The Thesis: Everything You Need to Know

This refers to a very specialized writing document on an area of gained expertise presented by a student en-route the completion of their bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Usually, a thesis comprises the following sections:

Abstract: It’s the summary of the entire thesis and should provide a comprehensive overview of it, including the key results and findings. An abstract shouldn’t be used to advertise the thesis. Instead, it should help the readers understand what they’ll learn by going through the thesis.

Introduction and literature review: Every thesis needs to have an introduction and a literature review, but their location and structure can vary. In some cases, the literature review may be incorporated into the introduction. Students may also incorporate it in other parts of the thesis, like in the methods section. If a thesis has a separate introduction and literature review, they shouldn’t repeat each other.

Methods: This section explains and justifies the methodological approach chosen by the student, followed by relevant sub-sections. Some common sub-sections of the methods chapter include design, participants, materials, and procedures. However, regardless of the structure, this section should explain the following things:

·         How the student collected and analyzed the data

·         Why they chose to collect specific data

·         How the data will help them answer their research questions

·         Why the student chose the approach they went with

Results or findings: This section presents the findings of the research. This section usually includes graphs, tables, and other graphics to display data and supplement the text.

Discussion: Students use this section to:

·         Comment on the results and explain their meaning

·         Compare, contrast, and relate the results back to the findings of other studies or theory

·         Identify and explain unexpected results

·         Identify any limitations to the research and any questions that it was unable to answer

·         Discuss the implications or significance of the results.

If a student finds that their research ends up in a different direction to what they intended, it may help to explicitly acknowledge it and explain the reasons in this section.

Conclusion: The student may use this section to emphasize that they have met the research aims, summarize the key findings of the research, restate the limitations of the research, and provide suggestions for further research. In some instances, a student may intend to combine the discussion and conclusion sections. In that case, it’s important to check with the advisor first.

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