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The 8 Most Important Kinds of Dissertations Used in Teaching at Universities

June 23, 2023
Dr. Sarah Thompson
Dr. Sarah Thompson, Ph.D. in Education with over 10 years of experience in academic research and teaching. Published several articles and books on educational research methodologies and served as a dissertation advisor to numerous students.

Dissertations play a crucial role in higher education because they represent the result of extensive research and demonstrate academic prowess. Dissertations of all shapes and sizes in the teaching field advance our knowledge and are crucial in guiding educational research. These dissertations cover a wide range of topics and methodologies to fill in knowledge gaps and address pressing questions.

One of the most popular types of teaching dissertations, empirical research dissertations involve gathering and evaluating primary data. With the aid of lessons learned from practical experiences, this method enables researchers to examine particular research questions or test hypotheses. Empirical research dissertations offer fact-based findings through the use of quantitative or qualitative techniques that can influence instructional strategies and educational policies.

On the other hand, theoretical analysis dissertations help concentrate on analyzing existing theories and frameworks in the field of education critically. To better understand the implications of concepts, models, and educational philosophies for teaching and learning, researchers explore these ideas. These dissertations frequently include a thorough literature review and offer fresh perspectives or revisions to accepted theories.

Applied research dissertations, case study dissertations, mixed-methods dissertations, action research dissertations, narrative inquiry dissertations, and systematic review dissertations are additional significant categories of dissertations in addition to these main types. Each type offers distinctive viewpoints and methodologies, allowing researchers to investigate various facets of instruction and add to the body of knowledge.

Scientific dissertations

The foundation of scientific research in many disciplines is experimental dissertations. These dissertations entail planning and carrying out unique experiments to produce fresh data and test theories. The researcher develops a methodology for data collection, defines variables, and formulates research questions. This might entail gathering participants, creating safe environments, and carrying out experimental procedures. After gathering the data, the researcher uses statistical techniques to analyze it and come to meaningful conclusions. Experimental dissertation findings can either confirm or refute preexisting theories, which advances our understanding of science. The results could be put to use in decision-making processes in industries like medicine, psychology, or engineering.

Experimental Theses

Experimental dissertations and empirical dissertations have some similarities, but the methods used for data collection are different. Researchers rely on pre-existing sources of data, such as surveys, interviews, or archival records, rather than conducting their experiments. They examine this data to learn more about social phenomena, historical occurrences, or human behavior. To guarantee that the data gathered is representative and trustworthy, empirical dissertations frequently necessitate careful planning and consideration of sampling techniques. Depending on the research objectives and the type of data, researchers may use qualitative or quantitative methods. Complex social issues can be thoroughly explored and understood using qualitative methods like focus groups and interviews. Surveys and statistical analysis are two examples of quantitative methods that produce numerical data that can be statistically analyzed to find patterns, trends, or relationships.

The results of empirical dissertations add to the body of knowledge by either supporting or refuting those of earlier studies. They serve as a starting point for additional research and guide policy decisions in a variety of disciplines, such as sociology, education, or public health.

Dissertations with a Literature Review

Dissertations on literature reviews concentrate on critically analyzing and synthesizing prior research and academic literature on a particular subject. To gain a thorough understanding of the research landscape, researchers conduct an extensive review of published studies, scholarly journals, books, and other pertinent sources.

Finding important themes, theories, methodologies, and findings from the gathered literature is a step in the literature review process. Researchers assess the studies' advantages and disadvantages, identify knowledge gaps, and suggest areas for future research.

Dissertations that include literature reviews are especially useful in interdisciplinary fields or fields where the state of the research is changing quickly. They aid in laying the groundwork for knowledge, point out areas of agreement or disagreement, and give researchers a strong theoretical framework to direct their research.

A thorough literature review demonstrates a researcher's capacity for critical analysis, information synthesis, and participation in ongoing scholarly discussions. For the advancement of knowledge and the promotion of evidence-based practices in a variety of fields, such as psychology, education, or business, literature review dissertations are crucial.

Thesis-based dissertations

The development and analysis of fresh theories or conceptual frameworks in a particular field of study are the main objectives of theoretical dissertations. Researchers assess existing theories critically, point out their flaws, and suggest substitute theories or models that improve our comprehension of complex phenomena.

An extensive literature review and analysis of current theoretical frameworks are both part of the process of conducting theoretical dissertations. Researchers identify knowledge gaps and suggest novel concepts or models that can more effectively explain observed phenomena.

Dissertations in theory frequently demand a high level of analytical rigor and abstract thought. Researchers must show that they can evaluate and synthesize intricate concepts, incorporate interdisciplinary viewpoints, and put forth fresh theoretical frameworks.

The conclusions of theoretical dissertations advance our understanding in their respective fields by presenting fresh viewpoints, questioning conventional wisdom, and laying the groundwork for future investigation. They are especially helpful in fields like philosophy, sociology, or psychology, where new theoretical understandings are crucial for influencing intellectual discourse and directing future research project.

Dissertations with a case study

Case study dissertations analyze a case or cases in great detail within a particular context. To better understand complex phenomena, researchers look into real-world situations, institutions, or people from a variety of angles.

Case study dissertations typically involve gathering information from a variety of sources, including interviews, observations, documents, and artifacts. To find patterns, themes, or distinctive characteristics, researchers use qualitative methods to analyze the data that has been gathered.

Case study dissertations give the reader a comprehensive understanding of a particular case or phenomenon by taking into account all relevant contextual information, historical context, and stakeholder perspectives. They aid in the creation of rich, in-depth narratives that provide complex insights into social, organizational, or cultural phenomena.

Case study dissertation findings are frequently incorporated into practical decision-making or policy development in industries like business, social sciences, or healthcare. They add to the body of knowledge by conducting in-depth analyses of actual examples and providing insightful advice for future endeavors.

Dissertations based on fieldwork

Dissertations with a fieldwork component conduct their research in actual environments, such as communities, businesses, or the outdoors. To gain firsthand knowledge and insights, researchers immerse themselves in the field, watching and interacting with people or groups.

Participant observation, ethnographic interviews, surveys, or environmental data collection may all be used in the course of conducting fieldwork-based dissertations. Researchers frequently use field notes, audio recordings, or visual materials to record their observations, encounters, and interactions.

Researchers who conduct fieldwork for their dissertations must consider ethical issues, build relationships with participants, and adjust to the field's changing conditions. They produce rich and context-specific data and offer one-of-a-kind opportunities to investigate social, cultural, or environmental phenomena in their original settings.

The results of dissertations based on fieldwork provide a nuanced understanding of the complexities and intricacies of phenomena that occur in the real world. By shedding light on cultural practices, social dynamics, or environmental processes that cannot be fully understood through laboratory- or desk-based research alone, they contribute to disciplines like anthropology, geography, or sociology.

Dissertations with a practical focus

Practice-based dissertations, which are frequently found in fields like fine arts, architecture, or design, combine theoretical analysis with practical applications. These dissertations require the creation of creative works, such as paintings, architectural plans, or design prototypes, as well as a written component that critically examines the creative process and the theoretical foundations.

Iterative cycles of creation, experimentation, and reflection are frequently used in practice-based dissertation writing. Researchers experiment with various artistic or design methods, test hypotheses, and assess the results in light of the research objectives and questions.

The ability to engage with theoretical concepts as well as artistic or design skills are requirements for practice-based dissertations. The written component places the creative work in context, explains theoretical frameworks, and offers important details about the research process and its results.

By pushing boundaries, questioning norms, and providing fresh viewpoints, the findings of practice-based dissertations advance artistic and design practices. They contribute to the field by demonstrating how theory and practice interact, encouraging interdisciplinary partnerships, and motivating upcoming creative or design endeavors.

Dissertations with a Systematic Review

Dissertations on systematic reviews seek to offer a thorough and organized analysis of the body of literature on a particular subject. Researchers use a strict methodology to find, assess, and summarize pertinent studies, ensuring objectivity and reducing biases.

Formulating research questions, defining inclusion and exclusion criteria, searching numerous databases for pertinent studies, and critically evaluating the caliber of the chosen studies are all steps in the systematic review dissertation process.

The results of the included studies are then synthesized by researchers, who look for recurring themes, patterns, or contradictions. They make judgments based on the data presented in the literature, highlighting the benefits and drawbacks of the previous studies.

Systematic review dissertations are essential for evidence-based practice because they offer a thorough and objective overview of the current body of knowledge on a given subject. They support decision-making in areas like healthcare, education, or the social sciences by highlighting gaps in the literature, elucidating inconsistent findings, and providing information.

Researchers who conduct systematic reviews can synthesize complex information, critically evaluate research studies, and advance knowledge by thoroughly examining the body of prior literature.


In conclusion, it is impossible to overstate the value of dissertations in the teaching profession. The eight primary dissertation types covered in this blog post a variety of methodologies and frameworks, advancing educational research. These dissertations influence the teaching environment and inform evidence-based practices. They range from empirical studies that produce evidence-based insights to theoretical analyses that critically review preexisting frameworks.

Researchers can gather and analyze primary data to answer specific research questions and test hypotheses by conducting empirical research. Theoretical analysis dissertations present fresh viewpoints and adjustments while providing critical insights into educational theories and frameworks. Additional ways to investigate teaching practices and make significant contributions include applied research, case studies, mixed methods, action research, narrative inquiry, and systematic review dissertations.

In the end, these dissertations encourage teachers to critically evaluate their practices and contribute to the ongoing advancement of educational theories and methodologies by fostering a culture of research and scholarship within the teaching profession. Dissertation scholars advance innovation, advance evidence-based practices, and improve the standard of instruction at universities all over the world through their diligent research endeavors. Dissertation types vary widely, ensuring that various research questions and methodologies are investigated, resulting in a more thorough understanding of teaching and its effects on student learning outcomes.