The Basic Elements of a Doctoral Dissertation

What you are about reading goes to show the major components of the doctoral dissertation and the order that they should follow. We are talking about a book here and there is a specific structure that should be followed.

There are three major divisions in a dissertation and sub-divisions are included under the three major divisions. We shall be taking a look at what is involved in each of the divisions. 


 This will as the guide to the content and the nature of the book. The pages of all the 12 elements that are included in the front matter are written in lower case roman numerals. The order that they are going to appear is as follows:

  • Half-title page
  • Title page
  • Copyrights
  • Dedication
  • Epigraph
  • Contents page
  • Illustrations
  • Tables
  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgments
  • Note on Transliterations
  • Abbreviations

The right order of presentation of the pages is what you have above. The dedication page; is optional and can be left out. This is so if you do not have anyone in mind to dedicate the work to in the first place. The same goes for the Epigraph. It can also be left out of the equation. 

When you have nothing to illustrate, then the illustration page can be left out. All other areas included in the list must be part of the front matter.

Body matter

The body matter of the dissertation is where the bulk of the work lies. This section is divided into chapters that are not equal in size. The highlight of what is involved here includes the introduction chapter where each student is expected to capture the attention of the readers. 

The conclusion should be an area where each student is expected to finish powerfully by stating the relevance of their research work to the public. 

The order for the body matter is below:

  1. Chapter 1/Introduction
  2. Chapter 2
  3. Section 2.1
  4. Section 2.2
  5. Subsection 2.2.1
  6. Subsection 2.2.2
  7. Chapter 5
  8. Chapter 6
  9. Chapter 7/Conclusion

The number of chapters here will be determined by the volume of the paper that is involved.

Back cover

The contents that are included in the back cover do not play any major significant role in the paper. They are non-essential and are considered supplementary to the paper. The composition of the parts that make up the back cover is as follows:

  1. Appendix A
  2. Appendix B
  3. Notes
  4. Reference List/Bibliography

Though we stated earlier that this part has no significant reference to your work; it should be pointed out the part that consists of a reference list/bibliography is very important to the survival or otherwise of your dissertation. Plagiarism is a serious offense. Every literature that you used in arriving at your conclusion must be acknowledged. 

This must be included in your reference to avoid the big issues. It is advised that you create a column where you are going to put down all the references immediately you make use of such. This will make it easy to include all in this section in the final analysis without leaving out any detail.

Final thoughts

What you have above represents the elements of a doctoral dissertation and the perfect order that they are expected to follow if the results that mattered are to be achieved which will confer legit on the work of any scholar.

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