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Dissertation and Thesis

"Dissertation and thesis" are two terms that are commonly confused with one another. Dissertation and thesis are not necessarily interchangeable, but they can be used by members of different cultures to discuss the same kinds of documents.

In the United States and the United Kingdom, the terms dissertation and thesis are reversed. In the United States, the dissertation is the extended research document produced by a candidate for a PhD and the thesis is the research paper produced by a candidate for a Masters degree. In the UK, a doctoral candidate completes a thesis and a Master's degree candidate completes a dissertation.

Dissertation and thesis documents are essentially structured the same way. Both are comprehensive, in-depth research papers showing an extensive degree of scholarship in a given subject. The dissertation and thesis produced for a PhD, regardless of country or culture, will necessarily be longer and more in-depth than the dissertation and thesis produced for a Master's degree. Other than length, however, they tend to be structured in the same way.

Dissertation and thesis documents generally consist of an introduction, a literature review, a methodology, a results section, a discussion or interpretation, and a conclusion. Dissertation and thesis documents also include supporting sections such as a title page, table of contents, reference list, and in some cases a glossary of terms.

In dissertation and thesis documents, the word "thesis" also refers to an overall statement about the research conducted that the student intends to prove through the writing of his or her dissertation and thesis. This can be referred to as a "thesis statement" to distinguish it from the dissertation and thesis document. The thesis statement is the student's overall conclusion regarding his or her interpretation of the research. Dissertations and theses both contain thesis statements, and the term "dissertation statement" is never used.