Tips on How to Write a Senior Thesis
As a rule, a thesis includes 20-25 pages of double-spaced text written in 12 pt. font. An exception might be an abstract, which can be single-spaced and written according to the style of an article that is to be published in a scholarly journal. Should you need any further detailed information regarding the rules and principles of scientific writing, you might address online sources or consult some guidelines and manuals provided at the university website.
The most important thing for students who are writing their theses is to consult with their professors or thesis supervisors about the required structure and principles of thesis organization. However, the general rules of thesis writing are presented in this article.
How to Organize a Thesis
1. Title Page
On the title page, you should include the following information:
- Title of your thesis paper;
- Your name;
- Name of your academic supervisor;
The information provided on the title page needs to be brief, accurate, and checked for grammar and punctuation errors.
Why should the information on the title page be provided in brief? Because it is mainly aimed to draw attention of the potential target audience and to assist in indexing and retrieval services. A researcher can facilitate the process of indexing and retrieving certain data by including keywords in the title.
In particular, when it comes to journal publications, the title of the research article is followed by authors’ names, the address of the institutional affiliation where the study was conducted, and the date when the paper got to the journal editor.
There are also specific rules when listing the authors’ names: first name, middle initial, and last name. It is also necessary to include the names of people who made a special contribution to the research. Moreover, you place an asterisk next to the name of the author, to whom others should address correspondence.
Usually, the length of an abstract is from half a page to one single-spaced page. It comprises of a brief and concise summary of paper objectives, applied methods, results, and conclusion.
What Are the Key Purposes of the Abstract?
- To help the readers get the idea what the paper is about and what the nature of the research is;
- Allow editors highlight the major points to focus on in retrieval and indexing.
Therefore, if the matter of the problem and the research purpose is not properly indicated in the title, make sure to pay more attention to these issues in the abstract. Besides, mention which theoretical and experimental plan was used, sum up the main findings, and pinpoint the major conclusions.
In this section, you succinctly state the objectives of the thesis and their significance for the research. If some pertinent literature needs to be reviewed, remember to cite it according to the rules. The introductory section is actually more detailed than it is allowed for a regular journal article.
Moreover, in this section, you should clearly state the research problem (research question) and provide argumentation why you have chosen it for studying. Outline the previous findings of other researchers by properly citing them. Provide information about the significance of the research as well as its scope and limitations.
4. Experimental Methods
Here you should indicate and describe the method(s) you have chosen to use. They can be as follows:
Overall, this part of the thesis should comprise information about the methods and materials that were used during the study. It is done with the aim to help experienced workers to obtain comparable results from your studies or repeat your work.
Here you provide complete and detailed data with the required information needed for understanding. However, you do not write any interpretations here. The data collected should be just summarized and statistically treated. To ensure more clarity in understanding, use tables, figures or equations.
6. Discussion Section
In this part, you interpret, explain, and analyze the obtained results (regardless of whether they are positive or negative). To get more clear understanding of what it means, you might look through the journal publications. However, in journals, the discussion section is often combined with results section.
This section contains final “sum up” statements. When writing conclusion section, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you found the answer to the research question posed at the beginning of the research?
- If not, what are your other contributions?
- Is the information you write in the conclusion based on the evidence presented in the thesis?
- Have you suggested further applications of your study?
This is the last paragraph of the journal article, which, as a rule, contains acknowledgements of places, people, budgeting, etc.
The reference page should be formatted in the style required by your academic supervisor. If there was no specific indication of how the sources should be formatted, use the following guide:
- For books:
Author’s name or the editor’s name (where the last name is followed by initials only), the book title (either underlined or in italics), publisher’s name, place of publication, year of publication, page number(s).
- For journals:
Author’s name (where the last name is followed by initials only), abbreviated title of the journal article underlined or in italics, year of publication written in bold, number of the volume underlined or in italics, initial page number of the cited article.
In the appendices section, you provide some large-format tabulations of raw data, graphs, tables, etc. that are too large or long to be used in the main body of the research. Then the appendix is added to the thesis.
Guidelines on the Style:
- Pages should be consecutively numbered.
- Each table or graph should be placed on a separate page, be numbered consecutively and include a caption at the top of it. All labels should be explained in the footnotes or in the caption.
- You should carefully draw each figure on a separate page and accompany it with a legend, which, as a rule, appears below the figure. If necessary, it may be placed on a separate sheet of paper.
- As long as it is practical, Greek letters, mathematical equations, and schemes depicting chemical reactions should be typed directly in text.
- You might as well include in the appendix preprints or reprints of certain publications (if needed).
- Should you need any further details, you may obtain more specific information from The ACS Style Guide.