I have summarised some information from How to write a better thesis, 2nd Ed, David Evans, Paul Gruba, Melbourne Univ. Press 2002.
It is essential that the thesis be structured in such a way that the reader is taken from the aim to the conclusion in the clearest possible way, and by the most direct route.
The Standard Structure
· Introduce the research
· Outline the problem
· State the aim
· Limit the scope
· Overview of what lies ahead
· 3-5 pages should suffice
· Position own study in the context of what:
i. Has gone before
ii. Is currently taking place
iii. How research is conducted
· Brief historical review
· Describe study area and its characteristics
· Usually a chapter reviewing current theory or practice
· Possibly preliminary experiments
3) Own Work
· Own response
· “This is mine”
· Design of experiments, surveys or reviews to test hypothesis or answer questions developed from the background
· Results and critical analysis of results
· Develops own contribution to the state of knowledge and understanding of the topic
· Compare own results with previous state (part 2)
· Evaluation of model
· Respond directly to aim
· Neglecting any of the 4 areas will cause strife.
· The issue to be careful of is the differentiation of part 1 & 2, how to explain the problem without detailing what has been done before.
· Need to find some thesis examples for structure.
· Don’t ignore the need for critical thought!!!
Possible Project Plan Structure
· Title of Thesis
· Description of Research Project
o Overview of relevant research
o Questions raised by this overview
· Proposed research procedure
o Research methods
o Data sources & Data collection
· Research Timetable
First piece of research:
· Review of existing work
· Don’t ‘data dump’
· Try look at chronological development.
· Should help understand topic and put limits in place.
· Will help find the real unanswered questions.
· Expect to have to modify introduction later.
· It would be useful to have a folder, broken up by chapters and sections. Then, as pieces are written, build each section.
· Finally, be sure when writing to link the chapters for the reader.