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How to Write a PhD Thesis

How to Write a PhD Thesis- From Introduction to Conclusion


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As compared to other types of academic write-ups, a PhD thesis holds great importance to an individual’s academic achievement because it does not only seek to add to knowledge but gives findings on a specific field of study. Institutions of higher learning take pride in possessing a PhD thesis that makes breakthrough discoveries in fields such as medicine, philosophy, or new technology. The thesis can solve a problem in society.

Due to the high-quality standards bestowed on a PhD thesis, the best work is required if a scholar is to make it through the coursework and graduate. A well-written thesis is considered credible and holds a lot of weight among scholars.

The Context of a PhD thesis

The main reason for an intelligently written PhD. thesis is not to just graduate from an institution with a degree but to solve a problem that has not been solved before. The research seeks to fill a serious knowledge gap that exists in the academic world. The thesis is not just challenging but determines thorough research from a scholar. The thesis thus ought to be very scientifically convincing to an institution.

The very first step in writing a PhD. thesis is thus to identify a research problem that is yet to be solved in a specific field of study let’s say for example a cure for HIV. This requires a researcher to embark on ferocious reading and checking of literature in a certain field.

In the first step, the researcher shall thus have to plan to execute research in a respective field and identify the gap between the existing knowledge and the identified research problem. He will read all the relevant documents he can find on the topic and start collecting reference points before he embarks on the writing process.

When you start writing a PhD thesis, you ought to have a clear structure that your paper shall follow;

The Table of contents or simply ‘Contents’ – shall capture the following

  • Cover Page
  • Title Page
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Table of contents
  • List of Figures, Graphs, and Tables
  • Chapter 1 intro
  • Chapter 2 Literature Review
  • Chapter 3: Research Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Results & Analyses
  • Chapter 5: Discussion
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Chapter 7: Recommendations for Future Study
  • List of References/ Works Cited
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices
  • Proofreading, editing, and Publication

The Cover Page 

This is the first written page of your thesis and it shall touch on the tile of your research. It declares clearly what your research is all about and what a reader ought to discover in the following parts of the thesis.

The Title Page

The follows the cover page, this page touches on more details about the thesis, it gives a reader the title of the thesis, the name of the researcher, the department, the academic institution of the scholar, the degree program of the researcher, the instructor or PhD supervisor and the date on which the research was submitted to the institution.

The Acknowledgments

This section of the thesis is meant to thank everyone that helped the scholar in the research process by giving him moral support, or even financial contributions to conduct the study. It is a thank you section and is quite important since it shows the gratitude a researcher has towards specific individuals

The Abstract

The abstract gives a clear picture of the objective of research and the processes a scholar followed to find his or her results. The abstract also touches on the findings and conclusions of the thesis. And should a researcher be obligated to give more details about a thesis, then the abstract shall be renamed to an executive summary. This is simply an in-depth description of a research procedure that cannot be captured in an abstract.

Contents/Table of Contents

This is the navigation map to the various sections of your research work and gives quick access to different chapters in your work. The table of contents is inserted automatically in a word program and can offer direct access to a specific page.

The List of Figures, Graphs, and Tables

It is a list of figures, graphs and any table included in the research document. For ease of access, it offers a specific page number where a certain figure can be found. It also includes the title of a figure.

The Introduction

This is the first chapter of your Ph.D. thesis. The introduction section of your thesis shall capture the following items; the statement of research, the background of the study, the aims of the study, the research problem, objectives, the research hypotheses, the relevance of the study, and the structure of the study.

The Literature Review

This is the second chapter of a PhD thesis and one of the most significant of a thesis. This part is a critical study of all the research done on the particular topic of study and it helps in differentiating what is already known and what is unknown in a study. As a scholar, you have to evaluate all the topics of study previously conducted in that particular field that brings new information to your topic of study. And thus the review ought to give empirical knowledge, conceptual realizations, and theoretical introspection.

To come up with great literature reviews, a researcher shall be very selective about his sources of information, only peer-reviewed journals and relevant books in some cases not more than five years old should be considered. Official data and information from credible institutions or by authority figures can also be considered. The scholar can make use of databases such as Google Scholar, Emerald, and EBSCO host among many others. Sources of information such as Wikipedia are not considered credible by many academic institutions.

As a scholar, it is very important to acknowledge every source you used to prevent plagiarism of other researchers’ work.

Research Methodology

This is the third chapter of a PhD thesis and also a significant part of the thesis since it validates the process of a thesis, the methodology section gives a reader an idea of how your data will be collected and the nature of the data used in the thesis. The data could either be qualitative which is in form of words or quantitative which is in form of figures and the analysis of the collected data can take either a descriptive approach which measures information in original form or an experimental approach which analyses data through experiments.

Results and Analysis of Data

This chapter of a PhD thesis and a great part of research since it gives the derivations and findings from research, this is where the results from a finding are presented. The analyses of the data from research should be done in a manner that the reader feels comfortable in consuming the findings. The results can thus be declared by observations or statistical derivations. The results can be analyzed in form of statements, tables, and graphs for easy understanding.

When analyzing data from your research, it is significant to relate the new information with the secondary data you gained from the literature review. This shows the improvement of the existing knowledge that your thesis has done.

Discussion Section

This is chapter five of the thesis. This is a critical part of the thesis that focuses on meeting the research objectives and establishes the relation that exists between the primary and secondary data. This part of the research answers the ‘so what?’ question by addressing the meaning of the findings in the particular field. The limitations of a particular study are also stated in this particular section and if there are any further investigations to be made, they are stated in this chapter.


This is chapter six of the PhD thesis. It is a summary of the entire thesis in a few words. The scholar in this chapter ought to explain the entire process of the study and the relevance of the thesis.

Recommendations Section

This is chapter seven of the PhD thesis. This part of the study offers pieces of advice on future areas of research that can be conducted in the particular field. It also offers the means that can be used to conduct further research. It is a critical part of the thesis because it gives a vision of the research. The scholar thus ought to write this part keenly.

Reference/Works Cited Section

The secondary sources used in the thesis are listed in this section according to the academic institution’s recommended style. The style can either be Harvard, APA, Chicago, OSLO, or MLA style. The reference section must also be in line with the in-text citations of the entire thesis. This is an important section of your study because an error in this part of the study can lead to the disqualification of research.

Bibliography Section

The bibliography section of a thesis list all the literary sources that can be used to offer a wider understanding of a certain thesis topic.


Any additional information about the thesis is included in this section. Any calculations, terminologies used and their meanings, excerpts, additional resourceful material, list of equipment used, and tables used are listed here.

Proofreading, Editing, and Publication

This is a critical and often overlooked part of a thesis because it cleans up the entire thesis. It checks the content, the grammar, and spelling, the referencing, removes ambiguity and improves clear understanding of the work, checks the length of the work, plagiarism, and makes sure the submission and publication are well done.

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