All doctoral students are required to complete a dissertation. Detailed guidelines for dissertations are provided by the School of Education. The Duquesne University Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines can also be found via the Gumberg Library site.
The following, taken from the School of Education Style and Format Guidelines, provides a basic overview of the contents of a dissertation.
The text of the dissertation or thesis is usually divided into chapters. A typical format for a conventional study in education or psychology is as follows:
CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTION.
The introduction describes the research problem or research question and lays out the reasoning behind it. This reasoning is sometimes called a theoretical argument. It justifies the study, in terms of a need for the information it will provide, in order to develop or test a theory or to understand, explain, or further describe an educational phenomenon. Refer to the APA manual for additional information about the introduction.
CHAPTER II - LITERATURE REVIEW.
This chapter reviews what has already been written in the field on the topic of the research. The literature cited should support the theoretical argument being made and demonstrate that the author has a grasp of the major ideas and findings that pertain to his or her topic. Refer to APA manual for additional information concerning literature reviews.
CHAPTER III - METHOD.
The method chapter should give sufficient detail about the methodology used that the study could be replicated. Sections in a Method chapter often include, but are not limited to, the following: participants, instruments, materials, procedure, and analysis. Refer to APA manual for additional information concerning methods sections.
CHAPTER IV - RESULTS.
This chapter presents the results of the analyses, usually in order by research question, and any results of further analyses (that is, analyses that were not proposed but which were carried out).
Results should be presented without interpretation; interpretation is reserved for the discussion in chapter V. Refer to APA manual for additional information concerning methods sections.
CHAPTER V - DISCUSSION.
Results are interpreted in light of the research questions and discussed in conjunction with other literature. Limitations of interpretation and implications for further research may be presented. Refer to APA manual for additional information concerning methods sections.
An alternative format for the same kind of study is a four-chapter version that more closely approximates the sections of a conventional journal article:
CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTION, RESEARCH QUESTION, AND LITERATURE REVIEW
CHAPTER II - METHOD
CHAPTER III - RESULTS
CHAPTER IV - DISCUSSION
The configuration of the chapters should depend on the contents to be presented. The five- or four-chapter configuration is not a requirement.