How to Create Your Dissertation Outline

 Dissertation Outline
There are two main aspects when it comes to writing a dissertation outline: a list of what is supposed to be said and a to-do list. The second aspect is considered to be the easiest because it is fairly easy to write about things that should be accomplished. Despite this, you need to write it anyway.


We will use linear planning for dissertation outline in this post. One of the advantages of such structure is that the final outcome is very clear to read and understand. But on the other hand, some students say that linear planning makes it difficult to add elements to the outline in the future. Here is the list of questions that will help you to compose your own outline for a dissertation:

Outline Example


  1. Introduction and rationale. What is the reason for me to write this dissertation? What has prompted me to select this topic?
  2. Research question: Provide explanations for all terms in your research problem so the readers would understand the terminology and therefore have better grasp on your work.
  3. Literature review. What scientists proved to be the best thinkers in my topic area? What are their most important works that can help me? How can I identify underlying theoretical idea?
  4. A. Research methods. You need to discuss advantages and disadvantages of particular research methodologies. These methods might include interviews, observations and so on.
  5. B. Main supporters and theorists. Who are the scientists that have opposing view compared to mine? Who are the ones that support my ideas? How can I describe my own point of view regarding the argument in my dissertation? What works can I add to support me?
  6. Conclusions and suggestions for future studies. What were the outcomes of my findings that can be relevant to my research question? How can I present ideas for developing the research topic?
  7. Appendices and bibliography. What additional material that would be useful to my research question can I include? All material including books, websites, journal articles should be stated in references of your dissertation.

A to-do list for your dissertation

The functions of a to-do list for the writing and researching process:

  • Helps of you to overview your work more efficiently and quickly
  • Provides clear records of things that you have done and what is still left to do.
  • Provides a satisfaction when you tick tasks off.
  • Keeps information about the data that is to be added
  • May be useful for your supervisor if written correctly
  • May serve as a base of outlines of your dissertation

In addition to the to-do list, make sure you take notes while drafting your outline. These notes can contain your personal observations and thoughts which may be very useful in the future. You can even ask your supervisor to look at your notes and see if some ideas are worth exploring.

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