PhD Thesis Writing Guide: How to Structure Your Paper

Your PhD dissertation is a research report, a formal document that concerns a problem or a series of problems. It’s a substantial, lengthy work; however, since it defends a particular thesis, people often refer to the document using the term “thesis.” While it must report the previous knowledge and research regarding a certain problem, a PhD thesis is mainly used to present and describe your original contributions, theories, methods of solving the problem, and results obtained and their significance.

Basically, you start with a hypothesis, and by way of observation, critical thinking and analysis you should be able to support or deny it. However, the most important part of writing a PhD thesis is collecting and organizing the evidence effectively to present and evaluate your results. Every statement must be supported by your original work or referenced to reliable published sources.

Since a PhD thesis is a formal document, it has to follow certain structural requirements:

Title Page

This must include the title/subtitle, the name of the author, institution and department, date of submission, and the name(s) of your research advisor(s).


At approximately 400 words in length, an abstract must provide a summary of your work, problems addressed, methods used, and results and conclusions.

Table of Contents

It is a list of all chapter headings and subheadings with page numbers, and makes it easy to find the information quickly.


This is a page of thanks to anyone who has helped you with your work directly or indirectly (providing materials, supplies, financial help, etc.).


The reader may not be familiar with your topic. The introduction provides information that is necessary for him or her to have a clearer vision of it, and describes the previous research in this area. It should also explain why your work may be interesting to the reader.

Methods and Experimental Techniques

This chapter describes the materials, equipment, procedures, data, and calculations used in the research so that the reader can follow your analytical methods and conclusions. It should also enable someone to repeat your experiments using the information provided. However, this part does not include descriptions of the results, as these should go into a separate chapter.

Results and Discussion

These may be combined or form two different chapters. Data, figures, tables and graphs comprise the “results” section. Their meanings and interpretations, relationships, and significance go under the “discussion.”


What are the most important and useful conclusions, practical implications, and new ideas of your work? Can they motivate, simplify, or influence future research on this or related topics?


All ideas and data that are not your own, as well as references cited in the text, must be listed here.

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