I have completed all the requirements of my PhD and I will now write the accompanying "framework" chapter. I am at a German University, and my work is on political science. According to my university's regulations, the framework must be:

"...content of the submitted publications must be demonstrated by an introductory, substantial contribution to the theoretical framework, the classification in the current professional discussions and the state of research. In addition, the research results must be reflected and evaluated in the dissertation"

So, how should I structure my "introduction" and "conclusion"? I am aware the above gives a clue but I can't really shape it, because I have already discussed most of this in the papers... Would the following make sense?

Introduction: Overview > Literature Review > Theoretical Background > Theoretical Contributions (from the articles)

Conclusion: Overview of discussion and cases > Analysis of the findings > Future research...

My supervisor will be away due to personal issues this month, so can't ask him. My university very recently started cumulative dissertations, so nobody really knows anything. Hence any suggestions will be welcome.

  • Will you actually be the first person at your institute to fulfill this requirement?
    – Anonymous
    Commented Mar 29 at 19:39
  • @Anonymous - I really do not know, maybe not the institute but probably at the department. It literally got accepted in fall 2023.
    – borracho
    Commented Mar 30 at 14:48
  • Understood-- I asked, because I thought maybe it might be reasonable to as someone else who has gone through it.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Mar 31 at 3:13

3 Answers 3


This is only a partial answer, but, perhaps, a place to start.

I suggest that you write a draft and try to cover the points. As a first draft it needn't be perfect. Send a copy to your supervisor in case he finds time to review it. But also, ask some other professor in the department who has gone through this for advice on the structure.

But, since this is a new feature in your department, there are few set expectations, though people will have their own. It is you that is setting the standard here. That can work in your favor, actually, since there are few things to compare it with.

Just be specific about hitting the required points. Your suggested outline doesn't seem to do that. What is the contribution? Why is it important? What can we do going forward?


As someone who has written a framework for a PhD thesis at a German university I strongly recommend checking the 'repositories' where universities provide access to cumulative dissertations (e.g. https://opendata.uni-halle.de or https://refubium.fu-berlin.de) and search for dissertations in your field to see what others have done. Also, ask your supervisor and reviewers what their expectations are because there are a lot of unwritten rules about minimum to maximum pages of a framework, about how to include your papers within the framework, provide details about what part of your publications was done by you, etc. The framework has to bring your papers together, i.e. your introduction and discussion should not rehash what you wrote in your papers but go beyond and above. In my field (sociology) it is common to write an entire theory chapter for your framework (because there is not enough space in the papers usually) and to show which paper will test which of the hypothesis derived from which theoretical argument. Many PhDs now include a systematic literature review in their framework, however, this takes a lot of work so again, ask your reviewers and supervisors about expectations. What helped me was to treat the papers as chapters in a book for which the framework provides the introduction, theoretical, methodological and empirical background and the discussion in the end as a discussion of all of your research findings in light of the theory and empirical knowledge.

  • Oh cheers, this is really good advice.
    – borracho
    Commented Apr 1 at 18:25

Your structures sound good, except that I would replace Analysis of the findings with something broader.

Just try to make the introduction and conclusion chapters broader than the main chapters (papers), and make them tie the main chapters together, so that they are not just repeating things you have said in the main chapters. I would say they will be good if they make the whole thesis feel like a coherent whole and avoid repeating things.

Maybe you could look at dissertations from other universities that have this style, or the introduction chapter to an edited volume.

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