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A dissertation, often referred to as a doctoral thesis, is a comprehensive piece of academic work that forms the conclusion of a doctoral program. It is more than just a substantial piece of writing; it is cumulative evidence of an individual's ability to conduct in-depth, independent research and make a significant contribution to academic discourse. In this article, we unfold the nature of a dissertation, highlight the process of writing it, and offer insights and advice for prospective doctoral students who wish to embark on this significant academic journey.

What is a dissertation?

A dissertation, also known as a doctoral thesis, is a scientific paper written by doctoral students as part of their doctoral studies. It serves as proof of the ability to carry out independent scientific research at a high level. At its core, a dissertation is about working on a specific, as yet unresolved research question, which generally makes an original contribution to the respective subject area.

The requirements for a dissertation can vary depending on the subject area and university, but in principle the work must produce new scientific findings or expand or improve existing theories and methods in a significant way. The aim is not only to expand the knowledge of the subject area, but also to demonstrate the researcher's competence in critical analysis, methodological approach and scientific writing.
The dissertation marks the culmination of academic training and is often a prerequisite for obtaining a doctoral degree, the highest academic qualification. It reflects the ability to identify complex problems, research them systematically and present them in a clearly structured, comprehensible form.


The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is the dissertation in the field of business at Munich Business School. At Munich Business School, the DBA offers experienced specialists and managers the opportunity to combine their practical experience with a well-founded academic thesis. The program aims to enable participants to systematically analyze complex business challenges and to develop and implement solutions.

Our DBA program

Aim and purpose of a dissertation

Contribution to science

The primary aim of a dissertation is to make an original contribution to the respective field. Doctoral students are encouraged to explore unresolved questions, develop new theories or extend existing knowledge in innovative ways. These contributions are often crucial for progress in science and can open up new fields of research or contribute to solving complex problems.

Proof of research competence

Completing a dissertation also serves to demonstrate the doctoral student's ability to carry out independent scientific work. This includes the identification of relevant research questions, the selection and application of suitable methods, the execution of the research and the precise presentation of the results. The successful defense of the dissertation before an examination committee confirms the research competence and the ability to critically examine the subject area.

The process of writing a dissertation

Finding a topic and research question

The choice of dissertation topic is a decisive step that shapes the entire research work. The topic should not only be of academic interest, but also of personal importance to the doctoral candidate. The formulation of a clear and focused research question is the starting point for further work.

Supervision and research plan

Each dissertation is supported by a supervisor - usually a professor in the department. This person provides the doctoral candidate with professional guidance and advises on the preparation of a research plan that defines the objectives, methods and time frame of the dissertation.

Research work and writing

The research phase includes data collection, experiments, field research or theoretical analysis, depending on the subject area and topic. In parallel, the writing of the dissertation begins, which includes an introduction to the topic, a literature review, a description of the methodology, the presentation and discussion of the results, and a conclusion.

Submission and evaluation

Once the research work and the writing process have been completed, the dissertation is submitted for assessment. The final assessment usually includes a public defense of the dissertation, during which the doctoral candidate presents the research results and answers questions from the examination committee. Completing a dissertation is an extensive and often challenging undertaking that places high demands on the self-organization, scientific skills and perseverance of doctoral students. However, despite the challenges, successfully completing a dissertation is an extremely rewarding experience that paves the way for a career in science.


The process of writing a dissertation

This detailed reflection and the table should provide a clear overview of the path to professorship and the challenges involved. It is a process that requires a lot of time, dedication and academic excellence.
Step Description Important aspects
Topic identification Selection of a relevant and original research topic. Personal interest, scientific relevance, feasibility.
Research question Formulation of a clear and focused research question. Specificity, relevance, contribution to the field.
Supervision Selection and consultation of an academic supervisor. Professional expertise, availability, supportive working relationship.
Research plan Preparation of a detailed plan for the research work. Objectives, methodology, timetable, resources.
Research work Carrying out the actual research according to the research plan. Data collection, experiments, fieldwork, theoretical analysis.
Writing Writing the dissertation, including all necessary components. Introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion.
Submission Submission of the completed dissertation for assessment. Formatting, compliance with guidelines, completeness.
Defense Presentation and discussion of the research results in front of an examination committee. Preparation, presentation skills, subject knowledge.

The challenges of writing a dissertation

Writing a dissertation is undoubtedly an ambitious undertaking that requires a high level of commitment and perseverance. During this academic adventure, doctoral students face a variety of challenges that need to be overcome. In this article, we will focus on two crucial aspects: time management and motivation, and academic writing and research ethics. These two areas are crucial as they form the basis for the success of a dissertation and can also be some of the biggest obstacles to overcome. By addressing these challenges and implementing effective coping strategies, PhD students can make their dissertation journey a successful one.

Time management and motivation

Completing a dissertation requires a high degree of time management and self-discipline. Doctoral students often face the challenge of organizing their schedule efficiently in order to juggle various tasks such as literature research, data analysis and the writing itself. It is important to set realistic work goals and set working hours to ensure effective time management.

Motivation can also fluctuate over the course of a long research project. PhD students should be aware that there may be times when they feel overwhelmed or discouraged. At such times, it is helpful to set goals, take regular breaks and seek support from supervisors or colleagues. A well-structured work plan and a clear vision of the end goal can help to maintain motivation.

Academic writing and research ethics

Academic writing is a central part of the dissertation. PhD students need to be able to communicate complex scientific ideas clearly and concisely. This can be a major challenge, especially if writing skills are not sufficiently developed. It is important to familiarize yourself with academic writing early on, learn writing techniques and seek feedback from supervisors or writing groups.

Adherence to research ethics and academic standards is crucial. Plagiarism and falsification of data are unacceptable and can have serious consequences. Doctoral students should be aware of the ethical principles of research, handle sources carefully and use transparent methods. Dealing with research ethics should be part of the dissertation writing process from the very beginning.

Overcoming these challenges requires time, commitment and support. Doctoral students should be aware that it is normal to encounter obstacles and actively seek to find solutions in order to successfully complete their dissertation.

Structure and components of a dissertation

The dissertation is the result of an intensive research process and reflects the ability to work independently in a scientific manner. It follows a structured outline that enables the reader to understand the research carried out and the results obtained. Here are the core components of a dissertation that form its foundation:

  1.  Introduction: introduction to the topic, research question and objectives.
  2. Theoretical framework: Overview of existing theories and literature.
  3. Methodology: Description of the research design and methods.
  4. Results: Presentation of the research results.
  5. Discussion: Analysis and interpretation of the results in the context of the theory.
  6. Conclusion and outlook: Summary of findings and directions for future research.
  7. Bibliography: List of all sources used.
  8. Appendices: Additional materials and data.

Structure and components of a dissertation

This table summarizes the main characteristics of the different types of professorships and provides an overview of the respective focus areas and career paths
Bestandteil Beschreibung
Einleitung Stellt das Forschungsthema vor, definiert die zentrale Forschungsfrage, erläutert die Bedeutung der Studie und skizziert die Zielsetzung.
Theoretischer Rahmen Bietet einen Überblick über die relevanten Theorien und den aktuellen Forschungsstand. Identifiziert Wissenslücken, die die Studie adressiert.
Methodik Beschreibt die gewählten Forschungsmethoden, Ansätze zur Datenerhebung und -analyse, sowie die Begründung für ihre Auswahl. Erklärt, wie die Forschungsfragen beantwortet werden sollen.
Ergebnisse Präsentiert die Daten und Befunde der Forschung in strukturierter Form. Kann quantitative Daten, statistische Analysen, qualitative Aussagen und andere Arten von Forschungsergebnissen enthalten.
Diskussion Interpretiert die Ergebnisse im Kontext des theoretischen Rahmens und der Forschungsfragen. Diskutiert die Implikationen der Ergebnisse und mögliche Limitationen der Studie.
Schlussfolgerung und Ausblick Fasst die wichtigsten Erkenntnisse zusammen, reflektiert über die Bedeutung der Ergebnisse für das Fachgebiet und gibt einen Ausblick auf mögliche zukünftige Forschungsrichtungen.
Literaturverzeichnis Listet alle Quellen auf, die in der Dissertation zitiert oder referenziert wurden, geordnet nach einem festgelegten Zitierstil.
Anhänge Enthalten ergänzende Materialien, die für das Verständnis der Dissertation relevant sind, aber den Fluss des Haupttexts stören würden, wie z.B. umfangreiche Tabellen, technische Details, Fragebögen oder zusätzliche Analysen.

Tips for prospective doctoral candidates

A doctorate is a challenging and enriching experience that requires not only professional expertise but also perseverance and strategic planning. Here are some tips that can help prospective doctoral candidates to successfully master this path:

  • Choose a topic wisely: your dissertation topic should not only be of academic relevance, but also of personal interest. A topic that excites you will help you stay motivated even during difficult phases.
  • Find the right supervisor: Good supervision is crucial for the success of your doctorate. Look for a supervisor who is not only professionally competent, but also fits in with your working style and supports you.
  • Develop a realistic timetable: Doctorates usually take several years. A well-thought-out schedule that includes buffer times for both the research and writing phases is essential in order to keep an overview and make continuous progress.
  • Network yourself: Exchanging ideas with other doctoral students and academics can open up valuable new perspectives. Conferences, workshops and specialist groups offer excellent opportunities to make contacts and exchange information on current research trends.
  • Take care of your well-being: The PhD period can be physically and mentally demanding. Make sure you balance it out with hobbies, sports or social activities and don't hesitate to seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed.
  • Practice scientific writing: The ability to communicate research findings clearly and persuasively is essential. Use resources such as writing workshops or scientific writing literature to improve your skills.
  • Be prepared for setbacks: Research is a process with ups and downs. Not every experiment leads to the desired results and not every hypothesis stands up to scrutiny. Learn from mistakes and see them as part of the learning process.
  • Seek feedback: Regular feedback from supervisors, colleagues and other professionals is essential to ensure the quality of the work and to steer the research in the right direction.


The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is the dissertation in the field of business at Munich Business School. At Munich Business School, the DBA offers experienced specialists and managers the opportunity to combine their practical experience with a well-founded academic thesis. The program aims to enable participants to systematically analyze complex business challenges and to develop and implement solutions.

Our DBA program

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the dissertation

Writing a dissertation raises many questions, from the choice of topic to the final defense. These FAQs are intended to shed light on the subject and clarify common uncertainties in order to make it easier for prospective doctoral candidates to complete their doctoral projects smoothly.

How long does it take to write a thesis?

The duration can vary greatly, but is usually between 3 and 5 years, depending on the subject area, the complexity of the research and the doctoral candidate's working methods.

Can I work part-time while writing my dissertation?

Many doctoral students work part-time to finance their living expenses. However, it is important to find a balance so that both the work and the dissertation do not suffer.

Do I have to publish my doctoral thesis?

The publication requirement depends on the guidelines of the respective university. Many institutions require at least a publication in a university archive or a digital publication.

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