Learn How to Write a Thesis Project
I. Structure of Your Thesis
Your title page must include the following components: the full title of your thesis, your name, academic institution, course supervisor’s name, date and your contact details (email or phone number).
- Your abstract must contain an explanation of why your thesis is relevant. Then you will summarize the methods and results of your project. In the final sentences of your abstract include implications for future research and practice. Create a comprehensive and succinct abstract that will communicate the key message of your thesis.
- An abstract should not be more than 400 words or 1-2 paragraphs.
- An abstract should not include any references or citations.
- An abstract should not include the title of your thesis.
- Write your abstract in explicit and unambiguous terms.
- Include numerical data if needed.
- Provide answers to some of the following questions:
- What methods did you use to obtain your results?
- Why did you select these methods?
- How do these methods fit in the context of your study?
- What are the key results of your project?
- What are their significance for the reader?
Table of Contents
- Include all headings and subheadings that are found in your work, with a corresponding page number
- All subheadings must be indented
- Use the example below to format your table of contents appropriately:
List of figures…………………………………………………………………………Page #
List of tables…………………………………………………………………………..Page #
Subheading 1…………………………………………………………………..Page #
Subheading 2…………………………………………………………………..Page #
List of Figures
All figures must be included with page numbers
Each figure should have an abbreviated title
List of Tables
All tables must have a page number
Each table must have a short (abbreviated) title
The best thesis writing professionals strongly recommend that introduction be written when the entire thesis is ready. That is, you can never produce a persuasive and eye-catching introduction if you do not know what it is there in the body of your work. Nevertheless, what you need to do is drawing the attention of your readers, which is why the first few sentences of the introduction must be truly interesting and intriguing. Say something that will persuade your readers that they MUST read your thesis until the last word.
In the sections that follow, you will provide some background information and reference earlier findings related to your subject and field. You will identify possible gaps in knowledge and provide a justification for the topic of your thesis. Outline the contribution your work will make to research and practice.
What else should be there in your introduction to make it perfect?
- Specify the goal of your thesis project. However, never copy any sentences or phrases from your abstract.
- Provide high-quality background information to help your audience understand the meaning and significance of your thesis.
- Acknowledge the contribution made by other researchers to this field. Incorporate as many references as you can to prove that the subject warrants attention. Provide your readers with a comprehensive understanding of the context and importance of your work.
- Frame your introduction around the research question, thesis statement, and hypothesis. Include only sources that are relevant in the context of your work. You shouldn’t cite everything you know and have read somewhere at any point of your study.
- Set the limits on your thesis project and outline its scope.
- Provide your readers with an understanding of what they will and will not see in the body of your thesis.
- Be original in your conclusions. However, do not forget to credit other authors for their investment in the study of your topic.
What should be there in your methods section?
- Any data that will empower your readers to evaluate the consistency and credibility of your results.
- Any data that will make it easier for other researchers to repeat and replicate your study.
- A thorough description of the methods, procedures, instruments, materials, and subjects used.
- A thorough and detailed description of all data collection and analysis procedures followed.
- An objective and critical review of the advantages and limitations of the proposed method.
- An evaluation of any software packages used to obtain results.
Answer the following questions when working on your methodology section:
- Have you provided sufficient information to let other researchers replicate your study in the future?
- Have you provided enough information and data to help other researchers evaluate the consistency of your sampling and data collection techniques?
- Have you provided enough information to let other researchers use your instrumentation in the future?
- Are the data provided sufficient and satisfactory enough to contribute to future research and practice in this field?
- Have you included enough information about the laboratory experiments conducted as part of your thesis project?
- Have you included enough information about the statistical procedures used?
- Have you provided any clues as to how computer software can be helpful in analyzing and interpreting your results?
You do not need to include any results in this section. What you need, however, is citing as many resources as possible, but only those which relate to the analysis of your methods.
- In your results section you will share the factual achievements of your experiment, either quantitative or qualitative.
- In a quantitative thesis, include a description of the range of variation.
- Do not limit your discussion to positive results. Include negative results as well.
- Provide evidence and argumentation, as if you are developing a court case for a client. You will win a million-dollar case if you manage to structure your proofs correctly.
- Make sure that you use measures and units consistently in all parts of your thesis.
- Do not bring up your results in a bulk of data. Instead, divide them into segments and parts.
- Begin with the most meaningful results. Do not overload your results section with data that are either insignificant or uninformative.
How Results Differ from Discussion
Do not confuse your results section with that of discussion. When you report about the results of your experiment, you do not need to interpret their meaning. You simply state what you see or observe. Nothing more, nothing less. Make sure that you can make a difference between what you and what you understand or perceive. Try to imagine that you begin your sentence with “I see” or “I find”, instead of “I understand”, “I assume”, or “I suggest”. This is how you can achieve the best academic result. Your thesis should be properly structured. If you confuse your sections or place them in the wrong order, your thesis will never earn the highest grade.
How to accomplish this mission?
- Separate your results and discussion sections from each other.
- Do not include any analysis or interpretation in your results section.
- Be careful using phrases such “I infer”, or “I suggest”.
- Do not assume that your results section must be long.
- It is much easier for your reader to grasp the most relevant results of your experiment.
- It is much better to produce a thesis that will be easy to read, process, and store.
Your discussion should begin with several introductory statements that summarize the key results or findings. In fact, you should be ready to write a discussion section that resembles an essay, with an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
- Did you identify any patterns or temporal trends in your analysis? What are they?
- Did you identify any relationships among variables? What are they? How will you explain them?
- Did you find any exceptions in the way the results of your study are related? What are the factors behind these exceptions?
- Can you explain the most possible causes behind the relationships among your variables and results? Could you expect such results and relationships?
- Do the results of earlier studies support your findings?
- See what other researchers have found and analyze the results of your study against their findings and experiments.
- Can you outline the key implications your results will have for the research and practice in your area?
- Can you provide more than one explanation for the results of your study?
- Do not go too deep into hypotheses and assumptions. Try to limit your interpretations to factual information. Provide evidence whenever you make a point.
- What is the new information you have discovered in your study and what new knowledge can you bring to your audience?
- Each interpretation and analytical assertion must be supported with evidence.
- How significant are your results and what do they mean for your audience?
You must be ready to use as many references as you can in the discussion section of your thesis. The more references you use, the better. At the same time, your discussion section can be much longer than the section devoted to the statement of your results. This is why it is always wise to reread everything you have written and delete all information that sounds redundant.
- What was the most relevant conclusion derived from the body of your thesis?
- What are the most memorable things about your thesis that your readers should take with them into the future?
- What was the problem you wanted to investigate? Did you manage to fulfill your task? Are the data provided sufficient to make important and informative conclusions?
- Do not forget to consider the implications of your study.
- Do not copy and paste any information or sentences from the introduction, discussion, abstract, or results sections.
- Include evidence-based recommendations based on the results of your study
- Offer remedies to the problem you have been exploring in your work
- Provide recommendations for future studies
- Offer suggestions for a more detailed analysis of the problem
Don’t forget to mention anyone who has contributed to your project:
- Someone who provided materials and supplies
- Someone who shared their experience or expertise with you
- Someone who sponsored your study.
- Cite everything you borrow from other sources
- Reference and provide evidence to support each statement or claim
- Use surname and date to cite and reference a source with one author (e.g. Harris 2000).
- Use surnames of both authors and the data when you cite a source with two authors (e.g. Jackson & Kohn 1995).
- Use the surname of the first author and et al. when you cite a source with more than three authors (e.g. Lang et al. 2006).
- Avoid using footnotes or endnotes
- Include a list of all references you have mentioned in the body of your thesis
- List your references in the following way:
- Jackson, P. (1990). Using the advantages of report writing to improve academic results. Journal of Education, 2, 15.
- American Nurses Association. (2015). Position statement on discrimination and lateral violence. Retrieved from http://www.www.www, 11/11/11.
- Follow the requirements of your citation and referencing style to develop a list of references. Do not forget that all references must be arranged in alphabetical order. All references must be cited in the body of your paper. Make sure that you did not forget any in-text citations or references when you are constructing a list of references.
- Your data should be presented in an appendix
- You need to include any data that cannot be approached or accessed by readers
- Your tables must not exceed 2 pages
- Include not more than 2 pages of mathematical calculations and measurements
- If your thesis is focused on some major article or any other work, you can include it as an appendix
- If you want to include a bibliography of the materials that were not cited in the body of your paper, you can also provide an appendix
- List all instruments and equipment used in the experiment
II. Other Issues to Consider
What Is the Purpose of Your Project?
First of all, any thesis is essentially about critically analyzing some pertinent issue. If you have a scientific or research question, your task will be to answer it critically. If you have a hypothesis, you will need to be very critical about the evidence you provide to support or refute it. Don’t forget about the context and setting of your research, because it can definitely influence your results, as well as their meaning and interpretation. Always, remember, always (!) you should reconsider your results against the broader context of your study. Otherwise, even the most ambitious achievements will lose their relevance for the reader. Every supervisor and every tutor expects that you will use your critical analysis and reasoning skills to answer the research question and analyze your topic from several different angles. Your argument should be logical and well supported by the evidence taken from your study. Follow the formatting recommendations below to write a perfect thesis and deliver a perfect experimental result.
Do not Wait until the Last Moment
One of the key things you should remember about your thesis is that, the earlier you start working on your project, the more successful it will be. There is no use writing your thesis in between your studies and work. You cannot hope that the two summer months will be enough to finalize a project as large and complicated as your thesis. The best thing you can do is asking your supervisor to provide the details for your thesis as soon as possible. You will need a lot of time to learn more about the topic, gather empirical data and literature, organize and systematize previous research, do the experiment, analyze and interpret the original data. It is not a one-night endeavor! It will take months, if not years, to make your thesis perfect. If you do not know how to manage your thesis project properly, just let us know and we will find someone to help you out.
Your Audience Matters
Always consider your audience! These can be
- Other researchers who work in the same field or explore the same topic
- Other researchers who are exploring your topic or subject but using different instruments and techniques
- Other researchers who seek to contribute to this field of study but from other countries or locations
- Other researchers who have experience using your instruments and techniques
- Other researchers who are doing a similar experiment at the same time with you
- Other researchers who organized similar experiments in the past
- Other researchers who are working to synthesize the current body of literature on your topic
- Other researchers who keep monitoring changes and developments in your field of study
- Other researchers and peer reviewers who analyze and evaluate empirical studies.
Reading or Skimming?
With the growing richness of empirical and theoretical literature, most people lack time to read papers. Skimming is becoming a popular alternative to reading, which is why most theses must be brief, succinct, and full of comprehensive illustrations and captions. Your reader must have an opportunity to skim the key findings of your project without spending hours to read it. Leave details to someone who wants to enjoy the very process of reading your work.
You will write your thesis in a manner that is different from the way it is presented. Follow the recommendations below to produce a perfect thesis:
- Create a logical argument that will support your claims
- Include the following sections in your thesis work: background information, introduction, the latest research findings, the importance and relevance of the topic, methods, discussion, and conclusions
- Don’t forget to include headings and subheadings to divide your thesis into several parts
- Write your thesis, dividing it into subsections
- Follow strict formal hierarchy. Structure your paragraphs and sentences properly.
Or follow these recommendations:
- Begin with a preliminary draft of your background. You will use it as guidance when working on the introduction section of your project.
- While collecting primary data, create a draft of your methodology section. You will be able to describe your methods faster and more effectively if you write down each step in the process of doing research.
- Once you manage to obtain some data, it is better to put it in tables and plots. Then when you finish doing your research, you will be able to visualize the whole process and check if all data and considerations were included in your paper. Review your data collection and analysis sections and see if there are any gaps in them. This way you will avoid any statistical or analysis gaps in your study.
- When you are done with data collection, statistics, tables and plots, it is time to create captions for each figure or table you plan to include in your project. Make sure that your readers understand what you wanted to say in your tables and graphs. They should be smoothly incorporated into the body of your text.
- Now you can turn to writing the results section of your thesis. It will take you a lot of time to deliver a perfect result. Remember the difference between the results and analysis sections of your thesis. When writing down and reporting your results, do not interpret them! Leave interpretation and analysis to later stages of thesis writing.
- When you have finished the results section, you can switch on to writing a discussion of your results. In most cases, you will find it much more interesting to write a discussion section than to report the results of your study. Now you have some freedom to elaborate on your findings, understand their meaning, and put them in context while outlining their implications for research and practice. Draw your conclusions and inferences from literature. Use as much data as you can to support your assumptions and conclusions.
- When working on the discussion section of your thesis, you will have to be very thorough and detailed analyzing every other aspect of your primary data. Here you will also have some space to discuss the strengths and limitations of your methods, as well as their effects on the quality of your data.
- After you have finished the discussion section, it is time to focus on the conclusion. Here you will wrap up the main argument, hypothesis, and the main ideas derived from the analysis section of your work. Tell your readers if all hypotheses have found their support or what you could have done better.
- Finally, you will write a set of recommendations for your audience. This is the very last section of your thesis. Provide recommendations for both research and practice. Try to translate your findings into a piece of useful practical advice for your readers.
- Now that you are done with writing recommendations, revisit the introductory section of your thesis. You must be sure that it provides enough background information to set a proper context for your research. When you have written all sections of your dissertation, you can revise and refine your introduction to make it more informative.
- The last thing to do is to write an abstract.
Tables and Figures
- Make sure that all tables and figures are smoothly incorporated into the main text. Each table and figure must be on the page that follows the paragraph in which it is first mentioned.
- All tables and figures must have consecutive numbers, e.g., Fig. 1, Fig. 2, Fig., 3, etc.
- Each figure and table must have a caption, which provides brief information about it and a reference, if needed. The caption should emphasize the most important findings for the reader. It must also be related to the text written in the body of your thesis.
- It is much better to create original tables based on the data obtained from your experiment rather than simply copy and paste tables and figures from external sources. Whenever you insert an original table or figure into the text, answer the following questions:
Each of your figures must be vertically oriented. It is better to present them in portrait mode, if possible of course. However, if horizontal orientation is required, it should be convenient for the reader to review the data included in each table or graph.
- Is the figure clear enough to explain its meaning?
- Have you labeled the units and axes in your graph?
- Have you included the error bars to show uncertainty?
- Have you indicated the goodness of fit for your curves?
- Were you able to eliminate the junk charts?
- Can you eliminate non-data ink?
- Can you eliminate redundant and unnecessary data?
- Can you eliminate non-data bearing space and increase the density of your data?
- It is better to create a table than a chart to express the meaning of your data?
- Can you see that your figure or table distorts the original meaning of your data?
- Have you put each table or figure in a context?
- Have you included a comprehensive caption to explain the meaning and significance of your table or graph?
How to Incorporate Tables and Figures into the Main Text
The purpose and intent of each figure and table are to show that the data included in them are meaningful and relevant in the context of your thesis project. In all cases, the data cited in text should be also referenced in tables or figures. Each piece of data provided in text must be supported with credible evidence. Otherwise, it will not play any role in judging the quality of your findings.
Now analyze how data in your text relate to the data presented in figures and tables:
- Textual statements are supported with data
- Textual statements and original data contradict or don’t coincide
- Data provided are not enough to support textual claims
- Data and text may go in line, but the original data are not presented properly, which is why it may not be possible to use them to ensure greater credibility of textual statements.
Referencing and Citing Sources
One of your principal obligations when working on a thesis is to credit everyone who has contributed to your work. Whenever you cite some text from an external source, you must acknowledge its authorship.
Avoid these errors:
- Quoting the text directly without using quotation marks
- Quoting the text directly and using quotation marks without crediting the author
- Incorporating ideas and concepts without crediting the source
- Making sloppy assumptions about authorship
- Falsifying the original results
Review each and every reference and make sure that it is mentioned in the body of your thesis. Before you print your thesis or submit it for grading, you must be confident that all references are correct, and you did not miss anything.
Final Version of Your Project
- You will need to forward one copy of the thesis to your supervisor and hand 2 other copies in your department.
- You must have it bound
- Your thesis must be printed on a white paper using 12-point format, double-spaced
- All margins should not exceed 1 inch
- You’ll save paper if you make it double-sided
- Page numbers must be included!
Use Valuable Resources
- Your university must have a writing center that will help you improve your thesis
- Review the sample theses, works and previous thesis projects submitted to your department to see how you should structure and organize your own work
- Never conceal any questions or concerns – ask your supervisor for help the moment you need it
- You can also ask your department workers to provide valuable books and online resources to help you in writing
- See any additional resources that can inform your academic efforts
III. Time to Edit Your Thesis
Do not assume that the rough draft should not be edited. It must! Follow our recommendations below.
Editing Your Thesis Copies
- Review and proofread the entire thesis. Do it at least twice.
- Review your spelling and grammar errors.
- Check if all sentences are complete and properly structured.
- Check punctuation and style. Make sure that there are no mistakes in subject-verb agreement.
- Ask someone else to review and analyze your thesis.
Editing Your Content
- Logical argument
- No redundancy or repetition
- Appropriate tone and style
Clarity and Accuracy in Everything
- Use semicolons to avoid any run-on sentences in your work
- Avoid nested phrases
- Avoid sentences or phrases that contain more than one idea
- Avoid double negatives by all means
- Avoid dangling participles.
- Check if every pronoun is followed by a verb and that the relationship between that pronoun and the verb is clear. Otherwise, your sentences will be confusing and even redundant.
- Check subject-verb agreements throughout your text.
- Compound subjects deserve particular attention. Check them twice. Review subject-verb agreements once again.
- Do not use qualitative descriptions for quantifiable, measurable subjects.
- Do not use noun strings in your thesis. They are not academically sound.
- All acronyms must be explained. Check spelling every time you use them.
Length of Your Thesis
No one says that your thesis should be short. However, that does not mean that it should be overloaded with unnecessary information. Even in large projects, such as theses, it is crucial that students stay accurate, succinct, and up to the point. Do not repeat unnecessary information. Provide a thorough analysis and interpretation of any data included in your thesis.
However, some repetition may still be necessary. For example, you will have to expand upon the information provided in your abstract and introductory sections. You will incorporate this information into the main body of your paper. You will also mention it in the analysis and discussion sections of your thesis.
Now some recommendations to keep your thesis brief and concise:
- For any information that repeats throughout the thesis, use tables instead of plain text.
- Provide enough background information in the introduction section of your thesis, so that the reader understands your topic and you do not have to repeat it.
- Provide figure and table captions and use white space wisely.
- There is no need to provide an item-by-item description of every table and graph in the text of your thesis. Your task is to outline the most significant findings, data, data patterns, trends, or features.
- Anything that is not supported with data should not be mentioned in your text.
- Do not provide any conclusions that lack factual or data support.
- Do not make any assumptions that are questionable or inconclusive.
- Limit your results and discussion sections to the data you have factually obtained while working on your thesis.
- Check how many adverbs, adjectives, and pronouns you use in text.
Of course, each thesis project is unique, and you will have to comply with the instructions and requirements provided by your supervisor. However, do not expect your thesis to be less than 40 pages long. This is the length of the main body of your thesis without any appendices. In case of any questions, contact your thesis supervisor immediately.
If Your Thesis Targets International Readers
- Include as much information as you can in graphic or tabulated form. Avoid doing any conclusions that are not supported with data.
- Do not think that all readers know your topic and subject. Provide enough background information to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Use names and titles for everything you mention in your text. Your figures and tables must have comprehensive captions.
- Avoid using longer sentences. Be brief and succinct, as international readers may not be able to understand complex words and terms.
- Do not use idioms, as your readers may not be able to understand them.