A Thesis Format Simply Explained
Academia is a funny place. Sometimes, in its need to be highly intellectual, it makes things more difficult than they need to be. And this is certainly true at the graduate school levels, as students begin to produce their theses and dissertations. There are all kinds of instructional guides, filled with “highbrow” terminology, because someone needs to be impressive. If you are a Master’s candidate and you are getting ready to produce your thesis, then you already know that there is a format for that thesis, and that you must carefully structure your work according to that format, so that it will be accepted. Here, then, is a brief, simpler explanation of what you need to include in each section.
Let’s assume that you already have your topic and your thesis statement (your research question). You’ve done some preliminary research and you have a pretty good idea of the research project you are going to devise and implement. Good. And if your advisor has already approved it, even better. Before you put one word on paper, you must design your research methodology, implement that research, collect and analyze your data, and reach your conclusions. Once all of that is completed, you are ready for the writing, so let’s look at each section.
Obviously, you will state the research problem your thesis addresses, and hopefully you can begin with some compelling fact that will pique the reader’s attention. You must also bring the reader up to date on the research that has gone before that specifically relates to your research. This literature review does not have to be a monumental undertaking, but you do need to summarize the important research and give credit to those who conducted it. The last part of the introduction needs to speak to your research project – especially the scope of the work and perhaps the limitations.
This section will describe all of the details of your actual research. Do you have experimental and control groups? Matched pairs? How did you design your instruments, what exact data will you be collecting, and how will you analyze that data? The point of research for a Master’s thesis is to design a methodology that can be almost exactly replicated by other researchers should they choose to do so.
Once you have completed the research, you of course will gather all of the data and organize it, using good visuals, possibly tables, charts, graphs, etc. You must not, in this section, deal with any interpretation or insert any of your own interpretations. This is a “just facts” part of your thesis.
To write a good discussion section, you simply need to ask yourself some key questions and answer them. What were the most important results of your research? What generalizations can you make from your results? Does your result validate or counter previous research? What new questions are raised? What is important about what you did, and why should others in your field care?
Again, answer two important questions. Where should researchers go from here, and what are the implications of your research for your field?
The Other Critical Factor
When the sections of a thesis format are broken down and simplified, the project does not seem so monumental. The other important consideration, however, is the actual writing. It must be scholarly and formal, and that type of writing requires special skill. If you have concerns about your writing abilities, a good option may be to contact a thesis writing service – one that has Ph.D.’s in your field who know how to provide academically-sound writing. All of your hard work is for naught if it is not presented well – get a pro from EssayPenguins.com.
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