Have an expert improve your writing
Check your paper for plagiarism
Get inspired by free writing samples

A Step-by-Step Guide Creating Your Dissertation Outline

Written by Kristian Eide
Posted: November 27, 2021
Last update date: March 22, 2024
8 min read

All types of academic writing assignments are deservedly considered the most difficult for students to complete. It’s not only required to demonstrate creativity but theoretical knowledge and understanding of the structure and requirements of the work. In these terms, it’s hard to overestimate the importance of a Master’s thesis and a candidate’s dissertation. These projects sum up your entire university education. In this article, we will discuss:

  • How to start crafting a comprehensive dissertation outline that serves as the roadmap for your research and writing process
  • Explore the ways in which creating a well-structured chapters outline for your dissertation not only simplifies the task of research writing but also accelerates the entire process, ensuring coherence and clarity in your academic work.
  • What are the essential elements your dissertation should encompass, spanning from the introduction to the conclusion, ensuring your research work meets all criteria of a scholarly work.

To write a dissertation outline, you need to understand its importance and purpose. Let’s start by identifying the main objectives of the dissertation outline.

Understanding the Purpose of an Outline

Writing a thesis is the final point in your studies. Responsible work requires a responsible approach, especially considering the volume and requirements of the dissertation. By using an outline strategy, you can save time and structure your work more effectively. Among the main advantages of the plan are these:

  • A dissertation outline brings order to your thoughts and ideas, helping you avoid repetition.
  • An outline will give shape to your ideas and help you organize your thoughts into structured paragraphs.
  • Having a plan in front of your eyes, you won’t miss important points.
  • The dissertation outline logically arranges the flow and the order of your thoughts, linking them together.

Writing a dissertation plan is a process that requires strategy and theoretical knowledge. By using our professional essay-writing services, you will ensure high-quality results and save your energy. We will be happy to help you complete the thesis chapter outline even in the shortest possible time.

Preliminary Steps Before Drafting the Outline

Now that you already know the purpose of creating an outline for your dissertation, the time has come to begin preparing to write it. Before you make an outline for all dissertation parts, you should pay attention to three preliminary steps:

  • Understand the guidelines

Study in detail the requirements and guidelines of your department and university regarding dissertation work. The key to writing a paper worthy of appreciation is understanding the requirements. Considering studying dissertation planning templates for a better idea.

  • Study the scientific context

Immerse yourself in the context of your dissertation topic. You must understand the specifics of existing literature on your topic, as well as the prospects for the development of future research.

  • Define the main research questions

After studying the available information, clearly outline the scope of your research problem and formulate the main research questions. The structure of a dissertation requires you to limit yourself to a few main areas of research and not to spread yourself across many topics.

Chapters of a Comprehensive Dissertation Outline


The title page is the first element of the dissertation structure. Your task is to give an overview of the topic of your work in a few words. We’ve already covered tips on writing research paper titles to help you out. To come up with a dissertation title yourself, conduct a brainstorming, highlighting the main ideas for the title, and use the most interesting option while avoiding ambiguity.


The abstract is a brief summary of the components of a dissertation. After reading the abstract, the audience should get a comprehensive picture of your work. These, together with the title page and table of contents, form a separate fragment at the beginning of a dissertation. Although the abstract and the table of contents are located at the very commencement, they should be written after completing work on the main text, having made all the conclusions. A proper dissertation abstract includes an introduction, purpose, methods, dissertation proposal, research results, and conclusions. Typically, this piece of text consists of 200-300 words.


To create an introduction chapter outline for dissertation, you should base it on four central elements:

  • Background information. You should introduce the reader to your topic by describing the background for choosing this particular research topic.
  • The scientific importance of your research. After all, the research question should not only be interesting to you but also introduce novelty into the scientific community. State the main reasons for conducting research on the topic of your thesis.
  • Define the boundaries of your research design. Indicate within what framework the study of the research question will be carried out and exactly which aspects of the chosen direction were considered in the work.
  • Formulate a goal or hypothesis that is revealed through your research.

Literature Review

A literature review chapter is necessary to highlight the under-researched elements of your chosen topic. First of all, you need to monitor existing sources on the topic of your research. Study works related to your field, selecting the most relevant ones. Then, identify gaps in the literature, namely issues that require further discussion. The final step of a literature review is to draw up a theoretical framework for your further research. Determine the main areas in which study and analysis will be carried out. This stage is integral for identifying the research question and most pressing scientific needs.


The research methodology of your dissertation is not a dry list of research methods. This integral part of your dissertation structure requires a clear explanation of the strategy you have chosen for data collection and data analysis of the research findings. You need to not only mention the research method used for data collection but also compare the feasibility of your choice.

Start your methodology by indicating whether you used quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods, explaining your choice. Tell who participated in your study and what the prerequisites were. Discuss the methods and procedures for collecting and analyzing data for your dissertation paper. Be sure to describe and analyze in your methodology the ethical issues you encountered in your research problem. The general requirements for a dissertation methodology state the scope should be 1,500 to 2,000 words.


After you have completed your research, you will have to present your discoveries. Describe the information obtained during the study. Please note that the research findings or results section of the dissertation only requires a presentation of your own discoveries regarding the topic. The data analysis of other sources has already been discussed in detail in the previous sections of a dissertation. Be concise and logical in listing the main research findings. This section encourages the use of visual material such as tables, graphics, charts, etc.


The discussion is the part of your dissertation that analyzes your findings in relation to the problem statement in the literature review and stated research questions. In this part, you need to logically connect the information you received during the research with your objectives and the main research questions. Explain exactly how the information you received is important for science and future research on the chosen topic. To write a good research paper, it is necessary to provide convincing arguments in favor of the conclusions you draw based on the data obtained.

Also, give an overview of to what extent you were able to disclose the issues identified in the literature review. Moreover, it’s required to discuss what factors limited your progress in studying the dissertation topic. Finally, review your intentions for future research in studying this scientific area. Identify which elements still require additional discussion and why it is important to pay attention to these factors.


The last part of the dissertation or thesis outline is the conclusion. In the final parts of the work, you need to summarize the information you received and the results achieved during the study. Include in the conclusion chapter all important discoveries and conclusions drawn from your research paper. This fragment should be brief and logically correspond to the tasks you set at the beginning of the dissertation. And don’t forget to also state what scientific contribution your study makes and how these discoveries are useful for the scientific community.


After your thesis chapters, the dissertation structure requires a bibliography. This is a list of literature sources that were used during the research. There are generally accepted formats that you must strictly adhere to. Study in detail a Ph.D. thesis outline template to know the requirements for the formatting. Every written, printed or electronic literary source must be included in the Bibliography.

Example Of A Dissertation Outline

It is better to see a sample dissertation outline once in practice than to read it in theory a hundred times. We advise you to familiarize yourself with dissertation outline example so that you have a clear understanding of how to write your own. Our professional dissertation writers tried their best to make your work easier and ensure that you have a hassle-free dissertation writing experience. Study the example we have given below and use it as a dissertation plan template for your own PhD thesis outline:

Dissertation outline example

Tips for Crafting Outline Effective and Fast

Find a Good Topic

If you choose a relevant topic, it will be easy for you to develop all five chapters of a dissertation later. To create a dissertation outline without any problems, choose a topic that interests you and that is relevant. The dissertation process is very energy-intensive, and it will go unnoticed if you are interested in what you are researching.

Be Prepared to Adjust Your Outline as Your Research Progresses

Your dissertation outline is a guide for further research, but you may need to make adjustments as you go. It is very difficult to accurately predict the direction of writing a dissertation paper, so drawing up an accurate plan is almost impossible. Be flexible and be prepared to make small adjustments to your dissertation writing strategy.

Stick to a Consistent Style and Format

Any scientific work requires adherence to a certain style and dissertation structure. The specificity of the dissertation implies the use of a formal scientific style without colloquial terms. It is also necessary to remember to follow the format for writing a scientific paper. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the requirements for formatting the chapters in a dissertation, research design, font, paragraph indentation, etc.

Design a Methodology for Gathering Data and Information

Based on what the research question requires, select the necessary research methods and draw up a methodology. Analyze the objectives you have set and determine the most appropriate ways to collect information. Perhaps interviews, surveys, or observations are suitable for you; the most important thing is that the methods of collecting information correspond to the assigned tasks.

Consult Your Supervisor or Colleagues

Very often, our research reaches a dead end because we lack a fresh perspective on the topic. If, in the process of writing a thesis outline, you find yourself in a blind corner, seek help from your colleagues or supervisor. Perhaps their perspective on the problems you are studying will shed a ray of light on your impasse. The main thing is to choose qualified assistants who can give practical advice.

Depth Over Breadth

Science loves precision and depth, so it is better to choose a limited number of topics and study them in detail than to be scattered in different directions. In the process of drawing up a dissertation/thesis outline, choose several main areas of study and weed out vague ones.

Regularly Revisit and Revise the Outline

Do not forget that the outline is your main guideline when writing a dissertation. During the research, consult and resort to the help of your plan so as not to stray from the intended way. This strategy will help you avoid missing any important elements of your research paper.

Need help with writing a dissertation?
Get your paper written by a professional writer
Get Help

Outline – Your Main Dissertation Guideline

Students often doubt the need to write a dissertation outline, but we are ready to dispel all your doubts. A dissertation outline will not only save you time but will also help organize the flow of your ideas into a structured strategy for action. The dissertation layout will save you time during the writing process by serving as a guide as well. Contact PapersOwl for help in drawing up clear dissertation outline templates and ensuring the highest grade.

Papersowl contacts


Just fill out the form, press the button, and have no worries!

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related emails.

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.