Dissertation Glossary Layout of Terms

Below are some of the terms we've found graduate students struggling to comprehend more frequently than others. By ordering a research paper from our site, students gain an extra edge on understanding how these various terms play roles in the mechanics of a well-researched thesis or dissertation.

A.P.A. (APA) Style - most common thesis / dissertation format. Presented by the American Psychological Association, the APA manual presents specific guidelines for chapter layout, page formatting and, most importantly-- for the citing of sources. Research papers ordered from this site often provide excellent examples of proper source citing in accordance with pertinent APA guidelines.

Hypothesis - a point in which the writer believes strongly..but cannot prove until appropriate tests are conducted. A hypothesis differs from a 'thesis statement' in that, at the undergraduate level, a "thesis" represents some point the writer intends to prove through the use of existing evidence. Graduate and post-graduate students typically do not have the luxury of using existing studies to support their ideas entirely and thus, they must conduct their own primary studies to test the validity of their hypotheses-- statements only of what they posit or believe-- rather than of what they are positive they know.

Primary Research - original, firsthand observations reported on from the writer's own experience. Back at the undergraduate level, most research was conducted by going to a library and finding a few books and articles that reported "the facts." Those books and articles represented secondary sources. We had no real way to know for sure whether or not the authors were correct... we simply would report on their findings and cite them in our bibliographies. Primary research occurs when, at the graduate and post-graduate levels, we conduct our own experimental study and report on its results. Having gathered our own data and having made our own observations, we are inherently that much more confident in our own assertions.

Problem Statement - the underlying rationale for a study. Usually, wherever there is a hypothesis... there is also a statement of the problem. Whenever a writer sets out to test some new idea in their field, they must show cause for doing so. Why do we want to know if white classroom walls are more conducive to a good learning environment than blue classroom walls? That answer essentially lies in the dissertation's problem statement which sets up the issue in need of resolve and is then complemented by the hypothesis which ultimately proposes a way to set forth such resolution.

Prospectus - another word for a proposal. Most graduate and under-graduate students are required to submit-- and get approval on-- a prospectus for the research study they intend to conduct. The student's initial hypothesis is presented, followed by a brief review of literature, a discussion of their proposed experiment, and a few predictions about its probable outcome. A prospectus is usually between 5 and 20 pages but can sometimes be much longer.

Qualitative Research - relies more on facts than figures. When a study employs the writer's own physical observations but no "hard data," it is often referred to as being qualitative in nature.

Quantitative Research - relies on statistical number crunching. When studies test their hypothesis with statistics and analytical "number crunching," they fall under the classification of quantitative research.

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Chapter One:  Hypothesis

The hypothesis section of any thesis or dissertation generally sets up the "problem" to ...
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Chapter Two:  Literature Review

Chapter 2, known as the Literature Review, is where most of a dissertation's sources ...
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Chapter Three:  Methodology

The layout of a dissertation's methodology section varies greatly depending upon the type of ...
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Chapter Four:  Discussion

In Chapter 4, the "Discussion" section, students must perform a critical analysis of their study's ...
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Chapter Five:  Conclusions

Many consider the fifth & final chapter of the dissertation or thesis to be its most important ...
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Correct use of the APA style for the in-text citing of sources is often crucial to ...
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