Dissertation is long written content on a particular topic. It is also known as the thesis and is primarily based upon the research questions. Every University or Institution has different guidelines for dissertation writing. Through this article, we will discuss the necessary contents, their meaning, general guidance, and do’s & don’ts for writing a dissertation.

A student writing a dissertation for the first time may be baffled with many questions, this short read will clear all your doubts pertaining to dissertation writing.


The following contents are to be mentioned in the below-mentioned chronology or the chronology as specified by the respective University or Institution –

  1. Preface – The dissertation must contain a preface or abstract of the study to lay down a preliminary impression upon the prospective reader. The preface should briefly elaborate that what all is covered under the dissertation report.
  2. Acknowledgment – Through this short note the contribution of individuals who helped in shaping the project, such as teachers and mentors, is recognized.
  3. Table of contents – Table depicting the contents including sub-chapters and page numbers of each content.
  4. List of Abbreviations – Abbreviations used in the study with their meaning, in alphabetical order.
  5. List of Cases – The case laws used in the study along with their citations, in alphabetical order.
  6. Chapters – TheChaptersshould begins with the Introduction and ends with the Conclusion.
  7. Bibliography – In this section, the references are mentioned; they have generally divided into Books, Research Papers and Articles, International Instruments, Dictionaries, Reports, Statutes, URL’s, etc.
  8. Annexure – The documents referred to such as, reports, questionnaires, etc. can be annexed at the end of the Dissertation in the form of Annexures. If there are more than 1 Annexure, then each must be numbered as Annexure 1, Annexure 2, and so on.


Under the first Chapter i.e. Introduction, the following contents must be stated along with general the introduction of the topic –

  1. Research Problem – It means the problem concerning the topic of dissertation which made you choose this topic for research. It is the statement of difficulty which may be based upon the practical aspects as well.

Illustration:  Research on Human Organ Transplantation in India may include the research problem of illegal dealing in human organs or a huge gap in the demand and supply of human organ donations.

2. Objectives of the Study – The objects of the individual to be fetched through this research and study must be mentioned. This may also be elaborated as laying down the topics to be covered through this study.


  • To examine the situation of a particular right in India and foreign countries,
  • To examine the law dealing with the topic, to suggest ways to minimize the current problem around the topic,
  • To analyze the awareness of a particular law through this study, etc.

3. Research Questions – The questions of your research should be stated in a precise manner. They are the questions on which investigation and study are required.

Illustration: If your dissertation is based upon evaluating particular legislation, the research questions may include–

  • Whether the concerned legislation is effective to tackle the problems;
  • Whether the legislation is properly implemented by the authorities;
  • Whether there is an adequate level of awareness in the general public;
  • Whether the concerned legislation requires amendment, etc.

4. Literature Review – Each Literature (Book and Journals) used in the research has to be reviewed from the point of view that whether the literature is justifying the current situation and how has it contributed towards the study.

5. Hypothesis – It is a very important part of a dissertation report. Hypothesis basically means the personal view of the individual about the topic of the dissertation or the problem contained therein, before the beginning of the project.


Illustration:  A dissertation based upon particular legislation may include the hypothesis that the particular legislation is inefficient and requires amendment or lack of awareness in the public due to which the problem has arisen.

6. Research Methodology – There can be three methods of research;

(A) Doctrinal,

(B) Empirical and

(C) Partly doctrinal & partly empirical.

Doctrinal means research-based upon primary and secondary sources of law such as international conventions, legislation, rules, books, journals, articles, etc.

Empirical means research based on field study, surveys, etc.

Partly doctrinal and partly empirical is the combination of both doctrinal and empirical research.


The two main components of a dissertation are research and writing. For accomplishing a good piece of the dissertation, thorough research is required which means that while doing research for a particular topic, all the aspects of it must be dealt with. The following points must be taken into consideration to carry out meaningful research.

  • Refer only to authentic material such as books, eminent journals, authentic websites, legal research tools, original reports, etc.
    • Books – The books of eminent jurists of the particular field are advisable to be used. Not only books from the law field can be used for research but books from other fields can also be of great help. For Eg: For the dissertation on a topic related to Abortion Laws, not only the legal books can be used but also the books from the medical field can be referred to for an in-depth understanding of minute details of the topic.
    • Journals – Some of the eminent journals which may be used are Journal of the Indian Law Institute, National University of Juridical Sciences Law Review, National Law School of India Review, Indian Journal of Law and technology, etc.
    • Authentic Websites and Legal Research Tools – Government websites, websites of International or National organizations, Court’s websites, Legal research database websites, etc.
    • For Eg: Website of Supreme Court of India, World Health Organisation (WHO), World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Ministry of Home Affairs, Lexis Nexis, SCC Online, Hein Online, etc.
    • Reports – For analyzing any data, only the original reports should be referred such as Reports of Law Commission of India, Reports of National Crime Records Bureau, etc.
  • Before starting with your research some research questions must be prepared pertaining to the topic, they form the basis of the research.
  • In-depth research must be carried out pertaining to each research question.


Legal Writing is another most important component of a dissertation report. The in-depth research will justify the report only when it is well written. Therefore, while writing the dissertation report, the following points must be taken into consideration –

  • The topic and its related aspects must be thoroughly elaborated including the background and the appropriate laws.
  • Case Laws – While discussing case law, the brief facts and ratio must be discussed.
  • Citations – The citations of the case laws must be mentioned.
  • Footnoting – For footnoting, an appropriate format of footnoting must be adopted as prescribed. If University or Institution has not prescribed any particular style of footnoting; the JILI and Bluebook format can be used which is generally accepted.
  • Recommendations – The suggestions must be made at the end of the dissertation to improve the problem pertaining to the research topic. This can be discussed in a separate chapter or can be covered in a conclusion as well.
  • Quotes – Any content taken as it is from any other’s work must be mentioned in italics within quotes. The Appropriate reference must be provided at the end of the quotes.
  • Paraphrasing – While researching if you come across some content that should also be mentioned in your report, in that case, the paraphrasing can be done. It means recreating the content in your own words after reading from the referred content. Own perception has to be mentioned as to what is perceived from reading the referred content. For that content, the credit needs to be given to the author of the referred content.
  • Plagiarism – The content should be the original content of the author and plagiarism should be as less as possible. Paraphrasing can help to reduce plagiarism in the report. Every Institution and University has its own prescribed limit of plagiarism and the respective limit should be followed.
  • Answer to Hypothesis – The hypothesis of the individual, which was mentioned at the beginning of the report, has to be answered whether it is proven correct or not. It is completely acceptable if the hypothesis is proven wrong also. This part can be discussed in the conclusion chapter.
  • Annexure – In the case of empirical research, the questionnaire of the survey and its response must be attached as Annexure at the end. Apart from the above-mentioned documents, the reports, notifications, circulars referred can also be attached.


It is not necessary that through the research all the answers to the research questions may be achieved, the integral part is the in-depth research and discussion on each research question. After completing the dissertation, the entire content must be proofread to detect any mistake or unintentional error that may have occurred while writing such long content.

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