9 Steps of Writing a Dissertation – Guide, Outline, Templates and Examples

9 steps of writing a dissertation
Dissertation writing guide


Writing a dissertation is not just a requirement to earn your degree; it’s a transformative journey that propels you into the realm of scholarly inquiry and academic excellence.

The 9 steps of writing a dissertation enable you to understand what you are expected to do in each of the step.

However, you can find more details on how to structure your dissertation here.

As you delve deep into your research topic, meticulously analyzing data, synthesizing literature, and drawing meaningful conclusions, you’re not just completing an academic exercise – you’re making a significant contribution to your field of study.

Your dissertation is your opportunity to showcase your expertise, creativity, and critical thinking skills, demonstrating your ability to address complex issues and advance knowledge in your discipline.

Through the process of writing a dissertation, you not only deepen your understanding of your research area but also develop invaluable skills in research design, data analysis, and scholarly writing – skills that will serve you well in your future career endeavors.

If you need a good dissertation writer to help you craft a compelling dissertation paper, check out our list of best dissertation writers

Your dissertation is your intellectual legacy, a testament to your dedication, passion, and commitment to excellence in your field. Embrace this opportunity with enthusiasm and determination, knowing that your dissertation has the power to make a lasting impact on your academic and professional journey. Below is a detailed guide on how to write your dissertation:

Step 1: Understand the Dissertation Requirements

Review the guidelines provided by your institution regarding dissertation format, length, and submission requirements. Familiarize yourself with the specific expectations and criteria for each section of the dissertation.

Dissertation requirements can vary depending on your academic institution, program, and field of study. All the required information about your dissertation writing and standards are often presented in the dissertation outline from your institution.

However, some common requirements when writing a dissertation typically include:

  • Length: Most dissertations range from 30 to 100 pages, depending on the discipline and depth of research required. Some institutions may specify a minimum or maximum page limit for dissertations.
  • Structure: Dissertations typically follow a standard structure, including sections such as Title Page, Abstract, Table of Contents, List of Figures and Tables, Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Results, Discussion, Conclusion, References, and Appendices (if necessary)
  • Formatting: Your dissertation must adhere to specific formatting guidelines provided by your institution or department. This may include requirements for font size, spacing, margins, page numbering, and citation style (e.g., APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago).
  • Originality: Your dissertation must present original research and contribute new knowledge to your field. It should demonstrate independent thought, critical analysis, and a thorough understanding of existing literature.
  • Research Ethics: If your research involves human subjects, animal subjects, or sensitive data, you must obtain ethical approval from your institution’s research ethics board. You must also adhere to ethical guidelines and ensure the confidentiality and welfare of research participants.
  • Data Analysis: Depending on your research methodology, you may need to analyze quantitative or qualitative data. Your dissertation should include a detailed description of your data analysis methods and procedures.
  • References: Your dissertation must include a comprehensive list of references cited in your literature review and throughout your study. You must follow the citation style specified by your institution or program.
  • Defense: In some cases, you may be required to defend your dissertation orally before a committee of faculty members. During the defense, you will present your research findings, respond to questions from committee members, and demonstrate your mastery of the subject matter.

Step 2: Choose a Research Topic

Select a research topic that interests you and aligns with your academic and career goals. Ensure that your topic is feasible, relevant, and contributes to existing knowledge in your field. This is an important component of a dissertation writing guide

Select a topic that is relevant and significant to your field of study.

Consider current trends, emerging issues, and gaps in knowledge that your research can address. Ensure that your topic contributes to the advancement of your discipline and has practical implications for real-world problems or applications.

It is important that you aim for a research topic that is original and contributes new knowledge to your field. Look for opportunities to explore uncharted territory, challenge existing assumptions, or apply innovative methodologies to address research questions

Step 3: Conduct a Literature Review

Conducting a literature review in your dissertation writing helps you to familiarize yourself with existing research and theoretical frameworks related to your topic. Identify gaps, controversies, or areas where further research is needed to guide your study.

Generally, conducting a comprehensive literature review before formulating your research questions and objectives is critical for ensuring that your dissertation addresses significant gaps in the literature, builds upon existing knowledge, and makes a meaningful contribution to your field of study.

It lays the groundwork for a well-designed and rigorous research study that advances knowledge and informs practice in your discipline.

Step 4: Develop Research Questions or Objectives

You should ensure that your research questions and objectives are focused on addressing key gaps in literature that you identified after completing your literature review on the research topic.

You can learn more about formulation of the research questions, objectives and aims here.

Generally, focusing your research questions and objectives on addressing gaps in the literature is essential for conducting rigorous, original, and impactful research that advances knowledge and contributes to the ongoing dialogue within your field.

Formulating research and objectives during your dissertation writing process helps in ensuring that your research is relevant, significant, and well-positioned to make a meaningful contribution to your discipline.

Therefore, you should formulate clear and focused research questions or objectives that guide your study and provide a framework for your dissertation. Ensure that your research questions are specific, relevant, and address the key issues identified in your literature review.

Step 5: Choose a Research Methodology

Selecting a research methodology for your dissertation involves a thoughtful consideration of several factors. Consider your philosophical approach and align it with the ontological and epistemological perspectives guiding your research.

Assess the feasibility and resources available for implementing different methodologies.

Match your chosen methodology to your research questions, selecting qualitative research methodology, quantitative research methodology, or mixed-methods research approach accordingly.

Ensure that your methodology aligns with ethical considerations and consult with peers and advisors for feedback. Remain open to flexibility and be prepared to adapt your approach as needed throughout the research process.

Ultimately, choosing the most appropriate methodology will facilitate the rigorous and meaningful investigation of your research topic.

Step 6: Design Your Research Methods

Designing research methods for your dissertation involves several key steps. Use your previously defined research questions and objectives to guide the selection of appropriate methods.

Develop a detailed research plan outlining data collection method, sampling techniques, and data analysis procedures. Ensure that your methods align with ethical considerations and obtain necessary approvals if your research involves human subjects. This forms an important component of the dissertation outline

Consider conducting a pilot study to test the feasibility and validity of your methods before implementing them on a larger scale.

Throughout the research process, maintain detailed documentation and remain flexible to adjustments based on emerging findings or unforeseen challenges. By carefully designing your research methods, you can conduct a rigorous and well-executed study that contributes valuable insights to your field.

Step 7: Collect and Analyze Your Data

Implement your research plan and collect data according to your chosen methods and techniques. Conduct a rigorous and systematic analysis of your data, using appropriate statistical or qualitative analysis techniques. Designing data collection and analysis techniques for your dissertation involves careful planning and consideration of several factors.

Begin by selecting appropriate data collection methods. The methods can be qualitative data collection methods such as interviews, focus groups, participant observation and visual methods such as photography or video recordings.

The quantitative data collection methods that you can use in dissertation writing include as surveys, experiments, structured observations, standardized assessments, tests or scales, physiological measurements, biometric data collection.

Develop detailed protocols and instruments for data collection, ensuring reliability and validity. Consider sample size, sampling techniques, and recruitment strategies to ensure representative data. Make sure that the research methods in your dissertation outline all the key standards that should be met for them to be included in your dissertation writing.

During data analysis process, you should choose appropriate techniques based on your research design and data type, whether quantitative research method, qualitative research method, or mixed-methods research.

Examples of qualitative data analysis methods that you can use in your dissertation include thematic analysis, content analysis, narrative analysis, grounded theory, phenomenological analysis, ethnographic analysis, discourse analysis, constant comparative analysis, and interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Key software or tools that you can use when analyzing your qualitative data include NVivo, Atlas.ti, or MAXQDA as they provide support for organizing, coding, and analyzing qualitative data efficiently.

Key methods for analyzing your qualitative data in a dissertation include descriptive statistics, inferential statistics such as t-tests and ANOVA for comparing means, correlation analysis to examine relationships between variables, regression analysis to predict outcomes based on predictor variables, chi-square tests for categorical data, factor analysis to identify underlying dimensions, and survival analysis for time-to-event data.

Key software or tools that you can use for analyzing your quantitative data in a dissertation include SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences), SAS (Statistical Analysis System), R provide a wide range of tools for data management, statistical analysis, and visualization, spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel.

Step 8: Structure and Write Your Dissertation

Organize your dissertation into standard sections, including introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion. Ensure that each section is clearly labeled and follows a logical sequence of presentation.

Begin writing each section of your dissertation, starting with the introduction. Provide a clear overview of the purpose, scope, and significance of your study in the introduction. Review and summarize relevant literature in the literature review, highlighting key themes, debates, and gaps in knowledge.

Describe your research methods and procedures in detail in the methodology section, including sampling, data collection, and analysis. Present your findings and results in the results section, using tables, figures, or graphs to illustrate key findings.

Interpret your findings and discuss their implications in the discussion section, relating them back to your research questions and objectives. Conclude your dissertation by summarizing the main findings, discussing their significance, and suggesting avenues for future research.

Step 9: Revise and Edit Your Dissertation

In the last step of the 9 steps of writing a dissertation, you should review each section of your dissertation carefully, checking for clarity, coherence, and consistency. Revise your writing to improve clarity, conciseness, and organization. Edit your dissertation for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors.

Share drafts of your dissertation with your advisor, committee members, or peers for feedback and suggestions. Revise your dissertation based on their feedback, making necessary changes to improve the quality and rigor of your work. You must ensure that your paper follows all the components of the dissertation outline provided by your institution.

Prepare your final dissertation document according to the formatting and submission requirements of your institution. Ensure that all sections are properly formatted and referenced according to the appropriate citation style. Proofread your dissertation carefully for errors before final submission.

Following all these 9 steps of writing a dissertation will help you achieve great academic success in your research.


What is a dissertation and why is it important?

How do I choose a topic for my dissertation?

What are the essential components of a dissertation?

How do I structure and format my dissertation?

What are the steps involved in the dissertation writing process?

How do I conduct research for my dissertation?

What are the best practices for literature review and synthesis?

How do I analyze data and interpret findings for my dissertation?

What are common challenges faced during dissertation writing and how can I overcome them?

How do I manage time effectively while writing my dissertation?

What resources are available for dissertation writing assistance and support?

How do I ensure the quality and originality of my dissertation?

What are the expectations for defense and presentation of my dissertation?

How do I navigate ethical considerations in dissertation research?

What are some tips for maintaining motivation and staying focused throughout the dissertation process?

Dr. Robertson Prime, Research Fellow
Dr. Robertson Prime, Research Fellow