings and their potential implications.

d.  Reflection

In addition to summarizing the research, the conclusion chapter is also a good place to reflect on the process of conducting the research.

  • What were some of the challenges or surprises that arose during the study?
  • What did the researcher learn about the topic, the methods, or themselves?

This kind of reflection can add depth and context to the dissertation.

e.  Organization

It's important to ensure that the conclusion chapter is well-organized and easy to follow. That means using clear headings, transitional phrases, and summary statements to guide the reader through the key points. It's also important to avoid introducing new information or arguments in the conclusion chapter, as this can confuse the reader and undermine the coherence of the overall dissertation.

Very satisfied students

Effective ways to write chapter 5 in dissertation.

To write an effective conclusion chapter, the following steps should be considered:

1.   Recapitulate the Research Questions or Objectives

Begin by restating the research questions or objectives addressed in the dissertation. It helps to ensure that the reader is reminded of the research's focus and the dissertation's purpose.

2.  Summarize the Findings

Provide a summary of the key findings of the research. Highlight the analysis's main points, and ensure that you provide a clear and concise summary of the results. You can discuss the relevance of the findings to the research questions and objectives.

3.  Discuss the Contributions of the Study

It is where you discuss the impact of your research on the field. Highlight the originality and significance of your findings, and explain how they contribute to the current knowledge in the field. You can also suggest how your research can be built upon by future studies.

4.  Address the Limitations of the Study

Every study has limitations, and it is essential to acknowledge them in your conclusion chapter. Discuss any weaknesses or limitations of your study, and explain how they may have affected your findings. It helps to ensure that the reader has a complete understanding of the research and its potential shortcomings.

5.  Offer Recommendations for Future Research

This is an opportunity to suggest areas that require further investigation. Highlight the gaps in the research, and suggest how future studies can address them. It can help to guide future researchers in their work and ensure that the field continues to progress.

Writing a dissertation is hectic, no doubt! But if you break it down into manageable pieces like chapters, it becomes much easier to stay on top of everything needed for completion. In this blog post, we provided a detailed guide on what you need to know about writing Chapter 5 – the conclusion section – which includes summarizing all previous sections and discussing any future implications for further research related to your topic.

Check out these resources below to get more academic assistance:

  • How to Write a Reflection Paper: Guidelines with Examples
  • Dissertation Acknowledgements Done Right: A Guide on How to Write Acknowledgement for Dissertation
  • A Comprehensive Guide on How to Write an Introduction Paragraph. Five plus Examples

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  • Formatting Your Dissertation
  • Introduction

Harvard Griffin GSAS strives to provide students with timely, accurate, and clear information. If you need help understanding a specific policy, please contact the office that administers that policy.

  • Application for Degree
  • Credit for Completed Graduate Work
  • Ad Hoc Degree Programs
  • Acknowledging the Work of Others
  • Advanced Planning
  • Dissertation Submission Checklist
  • Publishing Options
  • Submitting Your Dissertation
  • English Language Proficiency
  • PhD Program Requirements
  • Secondary Fields
  • Year of Graduate Study (G-Year)
  • Master's Degrees
  • Grade and Examination Requirements
  • Conduct and Safety
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  • Registration

On this page:

Language of the Dissertation

Page and text requirements, body of text, tables, figures, and captions, dissertation acceptance certificate, copyright statement.

  • Table of Contents

Front and Back Matter

Supplemental material, dissertations comprising previously published works, top ten formatting errors, further questions.

  • Related Contacts and Forms

When preparing the dissertation for submission, students must follow strict formatting requirements. Any deviation from these requirements may lead to rejection of the dissertation and delay in the conferral of the degree.

The language of the dissertation is ordinarily English, although some departments whose subject matter involves foreign languages may accept a dissertation written in a language other than English.

Most dissertations are 100 to 300 pages in length. All dissertations should be divided into appropriate sections, and long dissertations may need chapters, main divisions, and subdivisions.

  • 8½ x 11 inches, unless a musical score is included
  • At least 1 inch for all margins
  • Body of text: double spacing
  • Block quotations, footnotes, and bibliographies: single spacing within each entry but double spacing between each entry
  • Table of contents, list of tables, list of figures or illustrations, and lengthy tables: single spacing may be used

Fonts and Point Size

Use 10-12 point size. Fonts must be embedded in the PDF file to ensure all characters display correctly. 

Recommended Fonts

If you are unsure whether your chosen font will display correctly, use one of the following fonts: 

If fonts are not embedded, non-English characters may not appear as intended. Fonts embedded improperly will be published to DASH as-is. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure that fonts are embedded properly prior to submission. 

Instructions for Embedding Fonts

To embed your fonts in recent versions of Word, follow these instructions from Microsoft:

  • Click the File tab and then click Options .
  • In the left column, select the Save tab.
  • Clear the Do not embed common system fonts check box.

For reference, below are some instructions from ProQuest UMI for embedding fonts in older file formats:

To embed your fonts in Microsoft Word 2010:

  • In the File pull-down menu click on Options .
  • Choose Save on the left sidebar.
  • Check the box next to Embed fonts in the file.
  • Click the OK button.
  • Save the document.

Note that when saving as a PDF, make sure to go to “more options” and save as “PDF/A compliant”

To embed your fonts in Microsoft Word 2007:

  • Click the circular Office button in the upper left corner of Microsoft Word.
  • A new window will display. In the bottom right corner select Word Options . 
  • Choose Save from the left sidebar.

Using Microsoft Word on a Mac:

Microsoft Word 2008 on a Mac OS X computer will automatically embed your fonts while converting your document to a PDF file.

If you are converting to PDF using Acrobat Professional (instructions courtesy of the Graduate Thesis Office at Iowa State University):  

  • Open your document in Microsoft Word. 
  • Click on the Adobe PDF tab at the top. Select "Change Conversion Settings." 
  • Click on Advanced Settings. 
  • Click on the Fonts folder on the left side of the new window. In the lower box on the right, delete any fonts that appear in the "Never Embed" box. Then click "OK." 
  • If prompted to save these new settings, save them as "Embed all fonts." 
  • Now the Change Conversion Settings window should show "embed all fonts" in the Conversion Settings drop-down list and it should be selected. Click "OK" again. 
  • Click on the Adobe PDF link at the top again. This time select Convert to Adobe PDF. Depending on the size of your document and the speed of your computer, this process can take 1-15 minutes. 
  • After your document is converted, select the "File" tab at the top of the page. Then select "Document Properties." 
  • Click on the "Fonts" tab. Carefully check all of your fonts. They should all show "(Embedded Subset)" after the font name. 
  •  If you see "(Embedded Subset)" after all fonts, you have succeeded.

The font used in the body of the text must also be used in headers, page numbers, and footnotes. Exceptions are made only for tables and figures created with different software and inserted into the document.

Tables and figures must be placed as close as possible to their first mention in the text. They may be placed on a page with no text above or below, or they may be placed directly into the text. If a table or a figure is alone on a page (with no narrative), it should be centered within the margins on the page. Tables may take up more than one page as long as they obey all rules about margins. Tables and figures referred to in the text may not be placed at the end of the chapter or at the end of the dissertation.

  • Given the standards of the discipline, dissertations in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Department of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning often place illustrations at the end of the dissertation.

Figure and table numbering must be continuous throughout the dissertation or by chapter (e.g., 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, etc.). Two figures or tables cannot be designated with the same number. If you have repeating images that you need to cite more than once, label them with their number and A, B, etc. 

Headings should be placed at the top of tables. While no specific rules for the format of table headings and figure captions are required, a consistent format must be used throughout the dissertation (contact your department for style manuals appropriate to the field).

Captions should appear at the bottom of any figures. If the figure takes up the entire page, the caption should be placed alone on the preceding page, centered vertically and horizontally within the margins.

Each page receives a separate page number. When a figure or table title is on a preceding page, the second and subsequent pages of the figure or table should say, for example, “Figure 5 (Continued).” In such an instance, the list of figures or tables will list the page number containing the title. The word “figure” should be written in full (not abbreviated), and the “F” should be capitalized (e.g., Figure 5). In instances where the caption continues on a second page, the “(Continued)” notation should appear on the second and any subsequent page. The figure/table and the caption are viewed as one entity and the numbering should show correlation between all pages. Each page must include a header.

Landscape orientation figures and tables must be positioned correctly and bound at the top so that the top of the figure or table will be at the left margin. Figure and table headings/captions are placed with the same orientation as the figure or table when on the same page. When on a separate page, headings/captions are always placed in portrait orientation, regardless of the orientation of the figure or table. Page numbers are always placed as if the figure were vertical on the page.

If a graphic artist does the figures, Harvard Griffin GSAS will accept lettering done by the artist only within the figure. Figures done with software are acceptable if the figures are clear and legible. Legends and titles done by the same process as the figures will be accepted if they too are clear, legible, and run at least 10 or 12 characters per inch. Otherwise, legends and captions should be printed with the same font used in the text.

Original illustrations, photographs, and fine arts prints may be scanned and included, centered between the margins on a page with no text above or below.

Use of Third-Party Content

In addition to the student's own writing, dissertations often contain third-party content or in-copyright content owned by parties other than you, the student who authored the dissertation. The Office for Scholarly Communication recommends consulting the information below about fair use, which allows individuals to use in-copyright content, on a limited basis and for specific purposes, without seeking permission from copyright holders.

Because your dissertation will be made available for online distribution through DASH , Harvard's open-access repository, it is important that any third-party content in it may be made available in this way.

Fair Use and Copyright 

What is fair use?

Fair use is a provision in copyright law that allows the use of a certain amount of copyrighted material without seeking permission. Fair use is format- and media-agnostic. This means fair use may apply to images (including photographs, illustrations, and paintings), quoting at length from literature, videos, and music regardless of the format. 

How do I determine whether my use of an image or other third-party content in my dissertation is fair use?  

There are four factors you will need to consider when making a fair use claim.

1) For what purpose is your work going to be used?

  • Nonprofit, educational, scholarly, or research use favors fair use. Commercial, non-educational uses, often do not favor fair use.
  • A transformative use (repurposing or recontextualizing the in-copyright material) favors fair use. Examining, analyzing, and explicating the material in a meaningful way, so as to enhance a reader's understanding, strengthens your fair use argument. In other words, can you make the point in the thesis without using, for instance, an in-copyright image? Is that image necessary to your dissertation? If not, perhaps, for copyright reasons, you should not include the image.  

2) What is the nature of the work to be used?

  • Published, fact-based content favors fair use and includes scholarly analysis in published academic venues. 
  • Creative works, including artistic images, are afforded more protection under copyright, and depending on your use in light of the other factors, may be less likely to favor fair use; however, this does not preclude considerations of fair use for creative content altogether.

3) How much of the work is going to be used?  

  • Small, or less significant, amounts favor fair use. A good rule of thumb is to use only as much of the in-copyright content as necessary to serve your purpose. Can you use a thumbnail rather than a full-resolution image? Can you use a black-and-white photo instead of color? Can you quote select passages instead of including several pages of the content? These simple changes bolster your fair use of the material.

4) What potential effect on the market for that work may your use have?

  • If there is a market for licensing this exact use or type of educational material, then this weighs against fair use. If however, there would likely be no effect on the potential commercial market, or if it is not possible to obtain permission to use the work, then this favors fair use. 

For further assistance with fair use, consult the Office for Scholarly Communication's guide, Fair Use: Made for the Harvard Community and the Office of the General Counsel's Copyright and Fair Use: A Guide for the Harvard Community .

What are my options if I don’t have a strong fair use claim? 

Consider the following options if you find you cannot reasonably make a fair use claim for the content you wish to incorporate:

  • Seek permission from the copyright holder. 
  • Use openly licensed content as an alternative to the original third-party content you intended to use. Openly-licensed content grants permission up-front for reuse of in-copyright content, provided your use meets the terms of the open license.
  • Use content in the public domain, as this content is not in-copyright and is therefore free of all copyright restrictions. Whereas third-party content is owned by parties other than you, no one owns content in the public domain; everyone, therefore, has the right to use it.

For use of images in your dissertation, please consult this guide to Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Media , which is a great resource for finding images without copyright restrictions. 

Who can help me with questions about copyright and fair use?

Contact your Copyright First Responder . Please note, Copyright First Responders assist with questions concerning copyright and fair use, but do not assist with the process of obtaining permission from copyright holders.

Pages should be assigned a number except for the Dissertation Acceptance Certificate . Preliminary pages (abstract, table of contents, list of tables, graphs, illustrations, and preface) should use small Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.). All pages must contain text or images.  

Count the title page as page i and the copyright page as page ii, but do not print page numbers on either page .

For the body of text, use Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) starting with page 1 on the first page of text. Page numbers must be centered throughout the manuscript at the top or bottom. Every numbered page must be consecutively ordered, including tables, graphs, illustrations, and bibliography/index (if included); letter suffixes (such as 10a, 10b, etc.) are not allowed. It is customary not to have a page number on the page containing a chapter heading.

  • Check pagination carefully. Account for all pages.

A copy of the Dissertation Acceptance Certificate (DAC) should appear as the first page. This page should not be counted or numbered. The DAC will appear in the online version of the published dissertation. The author name and date on the DAC and title page should be the same. 

The dissertation begins with the title page; the title should be as concise as possible and should provide an accurate description of the dissertation. The author name and date on the DAC and title page should be the same. 

  • Do not print a page number on the title page. It is understood to be page  i  for counting purposes only.

A copyright notice should appear on a separate page immediately following the title page and include the copyright symbol ©, the year of first publication of the work, and the name of the author:

© [ year ] [ Author’s Name ] All rights reserved.

Alternatively, students may choose to license their work openly under a  Creative Commons  license. The author remains the copyright holder while at the same time granting up-front permission to others to read, share, and (depending on the license) adapt the work, so long as proper attribution is given. (By default, under copyright law, the author reserves all rights; under a Creative Commons license, the author reserves some rights.)

  • Do  not  print a page number on the copyright page. It is understood to be page  ii  for counting purposes only.

An abstract, numbered as page  iii , should immediately follow the copyright page and should state the problem, describe the methods and procedures used, and give the main results or conclusions of the research. The abstract will appear in the online and bound versions of the dissertation and will be published by ProQuest. There is no maximum word count for the abstract. 

  • double-spaced
  • left-justified
  • indented on the first line of each paragraph
  • The author’s name, right justified
  • The words “Dissertation Advisor:” followed by the advisor’s name, left-justified (a maximum of two advisors is allowed)
  • Title of the dissertation, centered, several lines below author and advisor

Dissertations divided into sections must contain a table of contents that lists, at minimum, the major headings in the following order:

  • Front Matter
  • Body of Text
  • Back Matter

Front matter includes (if applicable):

  • acknowledgements of help or encouragement from individuals or institutions
  • a dedication
  • a list of illustrations or tables
  • a glossary of terms
  • one or more epigraphs.

Back matter includes (if applicable):

  • bibliography
  • supplemental materials, including figures and tables
  • an index (in rare instances).

Supplemental figures and tables must be placed at the end of the dissertation in an appendix, not within or at the end of a chapter. If additional digital information (including audio, video, image, or datasets) will accompany the main body of the dissertation, it should be uploaded as a supplemental file through ProQuest ETD . Supplemental material will be available in DASH and ProQuest and preserved digitally in the Harvard University Archives.

As a matter of copyright, dissertations comprising the student's previously published works must be authorized for distribution from DASH. The guidelines in this section pertain to any previously published material that requires permission from publishers or other rightsholders before it may be distributed from DASH. Please note:

  • Authors whose publishing agreements grant the publisher exclusive rights to display, distribute, and create derivative works will need to seek the publisher's permission for nonexclusive use of the underlying works before the dissertation may be distributed from DASH.
  • Authors whose publishing agreements indicate the authors have retained the relevant nonexclusive rights to the original materials for display, distribution, and the creation of derivative works may distribute the dissertation as a whole from DASH without need for further permissions.

It is recommended that authors consult their publishing agreements directly to determine whether and to what extent they may have transferred exclusive rights under copyright. The Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC) is available to help the author determine whether she has retained the necessary rights or requires permission. Please note, however, the Office of Scholarly Communication is not able to assist with the permissions process itself.

  • Missing Dissertation Acceptance Certificate.  The first page of the PDF dissertation file should be a scanned copy of the Dissertation Acceptance Certificate (DAC). This page should not be counted or numbered as a part of the dissertation pagination.
  • Conflicts Between the DAC and the Title Page.  The DAC and the dissertation title page must match exactly, meaning that the author name and the title on the title page must match that on the DAC. If you use your full middle name or just an initial on one document, it must be the same on the other document.  
  • Abstract Formatting Errors. The advisor name should be left-justified, and the author's name should be right-justified. Up to two advisor names are allowed. The Abstract should be double spaced and include the page title “Abstract,” as well as the page number “iii.” There is no maximum word count for the abstract. 
  •  The front matter should be numbered using Roman numerals (iii, iv, v, …). The title page and the copyright page should be counted but not numbered. The first printed page number should appear on the Abstract page (iii). 
  • The body of the dissertation should be numbered using Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, …). The first page of the body of the text should begin with page 1. Pagination may not continue from the front matter. 
  • All page numbers should be centered either at the top or the bottom of the page.
  • Figures and tables Figures and tables must be placed within the text, as close to their first mention as possible. Figures and tables that span more than one page must be labeled on each page. Any second and subsequent page of the figure/table must include the “(Continued)” notation. This applies to figure captions as well as images. Each page of a figure/table must be accounted for and appropriately labeled. All figures/tables must have a unique number. They may not repeat within the dissertation.
  • Any figures/tables placed in a horizontal orientation must be placed with the top of the figure/ table on the left-hand side. The top of the figure/table should be aligned with the spine of the dissertation when it is bound. 
  • Page numbers must be placed in the same location on all pages of the dissertation, centered, at the bottom or top of the page. Page numbers may not appear under the table/ figure.
  • Supplemental Figures and Tables. Supplemental figures and tables must be placed at the back of the dissertation in an appendix. They should not be placed at the back of the chapter. 
  • Permission Letters Copyright. permission letters must be uploaded as a supplemental file, titled ‘do_not_publish_permission_letters,” within the dissertation submission tool.
  •  DAC Attachment. The signed Dissertation Acceptance Certificate must additionally be uploaded as a document in the "Administrative Documents" section when submitting in Proquest ETD . Dissertation submission is not complete until all documents have been received and accepted.
  • Overall Formatting. The entire document should be checked after all revisions, and before submitting online, to spot any inconsistencies or PDF conversion glitches.
  • You can view dissertations successfully published from your department in DASH . This is a great place to check for specific formatting and area-specific conventions.
  • Contact the  Office of Student Affairs  with further questions.


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Tips for writing a PhD dissertation: FAQs answered

From how to choose a topic to writing the abstract and managing work-life balance through the years it takes to complete a doctorate, here we collect expert advice to get you through the PhD writing process

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Embarking on a PhD is “probably the most challenging task that a young scholar attempts to do”, write Mark Stephan Felix and Ian Smith in their practical guide to dissertation and thesis writing. After years of reading and research to answer a specific question or proposition, the candidate will submit about 80,000 words that explain their methods and results and demonstrate their unique contribution to knowledge. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about writing a doctoral thesis or dissertation.

What’s the difference between a dissertation and a thesis?

Whatever the genre of the doctorate, a PhD must offer an original contribution to knowledge. The terms “dissertation” and “thesis” both refer to the long-form piece of work produced at the end of a research project and are often used interchangeably. Which one is used might depend on the country, discipline or university. In the UK, “thesis” is generally used for the work done for a PhD, while a “dissertation” is written for a master’s degree. The US did the same until the 1960s, says Oxbridge Essays, when the convention switched, and references appeared to a “master’s thesis” and “doctoral dissertation”. To complicate matters further, undergraduate long essays are also sometimes referred to as a thesis or dissertation.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “thesis” as “a dissertation, especially by a candidate for a degree” and “dissertation” as “a detailed discourse on a subject, especially one submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of a degree or diploma”.

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The title “doctor of philosophy”, incidentally, comes from the degree’s origins, write Dr Felix, an associate professor at Mahidol University in Thailand, and Dr Smith, retired associate professor of education at the University of Sydney , whose co-authored guide focuses on the social sciences. The PhD was first awarded in the 19th century by the philosophy departments of German universities, which at that time taught science, social science and liberal arts.

How long should a PhD thesis be?

A PhD thesis (or dissertation) is typically 60,000 to 120,000 words ( 100 to 300 pages in length ) organised into chapters, divisions and subdivisions (with roughly 10,000 words per chapter) – from introduction (with clear aims and objectives) to conclusion.

The structure of a dissertation will vary depending on discipline (humanities, social sciences and STEM all have their own conventions), location and institution. Examples and guides to structure proliferate online. The University of Salford , for example, lists: title page, declaration, acknowledgements, abstract, table of contents, lists of figures, tables and abbreviations (where needed), chapters, appendices and references.

A scientific-style thesis will likely need: introduction, literature review, materials and methods, results, discussion, bibliography and references.

As well as checking the overall criteria and expectations of your institution for your research, consult your school handbook for the required length and format (font, layout conventions and so on) for your dissertation.

A PhD takes three to four years to complete; this might extend to six to eight years for a part-time doctorate.

What are the steps for completing a PhD?

Before you get started in earnest , you’ll likely have found a potential supervisor, who will guide your PhD journey, and done a research proposal (which outlines what you plan to research and how) as part of your application, as well as a literature review of existing scholarship in the field, which may form part of your final submission.

In the UK, PhD candidates undertake original research and write the results in a thesis or dissertation, says author and vlogger Simon Clark , who posted videos to YouTube throughout his own PhD journey . Then they submit the thesis in hard copy and attend the viva voce (which is Latin for “living voice” and is also called an oral defence or doctoral defence) to convince the examiners that their work is original, understood and all their own. Afterwards, if necessary, they make changes and resubmit. If the changes are approved, the degree is awarded.

The steps are similar in Australia , although candidates are mostly assessed on their thesis only; some universities may include taught courses, and some use a viva voce. A PhD in Australia usually takes three years full time.

In the US, the PhD process begins with taught classes (similar to a taught master’s) and a comprehensive exam (called a “field exam” or “dissertation qualifying exam”) before the candidate embarks on their original research. The whole journey takes four to six years.

A PhD candidate will need three skills and attitudes to get through their doctoral studies, says Tara Brabazon , professor of cultural studies at Flinders University in Australia who has written extensively about the PhD journey :

  • master the academic foundational skills (research, writing, ability to navigate different modalities)
  • time-management skills and the ability to focus on reading and writing
  • determined motivation to do a PhD.

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How do I choose the topic for my PhD dissertation or thesis?

It’s important to find a topic that will sustain your interest for the years it will take to complete a PhD. “Finding a sustainable topic is the most important thing you [as a PhD student] would do,” says Dr Brabazon in a video for Times Higher Education . “Write down on a big piece of paper all the topics, all the ideas, all the questions that really interest you, and start to cross out all the ones that might just be a passing interest.” Also, she says, impose the “Who cares? Who gives a damn?” question to decide if the topic will be useful in a future academic career.

The availability of funding and scholarships is also often an important factor in this decision, says veteran PhD supervisor Richard Godwin, from Harper Adams University .

Define a gap in knowledge – and one that can be questioned, explored, researched and written about in the time available to you, says Gina Wisker, head of the Centre for Learning and Teaching at the University of Brighton. “Set some boundaries,” she advises. “Don’t try to ask everything related to your topic in every way.”

James Hartley, research professor in psychology at Keele University, says it can also be useful to think about topics that spark general interest. If you do pick something that taps into the zeitgeist, your findings are more likely to be noticed.

You also need to find someone else who is interested in it, too. For STEM candidates , this will probably be a case of joining a team of people working in a similar area where, ideally, scholarship funding is available. A centre for doctoral training (CDT) or doctoral training partnership (DTP) will advertise research projects. For those in the liberal arts and social sciences, it will be a matter of identifying a suitable supervisor .

Avoid topics that are too broad (hunger across a whole country, for example) or too narrow (hunger in a single street) to yield useful solutions of academic significance, write Mark Stephan Felix and Ian Smith. And ensure that you’re not repeating previous research or trying to solve a problem that has already been answered. A PhD thesis must be original.

What is a thesis proposal?

After you have read widely to refine your topic and ensure that it and your research methods are original, and discussed your project with a (potential) supervisor, you’re ready to write a thesis proposal , a document of 1,500 to 3,000 words that sets out the proposed direction of your research. In the UK, a research proposal is usually part of the application process for admission to a research degree. As with the final dissertation itself, format varies among disciplines, institutions and countries but will usually contain title page, aims, literature review, methodology, timetable and bibliography. Examples of research proposals are available online.

How to write an abstract for a dissertation or thesis

The abstract presents your thesis to the wider world – and as such may be its most important element , says the NUI Galway writing guide. It outlines the why, how, what and so what of the thesis . Unlike the introduction, which provides background but not research findings, the abstract summarises all sections of the dissertation in a concise, thorough, focused way and demonstrates how well the writer understands their material. Check word-length limits with your university – and stick to them. About 300 to 500 words is a rough guide ­– but it can be up to 1,000 words.

The abstract is also important for selection and indexing of your thesis, according to the University of Melbourne guide , so be sure to include searchable keywords.

It is the first thing to be read but the last element you should write. However, Pat Thomson , professor of education at the University of Nottingham , advises that it is not something to be tackled at the last minute.

How to write a stellar conclusion

As well as chapter conclusions, a thesis often has an overall conclusion to draw together the key points covered and to reflect on the unique contribution to knowledge. It can comment on future implications of the research and open up new ideas emanating from the work. It is shorter and more general than the discussion chapter , says online editing site Scribbr, and reiterates how the work answers the main question posed at the beginning of the thesis. The conclusion chapter also often discusses the limitations of the research (time, scope, word limit, access) in a constructive manner.

It can be useful to keep a collection of ideas as you go – in the online forum DoctoralWriting SIG , academic developer Claire Aitchison, of the University of South Australia , suggests using a “conclusions bank” for themes and inspirations, and using free-writing to keep this final section fresh. (Just when you feel you’ve run out of steam.) Avoid aggrandising or exaggerating the impact of your work. It should remind the reader what has been done, and why it matters.

How to format a bibliography (or where to find a reliable model)

Most universities use a preferred style of references , writes THE associate editor Ingrid Curl. Make sure you know what this is and follow it. “One of the most common errors in academic writing is to cite papers in the text that do not then appear in the bibliography. All references in your thesis need to be cross-checked with the bibliography before submission. Using a database during your research can save a great deal of time in the writing-up process.”

A bibliography contains not only works cited explicitly but also those that have informed or contributed to the research – and as such illustrates its scope; works are not limited to written publications but include sources such as film or visual art.

Examiners can start marking from the back of the script, writes Dr Brabazon. “Just as cooks are judged by their ingredients and implements, we judge doctoral students by the calibre of their sources,” she advises. She also says that candidates should be prepared to speak in an oral examination of the PhD about any texts included in their bibliography, especially if there is a disconnect between the thesis and the texts listed.

Can I use informal language in my PhD?

Don’t write like a stereotypical academic , say Kevin Haggerty, professor of sociology at the University of Alberta , and Aaron Doyle, associate professor in sociology at Carleton University , in their tongue-in-cheek guide to the PhD journey. “If you cannot write clearly and persuasively, everything about PhD study becomes harder.” Avoid jargon, exotic words, passive voice and long, convoluted sentences – and work on it consistently. “Writing is like playing guitar; it can improve only through consistent, concerted effort.”

Be deliberate and take care with your writing . “Write your first draft, leave it and then come back to it with a critical eye. Look objectively at the writing and read it closely for style and sense,” advises THE ’s Ms Curl. “Look out for common errors such as dangling modifiers, subject-verb disagreement and inconsistency. If you are too involved with the text to be able to take a step back and do this, then ask a friend or colleague to read it with a critical eye. Remember Hemingway’s advice: ‘Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.’ Clarity is key.”

How often should a PhD candidate meet with their supervisor?

Since the PhD supervisor provides a range of support and advice – including on research techniques, planning and submission – regular formal supervisions are essential, as is establishing a line of contact such as email if the candidate needs help or advice outside arranged times. The frequency varies according to university, discipline and individual scholars.

Once a week is ideal, says Dr Brabazon. She also advocates a two-hour initial meeting to establish the foundations of the candidate-supervisor relationship .

The University of Edinburgh guide to writing a thesis suggests that creating a timetable of supervisor meetings right at the beginning of the research process will allow candidates to ensure that their work stays on track throughout. The meetings are also the place to get regular feedback on draft chapters.

“A clear structure and a solid framework are vital for research,” writes Dr Godwin on THE Campus . Use your supervisor to establish this and provide a realistic view of what can be achieved. “It is vital to help students identify the true scientific merit, the practical significance of their work and its value to society.”

How to proofread your dissertation (what to look for)

Proofreading is the final step before printing and submission. Give yourself time to ensure that your work is the best it can be . Don’t leave proofreading to the last minute; ideally, break it up into a few close-reading sessions. Find a quiet place without distractions. A checklist can help ensure that all aspects are covered.

Proofing is often helped by a change of format – so it can be easier to read a printout rather than working off the screen – or by reading sections out of order. Fresh eyes are better at spotting typographical errors and inconsistencies, so leave time between writing and proofreading. Check with your university’s policies before asking another person to proofread your thesis for you.

As well as close details such as spelling and grammar, check that all sections are complete, all required elements are included , and nothing is repeated or redundant. Don’t forget to check headings and subheadings. Does the text flow from one section to another? Is the structure clear? Is the work a coherent whole with a clear line throughout?

Ensure consistency in, for example, UK v US spellings, capitalisation, format, numbers (digits or words, commas, units of measurement), contractions, italics and hyphenation. Spellchecks and online plagiarism checkers are also your friend.

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How do you manage your time to complete a PhD dissertation?

Treat your PhD like a full-time job, that is, with an eight-hour working day. Within that, you’ll need to plan your time in a way that gives a sense of progress . Setbacks and periods where it feels as if you are treading water are all but inevitable, so keeping track of small wins is important, writes A Happy PhD blogger Luis P. Prieto.

Be specific with your goals – use the SMART acronym (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely).

And it’s never too soon to start writing – even if early drafts are overwritten and discarded.

“ Write little and write often . Many of us make the mistake of taking to writing as one would take to a sprint, in other words, with relatively short bursts of intense activity. Whilst this can prove productive, generally speaking it is not sustainable…In addition to sustaining your activity, writing little bits on a frequent basis ensures that you progress with your thinking. The comfort of remaining in abstract thought is common; writing forces us to concretise our thinking,” says Christian Gilliam, AHSS researcher developer at the University of Cambridge ’s Centre for Teaching and Learning.

Make time to write. “If you are more alert early in the day, find times that suit you in the morning; if you are a ‘night person’, block out some writing sessions in the evenings,” advises NUI Galway’s Dermot Burns, a lecturer in English and creative arts. Set targets, keep daily notes of experiment details that you will need in your thesis, don’t confuse writing with editing or revising – and always back up your work.

What work-life balance tips should I follow to complete my dissertation?

During your PhD programme, you may have opportunities to take part in professional development activities, such as teaching, attending academic conferences and publishing your work. Your research may include residencies, field trips or archive visits. This will require time-management skills as well as prioritising where you devote your energy and factoring in rest and relaxation. Organise your routine to suit your needs , and plan for steady and regular progress.

How to deal with setbacks while writing a thesis or dissertation

Have a contingency plan for delays or roadblocks such as unexpected results.

Accept that writing is messy, first drafts are imperfect, and writer’s block is inevitable, says Dr Burns. His tips for breaking it include relaxation to free your mind from clutter, writing a plan and drawing a mind map of key points for clarity. He also advises feedback, reflection and revision: “Progressing from a rough version of your thoughts to a superior and workable text takes time, effort, different perspectives and some expertise.”

“Academia can be a relentlessly brutal merry-go-round of rejection, rebuttal and failure,” writes Lorraine Hope , professor of applied cognitive psychology at the University of Portsmouth, on THE Campus. Resilience is important. Ensure that you and your supervisor have a relationship that supports open, frank, judgement-free communication.

If you would like advice and insight from academics and university staff delivered direct to your inbox each week, sign up for the Campus newsletter .

Authoring a PhD Thesis: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Finish a Doctoral Dissertation (2003), by Patrick Dunleavy

Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis (1998), by Joan Balker

Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Spiritual Struggles (2015), by Noelle Sterne

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What is an Ed.D. Dissertation? Complete Guide & Support Resources

Wondering how to tackle the biggest doctoral challenge of all? Use our guide to the Ed.D. dissertation to get started! Learn about the purpose of a Doctor of Education dissertation and typical topics for education students. Read through step-by-step descriptions of the dissertation process and the 5-chapter format. Get answers to Ed.D. dissertation FAQs . Or skip to the chase and find real-world examples of Doctor of Education dissertations and websites & resources for Ed.D. dissertation research.

What is an Ed.D. Dissertation?

Definition of an ed.d. dissertation.

An Ed.D. dissertation is a 5-chapter scholarly document that brings together years of original research to address a problem of practice in education. To complete a dissertation, you will need to go through a number of scholarly steps , including a final defense to justify your findings.

Purpose of an Ed.D. Dissertation

In a Doctor of Education dissertation, you will be challenged to apply high-level research & creative problem-solving to real-world educational challenges. You may be asked to:

  • Take a critical look at current educational & administrative practices
  • Address urgent issues in the modern education system
  • Propose original & practical solutions for improvements
  • Expand the knowledge base for educational practitioners

Topics of Ed.D. Dissertations

An Ed.D. dissertation is “customizable.” You’re allowed to chose a topic that relates to your choice of specialty (e.g. elementary education), field of interest (e.g. curriculum development), and environment (e.g. urban schools).

Think about current problems of practice that need to be addressed in your field. You’ll notice that Ed.D. dissertation topics often address one of the following:

  • Academic performance
  • Teaching methods
  • Access to resources
  • Social challenges
  • Legislative impacts
  • System effectiveness

Wondering how others have done it? Browse through Examples of Ed.D. Dissertations and read the titles & abstracts. You’ll see how current educators are addressing their own problems of practice.

Ed.D. Dissertation Process

1. propose a dissertation topic.

Near the beginning of a Doctor of Education program, you’ll be expected to identify a dissertation topic that will require substantial research. This topic should revolve around a unique issue in education.

Universities will often ask you to provide an idea for your topic when you’re applying to the doctoral program. You don’t necessarily need to stick to this idea, but you should be prepared to explain why it interests you. If you need inspiration, see our section on Examples of Ed.D. Dissertations .

You’ll be expected to solidify your dissertation topic in the first few semesters. Talking to faculty and fellow Ed.D. students can help in this process. Better yet, your educational peers will often be able to provide unique perspectives on the topic (e.g. cultural differences in teaching methods).

2. Meet Your Dissertation Chair & Committee

You won’t be going through the Ed.D. dissertation process alone! Universities will help you to select a number of experienced mentors. These include:

  • Dissertation Chair/Faculty Advisor: The Chair of the Dissertation Committee acts as your primary advisor. You’ll often see them referred to as the Supervising Professor, Faculty Advisor, or the like. You’ll rely on this “Obi Wan” for their knowledge of the field, research advice & guidance, editorial input on drafts, and more. They can also assist with shaping & refining your dissertation topic.
  • Dissertation Committee:  The Dissertation Committee is made up of ~3 faculty members, instructors and/or adjuncts with advanced expertise in your field of study. The Committee will offer advice, provide feedback on your research progress, and review your work & progress reports. When you defend your proposal and give your final defense , you’ll be addressing the Dissertation Committee.

3. Study for Ed.D. Courses

Doctor of Education coursework is designed to help you: a) learn how to conduct original research; and b) give you a broader perspective on your field of interest. If you take a look at the curriculum in any Ed.D. program, you’ll see that students have to complete credits in:

  • Practical Research Methods (e.g. Quantitative Design & Analysis for Educational Leaders)
  • Real-World Educational Issues (e.g. Educational Policy, Law & Practice)

When you’re evaluating possible Ed.D. programs, pay attention to the coursework in real-world educational issues. You’ll want to pick an education doctorate with courses that complement your dissertation topic.

4. Complete a Literature Review

A literature review is an evaluation of existing materials & research work that relate to your dissertation topic. It’s a written synthesis that:

  • Grounds your project within the field
  • Explains how your work relates to previous research & theoretical frameworks
  • Helps to identify gaps in the existing research

Have a look at Literature Review Guides if you’d like to know more about the process. Our section on Resources for Ed.D. Dissertation Research also has useful links to journals & databases.

5. Craft a Dissertation Proposal

During the first two years of your Doctor of Education, you’ll use the knowledge you’ve learned from your coursework & discussions to write the opening chapters of your dissertation, including an:

  • Introduction  that defines your chosen topic
  • Literature Review of existing research in the field
  • Proposed Research Methodology for finding the answer to your problem

When you’re putting together these elements, think about the practicals. Is the topic too big to address in one dissertation? How much time will your research take and how will you conduct it? Will your dissertation be relevant to your current job? If in doubt, ask your faculty advisor.

6. Defend Your Dissertation Proposal

About midway through the Ed.D. program, you will need to present your proposal to your Dissertation Committee. They will review your work and offer feedback. For example, the Committee will want to see that:

  • Your research topic is significant.
  • Your research methodology & timeline make sense.
  • Relevant works are included in the literature review.

After the Committee approves your proposal, you can get stuck into conducting original research and writing up your findings. These two important tasks will take up the final years of your doctorate.

7. Conduct Original Research into Your Topic

As a Doctor of Education student, you will be expected to conduct your own research. Ed.D. students often use a qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods (quantitative/qualitative) approach in this process.

  • Quantitative Research: Collection & analysis of numerical data to identify characteristics, discover correlations, and/or test hypotheses.
  • Qualitative Research: Collection & analysis of non-numerical data to understand & explain phenomena (e.g. questionnaires, in-depth interviews, focus groups, video artifacts, etc.).

Your Ed.D. coursework will ground you in research methods & tools, so you’ll be prepared to design your own project and seek IRB approval for any work involving human subjects.

Note: Occasionally, universities can get creative. For example, the Ed.D. program at San Jose State University asks students to produce a documentary film instead of conducting traditional research.

8. Write the Rest of Your Dissertation

Once you have written up the first few chapters of your dissertation (Intro, Literature Review & Proposed Methodology) and completed your research work, you’ll be able to complete the final chapters of your dissertation.

  • Chapter 4 will detail your research findings.
  • Chapter 5 is a conclusion that summarizes solutions to your problem of practice/topic.

This is where you and your faculty advisor will often have a lot of interaction! For example, you may need to rework the first few chapters of your dissertation after you’ve drafted the final chapters. Faculty advisors are extremely busy people, so be sure to budget in ample time for revisions and final edits.

9. Defend Your Dissertation

The final defense/candidacy exam is a formal presentation of your work to the Dissertation Committee. In many cases, the defense is an oral presentation with visual aides. You’ll be able to explain your research findings, go through your conclusions, and highlight new ideas & solutions.

At any time, the Committee can challenge you with questions, so you should be prepared to defend your conclusions. But this process is not as frightening as it sounds!

  • If you’ve been in close contact with the Committee throughout the dissertation, they will be aware of your work.
  • Your faculty advisor will help you decide when you’re ready for the final defense.
  • You can also attend the defenses of other Ed.D. students to learn what questions may be asked.

Be aware that the Committee has the option to ask for changes before they approve your dissertation. After you have incorporated any notes from the Committee and addressed their concerns, you will finalize the draft, submit your dissertation for a formal review, and graduate.

Ed.D. Dissertation Format: 5 Chapters

Chapter 1: introduction.

Your Doctor of Education dissertation will begin with an introduction. In it, you’ll be expected to:

  • Provide an overview of your educational landscape
  • Explain important definitions & key concepts
  • Define a real-world topic/problem of practice
  • Outline the need for new studies on this topic

Chapter 2: Literature Review

The literature review is a summary of existing research in the field. However, it is not an annotated bibliography. Instead, it’s a critical analysis of current research (e.g. trends, themes, debates & current practices). While you’re evaluating the literature, you’re also looking for the gaps where you can conduct original research.

Sources for a literature review can include books, articles, reports, websites, dissertations, and more. Our section on Resources for Ed.D. Dissertation Research has plenty of places to start.

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

In the research methodology, you’ll be expected to explain:

  • The purpose of your research
  • What tools & methods you plan to use to research your topic/problem of practice
  • The design of the study
  • Your timeline for gathering quantitative & qualitative data
  • How you plan to analyze that data
  • Any limitations you foresee

Chapter 4: Results & Analysis

Chapter 4 is the place where you can share the results of your original research and present key findings from the data. In your analysis, you may also be highlighting new patterns, relationships, and themes that other scholars have failed to discover. Have a look at real-life Examples of Ed.D. Dissertations to see how this section is structured.

Chapter 5: Discussions & Conclusions

The final chapter of your Ed.D. dissertation brings all of your work together in a detailed summary. You’ll be expected to:

  • Reiterate the objectives of your dissertation
  • Explain the significance of your research findings
  • Outline the implications of your ideas on existing practices
  • Propose solutions for a problem of practice
  • Make suggestions & recommendations for future improvements

Ed.D. Dissertation FAQs

What’s the difference between a dissertation and a thesis.

  • Dissertation: A dissertation is a 5-chapter written work that must be completed in order to earn a doctoral degree (e.g. Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.). It’s often focused on original research.
  • Thesis: A thesis is a written work that must be completed in order to earn a master’s degree. It’s typically shorter than a dissertation and based on existing research.

How Long is a Ed.D. Dissertation?

It depends. Most Ed.D. dissertations end up being between 80-200 pages. The length will depend on a number of factors, including the depth of your literature review, the way you collect & present your research data, and any appendices you might need to include.

How Long Does it Take to Finish an Ed.D. Dissertation?

It depends. If you’re in an accelerated program , you may be able to finish your dissertation in 2-3 years. If you’re in a part-time program and need to conduct a lot of complex research work, your timeline will be much longer.

What’s a Strong Ed.D. Dissertation Topic?

Experts always say that Doctor of Education students should be passionate about their dissertation topic and eager to explore uncharted territory. When you’re crafting your Ed.D. dissertation topic , find one that will be:

  • Significant

See the section on Examples of Ed.D. Dissertations for inspiration.

Do I Have to Complete a Traditional Dissertation for an Ed.D.?

No. If you’re struggling with the idea of a traditional dissertation, check out this guide to Online Ed.D. Programs with No Dissertation . Some Schools of Education give Ed.D. students the opportunity to complete a Capstone Project or Dissertation in Practice (DiP) instead of a 5-chapter written work.

These alternatives aren’t easy! You’ll still be challenged at the same level as you would be for a dissertation. However, Capstone Projects & DiPs often involve more group work and an emphasis on applied theory & research.

What’s the Difference Between a Ph.D. Dissertation and Ed.D. Dissertation?

Have a look at our Ed.D. vs. Ph.D. Guide to get a sense of the differences between the two degrees. In a nutshell:

  • Ed.D. dissertations tend to focus on addressing current & real-world topics/problems of practice in the workplace.
  • Ph.D. dissertations usually put more emphasis on creating new theories & concepts and even completely rethinking educational practices.

How Can I Learn More About Ed.D. Dissertations?

Start with the section on Examples of Ed.D. Dissertations . You can browse through titles, abstracts, and even complete dissertations from a large number of universities.

If you have a few Doctor of Education programs on your shortlist, we also recommend that you skim through the program’s Dissertation Handbook . It can usually be found on the School of Education’s website. You’ll be able to see how the School likes to structure the dissertation process from start to finish.

Ed.D. Dissertation Support

University & campus resources, dissertation chair & committee.

The first port of call for any questions about the Ed.D. dissertation is your Dissertation Chair. If you get stuck with a terrible faculty advisor, talk to members of the Dissertation Committee. They are there to support your journey.

University Library

An Ed.D. dissertation is a massive research project. So before you choose a Doctor of Education program, ask the School of Education about its libraries & library resources (e.g. free online access to subscription-based journals).

Writing Center

Many universities have a Writing Center. If you’re struggling with any elements of your dissertation (e.g. editing), you can ask the staff about:

  • Individual tutoring
  • Editorial assistance
  • Outside resources

Mental Health Support

It’s well-known that doctoral students often face a lot of stress & isolation during their studies. Ask your faculty advisor about mental health services at the university. Staff in the School of Education and the Graduate School will also have information about on-campus counselors, free or discounted therapy sessions, and more.

Independent Dissertation Services

Dissertation editing services: potentially helpful.

There are scores of independent providers who offer dissertation editing services. But they can be expensive. And many of these editors have zero expertise in educational fields.

If you need help with editing & proofreading, proceed with caution:

  • Start by asking your Dissertation Chair about what’s permitted for third party involvement (e.g. you may need to note any editor’s contribution in your dissertation acknowledgments) and whether they have any suggestions.
  • The Graduate School is another useful resource. For example, Cornell’s Graduate School maintains a list of Editing, Typing, and Proofreading Services for graduate students.

Dissertation Coaches: Not Worth It

Dissertation coaches are defined as people who offer academic & mental support, guidance, and editorial input.

  • That means the person who should be your coach is your Dissertation Chair/Faculty Advisor. Remember that faculty members on the Dissertation Committee can also provide assistance.
  • If you’re looking for extra support, you might consider consulting a mentor in your line of work and collaborating with fellow Ed.D. students.

But hiring an independent Ed.D. dissertation coach is going to be an absolute waste of money.

Dissertation Writing Services: Just Don’t!

Universities take the dissertation process  very seriously . An Ed.D. dissertation is supposed to be the culmination of years of original thought and research. You’re going to be responsible for the final product. You’re going to be defending your written work in front of a phalanx of experienced faculty members. You’re going to be putting this credential on your résumé for everyone to see.

If you cheat the process by having someone else write up your work, you will get caught.

Ed.D. Dissertation Resources

Examples of ed.d. dissertations, dissertation databases.

  • Open Access Theses and Dissertations
  • ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
  • EBSCO Open Dissertations

Ed.D. Dissertations

  • USF Scholarship Repository: Ed.D. Dissertations
  • George Fox University: Doctor of Education
  • UW Tacoma: Ed.D. Dissertations in Practice
  • Liberty University: School of Education Doctoral Dissertations
  • University of Mary Hardin-Baylor: Dissertation Collection

Ed.D. Dissertation Abstracts

  • Michigan State University: Ed.D. Dissertation Abstracts

Ed.D. Dissertation Guides & Tools

General ed.d. guides.

  • SNHU: Educational Leadership Ed.D./Ph.D. Guide

Dissertation Style Manuals

  • Chicago Manual of Style

Style manuals are designed to ensure that every Ed.D. student follows the same set of writing guidelines for their dissertation (e.g. grammatical rules, footnote & quotation formats, abbreviation conventions, etc.). Check with the School of Education to learn which style manual they use.

Examples of Ed.D. Dissertation Templates

  • Purdue University: Dissertation Template
  • Walden University: Ed.D. Dissertation Template

Each School of Education has a standard dissertation template. We’ve highlighted a couple of examples so you can see how they’re formatted, but you will need to acquire the template from your own university.

Literature Review Guides

  • UNC Chapel Hill: Writing Guide for Literature Reviews
  • University of Alabama: How to Conduct a Literature Review

Resources for Ed.D. Dissertation Research

Journal articles.

  • EBSCO Education Research Databases
  • Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)
  • Emerald Education eJournal Collection
  • Gale OneFile: Educator’s Reference Complete
  • Google Scholar
  • NCES Bibliography Search Tool
  • ProQuest Education Database
  • SAGE Journals: Education

Useful Websites

  • Harvard Gutman Library: Websites for Educators
  • EduRef: Lesson Plans

Educational Data & Statistics

  • Digest of Education Statistics
  • Education Policy Data Center (EPDC)
  • ICPSR Data Archive
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress
  • National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
  • UNESCO Institute for Statistics

How Long is a Dissertation for a PhD?

How long is a dissertation? This is one of the most common questions asked by current or aspiring doctoral students.

How Long is a Dissertation for a PhD

A dissertation is an extensive research project that contributes fresh knowledge to the author’s field. Many doctoral programs require students to write, defend, and revise a dissertation to earn their degrees.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

This article explores the average length of a dissertation and various factors that affect the scope of these papers.

How Long Is a Dissertation?

Man taking PhD, working on his dissertation

For most graduate students, the dissertation is the longest and most time-consuming paper they write throughout their education. This project aims to address a research question in the student’s field and build on existing bodies of scholarship.

Additionally, the dissertation showcases the student’s mastery of research methodologies. Because a dissertation must accomplish several goals, they tend to be ambitious and lengthy.

Most dissertations are 100 to 250 pages long. But many factors impact the length of a dissertation, including:

  • Academic field . Each discipline has different norms regarding dissertation content and length. For instance, literature dissertations often include extended close readings of texts, while science dissertations focus more on data analysis and research design. As a result, humanities dissertations are typically longer.
  • Institutional requirements . Most colleges and universities specify a minimum number of pages for the dissertation. You can ask your academic advisor or the graduate studies office about specific dissertation guidelines.
  • Topic complexity . Broad or complex research questions may require more data and analysis to answer, resulting in a longer dissertation.
  • Individual writing style . Some doctoral students enjoy writing elaborate and detailed sentences, while others prefer to get straight to the point.
  • Research methodologies . The approaches and methods used in the research can dramatically affect the length of the dissertation. For example, some dissertations include case studies, which may require lengthy explanations and analyses. Others use quantitative research methods and may include a number of charts and figures.
  • Committee feedback . Graduate students typically write their dissertations under the supervision of a faculty committee. These professors may recommend adding or cutting material during revision, impacting the dissertation’s final length.
  • Future goals . Some doctoral students plan to revise their dissertation and publish it as an academic monograph after graduation. Writing a longer dissertation gives them more material to adapt for their book.

Reading dissertations from your department and field can give you a better sense of the typical length.

How Long Are Dissertations by Discipline?

Woman doing research for her dissertation

The answer to “how long is a doctoral dissertation?” varies by field. In some disciplines, it’s common for graduate students to spend several years writing extensive manuscripts. Other fields produce shorter dissertations of approximately 100 pages.

Here are a few examples of dissertation norms for different disciplines:

  • Arts : Students studying art and creative writing may produce a creative dissertation. These projects typically consist of a theoretical introduction and a creative project, such as a poetry collection or a series of paintings. Creative dissertations may have fewer than 100 written pages, but the artistic elements can still be time-consuming.
  • Chemistry : These dissertations typically range from 100 to 150 pages. They typically describe experimental methodologies and draw conclusions from the author’s findings.
  • Computer science : Dissertations in this field are generally 50 to 150 pages long and often include quantitative data and algorithms.
  • English : PhD students in this field frequently write lengthy literature reviews and provide in-depth analyses of novels and other texts. English dissertations may range from 200 to 350 pages.

Faculty in your discipline can help you understand dissertation expectations.

Average Dissertation Length Per Chapter

Man working on a chapter of his dissertation

Dissertations typically have similar components and structures across disciplines. Here are six common chapters and their average lengths:

  • Introduction : The first chapter introduces the primary research topic and explains its relevance to the field. The introduction also provides a brief overview of the investigation method. Most introductions are 10 to 25 pages long.
  • Literature review : This chapter situates the project within the broader discipline. The author analyzes existing sources already written on their research topic and identifies biases or gaps that their own project remedies. Humanities dissertations tend to have 20 to 30 page literature reviews, while STEM dissertations devote 10 to 20 pages to this component.
  • Methodology : The third chapter typically focuses on the methods and techniques used to gather data. Ideally, this description should contain all the details that another researcher would need to duplicate the experiment and verify the results. The methodology chapter ranges from 15 to 25 pages, depending on the complexity of the research.
  • Findings : This section analyzes the collected data and discusses the results of the research project. It often includes charts, diagrams, and other data visualizations illustrating the findings. This chapter could be 20 to 50 pages, depending on the number of images and the amount of text needed to thoroughly examine the results.
  • Discussion : This chapter explains the significance of the results. The author may also compare their findings to previously published scholarship. The discussion is typically 15 to 25 pages.
  • Conclusion : The author summarizes their findings, acknowledges the limitations of their research, and suggests avenues for future studies. Most conclusions consist of 15 to 20 pages.

Some dissertations deviate from this format. For instance, English dissertations may devote several chapters to critical analyses of different genres or authors.

What Is a Dissertation?

students researching together for their dissertation

A dissertation is a lengthy written document that a doctoral student produces based on their original research. This project demonstrates the student’s expertise in their area of specialty and contributes to existing knowledge in the field.

Dissertations typically fall into one of two categories. Empirical dissertations require students to collect and analyze data. For instance, a psychology student may interview people about their mental health, while a marketing student could interpret sales data.

Theoretical dissertations focus on analyzing existing scholarship and secondary sources. For example, a literature student might research psychoanalysis and apply this approach to superhero comics.

How Many Pages Is a Dissertation?

Man reviewing some printouts of his dissertation

The length of a dissertation varies by discipline, institution, and research project. Some dissertations can be as short as 50 pages, while others may total 400 pages. But the average dissertation ranges from 100 pages to 250 pages.

Dissertations in the humanities and social sciences are typically the most extensive. These projects often include detailed analyses, case studies, and literature reviews. By contrast, dissertations in STEM fields like economics and mathematics are often 150 pages or less.

Students in these disciplines frequently use mathematical formulas and data visualizations to prove their findings, resulting in less text.

Why Are Dissertations So Long?

Woman reading her dissertation

Dissertations are typically the most extended assignments that students complete in graduate school. Several factors contribute to their length, including:

  • Depth of research . Doctoral students can spend several years researching their topic and analyzing data. This extensive work often takes hundreds of pages to summarize and explain.
  • Literature review . Most fields have extensive bodies of scholarship, so students spend many pages analyzing sources and contextualizing their projects.
  • Bibliography . Dissertations often cite dozens or even hundreds of sources, resulting in lengthy bibliographies.

Also, colleges often require dissertations to include additional materials like abstracts and tables of content.

What’s the Difference Between a Dissertation vs. Thesis?

Depending on the type of graduate program you enroll in, you may be required to write a dissertation or thesis. Here are the main differences between a thesis vs. dissertation .

If you want to develop your own concepts or theories, a dissertation can help you accomplish this goal.

What’s the Difference Between a Capstone vs. Dissertation?

There are doctorate programs with no dissertation. Like some online doctoral programs in education without dissertation requirements, they have a capstone project instead. Here’s a comparison of a dissertation vs. capstone .

Your career goals can help determine if a capstone or dissertation is right for you.

How Long Is a Dissertation for a PhD Degree?

students taking PhD degree, working on their dissertation

People often wonder, “How long is a PhD dissertation?” These projects are typically 100 to 250 pages long, though dissertations on complex topics may total more than 400 pages.

Writing a dissertation allows you to develop advanced expertise on your chosen research topic. Many students also publish portions of their dissertations as peer-reviewed articles and share their findings at conferences. These activities enhance your CV and may make you more competitive for academic jobs.

You can kickstart your doctoral journey today by researching accredited online programs in your field.

chapter 5 dissertation length

chapter 5 dissertation length

How Long is a Dissertation

chapter 5 dissertation length

How Long is a Dissertation? Concrete Answers

An undergraduate dissertation usually falls within the range of 8,000 to 15,000 words, while a master's dissertation typically spans from 12,000 to 50,000 words. In contrast, a PhD thesis is typically of book length, ranging from 70,000 to 100,000 words.

Let’s unravel the mystery of how long should a dissertation be. If you’ve ever wondered about this, look no further. Our comprehensive guide delves into the nitty-gritty of dissertation lengths across diverse academic realms. Whether you're a budding grad student, an academic advisor, or just curious, we've got you covered.

From Master's to PhD programs, we decode the variations in length requirements and shed light on disciplinary disparities. In general, dissertations are 150 to 300 words. But factors influence the length of these daunting scholarly requirements! But fear not as we break it down for you.

We’ll unveil the secrets behind dissertation writing, from how they reflect the depth and breadth of research to offering invaluable tips for planning and writing. So, if you're ready to demystify the daunting dissertation journey, hop on board! Let's navigate the labyrinth of academia together and empower you to conquer your scholarly aspirations.

Institutional guidelines on dissertation length 

You can think of institutional guidelines as purveyors of academic excellence. Ever wondered why schools impose specific requirements like "Chapter 1: The Introduction must be at least 35 pages long and no more than 50 pages"? 

It's not just about arbitrary rules! However, it's about striking the perfect balance between guidance and practicality. These guidelines serve as guardrails, steering students like you towards scholarly success without overwhelming faculty with endless pages to peruse. 

Moreover, credibility is key here! A mere 8-page literature review won't cut it in the realm of academia. But fear not, for most institutions provide dissertation templates, complete with essential headings to streamline the process. 

And for those seeking a helping hand, a dissertation writing service like ours stands ready to assist, ensuring your masterpiece meets the lofty standards of academic rigor. So, embrace the guidelines, weave your narrative, and let your dissertation shine with scholarly prowess.

Variations in dissertation length across academic disciplines

Dissertation length varies significantly across academic disciplines due to differences in research methods, data presentation, and writing conventions. Here's a general overview of how dissertation length can differ by discipline:

  • Humanities and Social Sciences: Dissertations in these fields tend to be longer because they often involve comprehensive literature reviews, detailed theoretical analyses, and extensive qualitative data. It's not uncommon for dissertations in history, literature, or sociology to exceed 200 pages.
  • Sciences and Engineering: Dissertations in the sciences and engineering might be shorter in terms of page count but are dense with technical details, data, charts, and appendices. They often range between 100 to 200 pages. However, the length can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the work and the requirements of the specific program.
  • Arts and Design: In creative disciplines, the dissertation might include a practical component (like a portfolio, exhibition, or performance) alongside a written thesis. The written component might be shorter, focusing on the conceptual and contextual analysis of the creative work, usually ranging from 40 to 80 pages.
  • Professional Fields (Business, Education, etc.): Dissertations in professional fields such as business or education often focus on case studies, practical applications, and policy analysis. These dissertations can vary widely in length but often fall in the range of 100 to 200 pages.

Dissertations vary in length due to many factors, which shows the diverse nature of academic research. Disciplinary differences are significant, as each field may have distinct expectations regarding the depth and scope of the study. 

The type of analysis conducted, whether qualitative, quantitative, or a combination of both, also impacts the length. 

For instance, qualitative studies may involve extensive textual analysis, resulting in longer manuscripts, while quantitative studies may require detailed statistical analyses. Additionally, the specific area of research within a discipline can also affect the length, as certain topics may necessitate more:

  • extensive literature reviews
  • data collection (e.g., fieldwork, surveys, interviews, lab work)
  • discussion sections

While the average length typically falls within the range of 150-300 pages, it's essential to recognize the nuanced factors contributing to variations in dissertation length. You must remain informed about the variables shaping your document's overall size and structure to deliver exemplary results.

Factors influencing the length of doctoral dissertations

Various factors determine the length of a dissertation, such as the specific guidelines set by universities, the type of research conducted, the extent of analysis required, and the presence of supplementary materials.

Several factors come into play when determining the ideal length of a dissertation. University guidelines set the tone, with institutions offering word count ranges typically between 8,000 to 15,000 words for undergraduates and masters and 75,000 to 100,000 words for PhD. 

Yet, beyond these guidelines, the nature of your research holds sway.

Disciplines vary, with humanities favoring extensive literature reviews and scientific fields emphasizing methodological intricacies. Depth of analysis matters, too; a thorough exploration demands more space. 

Balancing these elements ensures a well-rounded dissertation. So, as you embark on your scholarly journey, consider these factors carefully. By understanding them, you'll craft a dissertation that not only meets academic standards but also showcases your analytical prowess and depth of intelligence.

Length, components, and scholarly dedication

Many aspiring scholars think, "How long is a doctoral dissertation?" However, the answer isn't straightforward. Yes, length varies, but let's not forget to factor in a crucial element: time. And we know because many students have instructed us to “ write my dissertation !”

Remember, a dissertation isn't penned in one sitting. Rather, it often evolves from smaller academic chapters. This gradual process allows students to explore diverse topics before committing to a book-length project they're passionate about.

Beyond the central argument lie various components that contribute to the overall length. Take the literature review, for example—an essential segment that contextualizes the research by analyzing existing scholarship. Then there's the myriad of ancillary elements like the title page, acknowledgments, abstract, and appendix, each adding to the dissertation's page count.

It’s the accumulation of these parts that determines the length. So, while the answer may not be a precise number, it's crucial to acknowledge many elements that make up a doctoral dissertation. And for those embarking on this scholarly journey, we can help you conquer this challenge.

How Long is a Dissertation Chapter? Uncover the Mystery

When it comes to dissertation length, most grad students fret over how long each chapter should be. While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, there is a golden rule–chapters should be long enough to address the research question comprehensively. 

Think quality over quantity! Ask any dissertation adviser, and they’ll say aiming to fill a predetermined number of pages shouldn’t be the goal. Rather, you must thoroughly explore your topic, conduct extensive research, and present your findings effectively. 

Your writing style and the unique nature of your research also play pivotal roles. So, whether your chapter spans 50 pages or 150, ensure it's packed with substantive content that advances your study. Ultimately, it's not about hitting a page count but about delivering a high-quality scholarly contribution.

Writing an Excellent PhD Dissertation: Strategies and Tips

After you’re done pondering on how many pages should a dissertation be, you can move on with production. Wondering how to write a dissertation , here are some tips: 

  • Start with a significant research topic that inspires you and formulate a clear research question. 
  • Thoroughly review existing literature to contextualize your study. 
  • Develop a robust methodology and collect comprehensive data. 
  • Analyze findings meticulously and synthesize them effectively. 
  • Ensure logical flow throughout your writing, striving for clarity and coherence. 
  • Engage with other scholars, both peers and mentors, to refine your work.
  • Maintain consistency in formatting and adhere to academic standards. 

Remember, with meticulous planning and dedication, you'll produce a dissertation that makes you and your mentors proud. 

How long is a PhD dissertation?: The Conundrum

Do you belong to the list of students who feel bewildered about PhD dissertation length? Many wonder because of the length’s variability across disciplines and institutions. The general ballpark figure for a completed doctoral dissertation is typically between 150 to 300 pages. Yet, this can vary widely depending on factors such as: 

  • field of study
  • research methodology used
  • individual institutional requirements
  • guidelines of mentors

Although there's no one-size-fits-all answer, understanding these variables can help you navigate the ambiguity surrounding dissertation length. And with proper planning, you can create an impressive output. 

Frequently asked questions

How to properly plan and prepare for a long dissertation .

Thinking about how long is a dissertation for PhD stops students on their track. It can indeed be overwhelming when you think of the amount of work involved. But with proper planning, you can crush your goals. Here are some helpful tips: 

  • Break down your work into manageable steps. 
  • Define your research question clearly and set realistic milestones. 
  • Create an outline to help you write. `
  • Have a schedule for research, writing, and revisions. 
  • Stay organized with notes, citations, and references. 
  • Seek feedback from advisors and peers throughout the process. 

Remember, embrace the challenges you face as opportunities for growth!

Are supporting materials counted in the dissertation word count? 

Worried about how long is a dissertation paper and if yours will make the cut? Remember, appendices, tables, and figures, while essential, aren't factored into the word count. So, you can incorporate these supplementary elements without concerns about exceeding word limits.

If you’re pressed for time, you can buy dissertation online . Just ensure to give appropriate instructions so the final output adheres to your institution's formatting guidelines. With these supporting materials appropriately included, your dissertation will be comprehensive.

Are there different types of dissertations? 

When asking how long are dissertations, one of the first things to consider is the field of study. Various types of dissertations exist, often shaped by research methodology. It can be quantitative to qualitative studies or triangulation (a blend of both). 

Instead of worrying about the length, determine your research approach—whether it's primary or secondary, qualitative or quantitative. This decision significantly impacts the depth and breadth of your investigation, ultimately influencing the expected length of your dissertation. By aligning your research methods with your academic goals, you'll gain clarity on the scope of your writing project. 

Another aspect of the length of the entire document is the type of thesis - be it an undergraduate thesis, masters thesis, or thesis for an advanced degree, most dissertations for academic programs are lengthy. The more advanced the degree, the longer the thesis usually is.

Are dissertations just for PhDs? 

How many pages in a dissertation is something most students worry about. But is a dissertation just for doctoral candidates? In some countries, dissertations are exclusive to PhDs. However, for other countries, the term “dissertation” is interchangeable with "thesis." Why so?

Because both are research projects completed for undergraduate or postgraduate degrees. Keep in mind that whether you’re pursuing a bachelor's, an MA, or a doctorate, dissertation writing demonstrates your research skills and academic proficiency.

Your doctoral degree, just like your graduate degree from a graduate school, shows you can successfully navigate the research process, theoretical framework, and dissertation defense. Sure, the scope of research was less focused while you were a graduate student with a master's thesis. Nonetheless, it shows consistent work and dedication.

How many chapters in a dissertation? 

Still mulling over how long does a dissertation have to be and how many chapters you must write? Dissertations usually consist of five to seven chapters. These typically cover the following: 

  • introduction
  • literature review
  • methodology

However, the structure can vary depending on your field of study and specific institutional guidelines. Each chapter plays a vital role, leading readers through your research journey, from laying the groundwork to presenting findings and drawing conclusions.

How do I find a reputable dissertation writer to help me? 

Worried about how long are PhD dissertations? No need to worry. You can opt for professional help, and there’s no shame in that! Research for online platforms that specialize in academic writing services like our Studyfy team.

You can take a peek at our positive reviews and testimonials, showing our track record of delivering high-quality work. Choose a writer who possesses expertise in your field of study and can meet your specific requirements. Prioritize the following: 

  • clear communication 
  • appropriate instructions (from word count to deadlines)
  • transparency regarding pricing
  • upfront about revision policies. 

By vetting potential writers and choosing a reputable service, you can secure the assistance of a reliable professional to guide you through the dissertation writing process.


How Long Is A Dissertation: Chapter-To-Chapter Division

By Laura Brown on 10th July 2023

Students often worry about how many words is a dissertation. The length of a dissertation can vary depending on the field of study, the institution, and the level of education.

  • Undergraduate dissertations are typically between 8,000 to 12,000 words
  • Master’s dissertations are normally between 15,000 to 25,000 words.
  • Whereas, PhD dissertations or theses are typically book-length, at 30,000 to 100,000 words.

However, these are just general guidelines, and your dissertation may be shorter or longer depending on specific requirements of your professor or institution.

So, if you are reading this, it is for sure you are looking forward to determining the right length of the dissertation. We welcome all the aspiring scholars to Crowd Writer UK as today, we embark on an exciting journey into the world of dissertations.

For many of you, the term “dissertation” might still be shrouded in mystery. Fear not, we are here to shed light on this significant milestone in your academic career. So, grab a seat, and let’s unravel the secrets of dissertation length!

How Long Is A Dissertation - A Detailed Analysis Chapter-by-Chapter

What is a Dissertation

First things first, before knowing how many words is a dissertation, we need to understand what exactly is a dissertation? Well, think of it as the pinnacle of your academic pursuit. A dissertation is an in-depth research project that demonstrates your mastery of a particular subject or field . It showcases your ability to critically analyse existing knowledge, conduct original research, and contribute to scholarly conversation.

Length Matters, But Don’t Panic!

Now, let’s address the burning question: How long is a dissertation UK? The answer may vary depending on your academic level. For undergraduate students, the average length typically ranges from 8,000 to 12,000 words. As you progress to the masters level, the length expands to around 15,000 to 25,000 words. Finally, for those aiming for the coveted PhD degree, the dissertation can extend further, ranging from 60,000 to 100,000 words or more.

But hold on! Before you start panicking about the sheer number of words, remember that quality triumphs over quantity. The goal of a dissertation is not simply to reach a specific word count, but rather to demonstrate your expertise and contribute to the knowledge base of your field.

Why Length Varies

The variation in dissertation length across academic levels is influenced by several factors. Undergraduates often exploring their research skills for the first time, while masters students delve deeper into their chosen discipline. PhD candidates are expected to produce extensive original research, making their dissertations more comprehensive.

Keep in mind that these length ranges are not set in stone. Your university or department might have specific guidelines, so it’s essential to familiarise yourself with their requirements. Additionally, the nature of your research topic and the expectations of your advisor will influence the final length.

Embrace the Journey On How Long Is A Dissertation

As you embark on your dissertation adventure, remember that it’s not just about meeting a word count. Your dissertation is an opportunity to delve into a subject you are passionate about, contribute new insights, and make your mark in the academic world. Stay focused, manage your time wisely, and seek guidance from your mentors.

So, dear students, fear not the length of your dissertation. Instead, channel your energy into producing a well-crafted, impactful piece of research. Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s dive into the chapters that make up a dissertation and explore their respective lengths.

Get ready to unleash your academic prowess!

Dissertation Chapter Wise Word Count Distribution Bar Chart

Abstract: Unveiling the Essence of Your Dissertation

An abstract is a concise summary that captures the essence of your entire dissertation. It serves as a preview, enticing readers to delve deeper into your research. Think of it as a miniaturised version of your dissertation, highlighting the key aspects and findings in a condensed format.


For undergraduate dissertations, abstracts are typically around 150 to 300 words . This limited word count requires a focused approach, emphasising the main research objective, methodology, and significant results.

As you move to the master’s level, abstracts expand to around 200 to 500 words . This allows for a more detailed overview of the research problem, methodology, findings, and conclusions.

At the PhD level, abstracts become more comprehensive, ranging from 300 to 600 words or more . These abstracts often include additional elements such as theoretical frameworks, research contributions, and future implications.

The purpose of an abstract is to provide a succinct snapshot of your research, enticing readers to explore further. So, craft your abstract carefully, ensuring it captures the essence of your dissertation and enthrals your audience.

Now that we’ve uncovered the significance and lengths of abstracts, let’s delve into the chapters that form the backbone of your dissertation.

Chapter 1: Introduction: Paving the Path for Your Research

The introduction serves as a roadmap for your dissertation, captivating readers and guiding them through your research journey. There is no need to worry about how to write a dissertation introduction , as we have got you covered on this. Tailor your introduction to your academic level, demonstrating a clear understanding of the subject matter and setting the foundation for your subsequent chapters.

For undergraduate dissertations, the introduction typically ranges from 500 to 1,000 words . In this concise yet informative section, you’ll present the research problem, provide background information, and clearly state your research objectives.

If you are at a master’s level, the introduction expands to approximately 1,000 to 2,000 words . This allows for a more comprehensive exploration of the research topic, including a review of relevant literature and the identification of research gaps.

For PhD dissertations, the introduction further expands, ranging from 2,000 to 4,000 words . This extensive section encompasses a thorough literature review, establishing the theoretical framework, and outlining the research questions with detailed justifications.

Chapter 2: Literature Review: Building on the Foundations of Knowledge

The Literature Review chapter is a critical component of your dissertation, showcasing your understanding of existing research and theoretical frameworks. It showcases your ability to synthesise and analyse existing knowledge, positioning your research within the broader scholarly conversation. Let’s have a look at

For undergraduate dissertations, the literature review typically spans around 1,500 to 3,000 words . This section focuses on introducing key concepts, providing an overview of relevant studies, and identifying gaps in the existing literature.

At the master’s level, the literature review expands to approximately 3,000 to 6,000 words . Here, you’re expected to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the subject, critically analyse existing research, and highlight the theoretical frameworks that inform your study.

For PhD students, the literature review goes further, ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 words or more . This extensive section involves an in-depth exploration of scholarly work, demonstrating your expertise in the field and presenting a comprehensive overview of the research landscape.

Chapter 3: Methodology: Unveiling Your Research Approach

The Methodology chapter outlines the research design, data collection methods, and analytical techniques employed in your dissertation. It demonstrates your ability to conduct rigorous research and ensures the validity and reliability of your findings. Here is the description of the length of the most significant methodology chapter on the basis of your academic level.

If you are wondering how many words is a masters dissertation methodology chapter, we have got you covered. It is about 1,500 to 3,000 words . This allows for a more detailed description of your research approach, including the rationale behind your chosen methods and a discussion of any ethical considerations.

The Methodology chapter is from 3,000 to 6,000 words or more . This comprehensive section entails a thorough explanation of your research design, data collection procedures, sampling strategies, and advanced analytical techniques.

Chapter 4: Analysis, Results & Discussion: Unveiling the Insights

As we carry on to understand how many words in a dissertation. The next chapter inline is the Analysis, Results & Discussion chapter where you have the opportunity to present and interpret the findings of your research. The length of this chapter can vary depending on the complexity of your study and the depth of analysis required.

The Analysis, Results & Discussion section goes around 1,000 to 2,000 words . As you go on to understand how long is a dissertation UK, here, you will present the key findings of your research, supported by relevant data and analysis. Engage in a critical discussion of these results, relating them back to your research questions and objectives.

At the master’s level, the Analysis, Results & Discussion chapter expands to approximately 2,000 to 4,000 words . Showcase a more detailed and in-depth analysis of your findings, employing advanced analytical techniques as appropriate. Discuss the implications of your results, considering their significance within the broader context of the field.

The Analysis, Results & Discussion chapter further expands, ranging from 4,000 to 8,000 words or more . Conduct a comprehensive analysis of your findings, providing a meticulous examination of the data. Engage in a rigorous discussion, critically evaluating the implications and contributions of your research to the field.

Chapter 5: Conclusion & Recommendation: Bridging the Gap and Charting New Paths

In the concluding chapter of your dissertation, you have the opportunity to tie together the threads of your research journey and provide valuable insights for future exploration. The length of the Conclusion & Recommendation chapter varies across academic levels, offering a platform to summarise your findings and propose meaningful recommendations.

For undergraduate dissertations, the Conclusion & Recommendation section typically encompasses around 500 to 800 words . Here, you concisely summarise the key findings of your study, highlighting their significance and relevance. Offer practical recommendations that emerge from your research, suggesting avenues for further investigation.

If you are willing to know how long is a masters dissertation when it comes to the Conclusion & Recommendation chapter. It goes to approximately 800 to 1,500 words . Here, you should reflect on the broader implications of your research, considering its impact on the field. Provide comprehensive recommendations that build upon your findings, guiding future research and applications.

The Conclusion & Recommendation chapter further increases, ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 words or more . In this chapter, you have to synthesise the extensive body of work you have conducted, emphasising its contributions to the field. Further, offer novel insights and recommendations, challenging existing paradigms and paving the way for future research breakthroughs. If you feel like it is still a challenging task for you, buy dissertation online with Crowd Writer and we will do it for you satisfactorily.

While Summing Up On How Long Is A Dissertation UK…

How long should a dissertation be? This is the first and foremost question students ask when they are up to writing it. Different chapters of the dissertation reflect different word counts on the basis of your academic level, i.e. undergraduate, masters, and PhD levels.

The blog post contains a chapter-to-chapter division of the word count for different academic levels. By understanding these chapter lengths, students can better navigate the dissertation writing process and create impactful research contributions within their academic journey.

Laura Brown

Laura Brown, a senior content writer who writes actionable blogs at Crowd Writer.

Grad Coach

How To Write The Discussion Chapter

The what, why & how explained simply (with examples).

By: Jenna Crossley (PhD Cand). Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | August 2021

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve reached the discussion chapter of your thesis or dissertation and are looking for a bit of guidance. Well, you’ve come to the right place ! In this post, we’ll unpack and demystify the typical discussion chapter in straightforward, easy to understand language, with loads of examples .

Overview: Dissertation Discussion Chapter

  • What (exactly) the discussion chapter is
  • What to include in your discussion chapter
  • How to write up your discussion chapter
  • A few tips and tricks to help you along the way

What exactly is the discussion chapter?

The discussion chapter is where you interpret and explain your results within your thesis or dissertation. This contrasts with the results chapter, where you merely present and describe the analysis findings (whether qualitative or quantitative ). In the discussion chapter, you elaborate on and evaluate your research findings, and discuss the significance and implications of your results.

In this chapter, you’ll situate your research findings in terms of your research questions or hypotheses and tie them back to previous studies and literature (which you would have covered in your literature review chapter). You’ll also have a look at how relevant and/or significant your findings are to your field of research, and you’ll argue for the conclusions that you draw from your analysis. Simply put, the discussion chapter is there for you to interact with and explain your research findings in a thorough and coherent manner.


What should I include in the discussion chapter?

First things first: in some studies, the results and discussion chapter are combined into one chapter .  This depends on the type of study you conducted (i.e., the nature of the study and methodology adopted), as well as the standards set by the university.  So, check in with your university regarding their norms and expectations before getting started. In this post, we’ll treat the two chapters as separate, as this is most common.

Basically, your discussion chapter should analyse , explore the meaning and identify the importance of the data you presented in your results chapter. In the discussion chapter, you’ll give your results some form of meaning by evaluating and interpreting them. This will help answer your research questions, achieve your research aims and support your overall conclusion (s). Therefore, you discussion chapter should focus on findings that are directly connected to your research aims and questions. Don’t waste precious time and word count on findings that are not central to the purpose of your research project.

As this chapter is a reflection of your results chapter, it’s vital that you don’t report any new findings . In other words, you can’t present claims here if you didn’t present the relevant data in the results chapter first.  So, make sure that for every discussion point you raise in this chapter, you’ve covered the respective data analysis in the results chapter. If you haven’t, you’ll need to go back and adjust your results chapter accordingly.

If you’re struggling to get started, try writing down a bullet point list everything you found in your results chapter. From this, you can make a list of everything you need to cover in your discussion chapter. Also, make sure you revisit your research questions or hypotheses and incorporate the relevant discussion to address these.  This will also help you to see how you can structure your chapter logically.

Need a helping hand?

chapter 5 dissertation length

How to write the discussion chapter

Now that you’ve got a clear idea of what the discussion chapter is and what it needs to include, let’s look at how you can go about structuring this critically important chapter. Broadly speaking, there are six core components that need to be included, and these can be treated as steps in the chapter writing process.

Step 1: Restate your research problem and research questions

The first step in writing up your discussion chapter is to remind your reader of your research problem , as well as your research aim(s) and research questions . If you have hypotheses, you can also briefly mention these. This “reminder” is very important because, after reading dozens of pages, the reader may have forgotten the original point of your research or been swayed in another direction. It’s also likely that some readers skip straight to your discussion chapter from the introduction chapter , so make sure that your research aims and research questions are clear.

Step 2: Summarise your key findings

Next, you’ll want to summarise your key findings from your results chapter. This may look different for qualitative and quantitative research , where qualitative research may report on themes and relationships, whereas quantitative research may touch on correlations and causal relationships. Regardless of the methodology, in this section you need to highlight the overall key findings in relation to your research questions.

Typically, this section only requires one or two paragraphs , depending on how many research questions you have. Aim to be concise here, as you will unpack these findings in more detail later in the chapter. For now, a few lines that directly address your research questions are all that you need.

Some examples of the kind of language you’d use here include:

  • The data suggest that…
  • The data support/oppose the theory that…
  • The analysis identifies…

These are purely examples. What you present here will be completely dependent on your original research questions, so make sure that you are led by them .

It depends

Step 3: Interpret your results

Once you’ve restated your research problem and research question(s) and briefly presented your key findings, you can unpack your findings by interpreting your results. Remember: only include what you reported in your results section – don’t introduce new information.

From a structural perspective, it can be a wise approach to follow a similar structure in this chapter as you did in your results chapter. This would help improve readability and make it easier for your reader to follow your arguments. For example, if you structured you results discussion by qualitative themes, it may make sense to do the same here.

Alternatively, you may structure this chapter by research questions, or based on an overarching theoretical framework that your study revolved around. Every study is different, so you’ll need to assess what structure works best for you.

When interpreting your results, you’ll want to assess how your findings compare to those of the existing research (from your literature review chapter). Even if your findings contrast with the existing research, you need to include these in your discussion. In fact, those contrasts are often the most interesting findings . In this case, you’d want to think about why you didn’t find what you were expecting in your data and what the significance of this contrast is.

Here are a few questions to help guide your discussion:

  • How do your results relate with those of previous studies ?
  • If you get results that differ from those of previous studies, why may this be the case?
  • What do your results contribute to your field of research?
  • What other explanations could there be for your findings?

When interpreting your findings, be careful not to draw conclusions that aren’t substantiated . Every claim you make needs to be backed up with evidence or findings from the data (and that data needs to be presented in the previous chapter – results). This can look different for different studies; qualitative data may require quotes as evidence, whereas quantitative data would use statistical methods and tests. Whatever the case, every claim you make needs to be strongly backed up.

Every claim you make must be backed up

Step 4: Acknowledge the limitations of your study

The fourth step in writing up your discussion chapter is to acknowledge the limitations of the study. These limitations can cover any part of your study , from the scope or theoretical basis to the analysis method(s) or sample. For example, you may find that you collected data from a very small sample with unique characteristics, which would mean that you are unable to generalise your results to the broader population.

For some students, discussing the limitations of their work can feel a little bit self-defeating . This is a misconception, as a core indicator of high-quality research is its ability to accurately identify its weaknesses. In other words, accurately stating the limitations of your work is a strength, not a weakness . All that said, be careful not to undermine your own research. Tell the reader what limitations exist and what improvements could be made, but also remind them of the value of your study despite its limitations.

Step 5: Make recommendations for implementation and future research

Now that you’ve unpacked your findings and acknowledge the limitations thereof, the next thing you’ll need to do is reflect on your study in terms of two factors:

  • The practical application of your findings
  • Suggestions for future research

The first thing to discuss is how your findings can be used in the real world – in other words, what contribution can they make to the field or industry? Where are these contributions applicable, how and why? For example, if your research is on communication in health settings, in what ways can your findings be applied to the context of a hospital or medical clinic? Make sure that you spell this out for your reader in practical terms, but also be realistic and make sure that any applications are feasible.

The next discussion point is the opportunity for future research . In other words, how can other studies build on what you’ve found and also improve the findings by overcoming some of the limitations in your study (which you discussed a little earlier). In doing this, you’ll want to investigate whether your results fit in with findings of previous research, and if not, why this may be the case. For example, are there any factors that you didn’t consider in your study? What future research can be done to remedy this? When you write up your suggestions, make sure that you don’t just say that more research is needed on the topic, also comment on how the research can build on your study.

Step 6: Provide a concluding summary

Finally, you’ve reached your final stretch. In this section, you’ll want to provide a brief recap of the key findings – in other words, the findings that directly address your research questions . Basically, your conclusion should tell the reader what your study has found, and what they need to take away from reading your report.

When writing up your concluding summary, bear in mind that some readers may skip straight to this section from the beginning of the chapter.  So, make sure that this section flows well from and has a strong connection to the opening section of the chapter.

Tips and tricks for an A-grade discussion chapter

Now that you know what the discussion chapter is , what to include and exclude , and how to structure it , here are some tips and suggestions to help you craft a quality discussion chapter.

  • When you write up your discussion chapter, make sure that you keep it consistent with your introduction chapter , as some readers will skip from the introduction chapter directly to the discussion chapter. Your discussion should use the same tense as your introduction, and it should also make use of the same key terms.
  • Don’t make assumptions about your readers. As a writer, you have hands-on experience with the data and so it can be easy to present it in an over-simplified manner. Make sure that you spell out your findings and interpretations for the intelligent layman.
  • Have a look at other theses and dissertations from your institution, especially the discussion sections. This will help you to understand the standards and conventions of your university, and you’ll also get a good idea of how others have structured their discussion chapters. You can also check out our chapter template .
  • Avoid using absolute terms such as “These results prove that…”, rather make use of terms such as “suggest” or “indicate”, where you could say, “These results suggest that…” or “These results indicate…”. It is highly unlikely that a dissertation or thesis will scientifically prove something (due to a variety of resource constraints), so be humble in your language.
  • Use well-structured and consistently formatted headings to ensure that your reader can easily navigate between sections, and so that your chapter flows logically and coherently.

If you have any questions or thoughts regarding this post, feel free to leave a comment below. Also, if you’re looking for one-on-one help with your discussion chapter (or thesis in general), consider booking a free consultation with one of our highly experienced Grad Coaches to discuss how we can help you.

chapter 5 dissertation length

Psst... there’s more!

This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps . If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out ...

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How to write the conclusion chapter of a dissertation



Thank you this is helpful!


This is very helpful to me… Thanks a lot for sharing this with us 😊

Nts'eoane Sepanya-Molefi

This has been very helpful indeed. Thank you.


This is actually really helpful, I just stumbled upon it. Very happy that I found it, thank you.


Me too! I was kinda lost on how to approach my discussion chapter. How helpful! Thanks a lot!

Wongibe Dieudonne

This is really good and explicit. Thanks

Robin MooreZaid

Thank you, this blog has been such a help.

John Amaka

Thank you. This is very helpful.

Syed Firoz Ahmad

Dear sir/madame

Thanks a lot for this helpful blog. Really, it supported me in writing my discussion chapter while I was totally unaware about its structure and method of writing.

With regards

Syed Firoz Ahmad PhD, Research Scholar

Kwasi Tonge

I agree so much. This blog was god sent. It assisted me so much while I was totally clueless about the context and the know-how. Now I am fully aware of what I am to do and how I am to do it.

Albert Mitugo

Thanks! This is helpful!

Abduljabbar Alsoudani

thanks alot for this informative website

Sudesh Chinthaka

Dear Sir/Madam,

Truly, your article was much benefited when i structured my discussion chapter.

Thank you very much!!!

Nann Yin Yin Moe

This is helpful for me in writing my research discussion component. I have to copy this text on Microsoft word cause of my weakness that I cannot be able to read the text on screen a long time. So many thanks for this articles.

Eunice Mulenga

This was helpful

Leo Simango

Thanks Jenna, well explained.


Thank you! This is super helpful.

William M. Kapambwe

Thanks very much. I have appreciated the six steps on writing the Discussion chapter which are (i) Restating the research problem and questions (ii) Summarising the key findings (iii) Interpreting the results linked to relating to previous results in positive and negative ways; explaining whay different or same and contribution to field of research and expalnation of findings (iv) Acknowledgeing limitations (v) Recommendations for implementation and future resaerch and finally (vi) Providing a conscluding summary

My two questions are: 1. On step 1 and 2 can it be the overall or you restate and sumamrise on each findings based on the reaerch question? 2. On 4 and 5 do you do the acknowlledgement , recommendations on each research finding or overall. This is not clear from your expalanattion.

Please respond.


This post is very useful. I’m wondering whether practical implications must be introduced in the Discussion section or in the Conclusion section?


Sigh, I never knew a 20 min video could have literally save my life like this. I found this at the right time!!!! Everything I need to know in one video thanks a mil ! OMGG and that 6 step!!!!!! was the cherry on top the cake!!!!!!!!!

Colbey mwenda

Thanks alot.., I have gained much

Obinna NJOKU

This piece is very helpful on how to go about my discussion section. I can always recommend GradCoach research guides for colleagues.

Mary Kulabako

Many thanks for this resource. It has been very helpful to me. I was finding it hard to even write the first sentence. Much appreciated.


Thanks so much. Very helpful to know what is included in the discussion section

ahmad yassine

this was a very helpful and useful information

Md Moniruzzaman

This is very helpful. Very very helpful. Thanks for sharing this online!


it is very helpfull article, and i will recommend it to my fellow students. Thank you.

Mohammed Kwarah Tal

Superlative! More grease to your elbows.


Powerful, thank you for sharing.


Wow! Just wow! God bless the day I stumbled upon you guys’ YouTube videos! It’s been truly life changing and anxiety about my report that is due in less than a month has subsided significantly!

Joseph Nkitseng

Simplified explanation. Well done.

LE Sibeko

The presentation is enlightening. Thank you very much.


Thanks for the support and guidance


This has been a great help to me and thank you do much

Yiting W.

I second that “it is highly unlikely that a dissertation or thesis will scientifically prove something”; although, could you enlighten us on that comment and elaborate more please?

Derek Jansen

Sure, no problem.

Scientific proof is generally considered a very strong assertion that something is definitively and universally true. In most scientific disciplines, especially within the realms of natural and social sciences, absolute proof is very rare. Instead, researchers aim to provide evidence that supports or rejects hypotheses. This evidence increases or decreases the likelihood that a particular theory is correct, but it rarely proves something in the absolute sense.

Dissertations and theses, as substantial as they are, typically focus on exploring a specific question or problem within a larger field of study. They contribute to a broader conversation and body of knowledge. The aim is often to provide detailed insight, extend understanding, and suggest directions for further research rather than to offer definitive proof. These academic works are part of a cumulative process of knowledge building where each piece of research connects with others to gradually enhance our understanding of complex phenomena.

Furthermore, the rigorous nature of scientific inquiry involves continuous testing, validation, and potential refutation of ideas. What might be considered a “proof” at one point can later be challenged by new evidence or alternative interpretations. Therefore, the language of “proof” is cautiously used in academic circles to maintain scientific integrity and humility.

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Dissertation Length: Optimal Length in Words and Pages

Dissertation Length: Optimal Length in Words and Pages

Optimal Dissertation Length

Optimal Dissertation Length

A dissertation is an academic research project that students must complete for their undergraduate or postgraduate degree. Through a dissertation, a student will be able to present their findings for the project they chose.

Also known as a thesis, the sole purpose of this project is to test the research capabilities that you have acquired during your time at the university. Even though tutors can offer some help, this research project is mostly independent. 

chapter 5 dissertation length

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What is the Best Dissertation Length?

There is no specific length for a dissertation research paper. For starters, there are factors such as the discipline that will determine the type and length of a dissertation.

For instance, Ph.D. dissertations in humanities will be longer when compared to those in sciences. 

writing your dissertation

Secondly, the guidelines of your learning institutions will also determine the length of your paper.

Universities and colleges have different visions and motives when it comes to research papers.

Optimal Dissertation Length 

It is good to conclude that the length of a dissertation depends on the study level, the discipline you have chosen, and the institution of learning.

However, it takes between 10,000-20,000 words for a dissertation paper for students at the undergraduate level. At the master’s level, dissertation length can be between 15,000-25,000 words.

Those at the Ph.D. level can write dissertations of up to 50,000 words. 

Dissertations cover between 100-300 pages. These pages should be separated into various chapters, divisions, and subdivisions. 

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Length Of Dissertation Parts

1. the introduction.

The significance of the introduction is to provide important background information about the dissertation title .

It is also through the introduction that you will be able to showcase the relevance of your case. In a typical dissertation introduction, you will have to establish the problems and gaps and then proceed to express all your research questions. 

dissertation introduction

The length of the introduction should be approximately 10% of the entire research paper. This means that you have to ensure that 10% of your total word count goes to the introduction.

Averagely, this will take up to 15 pages of your writing.

Even though you have already provided an abstract, the significance of an introduction cannot be underestimated. You have to state what you will be investigating and the worthiness of the research.

When the marker reads your introduction, he or she will know the significance of the research to academia. The aim of your research and all questions should be clearly explained. 

Within the required length of the introduction, state the scope of your study and tell the readers exactly what you will cover. You should also show the methodology you are going to adopt and how you are going to structure the entire dissertation.

Portray the core chapters of the thesis and what each of them is going to cover. 

2. Literature Review                                          

This is an important part of your dissertation that should present the finding of your previous research. In simpler terms, it is the basis of your future work and this means it will take a significant part of your dissertation word count.

Averagely, the length of the literature review part is between 30-40 pages. 

This literature review part should explain the topic you are currently investigating. It shows how your research is going to fit into the bigger picture and its ability to contribute original material.

In this review, showcase how the previous studies’ methodology will assist you to develop your own. 

3. Methodology

The methodology section is where you explain your approach to the research and all the methods you have used. It is a section where you describe all these methods and ensure you justify their usage.

methodology section

In most dissertations, your length of pages for the methodology section should not exceed 10 pages. 

The chapter on your methodology should also address how you are going to carry out your research. How you intend to design your research should be a vital point of focus.

In simple terms, clearly explain why you opted to structure your research in that design. 

The dissertation is a part of your degree that you should use to not only develop but also demonstrate your ability to do proper research.

Your professors or markers will want to know the methods you have used and the reason for choosing them. Even more importantly, show how to deploy these methods effectively.

This is a sensitive chapter of your dissertation and you should go into detail to show what you will be doing. Give details of the duration and with whom you will be doing the research.

4. Analysis

The analysis has a very important section of your dissertation and usually takes about 45% of your total word count. This is the discussion section where you will present all your research findings.

The detailed presentation involves surveys, tables, graphs as well as interviews. In this section, ensure all your presentations are clear so that markers do not get any confusion.

The discussion section must contain a proper interpretation of the findings, their limitations as well as implications. 

The analysis section takes almost half the word count of the dissertation. It takes a lot of pages to explain your data analysis results and what they mean concerning the research questions you had.

Ultimately, the methodology you selected will determine what you are going to discuss. 

For instance, if you have a quantitative methodology , you will have to explain the connections between variables.

using quantitative analysis

In a methodology style that features a qualitative style, important themes and their meaning will be discussed.

Therefore, how you write the discussion section is determined by your design of research choices. 

This is the final part that involves a summarization of the entire research. It can take between 5% and 7% of your dissertation word count. It is all about concluding your interpretation of results by attempting to give answers to your original research questions.

Ensure you give details of your conclusions concerning the research questions you had right from chapter one. As much as it may involve some repetitions because you have discussed these questions in the previous chapter, a conclusion is very important.

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Frequently Asked Qestions    

What is the average length of a ph.d. dissertation by major.

On average, the length of a Ph.D. dissertation is between 120-200 pages. However, this word count does not include the appendices as well as the bibliography. What determines your word count and length will be the research type and the technical nature of the paper. 

What is the best chapter 5 dissertation length?

This should be about 15-20 pages. The section should include an introduction, summary of findings, implications for practice, recommendations for research, and conclusion. 

How long is a dissertation in psychology?

There is no specific page or word count requirement for a dissertation research paper in psychology. However, it should range from 80 to 150 pages depending on the requirement of the institution or professor. All the multiple chapters and appendices should be covered within this word count.

What is the average psychology dissertation length?

The average length of a psychology dissertation is 80 pages excluding the bibliography. Nonetheless, the analysis method, topic, and your university will determine the length.

How long should a history dissertation be?

An undergraduate history dissertation should be written in about 10,000 words. In most universities, it is an important part of the third year of a history student. Ph.D. dissertations in history will usually be near the length of 80,000 words.

This word count includes all the appendices but the references, notes, abstract, footnotes, abbreviations and acknowledgments are not part of it. 

Josh Jasen

When not handling complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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Fashioning the future in Roman Greece: memory, monuments, texts

Christopher p. dickenson , university of groningen. [email protected].

If Roman Greece was once an unfashionable backwater of Classical studies that is not because of any lack of evidence. Literary sources are rich and plentiful, the peak of the epigraphic habit has given us thousands of inscriptions, and there are impressive archaeological remains of cities and sanctuaries that reached new heights of monumentality under the Empire. Negative attitudes to the period arose largely from the assumption that Greek culture lost its vitality, trapped under the oppressive weight of its own Classical legacy as the coming of Rome signalled the death knell for freedom and democracy. The last decades have witnessed a dramatic reappraisal of the period. The ways that imperial Greek culture—which often seems obsessed with its past—related to its own history is a subject that has deservedly received considerable attention. Creative engagement with the past, through literature, through building new monuments and repurposing old ones, has been recognised as an important strategy for shaping identity and negotiating power in the Imperial present. In spite of this attention for the past and the present, the future has been little discussed. This remarkable book, which builds on and expands the author’s PhD thesis, brings together literary, epigraphic and archaeological material to make the case that the Greeks living under the Empire—or at least the elite who produced the literature and set up the monuments—were profoundly concerned with posterity and went to considerable effort to shape the reception of their cultural legacy by future generations.

The methodological premise underpinning the book is ‘intermediality’. Strazdins stresses that texts and monuments were produced by the same class of people and cited, referenced and alluded to one another. As such, she argues, we needed to look for interplays of meaning across the divides of medium and genre. Writers such as Arrian, Aelius Aristeides and Philostratus are particularly fruitful sources and are dealt with at length, but many other authors are also discussed. Most of these authors come from outside mainland Greece and many useful passages concern the Greek world at large. The archaeological and epigraphic focus, by contrast, is largely on the province of Achaea. A figure who looms particularly large throughout and is the subject of the last chapter is Herodes Atticus, who serves as a case study that draws the various threads of the argument together. In light of the attention Strazdins pays him, Herodes will also feature prominently in this review. Strazdins’ employs her method of intermediality with precision and a judicious balance of attention for both the written word and physical monuments. Rich and rewarding readings of countless texts, statues and buildings weave together knowledge of history, myth and Greek topography with an erudition to match that of the sophists who constitute the book’s heroes and supporting cast. The theoretical approach is sophisticated and the analysis of evidence—particularly the literary material—highly proficient. Strazdins, however, writes with flair that makes the book an enjoyable read. The book casts in sharp relief the ways in which the elite sought to exert influence over their posthumous reputation, their acute awareness of the limitations of these strategies, and their struggles to overcome these limits.

The book opens with a useful introductory chapter that surveys past scholarship of the so-called ‘Second Sophistic’, the key interpretative framework by which the period is traditionally explained. Here Strazdins convincingly argues that for Greek authors of the Roman period, the cultural heroes of the Classical past served not merely as the source of inspiration and admiration as modern scholarship typically assumes, but rather provided a model for how to achieve lasting fame and a standard to be surpassed. The spirit in which Roman period authors engaged with the output of their Classical forebears was not merely emulative but competitive to a degree that has previously been overlooked. The two chapters of Part One set out Strazdins’ case that the Roman period Greek elite were indeed greatly preoccupied with their posthumous reception. Chapter 2 examines key literary works by Dio Chrysostom, Longinus and Arrian in which that concern is to the fore. Chapter 3 takes a more concrete turn and the argument gains momentum as Strazdins pursues ways in which physical monuments (portraits, arches, artworks) and discourses about them worked to create memory.

Part Two pushes the investigation of monuments further in chapters focussing on specific types of commemorative structure. Chapter 4 explores monuments with funerary connotations: tombs naturally, but also altars and Herodes Atticus’ portrait herms for his adopted pupils, inscribed with curse inscriptions to safeguard against future tampering. Strazdins makes a convincing case that funereal connotations did indeed extend to these other types of monuments given their aim of perpetuating the memory or even the presence of the deceased. A particular highlight of this chapter are Strazdins’ reflections on the tensions inherent between epitaphs thought of as having power to give voice to the dead vs. tombs being seen as prisons that forever silenced their inhabitant. She argues this through a close reading of Philostratus’ description of Polemo’s self-interment, eschewing an epitaph yet carrying on declaiming from within the tomb. Strazdins’ discussion of Alexander’s restoration of the tomb of Cyrus, which appears in several Roman period sources, is also fascinating. Strazdins shows how these descriptions worked not only to keep Alexander’s memory alive but also competed with that memory through moulding the story to assert the superior power of texts—and thus the reputation of the author—over monuments as a strategy for preserving memory.

Chapter 5 looks at the most prolific type of monument in Roman Greece: statues, both real and literary. The contest between physical monuments and literary works as more effective for securing immortality, touched on above, and most famously voiced by Horace in Ode 3.30, was one that troubled the Roman period elite a good deal. Strazdins demonstrates how some individuals, like Aristides or Apuleius, placed more faith in the written word to secure their commemoration, regarding statues as problematic because they fossilised their subject in a single guise and could ultimately all too easily be taken down. Yet even in these authors statues serve as a touchstone for discussing broader memorial practices. Even those who did desire and set up statues recognised the inadequacy of the medium, as shown by the various strategies discussed by Strazdins, which they deployed to enhance their message, including setting up multiple statues in different locations, poses and costumes, setting up group monuments and even, on occasion, developing recognisable portrait types to rival those of emperors. All of these strategies were used by Herodes Atticus with his own portrait type that referenced Demosthenes and Aischines, his many statues of himself, his wife Regina and his adopted pupils at multiple locations throughout Achaia and his grandiose nymphaeum at Olympia with its rows of statues representing his own family and the imperial family of the 2 nd century.

Herodes returns as the central focus of the final chapter, arguably the most rewarding of the entire book. Herodes is a fantastic case study for Strazdins’ purpose for several reasons. Firstly we have the wealth of detail provided by Philostratus. In his Lives of the Sophists the biography of Herodes far exceeds those of any of its other subjects in length, with only that of Polemo coming close. This text provides fertile ground for Strazdins to consider both Herodes’ own strategies to control his posthumous reputation and Philostratus’ strategies for shaping Herodes’ reception to enhance his own reputation as an author. At the same time Herodes, as both a wordsmith and a builder, encapsulates both of the strategies of remembrance that Strazdins is interested in. Somewhat ironically in light of Herodes’ pre-eminence as an orator —at least according to Philostratus—none of his speeches survive. Yet there is abundant archaeological evidence for his public benefactions at Athens, Olympia, Delphi and elsewhere, and for private buildings and monuments at his own estates at Marathon and Loukou. Weaving this material together Strazdins presents a convincing portrait of Herodes as a man who took the concerns of his peers for posterity to their extreme. In weighing up the merits of words vs. monuments for securing his remembrance Herodes was convinced—wisely it seems in light of the disappearance of his speeches—of the superiority the latter, hence his prolific building activities. Philostratus explicitly emphasises this attitude in discussing Herodes’ ambition to fulfil Nero’s abandoned plan to cut a canal through the Isthmus of Corinth. Herodes’ obsession with building, however, and the curse inscriptions mentioned above, show that he was all too aware of the limits of his powers to control what happened to his monuments after he was gone.

Strazdins intertwines her reconstruction of Herodes’ strategy for securing his future memory with an insightful reading of Philostratus’ portrayal of him. Herodes has often been seen one-sidedly as Philostratus’ hero, but Strazdins shows that his interpretation of the sophist is deeply layered and full of ambiguity. Philostratus’ admiration for Herodes’ cultural pre-eminence in the city of Athens exists in tension with critique of his political career. Culturally Herodes might have been ‘king of Athens’, as Strazdins titles her chapter, but his ‘rule’ carried undertones of tyranny hinted at in the vocabulary Philostratus uses to describe him and in the pointed comparison to Nero noted above. The chapter builds to an examination of Herodes’ funeral and burial in the Panathenaic stadium which is a tour de force of Strazdins’ method of intermediality. Far from being the grand public honour it seems at face value Strazdins argues that the burial signified the demos reasserting its control over the man and his memory, subverting the epigraphically attested procession by which he was welcomed back to Attica following his trial for maiestas before Marcus Aurelius at Smirnium, and overturning his own wish to be buried at Marathon. Throughout the chapter the richly layered significance of Herodes’ connections to Marathon is a recurring theme—Strazdins is able to tease out connections to Theseus, Miltiades and Kimon, and to the cult of Nemesis at Rhamnous, all with implications for how Herodes positioned himself in relation to the Classical past, to notions of kingship and tyranny, and to the contemporary realities of imperial rule. Strazdins also convincingly discerns a subtle, tragic comparison in Philostratus between Herodes and Sokrates as benefactors that the city of Athens failed to appreciate until they were dead.

This reviewer found Strazdins’ reading of Herodes’ commemorative strategies and those of Philostratus in portraying him wholly convincing. It might be possible to quibble about some of her other interpretations. For instance, whatever the resonances with Alexander and Xenophon in Arrian’s broader work, I was not completely persuaded that his letter to Hadrian about replacing a statue of the emperor that was a poor likeness (discussed in Chapter 2) needs to be read in those terms. Arrian was, after all, dealing with a real statue that had been set up where it was for reasons that had nothing to do with his literary project. Strazdins is so finely tuned to salient detail that there is a danger of overreading the evidence and seeing significance where there is none. It would, however, be churlish to provide further examples and such quibbles are only possible because Strazdins offers so many readings of so much evidence—far too many to do justice to here. Individually all of her interpretations, even where critique is possible, are eminently plausible. Τogether they combine to create a powerful, cohesive and convincing picture of a Roman period Greek elite that was deeply concerned that they should not be forgotten. Strazdins’ book keeps their memory alive for modern students of antiquity, helping us to see them, and the culture of Greece under Rome, in a new light.

Production values are high, as is to be expected from its inclusion in the Oxford Studies in Ancient Culture and Representation series. The book is lavishly illustrated with crisp black and white photos and plans and equipped with a useful general index and an index locorum.


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    The Purpose of Chapter 5Topic 2: Chapter 5. The Purpose of Chapter 5. Topic 2: Chapter 5. Learning Goals: Understand the components of Chapter 5. Write the introduction to include the problem, purpose, research questions and brief description of the methodology. Review and verify findings for the study. Write the Summary of Findings.

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    5. When preparing the conclusion section, imagine giving a brief talk to your colleagues. Based on your findings, what are three meaningful conclusions you can share with them? References Blum, K. (2006). Teaching students how to write a chapter four and five of a dissertation. [unpublished paper]. Melville, K. (2009).


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    The length of a dissertation can vary depending on the field of study, the institution, and the level of education. Undergraduate dissertations are typically between 8,000 to 12,000 words. Master's dissertations are normally between 15,000 to 25,000 words. Whereas, PhD dissertations or theses are typically book-length, at 30,000 to 100,000 words.

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  23. Fashioning the future in Roman Greece: memory, monuments, texts

    Chapter 5 looks at the most prolific type of monument in Roman Greece: statues, both real and literary. The contest between physical monuments and literary works as more effective for securing immortality, touched on above, and most famously voiced by Horace in Ode 3.30, was one that troubled the Roman period elite a good deal.