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How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA
In this citation guide, you will learn how to reference and cite an undergraduate thesis, master’s thesis, or doctoral dissertation. This guide will also review the differences between a thesis or dissertation that is published and one that has remained unpublished. The guidelines below come from the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2020a), pages 333 and 334. Please note that the association is not affiliated with this guide.
Alternatively, you can visit EasyBib.com for helpful citation tools to cite your thesis or dissertation .
Citing an unpublished thesis or dissertation, citing a published dissertation or thesis from a database, citing a thesis or dissertation published online but not from a database, citing a thesis or dissertation: reference overview, what you need.
Since unpublished theses can usually only be sourced in print form from a university library, the correct citation structure includes the university name where the publisher element usually goes.
Author’s last name, F. M. (Year published). Title in sentence case [Unpublished degree type thesis or dissertation]. Name of institution.
Ames, J. H., & Doughty, L. H. (1911). The proposed plans for the Iowa State College athletic field including the design of a reinforced concrete grandstand and wall [Unpublished bachelor’s thesis]. Iowa State University.
In-text citation example:
- Parenthetical : (Ames & Doughty, 1911)
- Narrative : Ames & Doughty (1911)
If a thesis or dissertation has been published and is found on a database, then follow the structure below. It’s similar to the format for an unpublished dissertation/thesis, but with a few differences:
- The institution is presented in brackets after the title
- The archive or database name is included
Author’s last name, F. M. (Year published). Title in sentence case (Publication or Document No.) [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Database name.
Knight, K. A. (2011). Media epidemics: Viral structures in literature and new media (Accession No. 2013420395) [Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Trotman, J.B. (2018). New insights into the biochemistry and cell biology of RNA recapping (Document No. osu1523896565730483) [Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University]. OhioLINK Electronic Theses & Dissertations Center.
In the example given above, the dissertation is presented with a Document Number (Document No.). Sometimes called a database number or publication number, this is the identifier that is used by the database’s indexing system. If the database you are using provides you with such a number, then include it directly after the work’s title in parentheses.
If you are interested in learning more about how to handle works that were accessed via academic research databases, see Section 9.3 of the Publication Manual.
In-text citation examples :
- Parenthetical citation : (Trotman, 2018)
- Narrative citation : Trotman (2018)
Author’s last name, F. M. (Year Published). Title in sentence case [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Name of archive or collection. URL
Kim, O. (2019). Soviet tableau: cinema and history under late socialism [Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh]. Institutional Repository at the University of Pittsburgh. https://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/37669/7/Olga%20Kim%20Final%20ETD.pdf
Stiles, T. W. (2001). Doing science: Teachers’ authentic experiences at the Lone Star Dinosaur Field Institute [Master’s thesis, Texas A&M University]. OAKTrust. https://hdl.handle.net/1969.1/ETD-TAMU-2001-THESIS-S745
It is important to note that not every thesis or dissertation published online will be associated with a specific archive or collection. If the work is published on a private website, provide only the URL as the source element.
In-text citation examples:
- Parenthetical citation : (Kim, 2019)
- Narrative citation : Kim (2019)
- Parenthetical citation : (Stiles, 2001)
- Narrative citation : Stiles (2001)
We hope that the information provided here will serve as an effective guide for your research. If you’re looking for even more citation info, visit EasyBib.com for a comprehensive collection of educational materials covering multiple source types.
If you’re citing a variety of different sources, consider taking the EasyBib citation generator for a spin. It can help you cite easily and offers citation forms for several different kinds of sources.
To start things off, let’s take a look at the different types of literature that are classified under Chapter 10.6 of the Publication Manual :
- Undergraduate thesis
- Master’s thesis
- Doctoral dissertation
You will need to know which type you are citing. You’ll also need to know if it is published or unpublished .
When you decide to cite a dissertation or thesis, you’ll need to look for the following information to use in your citation:
- Author’s last name, and first and middle initials
- Year published
- Title of thesis or dissertation
- If it is unpublished
- Publication or document number (if applicable; for published work)
- Degree type (bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral)
- Thesis or dissertation
- Name of institution awarding degree
- DOI (https://doi.org/xxxxx) or URL (if applicable)
Since theses and dissertations are directly linked to educational degrees, it is necessary to list the name of the associated institution; i.e., the college, university, or school that is awarding the associated degree.
To get an idea of the proper form, take a look at the examples below. There are three outlined scenarios:
- Unpublished thesis or dissertation
- Published thesis or dissertation from a database
- Thesis or dissertation published online but not from a database
American Psychological Association. (2020a). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000
American Psychological Association. (2020b). Style-Grammar-Guidelines. https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/citations/basic-principles/parenthetical-versus-narrative
Published August 10, 2012. Updated March 24, 2020.
Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.
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To cite a published thesis in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the author, publication year, title of the thesis, institute name, archive name, and URL (uniform resource locator). The templates for an in-text citation and reference list entry of a thesis, along with examples, are given below:
In-text citation template and example:
Use the author surname and the publication year in the in-text citation.
Author Surname (Publication Year)
(Author Surname, Publication Year)
Reference list entry template and example:
The title of the thesis is set in sentence case and italicized. Enclose the thesis and the institute awarding the degree inside brackets following the publication year. Then add the name of the database followed by the URL.
Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the thesis [Master’s thesis, Institute Name]. Name of the Database. URL
Cartmel, J. (2007). Outside school hours care and schools [Master’s thesis, Queensland University of Technology]. EPrints. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/17810/1/Jennifer_Cartmel_Thesis.pdf
To cite an unpublished dissertation in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the author, year, title of the dissertation, and institute name. The templates for in-text citation and reference list entry of an online thesis, along with examples, are given below:
Author Surname (Year)
(Author Surname, Year)
The title of the dissertation is set in sentence case and italicized. Enclose “Unpublished doctoral dissertation” inside brackets following the year. Then add the name of the institution awarding the degree.
Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the dissertation [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Name of the Institute.
Averill, R. (2009). Teacher–student relationships in diverse New Zealand year 10 mathematics classrooms: Teacher care [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Victoria University of Wellington.
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Format for dissertations and theses
Dissertations and theses database.
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Author last name, first initial. (Year). T itle of dissertation/thesis (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation/Master's thesis, University]. Database. URL
- Author: List the last name, followed by the first initial (and second initial). See Authors for more information.
- Year: List the year between parentheses, followed by a period.
- Title of dissertation/thesis: In italics. Capitalize the first word of the title, subtitle, and proper nouns.
- Publication number: Can be found in Dissertations and Theses database, listed in the item record as “Dissertation/thesis number.”
- Doctoral dissertation/Master's thesis: List whether it is a dissertation or a thesis.
- University: List the university associated with the dissertation/thesis.
- Database: List database the dissertation/thesis was found in, if found in a database.
- URL: List URL if found on the free Web rather than in a database.
See specific examples below.
Pecore, J. T. (2004). Sounding the spirit of Cambodia: The living tradition of Khmer music and dance-drama in a Washington, DC community (Publication No. 3114720) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.
Hollander, M. M. (2017). Resitance to authority: Methodological innovations and new lessons from the Milgram experiment (Publication No. 10289373) [Master's thesis, University of Wisconsin - Madison]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.
APA calls for the citation to include a unique identifying number for the dissertation, labeling it “Publication No.” That number can be found in Dissertations and Theses database, listed in the item record as “Dissertation/thesis number.”
Karamanos, X. (2020). The influence of professional development models on student mathematics performance in New Jersey public elementary schools [Doctoral dissertation, Seton Hall University]. Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). https://scholarship.shu.edu/dissertations/2732
Bordo, V. C. (2011). Making a case for the use of foreign language in the educational activities of nonprofit arts organizations [Master's thesis, University of Akron]. OhioLINK Electronic Theses & Dissertations Center. http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=akron1311135640
Caprette, C. L. (2005). Conquering the cold shudder: The origin and evolution of snake eyes [Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University].
Angelova, A. N. (2004). Data pruning [Master's thesis, California Institute of Technology].
See Publication Manual , 10.6.
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Dissertation or thesis available from a database service:
Author Surname, First Initial. Second Initial. (year of publication). Title of dissertation or thesis (Doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis). Retrieved from Name of database. (Accession or Order No.)
For an unpublished dissertation or thesis:
Author Surname, First Initial. Second Initial. (year of creation). Title of dissertation or thesis (Unpublished doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis). Name of Institution, Location.
See Ch 7 pp. 207-208 APA Manual for more examples and formatting rules
- Italicize the title
- Identify whether source is doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis in parentheses after the title
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Author, A. A. (year). Title of doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis (Publication No. #) [Doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis, Name of Institution Awarding the Degree]. Name of Database.
Davis, P. M. (2010). Access, readership, citations: A randomized controlled trial of scientific journal publishing . (Publication No. 3429815 ) [Doctoral dissertation, Cornell University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.
Author, A. A. (year). Title of doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis [Doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis, Name of Institution]. Name of Website. URL
Buckman, A. (1997). MOOSE Crossing: Construction, community, and learning in a networked virtual world for kids [Doctoral dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology]. DSpace@MIT. https://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/33821
Author, A. A. (year). Title of doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis [Unpublished doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis]. Name of Institution.
Long, R.P. (1972). A study of instructional objectives and methods for interpersonal communication. [Unpublished master’s thesis]. West Virginia University.
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Citing Dissertations & Theses in APA Format
Dissertations & Theses
Dissertations and theses are formatted the same way in APA 7th edition. Theses are generally the culminating work for a master's or undergraduate degree and dissertations are often original research completed by doctoral students. Here are examples of a dissertation & a thesis, and how they would be formatted:
Dissertation found in Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global:
Banks, B. (2020). Addressing institutional racism in healthcare: A case study (Publication No. 28154307) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota]. Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global.
In-Text Citation (Paraphrase):
In-Text Citation (Direct Quote):
(Banks, 2020, p. 157).
Master's thesis from a University scholarship database:
Sears, L. B. (2017). The public voice and sustainable food systems: Community engagement in food action plans [Unpublished master's thesis]. University of Kansas. https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/handle/1808/26899
In-Text Citation (Paraphrase):
(Sears, 2017, p. 24).
Carrie Forbes, MLS
Citation information has been adapted from the APA Manual (7th Edition). Please refer to page 333 of the APA Manual (7th Edition) for more information.
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Thesis - from website
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All you need to know about citations
How to cite a PhD thesis in APA
- Google Docs
To cite a PhD thesis in a reference entry in APA style 6th edition include the following elements:
- Author(s) of the thesis: Give the last name and initials (e. g. Watson, J. D.) of up to seven authors with the last name preceded by an ampersand (&). For eight or more authors include the first six names followed by an ellipsis (…) and add the last author's name.
- Year of publication: Give the year in brackets followed by a full stop.
- Title of the PhD thesis: Only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns are capitalized.
- URL: Give the full URL where the document can be retrieved from.
Here is the basic format for a reference list entry of a PhD thesis in APA style 6th edition:
Author(s) of the thesis . ( Year of publication ). Title of the PhD thesis (PhD thesis). Retrieved from URL
If the thesis is available from a database, archive or any online platform use the following template:
- Author(s) of the thesis: Give the last name and initials (e. g. Watson, J. D.) of up to 20 authors with the last name preceded by an ampersand (&). For 21 or more authors include the first 19 names followed by an ellipsis (…) and add the last author's name.
- Publication number: Give the identification number of the thesis, if available.
- Name of the degree awarding institution: Give the name of the institution.
- Name of Platform: Give the name of the database, archive or any platform that holds the thesis.
- URL: If the thesis was found on a database, omit this element.
Here is the basic format for a reference list entry of a PhD thesis in APA style 7th edition:
Author(s) of the thesis . ( Year of publication ). Title of the PhD thesis ( Publication number ) [PhD thesis, Name of the degree awarding institution ]. Name of Platform . URL
If the thesis has not been published or is available from a database use the following template:
- Location: Give the location of the institution. If outside the United States also include the country name.
Author(s) of the thesis . ( Year of publication ). Title of the PhD thesis (Unpublished PhD thesis). Name of the degree awarding institution , Location .
If the thesis is not published, use the following template:
Author(s) of the thesis . ( Year of publication ). Title of the PhD thesis [Unpublished PhD thesis]. Name of the degree awarding institution .
APA reference list examples
Take a look at our reference list examples that demonstrate the APA style guidelines for a PhD thesis citation in action:
A PhD thesis found in an online platform
Confait, M. F . ( 2018 ). Maximising the contributions of PhD graduates to national development: The case of the Seychelles ( PhD thesis ). Retrieved from https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/2060
Confait, M. F . ( 2018 ). Maximising the contributions of PHD graduates to national development: The case of the Seychelles [ PhD thesis , Edith Cowan University ]. Edith Cowan Online Repository . Retrieved from https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/2060
An unpublished PhD thesis
Bowkett, D . ( 2015 ). Investigating the ligandability of plant homeodomains ( Unpublished PhD thesis ). University of Oxford , London, UK .
Bowkett, D . ( 2015 ). Investigating the ligandability of plant homeodomains [ Unpublished PhD thesis ]. University of Oxford .
This citation style guide is based on the official Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association ( 6 th edition).
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How to Cite a Dissertation in APA 7
Published by steve tippins on june 25, 2020 june 25, 2020.
Last Updated on: 3rd June 2022, 04:25 am
The specific guidelines for how to cite a dissertation in APA style depend on a few factors. We’ll go over those below. However, no matter the specifics of the citation, the title of the dissertation is always written the same way.
The dissertation’s title should be written in sentence case and in italics. The first word of the title should be capitalized, and all other words should be in lower case, except for proper nouns.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the specifics of how to cite a dissertation in APA.
How to Cite a Dissertation in APA
In Text Citation
The guidelines for how to cite a dissertation in APA are the same for writing an in-text citation, paraphrase, and quotation; only the format for the reference list differs.
(Name of Author, year)
Horace Mann developed the common school, which was a free, non-sectarian, public institution (Stanford, 2016).
According to Stanford (2016), “the common school was the best educational institution to help Americans achieve moral and socioeconomic uplift” (p. 46).
P ublished Dissertations
Published dissertations and theses are on databases, such as Pro-Quest Dissertations and Theses Globa, a university archive, or a website.
Author’s last name, initial of first name. (Year). Title of dissertation or thesis (Publication number). [Type of dissertation or thesis, Academic Institution]. Name of database.
Howard, B. (2017). The new media and literary structures . (Publication No. 1076483) [Doctoral dissertation or Master’s Thesis, University of Virginia]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.
Unpublished dissertations and theses are usually only available in print form.
Author’s last name, initial of first name. (Year). Title of dissertation or thesis (Unpublished doctoral or master’s thesis). Academic Institution.
Stanford, C. (2016). Horace Mann (1796–1859) and nineteenth-century educational reform . (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Ohio State University.
Note: For dissertations and theses published or unpublished in countries other than the United States, you have to provide the location.
Howard, B. (2017). The new media and literary structures . (Publication No. 1076483) [Doctoral dissertation or Master’s Thesis, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.
Dissertation From an Academic Institution’s Online Archive
There is only one difference in the guidelines for how to cite a dissertation from an online archive or repository and other ones. The name of the institution’s repository or archive and link needs to be provided. It should be written at the end of the other publication information.
Template (Name of Author, year)
Example (Howard, 2017)
Paraphrase Literary structure is the arrangement of text elements, written in a way that ensures the author’s meaning is conveyed (Howard, 2017).
Quotation According to Howard (2016), “technological advances have resulted in a change in the paradigm regarding literature structures” (p. 46).
Howard, B. (2017). The new media and literary structures . (Publication No. 1076483) [Doctoral dissertation or Master’s Thesis, University of Virginia]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. University of Virginia Archives. https://uovarchives.net/10389/11814
How to Cite a Dissertation Published Online (Not in a Database)
The guidelines for how to cite a dissertation or thesis published online are similar to those of published and unpublished ones, except for the format in the reference list.
Author’s last name, initial of first name. (Year). Title of dissertation or thesis (Publication number). [Type of dissertation or thesis, Academic Institution]. URL.
Howard, B. (2017). The new media and literary structures . (Publication No. 1076483) [Doctoral dissertation or Master’s Thesis, University of Virginia]. https://uv.edu/Howard /10288/
Note: You can find more information about how to cite a dissertation or thesis in APA 7th editionon pages 333-334.
How to Cite a Dissertation in APA Style: Final Thoughts
Citing a dissertation is relatively simple. As long as you adhere to the rules above, you should have no problem generating the correct citations.
If you need of assistance with APA style, feel free to take a look at our Dissertation Editing services.
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Thesis, dissertation or exegesis?
Theses and dissertations from online sources, theses and dissertations in hardcopy format.
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Thesis and dissertation can mean different things, depending on which institution the work is from. For study purposes and for your APA reference you need to know the level of the work.
- Always check the title page, or subsequent pages, to determine exactly what the work is
- Use the information there for your APA reference
At Auckland University of Technology (and other NZ universities)
Thesis is either for a doctoral or a master's degree.
Dissertation is either for a master's or a bachelor's degree with honours.
Exegesis is the written component of a practice-based thesis where the major output is a creative work; e.g. a film, artwork, novel.
In some other parts of the world such as North America, a dissertation may be for a doctoral degree and a thesis for a master's degree.
See Section 7.05 in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition .
Reference format for a thesis from a commercial database:
Reference format for a thesis from an institutional repository:
A Doctoral dissertation (USA) from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database
Reference list entry:
- Include the name of the database and the order number of the document
- Use this style for theses retrieved from a commercial database
Thesis from a NZ institutional repository :
- Include the full URL for the thesis/dissertation and the full name of the degree-granting institution/university
- Also include the location of the university, if outside the United States.
In-text citations guide
Reference format for unpublished thesis/dissertation:
- Give the correct full name of the university, not its abbreviation or brand name.
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What Is a Dissertation? | Guide, Examples, & Template
A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program.
Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you’ve ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating to know where to begin.
Your department likely has guidelines related to how your dissertation should be structured. When in doubt, consult with your supervisor.
You can also download our full dissertation template in the format of your choice below. The template includes a ready-made table of contents with notes on what to include in each chapter, easily adaptable to your department’s requirements.
Download Word template Download Google Docs template
- In the US, a dissertation generally refers to the collection of research you conducted to obtain a PhD.
- In other countries (such as the UK), a dissertation often refers to the research you conduct to obtain your bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Table of contents
Dissertation committee and prospectus process, how to write and structure a dissertation, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your dissertation, free checklist and lecture slides.
When you’ve finished your coursework, as well as any comprehensive exams or other requirements, you advance to “ABD” (All But Dissertation) status. This means you’ve completed everything except your dissertation.
Prior to starting to write, you must form your committee and write your prospectus or proposal . Your committee comprises your adviser and a few other faculty members. They can be from your own department, or, if your work is more interdisciplinary, from other departments. Your committee will guide you through the dissertation process, and ultimately decide whether you pass your dissertation defense and receive your PhD.
Your prospectus is a formal document presented to your committee, usually orally in a defense, outlining your research aims and objectives and showing why your topic is relevant . After passing your prospectus defense, you’re ready to start your research and writing.
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The structure of your dissertation depends on a variety of factors, such as your discipline, topic, and approach. Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an overall argument to support a central thesis , with chapters organized around different themes or case studies.
However, hard science and social science dissertations typically include a review of existing works, a methodology section, an analysis of your original research, and a presentation of your results , presented in different chapters.
We’ve compiled a list of dissertation examples to help you get started.
- Example dissertation #1: Heat, Wildfire and Energy Demand: An Examination of Residential Buildings and Community Equity (a dissertation by C. A. Antonopoulos about the impact of extreme heat and wildfire on residential buildings and occupant exposure risks).
- Example dissertation #2: Exploring Income Volatility and Financial Health Among Middle-Income Households (a dissertation by M. Addo about income volatility and declining economic security among middle-income households).
- Example dissertation #3: The Use of Mindfulness Meditation to Increase the Efficacy of Mirror Visual Feedback for Reducing Phantom Limb Pain in Amputees (a dissertation by N. S. Mills about the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on the relationship between mirror visual feedback and the pain level in amputees with phantom limb pain).
The very first page of your document contains your dissertation title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo.
Read more about title pages
The acknowledgements section is usually optional and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you. In some cases, your acknowledgements are part of a preface.
Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces
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The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150 to 300 words long. Though this may seem very short, it’s one of the most important parts of your dissertation, because it introduces your work to your audience.
Your abstract should:
- State your main topic and the aims of your research
- Describe your methods
- Summarize your main results
- State your conclusions
Read more about abstracts
The table of contents lists all of your chapters, along with corresponding subheadings and page numbers. This gives your reader an overview of your structure and helps them easily navigate your document.
Remember to include all main parts of your dissertation in your table of contents, even the appendices. It’s easy to generate a table automatically in Word if you used heading styles. Generally speaking, you only include level 2 and level 3 headings, not every subheading you included in your finished work.
Read more about tables of contents
While not usually mandatory, it’s nice to include a list of figures and tables to help guide your reader if you have used a lot of these in your dissertation. It’s easy to generate one of these in Word using the Insert Caption feature.
Read more about lists of figures and tables
Similarly, if you have used a lot of abbreviations (especially industry-specific ones) in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.
Read more about lists of abbreviations
In addition to the list of abbreviations, if you find yourself using a lot of highly specialized terms that you worry will not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary. Here, alphabetize the terms and include a brief description or definition.
Read more about glossaries
The introduction serves to set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance. It tells the reader what to expect in the rest of your dissertation. The introduction should:
- Establish your research topic , giving the background information needed to contextualize your work
- Narrow down the focus and define the scope of your research
- Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
- Clearly state your research questions and objectives
- Outline the flow of the rest of your work
Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant. By the end, the reader should understand the what, why, and how of your research.
Read more about introductions
A formative part of your research is your literature review . This helps you gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic.
Literature reviews encompass:
- Finding relevant sources (e.g., books and journal articles)
- Assessing the credibility of your sources
- Critically analyzing and evaluating each source
- Drawing connections between them (e.g., themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps) to strengthen your overall point
A literature review is not merely a summary of existing sources. Your literature review should have a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear justification for your own research. It may aim to:
- Address a gap in the literature or build on existing knowledge
- Take a new theoretical or methodological approach to your topic
- Propose a solution to an unresolved problem or advance one side of a theoretical debate
Read more about literature reviews
Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework. Here, you define and analyze the key theories, concepts, and models that frame your research.
Read more about theoretical frameworks
Your methodology chapter describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to critically assess its credibility. Your methodology section should accurately report what you did, as well as convince your reader that this was the best way to answer your research question.
A methodology section should generally include:
- The overall research approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative ) and research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
- Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment )
- Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
- Any tools and materials you used (e.g., computer programs, lab equipment)
- Your data analysis methods (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
- An evaluation or justification of your methods
Read more about methodology sections
Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses , or themes, but avoid including any subjective or speculative interpretation here.
Your results section should:
- Concisely state each relevant result together with relevant descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
- Briefly state how the result relates to the question or whether the hypothesis was supported
- Report all results that are relevant to your research questions , including any that did not meet your expectations.
Additional data (including raw numbers, full questionnaires, or interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix. You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results. Read more about results sections
Your discussion section is your opportunity to explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research question. Here, interpret your results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. Refer back to relevant source material to show how your results fit within existing research in your field.
Some guiding questions include:
- What do your results mean?
- Why do your results matter?
- What limitations do the results have?
If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data.
Read more about discussion sections
Your dissertation’s conclusion should concisely answer your main research question, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your central argument and emphasizing what your research has contributed to the field.
In some disciplines, the conclusion is just a short section preceding the discussion section, but in other contexts, it is the final chapter of your work. Here, you wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you found, with recommendations for future research and concluding remarks.
It’s important to leave the reader with a clear impression of why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known? Why is your research necessary for the future of your field?
Read more about conclusions
It is crucial to include a reference list or list of works cited with the full details of all the sources that you used, in order to avoid plagiarism. Be sure to choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your dissertation. Each style has strict and specific formatting requirements.
Common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA , but which style you use is often set by your department or your field.
Create APA citations Create MLA citations
Your dissertation should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents such as interview transcripts or survey questions can be added as appendices, rather than adding them to the main body.
Read more about appendices
Making sure that all of your sections are in the right place is only the first step to a well-written dissertation. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for editing and proofreading, as grammar mistakes and sloppy spelling errors can really negatively impact your work.
Dissertations can take up to five years to write, so you will definitely want to make sure that everything is perfect before submitting. You may want to consider using a professional dissertation editing service or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect prior to submitting.
After your written dissertation is approved, your committee will schedule a defense. Similarly to defending your prospectus, dissertation defenses are oral presentations of your work. You’ll present your dissertation, and your committee will ask you questions. Many departments allow family members, friends, and other people who are interested to join as well.
After your defense, your committee will meet, and then inform you whether you have passed. Keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality; most committees will have resolved any serious issues with your work with you far prior to your defense, giving you ample time to fix any problems.
As you write your dissertation, you can use this simple checklist to make sure you’ve included all the essentials.
My title page includes all information required by my university.
I have included acknowledgements thanking those who helped me.
My abstract provides a concise summary of the dissertation, giving the reader a clear idea of my key results or arguments.
I have created a table of contents to help the reader navigate my dissertation. It includes all chapter titles, but excludes the title page, acknowledgements, and abstract.
My introduction leads into my topic in an engaging way and shows the relevance of my research.
My introduction clearly defines the focus of my research, stating my research questions and research objectives .
My introduction includes an overview of the dissertation’s structure (reading guide).
I have conducted a literature review in which I (1) critically engage with sources, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of existing research, (2) discuss patterns, themes, and debates in the literature, and (3) address a gap or show how my research contributes to existing research.
I have clearly outlined the theoretical framework of my research, explaining the theories and models that support my approach.
I have thoroughly described my methodology , explaining how I collected data and analyzed data.
I have concisely and objectively reported all relevant results .
I have (1) evaluated and interpreted the meaning of the results and (2) acknowledged any important limitations of the results in my discussion .
I have clearly stated the answer to my main research question in the conclusion .
I have clearly explained the implications of my conclusion, emphasizing what new insight my research has contributed.
I have provided relevant recommendations for further research or practice.
If relevant, I have included appendices with supplemental information.
I have included an in-text citation every time I use words, ideas, or information from a source.
I have listed every source in a reference list at the end of my dissertation.
I have consistently followed the rules of my chosen citation style .
I have followed all formatting guidelines provided by my university.
The end is in sight—your dissertation is nearly ready to submit! Make sure it's perfectly polished with the help of a Scribbr editor.
If you’re an educator, feel free to download and adapt these slides to teach your students about structuring a dissertation.
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Reference List: Other Print Sources
Welcome to the Purdue OWL
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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.
Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style can be found here .
Important Note: Because the 7 th edition of the APA Publication Manual heavily emphasizes digital and electronic sources, it does not contain explicit instructions for certain less-common print sources that earlier editions covered. For this reason, some of the examples below have been adapted from the instructions for sources with similar attributes (e.g., the conference proceedings example is derived from the instructions the 7 th edition manual gives for citing edited collections). Every example below that has been adapted in this way is accompanied by a note explaining how it was adapted.
Please also note: While this resource contains many examples of citations for uncommon print sources that we think are helpful, it may not account for every possibility. For even more examples of how to cite uncommon print sources, please refer to the 7 th edition of the APA Publication Manual.
Entry in a Dictionary, Thesaurus, or Encyclopedia with a Group Author
The 7 th edition of the APA manual does not provide specific guidance on how to cite physical reference works such as dictionaries, thesauruses, or encyclopedias. Therefore, this citation, as well as the one for an individual author of an entry in a reference work, is modeled on that of a chapter in an edited book or anthology, both which are similar in format to reference works.
Institution or organization name. (Year). Title of entry. In Title of reference work (edition, page numbers). Publisher name.
Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. (1997). Goat. In Merriam Webster’s collegiate dictionary (10 th ed., pp. 499-500). Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.
Entry in a Dictionary, Thesaurus, or Encyclopedia with an Individual Author
Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of entry. In F. M. Lastname (ed.), Title of reference work (edition, page numbers). Publisher.
Tatum, S. R. (2009). Spirituality and religion in hip hop literature and culture. In T. L. Stanley (ed.), Encyclopedia of hip hop literature (pp. 250-252). Greenwood.
Work Discussed in a Secondary Source
Provide the source in which the original work was referenced:
Nail, T. (2017). What is an assemblage? SubStance , 46 (1), 21-37. http://sub.uwpress.org/lookup/doi/10.3368/ss.46.1.21
Note: Provide the secondary source in the references list; in the text, name the original work, and give a citation for the secondary source. For example, if Deleuze and Guattari’s work is cited in Nail and you did not read the original work, list the Nail reference in the References. In the text, use the following citation:
Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the assemblage (as cited in Nail, 2017)….
The 7 th edition of the APA manual does not provide specific guidance on how to cite dissertation abstracts. Therefore, this citation models that of a journal article, which is similar in format.
Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation. Dissertation Abstracts International , Vol., Page.
Angeli, E. L. (2012). Networks of communication in emergency medical services. Dissertation Abstracts International, 74 , 03(E).
Dissertation or Master’s Thesis, Published
Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation/Master’s thesis, Name of Institution Awarding the Degree]. Database or Archive Name.
Angeli, E. L. (2012). Networks of communication in emergency medical services (Publication No. 3544643) [Doctoral dissertation, Purdue University]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Note: If the dissertation or thesis is not published in a database, include the URL of the site where the document is located.
Dissertation or Master’s Thesis, Unpublished
Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis [Unpublished doctoral dissertation/master’s thesis]. Name of Institution Awarding the Degree.
Samson, J. M. (2016). Human trafficking and globalization [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Federal or State Statute
Name of Act, Public Law No. (Year). URL
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Publ. L. No. 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010). https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-111publ148/pdf/PLAW-111publ148.pdf
Report by a Government Agency or Other Organization
Organization Name. (Year). Title of report. URL
United States Government Accountability Office. (2019). Performance and accountability report: Fiscal year 2019 . https://www.gao.gov/assets/710/702715.pdf
Report by Individual Authors at Government Agency or Other Organization
Lastname, F. M., & Lastname, F. M. (Year). Title of report . Organization Name. URL
Palanker, D., Volk, J., Lucia, K., & Thomas, K. (2018). Mental health parity at risk: Deregulating the individual market and the impact on mental health coverage . National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/Publications-Reports/Public-Policy-Reports/Parity-at-Risk/ParityatRisk.pdf
The 7 th edition of the APA manual does not provide guidance on citing conference proceedings. Therefore, this citation models that of an edited collection, which is similar in format.
Lastname, F. M., & Lastname, F. M. (Eds.). (Year). Title of Proceedings . Publisher. URL (if applicable)
Huang, S., Pierce, R., & Stamey, J. (Eds.). (2006). Proceedings of the 24 th annual ACM international conference on the design of communication . ACM Digital Library. https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1166324&picked=prox
Lee Navigates Identities and Complex Experiences of Transracial Adoptees in APA Interview
In a recent article published by the American Psychological Association (APA), Rich Lee was interviewed about the experiences of transracial adoptees. The interview shed light on the challenges faced by these individuals, particularly addressing what Lee referred to as the “transracial adoption paradox.” This paradox occurs when adoptees, raised in white communities with certain privileges, find themselves unprepared for societal challenges rooted in their racial identity.
Historically, studies on transracial adoption often utilize a color-blind approach, downplaying the significance of an adoptee’s cultural background compared to the nurturing environment provided by their adoptive family. Lee pointed out the shortcomings of this approach, emphasizing the need to consider the racial and ethnic lived experiences of adoptive children. Lee acknowledges the value of adoptive parents who actively include ethnic identity and cultural awareness in their children, equipping them to navigate racism and biases.
Despite ongoing research efforts to understand the higher prevalence of mental health issues among transracial adoptees, Lee cautioned therapists against assuming that adoptees’ counseling needs are solely based on their adoption history. Instead, therapists should remain attentive to this aspect and be open to exploring its potential impact on an individual’s well-being over time.
Rich Lee, PhD, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Psychology, and Director of the FamiLee Lab and of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Minnesota.
Composed by Madison Stromberg, communications assistant.
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In Memoriam: Miraj U. Desai, PhD
With immense sadness, we share the news of the sudden death of Miraj Desai, PhD, at the age of 41 on Sunday, November 5, 2023. Miraj was an assistant professor at the Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH) of the Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. Miraj has been a dedicated member of the Yale community since 2011, when he started as a pre-doctoral clinical fellow. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the West Haven VA before joining his home at PRCH. During his time at Yale, Miraj was a Resident Fellow of Pierson College, affiliated faculty in the Center on Climate Change and Health and the Yale School of Public Health, a member of the South Asian Studies Council, and the creator and director of the Structural Health and Psychology (SHP) lab.
At Yale, Miraj made ground-breaking contributions to the new field of "structural psychology" — a field examining the structural bases of health, equity, and inequity. He developed the concept of "implicit organizational bias" — the premise of his K01 award from the National Institute on Minority Health and Disparities (NIMHD).
His overall research on culture, community, race, and racism has been recognized and funded by a range of awards/grants, including a K01 Award from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities/NIH; a Pioneering Ideas Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; a KL2 Scholar Award from the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation/NIH (for research featuring African American communities); and a NIMH Supplement for Minority Health and Mental Health Disparities Research (for research featuring Asian and Latinx communities).
Miraj’s book, Travel and Movement in Clinical Psychology: The World Outside the Clinic (Palgrave), with foreword by Jeffrey Sachs, examines the relationship between mental health and various forms of structural oppression (e.g., racial, economic, and climate injustice).
His honors and recognitions include being named a 40 under 40 Leader in Health by the National Minority Quality Forum in 2022; a “Newsmaker,” by the American Public Health Association in 2021; and a nomination by Palgrave Macmillan for the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award in 2019.
He was also named to the Phi Beta Kappa Society for his book. The book also earned him a nomination for the William James Book Award, American Psychological Association, Division of General Psychology; a c ertificate of Outstanding Recognition from the Yale Office of Sustainability; and a finalist award in the Health: Psychology/Mental Health category of the 2018 Best Book Awards sponsored by American Book .
Miraj was also the 2018 Melba J.T. Vasquez Early Career Award recipient for Distinguished Contributions (American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program), the 2019 Distinguished Early Career Contributions in Qualitative Inquiry Award (APA Division of Quantitative and Qualitative Methods), and the 2008 Sidney Jourard Award (APA Society for Humanistic Psychology). He is also a Minority Fellow of the APA.
Moving outside the clinic, for several years, Miraj partnered with a historic African American church, Beulah Heights First Pentecostal Church, where he collaborated with Emeritus Pastor Bishop Theodore L. Brooks, Sr. and members to address recovery and structural racism from a community-centered perspective — funded by NIH KL2 and Templeton Foundation grants. Miraj's scholarship featured stakeholder engagement, co-designed empirical research, and the development of spiritually and culturally responsive interventions. He detailed the pathways through which chronic unemployment, mass incarceration, workplace discrimination, and racial profiling create an atmosphere in which well-being is compromised, which he termed "atmospheric racism" (Desai et al., 2023), which has featured rigorous co-designed empirical research and community-led dissemination strategies like filmmaking.
He conducted other participatory projects with Fountain House in New York. He developed a training curriculum on participatory research for clinical researchers and their community partners as part of a Eugene Washington Engagement Award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Finally, Miraj was a dedicated member of the Mental Health and Climate Change group at Yale, as part of which he presented at the Reb Psych conference on “Climate Change Displacement and Mental Health,” exemplifying his commitment to ensuring that the world would be sustained for his son and generations to come.
Miraj grew up in Ohio before receiving his B.A. from Miami University in 2005. At Miami University he was a Benjamin Harrison Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, and studied at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge. He graduated from Fordham University. (M.A., Ph.D.), where he completed his doctoral thesis on family care and social activism for autism spectrum disorders in India. His clinical training included placements at Columbia University and the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture. Miraj’s academic lineage includes having been mentored by Larry Davidson and Frederick Wertz in phenomenological methods, among many others.
Miraj is survived by his wife, Dr. Usha Reena Rungoo, and son, Indra, as well as his mother, Maya Desai, and his brother, Neil Desai, both living in Ohio.
Miraj will be remembered for his tenacity and intense passion to make the world better for all. For the Department of Psychiatry and the School of Medicine, he will forever be known for his dedication to mentoring and developing the next generation of scholars and, foremost, for advancing a department mission highlighting the importance of engaging communities and addressing structural racism.
On a more personal level, his family at PRCH will forever remember Miraj, not only for his commitment and fearless dedication to the causes that he cared so deeply about, but for the laughter and light he brought to our program and many PRCH gatherings over the years. He could bring the house down with his unbridled karaoke, inspire you to moonwalk beside him like the master, Michael J, and rock a full-sized furry, sloth costume like no other. But Miraj was never more radiant and proud than on those occasions when he graciously shared his beloved wife, Reena, and cherished son, Indra, with his friends and colleagues at PRCH.
Information on a departmental town hall and memorial services for Miraj Desai are pending.
This announcement was jointly prepared by John Krystal, MD; Chyrell Bellamy, PhD; and Maria O'Connell, PhD; with assistance from colleagues and Dr. Desai's wife, Reena.
Featured in this article
- Miraj U. Desai, PhD Assistant Professor of Psychiatry