I have structured my Phd thesis as several chapters. First few chapters addresses the basics and functional aspects of the subject area and then i have 3 different chapters addressing three research questions with their own individual introduction, methodology and conclusion. My question is if i can follow my above structure or its better to sum up and have only one introduction and conclusion sections for my whole thesis.

Many Thanks for your time!

4 Answers 4


A PhD thesis is typically expected to be a single, coherent work. Your thesis may have several subquestions, but those parts need to fit together to form a single story. I don't think you can do this effectively without an overall introduction that sets the context for the work you did and a single conclusions section that presents your overall findings at a high level. You really need single introduction and conclusions sections to bring the work together. (That's all the more true if your PhD seems like three separate pieces of work at first glance: then you need to make sure you work to convince those evaluating you that there really is a single story here).

That said, an internal intro-methods-results-conclusions structure is a good way to organize chapters on specific parts of the work. I think you are on the right track here--you just need to bring it together with a higher-level structure about the PhD as a whole.


Some programs are moving from a single dissertation to a three-paper approach, where the student is expected to prepare three stand-alone papers that are ready for submission to peer-review journals. There are pros and cons to each approach. However, the traditional dissertation format is where you have a cohesive introduction (with sub-sections to address different topics), a single methodology chapter, and cohesive conclusion. While any of these parts may be more than one chapter, the dissertation is not necessarily designed to be three separate papers melded together.

As said by mgbdog, your advisor will have to sign off on the dissertation, so his or her opinion is very important. You should talk with him or her soon so that you do not put more effort into a format that will not be approved.


Without knowing the specifics of your research topic, it is sort of hard for one to say "yes, this makes sense" or "no, this doesn't make sense". I can see how your current plan would make sense if the topics are sort of unrelated. But if they are sort of related and all lead to a bigger conclusion at the end (i.e. the whole is greater than the sum of the parts), then this plan may not make sense.

The best person to help you through this question is your advisor. He/she will be more knowledgeable about the topic and may have ideas for a better structure. Also, some advisors and/or universities may have a prescribed format that they want all theses in, so you'll want to verify that you conform to that as well.


The thesis is divided into five main chapters. They are

  1. Introduction: The introduction part introduces the topic to the readers. It gives idea about the aim, scope, background, hypothesis, research gap and outline of the entire thesis.

  2. Literature review: In literature review section, the literature related to the topic is discussed. The literature review is done to identify the gap in the previous research that our research is trying to fulfil. The theoretical framework is developed in this section. It is always suggested to write the introduction after completing the literature review since the gap identified serves as the aim and objective.

  3. Methodology: This is the section where we discuss about what kind of approach that we are going to use to evaluate our aims and objective. The reason for choosing particular method, how it is going to be carried out, where it is going to take place, and who are the participants are also explained in this section.

  4. Results: This is the chapter were the research is carried out and results are highlighted in this chapter. Statistical analysis is carried to evaluate the data.

  5. Discussion and Conclusion: This is the chapter where the result is summarised. The results supported with previous literature and the limitations are highlighted. The conclusion part is where the results emphasised in relation to the aims and objective.

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