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A Complete Guide to Various Types of Dissertation

There are various approaches to research writing when it comes to higher levels of education. Think of it like having a toolbox with a bunch of tools inside. All of these tools can help you accomplish different tasks. In this post, we’ll explore different types of dissertation research and tips on choosing the right one for your paper.

Diversity in Research Types

As an aspiring researcher, you must understand how research is attained. These types vary in characteristics, methodologies, and purposes. The research writing types can be divided into three major categories:

  • Scientific Research. This research entails collecting data and evidence to discover new things or phenomena. It is usually conducted to resolve existing questions. Such investigation helps us discover why things occur the way they do.

  • Philosophical Research. As the name suggests, this research entails reflecting/ thinking about posing ideas and theories. This is done to improve the overall understanding and use of these concepts for our betterment.

  • Literature-Based Research. This type of research involves channeling your inner Sherlock. You explore what other people have found and combine the pieces to form a bigger picture.

Importance of Picking the Right Type of Dissertation Research

If you’re measuring the length of something, you won’t pick a magnifying glass from your toolbox. Rather, you’d look for a ruler or measuring tape. Similarly, it’s crucial to pick the right kind of research for your requirements.

In this manner, the researcher can convey their findings efficiently. Further, they can contribute to their field’s existing body of knowledge. This diversity in dissertation types reflects the interdisciplinary nature of research.

Different fields of study require different approaches, and by exploring the range of dissertation types, researchers can gain insights into methodologies applicable across disciplines.

In the upcoming segments, we will delve deep into each type of dissertation, exploring their characteristics, methodologies, and strengths.

Types of Dissertation Research By Methodology

The methodology refers to the specific process, methods or techniques used to gather and analyze data. The methodology a researcher chooses can greatly impact the outcomes of their work.

Empirical Dissertation Writing

An empirical study, which involves gathering and analyzing primary data, may require various methodologies.

For example:

“Suppose your dissertation writing guide aims to measure the effect of exercise on heart rate. Here, the methodology may require conducting experiments. You can ask involved individuals to perform different levels of exercise to measure their heart rate.”

Theoretical Type of Dissertation Research

In theoretical dissertations, the methodology can significantly impact the overall findings and contributions of the study. This kind of study targets the building and expansion of theoretical frameworks.

It focuses on developing new models or conducting theoretical analysis of specific phenomena. This study involves analyzing existing theories, conducting extensive literature reviews, and formulating new theoretical frameworks.

This approach helps researchers understand the subject matter and make meaningful contributions to the field.

 Literature-Based Dissertations

In these studies, the methodology revolves around synthesizing and reviewing existing literature. The researcher can identify common themes, gaps, and controversies within the field by going through relevant literature.

For example:

“A literature-based dissertation could involve a comprehensive review of research on climate change impacts on:

  • Ecosystems
  • Examining various studies
  • Identifying patterns

Finally, it concludes the synthesis.”

Types of Dissertation Research By Purpose

Students can encounter yet another type of challenge when it comes to picking the right type of dissertation writing help. Registering the purpose of the research is also important before picking your dissertation type.

Exploratory Dissertations

Exploratory dissertations aim to explore and gain insights into relatively unexplored research areas. Students conducting this research may delve into topics with limited information or knowledge. They focus on generating new ideas, hypotheses, or theories.

To showcase:

  • “Investigating the potential applications of emerging technologies in the healthcare industry.”
  • “Studying the impact of a new educational approach on student engagement and academic performance.”

Explanatory Dissertations

Explanatory dissertations seek to explain existing phenomena or theories. Students conducting explanatory research aim to provide a deeper understanding of the subject under investigation. They may explore causal relationships, analyze variables, and test hypotheses.

For instance:

  • “Unraveling the causes of a rare disease by examining genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.”
  • “Explaining the relationship between economic growth and poverty reduction through extensive data analysis and economic theories.”

Descriptive Dissertations

Descriptive dissertations describe a specific phenomenon, group, or event. Researchers focus on presenting an accurate and comprehensive portrayal of the subject of study, often using qualitative research methods and extensive data collection.


  • “Describing the cultural practices, traditions, and beliefs of a particular ethnic group.”
  • “Documenting the architectural styles, historical significance, and preservation efforts of specific historical buildings or landmarks.”

Types of Dissertation Research By Field

Understanding the types of dissertations by field can help you align your research with your discipline’s conventions, methodologies, and expectations. So, let’s get into it.

Scientific Dissertations

This type of research is common in scientific disciplines such as biology, chemistry, physics, or engineering. Researchers conduct experiments to collect and analyze data to explore scientific phenomena.


  • Investigating the effects of a new drug on cell viability.
  • Analyzing the properties of a newly discovered material.

Social Science Dissertations

This form of dissertation encompasses areas like sociology, psychology, anthropology, or political science. These studies focus on individuals, societies, and social structures to understand human behavior.


  • Exploring the impact of social media on mental health.
  • Investigating the factors influencing voting behavior.

Humanities Dissertations

Such studies often focus on literature, history, philosophy, or cultural studies. In this type of dissertation, researchers analyze texts, artifacts, and cultural phenomena to gain insights into human experiences.

To showcase:

  • Analyzing the portrayal of women in Shakespearean plays.
  • Examining the influence of Renaissance art on European society.

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Business and Management Dissertations

This dissertation focuses on business administration, management, or economics topics. Here, the researchers examine organizational behavior, strategies, and economic theories.

For instance:

  • Studying consumer behavior in the e-commerce industry.
  • Analyzing the impact of leadership styles on employee productivity.

A Deeper Dive Into the Types of Dissertation Research

Here is a table that can help you understand the major differences.

Dissertation TypeKey FeaturesPros ConsAnalysisExamples
Empirical Research DissertationGathering and analyzing primary data through experiments, surveys, or interviews. Using real-life data.Provides direct and tangible evidence. Allows testing of hypotheses.Requires time and resources for data collection and analysis.Analyzing the collected data to draw conclusions and support arguments.Studying the effects of exercise on heart rate, determining consumer preferences.
Theoretical Research DissertationFocuses on building new theoretical frameworks or developing mathematical models.Enhances understanding of a subject. No need for data collection.Challenging to develop new theories or complex mathematical models.Analyzing theories, frameworks, or mathematical models to explore new concepts or phenomena.Developing mathematical models, theoretical analysis of phenomena.
Literature-Based DissertationSynthesizing and reviewing existing literature on a specific topic.Provides a comprehensive overview of existing knowledge. No need for primary data collection.Challenges in finding relevant and high-quality literature.Analyzing and synthesizing existing literature to identify trends, patterns, or gaps in knowledge.Comprehensive reviews of climate change impacts, analysis of historical documents.

Factor That Influence The Choice of Dissertation Type

Here are some factors that influence your choice for types of dissertation. 

Research Questions

The research questions or objectives drive the choice of dissertation type. Researchers must align their research questions with the purpose of their dissertation, whether it is exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory.

Field of Study

Different fields of study require different types of research methods and approaches. Scientific research, for instance, involves conducting experiments and analyzing data, while humanities research focuses on analyzing texts and cultural phenomena.

Available Data

The type of data available can influence the choice of dissertation type. If data is limited, researchers may opt for an exploratory research design, while the availability of extensive data may favor an explanatory approach.

Time Constraints

Time constraints can also play a role in the choice of dissertation type. A descriptive approach may take less time than an explanatory one, requiring more data collection and analysis.

Personal Interests

Personal interests and passions can also impact the choice of dissertation type. Students may opt for a type of dissertation that resonates with their research interests, which motivates them to conduct in-depth research and make valuable contributions to their chosen field of study.

Practical Tips for Navigating Types of Dissertation Research

Here are some practical tips that you can follow to navigate through different types of dissertation research.

Picking the Right Type of Research

  • Consider your research goals and objectives.
  • Align the research type with your research questions and desired outcomes.


Exploratory research for new topics and empirical research for data analysis.

Research and Methodology

  • Design a robust methodology.
  • Select suitable methods for data collection and analysis.
  • Consider feasibility, reliability, and ethical considerations.


Surveys, interviews, and experiments.

Structuring and Writing

  • Create a clear outline for your dissertation.
  • Include sections like introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.
  • Ensure logical flow and coherence in each section.
  • Write in a concise, clear and coherent manner.

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Understanding types of dissertation research can be a lot tougher than students assume. However, with proper guidelines, learners are sure to produce positive outcomes. We’re sure this guide of ours helped in your understanding of these types.

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