A dissertation outline is a detailed plan of a college report. It is intended to serve as an organizational design for a writer so that all of the necessary information for a university report is included and presented in the most easily understood way. Such documents are very long texts; therefore, dissertation outlines can be several and even dozens of pages. In this way, a dissertation outline is quite different from an essay or research paper outline. Because dissertations are such long documents and are completed over several months or even years, the report outline serves as both the basic structure of the work-in-progress and also the record of the writer’s evolving ideas.
A dissertation outline should be organized by dissertation chapter. Within each of those chapters, learners should create sub-headings based on the requirements of their department and/or field. For instance, if the student’s department dictates that chapter one of the report must present a list of hypotheses, an explanation of the purpose of the study, and a definition of the terms used in the study, the report outline should have a sub-category for each of these topics. The creation of the sub-categories should be done before the outline is filled in. This way, the learner will always know what information he or she has left to complete.
Within each sub-category, the student should list bullet points, or even sentences and paragraphs, of topics to address within that sub-category. It is likely that some of the sub-categories will have dozens of points to be made. Sometimes, these points themselves may have sub-categories.
Throughout the creation of dissertation outlines, learners should pause periodically to consider where relevant research studies must be cited. It is best for the student to map out this research in the outline so it is not forgotten in the process of composing the document. Wherever research should be included, learners should note this in the outline by indicating the last name of the research author.
In addition to mapping out places that need research, dissertation outlines should also plan places in the text that need elucidation through the use of tables and figures. These should be indicated by inserting a “T” or “F.”
A dissertation outline should also include a working list of references. There are sometimes hundreds of references for a dissertation; therefore, it is best to create and maintain the references section throughout the course of the entire dissertation process.