How to Create a Nursing Dissertation Outline

A well-structured dissertation outline can be your roadmap, guiding you through the process of constructing a comprehensive and coherent research document. This article will walk you through creating a nursing dissertation outline, ensuring that your research is presented in a clear, concise, and systematic manner.

Understanding the Purpose of a Dissertation Outline

The creation of an outline is a fundamental step in the process of writing a dissertation, serving several essential purposes that contribute to the quality and clarity of the final document.

  • Organization and Structure: An outline provides a clear and organized structure to your dissertation, allowing you to categorize your thoughts and ideas under different headings and subheadings. By segmenting your research into distinct sections, you can ensure that your argument flows logically and cohesively from one point to the next.
  • Clarity and Focus: Drafting an outline helps to refine your thoughts and maintain focus on your main research questions and objectives. It prevents you from going off on tangents and ensures that each section of your dissertation contributes meaningfully to your overall argument.
  • Identifying Gaps and Weaknesses: By visualizing the structure and content of your dissertation through an outline, you can more easily identify any gaps in your research or weaknesses in your argument. This allows you to address these issues early on, ensuring that your final dissertation is well-rounded and robust.
  • Time Management and Efficiency: An outline serves as a roadmap for your writing process, helping you allocate time effectively to each section of your dissertation. By having a clear plan in place, you can avoid last-minute scrambles and ensure that your writing process is systematic and efficient.
  • Ease of Revision: An outline can also be an invaluable tool during the revision process. It allows you to quickly locate and review specific sections of your dissertation, making the task of revising and editing more manageable.
  • Enhancing Coherence: The outline ensures that your dissertation has a coherent flow, making it easier for readers to follow your arguments and understand your conclusions. A well-structured outline aids in crafting transitions between different sections, enhancing the overall readability of your document.
  • Facilitating Feedback: Sharing your outline with supervisors or peers allows for constructive feedback at an early stage, potentially saving you time for your proposal and steering your research in the right direction.

Preliminary Steps Before Drafting A Dissertation Outline

Before jumping into the creation of a nursing dissertation outline, several preliminary steps must be undertaken to ensure that your outline is built on a solid foundation. These steps are crucial in providing direction and coherence to your dissertation.

Understand the Guidelines

Understanding and adhering to your institution’s guidelines regarding dissertations is a crucial first step in the process of creating a nursing dissertation outline. These guidelines are put in place to maintain a level of consistency and professionalism across all academic submissions.

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To familiarize yourself with these guidelines, you need to access and thoroughly read any documents or resources provided by your institution that detail the expectations for dissertation writing. These guidelines typically address various aspects of the dissertation, including formatting specifications, structural requirements, and deadlines.

Specifically, institutions often prescribe the citation style to be used, whether it is APA, MLA, Chicago, or any other format. Additionally, the guidelines may stipulate the minimum and maximum length of the dissertation, margin sizes, font type and size, and other formatting details.

Study the Scientific Context

Studying the scientific context is an essential step in preparing for your nursing dissertation. To contribute meaningfully to your field, it is vital to be well-acquainted with the existing body of research and literature.

Immersing yourself in scholarly articles, journals, and other academic resources provides insight into the prevailing theories, methodologies, and findings in your chosen area of nursing. By thoroughly exploring previous and current research, you develop a deep understanding of the subject matter. This familiarity allows you to ascertain the strengths and limitations of existing studies.

For instance, you might find that certain patient populations have been underrepresented in research or that specific aspects of nursing care require further exploration.

Define the Main Research Questions

When crafting your research questions, it is crucial to articulate clearly in your dissertation preface what you aim to explore, investigate, or resolve. The questions should stem from a genuine gap in knowledge identified during your review of the existing literature and should aim to contribute something valuable and original to the field.

When choosing a dissertation topic, the research questions should be specific enough to guide your methodology and help you maintain a focused approach. They should not be overly broad or vague, as this can lead to a scattered and inconclusive study. Instead, precision in your questions ensures that your research is targeted and your findings are insightful and meaningful.

Chapters of a Comprehensive Dissertation Outline

A comprehensive dissertation outline serves as a roadmap for your research journey. By breaking down the various components of the dissertation, the outline ensures a structured and systematic presentation of your research findings and arguments.

Here’s a breakdown of the essential chapters you’d find in a comprehensive dissertation outline:


The title of a dissertation or thesis holds significant weight as it is the first element that readers encounter. Crafting an effective title involves striking a balance between conciseness and descriptiveness. An ideal title succinctly encapsulates the essence of your research while also providing enough information to pique the interest of potential readers.

A well-formulated title should provide a clear snapshot of the research focus. It needs to be specific enough to convey the main subject or variables under investigation, and the context or population being studied. The title should avoid unnecessary jargon, overly complex language, or ambiguous terms.


The abstract of a dissertation serves as a concise and informative summary of the entire research project. Despite being positioned at the beginning of the document, it is typically one of the last sections to be written. This is because the abstract needs to encapsulate the research in its entirety, providing a snapshot of the objectives, methodology, findings, and potential implications.

In crafting an abstract, precision and clarity are paramount. It should outline the purpose of the research, giving readers a clear understanding of what the study seeks to explore or ascertain. This is followed by a brief overview of the research methodology, offering insight into how the study was conducted, including the research design, participants, and data analysis techniques.

The findings are then summarized, highlighting the key outcomes of the research without delving into detailed analysis. It is important to be factual and objective in this section.

Lastly, the abstract briefly touches upon the potential implications of the findings. This could include the relevance of the results to the field of nursing, suggestions for future research, or possible applications in practice.


The introduction is a pivotal section in a dissertation, tasked with the responsibility of laying the foundation for what is to follow. It sets the tone, provides context, and succinctly outlines the scope of the research, making it an indispensable part of the document.

The introduction usually begins by introducing the research topic. It delves into providing a brief overview of the subject matter, giving readers a glimpse into what the research will explore. By presenting the dissertation topic in a clear and engaging manner, the introduction seeks to capture the reader’s interest from the outset.

Literature Review

The literature review is a crucial chapter in a dissertation, acting as a bridge between the introduction and the methodology sections. It provides an exhaustive overview and a critical analysis of existing research and theories related to the chosen thesis topic, thereby situating the current study within the broader academic landscape.

This section begins by systematically collating and summarizing key pieces of literature, including scholarly articles, books, and other academic publications, that are pertinent to the research question. The literature review doesn’t merely list these sources but delves into a thoughtful analysis of each work, evaluating its methodologies, findings, strengths, and limitations.


The methodology chapter is a vital component of a dissertation, offering a detailed blueprint of the research process. By outlining the research methods and providing a rationale for their selection, this section ensures that the study is grounded in rigorous and ethical practices.

Firstly, the chapter delves into the approach to data collection. This may involve explaining whether the research is quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods, and then detailing the specific techniques used. For instance, a quantitative study may utilize surveys or experiments, while a qualitative study might involve interviews or observations.

Next, the tools or instruments used for data collection are described. This could encompass surveys, questionnaires, interview protocols, or any other tools that were instrumental in gathering data. The researcher should discuss how these tools were developed or adapted and why they were deemed appropriate for the study.

The methodology chapter also addresses the sample population. This section outlines how participants were selected, providing details on sampling methods, whether random, purposive, or convenience sampling was employed. The demographic details of the participants, such as age, gender, or profession, may also be described to provide context.


The results chapter holds a central position in a dissertation as it is where the raw data collected during the research process is presented. This presentation section serves as a factual and straightforward exposition of the findings, devoid of interpretations or conclusions. It is the researcher’s opportunity to lay out the evidence uncovered in an organized and comprehensible manner.

In a well-constructed results chapter, the data is presented systematically and clearly, ensuring that readers can easily grasp the findings. Various forms of presentation can be employed to enhance clarity, such as tables, charts, graphs, and descriptive text.


The discussion chapter is a pivotal section in a dissertation, where the researcher delves into the interpretations and analyses of the results presented in the preceding chapter. This is the space where the raw data is transformed into meaningful insights, and where the findings are evaluated in relation to existing literature and theoretical frameworks.

In the discussion, the researcher begins by interpreting the results, elucidating their significance in the context of the research questions. By closely examining the findings, the researcher may highlight patterns, trends, or anomalies and articulate what these suggest about the phenomena under study.


The conclusion chapter serves as the capstone of the dissertation, offering a succinct and cohesive summation of the research journey undertaken. It revisits the main findings, reflects on their broader implications, and provides a closing commentary on the study as a whole.

In crafting the conclusion, the researcher begins by succinctly revisiting the main findings of the study. This is not a mere repetition of the results, but rather a concise recapitulation that distills the essence of the research outcomes. By revisiting the key findings, the conclusion ensures that the reader is left with a clear understanding of what the research has uncovered.


In some dissertations, a separate section dedicated to recommendations is included, especially when the research carries practical implications for the field of nursing. This section is instrumental in translating academic findings into actionable insights and can significantly enhance the impact of the dissertation on real-world practices and policies.

The recommendations section translates the findings from the study into specific, practical, and actionable suggestions. These recommendations may be directed towards various stakeholders such as healthcare practitioners, policy-makers, educators, or researchers.


The Bibliography or References section is an essential part of any dissertation, providing a comprehensive list of all sources and literature that have been cited throughout the document. This acknowledgement section is crucial for maintaining academic integrity, giving due credit to the works and ideas of others, and allowing readers to trace the sources of information used in the research.


The Appendices section of a dissertation serves as a repository for supplementary material that, while relevant to the research, is not central to the main text. Including such material in the appendices ensures that the main body of the dissertation remains focused and coherent, while still providing readers with access to the additional information that supports or complements the findings.

Example Of A Nursing Dissertation Outline

Below is an example of a nursing dissertation outline, demonstrating how the various chapters and sections might be structured:

Title: Exploring the Impact of Nurse-Led Interventions on Patient Satisfaction in Geriatric Care


Brief summary of the research objectives, methodology, key findings, and potential implications.


Introduction to geriatric care and its significance.

Relevance of nurse-led interventions.

Statement of the problem: Patient satisfaction in geriatric care settings.

Aim and objectives of the study.

Outline of the dissertation structure.

Literature Review:

Overview of geriatric care challenges and needs.

Review of studies on nurse-led interventions.

Exploration of metrics and methods used to measure patient satisfaction.

Identification of gaps in existing literature.


Explanation of the research design: Qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods.

Description of the sample population: Elderly patients in selected healthcare settings.

Explanation of data collection tools: Surveys, interviews, observations, etc.

Outline of data analysis methods.


Presentation of raw data: Survey results, interview responses, etc.

Visual aids such as graphs, charts, and tables depicting key findings.


Interpretation and analysis of results in relation to the literature reviewed.

Discussion on the impact of nurse-led interventions on patient satisfaction.

Comparison with previous studies and identification of patterns or anomalies.

Discussion of the study's limitations.


Summarization of key findings and their broader implications.

Reflection on the study’s limitations.

Suggestions for future research.


Specific suggestions for implementing nurse-led interventions to enhance patient satisfaction.

Recommendations for policy changes, nursing education, or further research.


Comprehensive list of all sources cited, formatted according to institutional guidelines.


Appendix A: Survey Questionnaires

Appendix B: Interview Transcripts

Appendix C: Ethical Approval Documents

Appendix D: Additional Charts and Graphs

Conclusion on Writing a Nursing Dissertation Outline

Creating a nursing dissertation outline is a crucial step that helps in structuring your research and ensuring coherence in your arguments. By understanding the purpose of an outline, taking preliminary steps, and methodically laying out each chapter, you can craft an outline that will serve as a strong foundation for your dissertation.

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