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Most universities offer comprehensive guidelines in their dissertation manuals about how to set up and organize the dissertation and the proposal. In the Social Sciences, most dissertations are organized into four or five chapters. However, there are many variations on the nature of these chapters, and the details are left up to the discretion of the Dissertation Committee. In the Social Sciences, the dissertation proposal generally consists of the first three chapters (in a five-chapter format) or the first two chapters (in a four-chapter format).
Here is a generic outline for a five-chapter dissertation. The third chapter on methodology varies for a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method design. A four-chapter dissertation incorporates the literature review into the first chapter.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Review of the Literature
Chapter 3: Methodology (Quantitative)
Chapter 3: Methodology (Qualitative)
Chapter 3: Methodology (Mixed)
Chapter 4: Research Findings
Chapter 5: Conclusions, Discussion, and Suggestions for Future Research
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