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Formatting your thesis: Overall layout and specifications

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Formatting requirements, parts of a thesis, file format, file size, and page size, line spacing, citation style, cumulative theses, extended essays, personal information, blank pages.

The Library's Theses Office assists with formatting theses, projects and extended essays for submission to the Library. You are encouraged to use the Library's thesis template to help format your thesis. The requirements stated on this page are default settings for the thesis template

Optional pages in the thesis template may be removed if not used.

The final copy of the thesis must be converted to .pdf (PDF/A format) for submission to the Library (maximum 400 mb). See the guide  Saving your thesis in PDF/A format for instructions.

Theses must be formatted for US Letter (8.5X11) pages. Landscape 8.5X11 and 11X17 pages are permitted. Legal, A4, or other paper sizes are not permitted.

Arial is the preferred font for SFU thesis submissions. See the Thesis Template Instructions for directions to change the default template font.

Please contact the Theses Office at [email protected] if you would like to use any fonts in your thesis other than the ones recommended.

​The default template line spacing is 1.5 for text, with single-spaced block quotations.

Margins should be set to:

  • 1.25" left/right
  • 1" top/bottom

All pages must be numbered sequentially as outlined below, with the exception of the title page. Page numbers should appear at the bottom centre of each page, at a minimum of 0.5” from the edge of the page.

Preliminary pages of the thesis must be numbered with Roman numerals. On the first page of the main body, page numbers must restart with 1. The thesis template is preset with this numbering style.

SFU Library does not require a specific citation style. Consult your supervisor, your department’s graduate handbook, or a liaison librarian for help with determining which style is appropriate for your research.

The default formatting in the library’s thesis template may differ from some requirements of your citation style, but it is acceptable for SFU library submission.

Cumulative, or paper-based, theses must use the same general format as other submissions. Consult your supervisor or your department's graduate handbook for more information. If including published papers in a thesis, please consult the Copyright and your thesis FAQ .

Extended essays should be combined into a single document and single submission. For an example of an extended essays title page, see the Title page formatting information .

For theses written in a language other than English, the Library requires a second complete English title page and abstract. Supporting documentation must be in English.

Individual personal information must be removed from the thesis before publication, including signatures, email addresses, and phone numbers. For example, if you are including a survey instrument or consent form, your own contact information must be removed.

Blank pages in the thesis must be removed before publication.

Reference management. Clean and simple.

How to structure a thesis

thesis layout

A typical thesis structure

1. abstract, 2. introduction, 3. literature review, 6. discussion, 7. conclusion, frequently asked questions about structuring a thesis, related articles.

Starting a thesis can be daunting. There are so many questions in the beginning:

  • How do you actually start your thesis?
  • How do you structure it?
  • What information should the individual chapters contain?

Each educational program has different demands on your thesis structure, which is why asking directly for the requirements of your program should be a first step. However, there is not much flexibility when it comes to structuring your thesis.

Abstract : a brief overview of your entire thesis.

Literature review : an evaluation of previous research on your topic that includes a discussion of gaps in the research and how your work may fill them.

Methods : outlines the methodology that you are using in your research.

Thesis : a large paper, or multi-chapter work, based on a topic relating to your field of study.

The abstract is the overview of your thesis and generally very short. This section should highlight the main contents of your thesis “at a glance” so that someone who is curious about your work can get the gist quickly. Take a look at our guide on how to write an abstract for more info.

Tip: Consider writing your abstract last, after you’ve written everything else.

The introduction to your thesis gives an overview of its basics or main points. It should answer the following questions:

  • Why is the topic being studied?
  • How is the topic being studied?
  • What is being studied?

In answering the first question, you should know what your personal interest in this topic is and why it is relevant. Why does it matter?

To answer the "how", you should briefly explain how you are going to reach your research goal. Some prefer to answer that question in the methods chapter, but you can give a quick overview here.

And finally, you should explain "what" you are studying. You can also give background information here.

You should rewrite the introduction one last time when the writing is done to make sure it connects with your conclusion. Learn more about how to write a good thesis introduction in our thesis introduction guide .

A literature review is often part of the introduction, but it can be a separate section. It is an evaluation of previous research on the topic showing that there are gaps that your research will attempt to fill. A few tips for your literature review:

  • Use a wide array of sources
  • Show both sides of the coin
  • Make sure to cover the classics in your field
  • Present everything in a clear and structured manner

For more insights on lit reviews, take a look at our guide on how to write a literature review .

The methodology chapter outlines which methods you choose to gather data, how the data is analyzed and justifies why you chose that methodology . It shows how your choice of design and research methods is suited to answering your research question.

Make sure to also explain what the pitfalls of your approach are and how you have tried to mitigate them. Discussing where your study might come up short can give you more credibility, since it shows the reader that you are aware of its limitations.

Tip: Use graphs and tables, where appropriate, to visualize your results.

The results chapter outlines what you found out in relation to your research questions or hypotheses. It generally contains the facts of your research and does not include a lot of analysis, because that happens mostly in the discussion chapter.

Clearly visualize your results, using tables and graphs, especially when summarizing, and be consistent in your way of reporting. This means sticking to one format to help the reader evaluate and compare the data.

The discussion chapter includes your own analysis and interpretation of the data you gathered , comments on your results and explains what they mean. This is your opportunity to show that you have understood your findings and their significance.

Point out the limitations of your study, provide explanations for unexpected results, and note any questions that remain unanswered.

This is probably your most important chapter. This is where you highlight that your research objectives have been achieved. You can also reiterate any limitations to your study and make suggestions for future research.

Remember to check if you have really answered all your research questions and hypotheses in this chapter. Your thesis should be tied up nicely in the conclusion and show clearly what you did, what results you got, and what you learned. Discover how to write a good conclusion in our thesis conclusion guide .

🔲 Introduction

🔲 Literature review

🔲 Discussion

🔲 Conclusion

The basic elements of a thesis are: Abstract, Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion.

It's recommended to start a thesis by writing the literature review first. This way you learn more about the sources, before jumping to the discussion or any other element.

It's recommended to write the abstract of a thesis last, once everything else is done. This way you will be able to provide a complete overview of your work.

Usually, the discussion is the longest part of a thesis. In this part you are supposed to point out the limitations of your study, provide explanations for unexpected results, and note any questions that remain unanswered.

The order of the basic elements of a thesis are: 1. Abstract, 2. Introduction, 3. Literature Review, 4. Methods, 5. Results, 6. Discussion, and 7. Conclusion.

thesis layout

Thesis and Dissertation Guide

  • « Thesis & Dissertation Resources
  • The Graduate School Home

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  • Introduction
  • Copyright Page
  • Dedication, Acknowledgements, Preface (optional)
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables, Figures, and Illustrations
  • List of Abbreviations
  • List of Symbols

Non-Traditional Formats

Font type and size, spacing and indentation, tables, figures, and illustrations, formatting previously published work.

  • Internet Distribution
  • Open Access
  • Registering Copyright
  • Using Copyrighted Materials
  • Use of Your Own Previously Published Materials
  • Submission Steps
  • Submission Checklist
  • Sample Pages

Thesis and Dissertation Guide

II. Formatting Guidelines

All copies of a thesis or dissertation must have the following uniform margins throughout the entire document:

  • Left: 1″ (or 1 1/4" to ensure sufficient room for binding the work if desired)
  • Right: 1″
  • Bottom: 1″ (with allowances for page numbers; see section on Pagination )
  • Top: 1″

Exceptions : The first page of each chapter (including the introduction, if any) begins 2″ from the top of the page. Also, the headings on the title page, abstract, first page of the dedication/ acknowledgements/preface (if any), and first page of the table of contents begin 2″ from the top of the page.

Non-traditional theses or dissertations such as whole works comprised of digital, artistic, video, or performance materials (i.e., no written text, chapters, or articles) are acceptable if approved by your committee and graduate program. A PDF document with a title page, copyright page, and abstract at minimum are required to be submitted along with any relevant supplemental files.

Fonts must be 10, 11, or 12 points in size. Superscripts and subscripts (e.g., formulas, or footnote or endnote numbers) should be no more than 2 points smaller than the font size used for the body of the text.

Space and indent your thesis or dissertation following these guidelines:

Spacing and Indentation with mesaurements described in surrounding text

  • The text must appear in a single column on each page and be double-spaced throughout the document. Do not arrange chapter text in multiple columns.
  • New paragraphs must be indicated by a consistent tab indentation throughout the entire document.
  • The document text must be left-justified, not centered or right-justified.
  • For blocked quotations, indent the entire text of the quotation consistently from the left margin.
  • Ensure headings are not left hanging alone on the bottom of a prior page. The text following should be moved up or the heading should be moved down. This is something to check near the end of formatting, as other adjustments to text and spacing may change where headings appear on the page.

Exceptions : Blocked quotations, notes, captions, legends, and long headings must be single-spaced throughout the document and double-spaced between items.

Paginate your thesis or dissertation following these guidelines:

  • Use lower case Roman numerals (ii, iii, iv, etc.) on all pages preceding the first page of chapter one. The title page counts as page i, but the number does not appear. Therefore, the first page showing a number will be the copyright page with ii at the bottom.
  • Arabic numerals (beginning with 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) start at chapter one or the introduction, if applicable. Arabic numbers must be included on all pages of the text, illustrations, notes, and any other materials that follow. Thus, the first page of chapter one will show an Arabic numeral 1, and numbering of all subsequent pages will follow in order.
  • Do not use page numbers accompanied by letters, hyphens, periods, or parentheses (e.g., 1., 1-2, -1-, (1), or 1a).
  • Center all page numbers at the bottom of the page, 1/2″ from the bottom edge.
  • Pages must not contain running headers or footers, aside from page numbers.
  • If your document contains landscape pages (pages in which the top of the page is the long side of a sheet of paper), make sure that your page numbers still appear in the same position and direction as they do on pages with standard portrait orientation for consistency. This likely means the page number will be centered on the short side of the paper and the number will be sideways relative to the landscape page text. See these additional instructions for assistance with pagination on landscape pages in Microsoft Word .

Pagination example with mesaurements described in surrounding text

Format footnotes for your thesis or dissertation following these guidelines:

Footnote spacing  with mesaurements described in surrounding text

  • Footnotes must be placed at the bottom of the page separated from the text by a solid line one to two inches long.
  • Begin at the left page margin, directly below the solid line.
  • Single-space footnotes that are more than one line long.
  • Include one double-spaced line between each note.
  • Most software packages automatically space footnotes at the bottom of the page depending on their length. It is acceptable if the note breaks within a sentence and carries the remainder into the footnote area of the next page. Do not indicate the continuation of a footnote.
  • Number all footnotes with Arabic numerals. You may number notes consecutively within each chapter starting over with number 1 for the first note in each chapter, or you may number notes consecutively throughout the entire document.
  • Footnote numbers must precede the note and be placed slightly above the line (superscripted). Leave no space between the number and the note.
  • While footnotes should be located at the bottom of the page, do not place footnotes in a running page footer, as they must remain within the page margins.

Endnotes are an acceptable alternative to footnotes. Format endnotes for your thesis or dissertation following these guidelines:

Endnotes with mesaurements described in surrounding text

  • Always begin endnotes on a separate page either immediately following the end of each chapter, or at the end of your entire document. If you place all endnotes at the end of the entire document, they must appear after the appendices and before the references.
  • Include the heading “ENDNOTES” in all capital letters, and center it 1″ below the top of the first page of your endnotes section(s).
  • Single-space endnotes that are more than one line long.
  • Number all endnotes with Arabic numerals. You may number notes consecutively within each chapter starting over with number 1 for the first note in each chapter, or you may number notes consecutively throughout the entire document.
  • Endnote numbers must precede the note and be placed slightly above the line (superscripted). Leave no space between the number and the note.

Tables, figures, and illustrations vary widely by discipline. Therefore, formatting of these components is largely at the discretion of the author.

For example, headings and captions may appear above or below each of these components.

These components may each be placed within the main text of the document or grouped together in a separate section.

Space permitting, headings and captions for the associated table, figure, or illustration must be on the same page.

The use of color is permitted as long as it is consistently applied as part of the finished component (e.g., a color-coded pie chart) and not extraneous or unprofessional (e.g., highlighting intended solely to draw a reader's attention to a key phrase). The use of color should be reserved primarily for tables, figures, illustrations, and active website or document links throughout your thesis or dissertation.

The format you choose for these components must be consistent throughout the thesis or dissertation.

Ensure each component complies with margin and pagination requirements.

Refer to the List of Tables, Figures, and Illustrations section for additional information.

If your thesis or dissertation has appendices, they must be prepared following these guidelines:

Appendices with mesaurements described in surrounding text

  • Appendices must appear at the end of the document (before references) and not the chapter to which they pertain.
  • When there is more than one appendix, assign each appendix a number or a letter heading (e.g., “APPENDIX 1” or “APPENDIX A”) and a descriptive title. You may number consecutively throughout the entire work (e.g., 1, 2 or A, B), or you may assign a two-part Arabic numeral with the first number designating the chapter in which it appears, separated by a period, followed by a second number or letter to indicate its consecutive placement (e.g., “APPENDIX 3.2” is the second appendix referred to in Chapter Three).
  • Include the chosen headings in all capital letters, and center them 1″ below the top of the page.
  • All appendix headings and titles must be included in the table of contents.
  • Page numbering must continue throughout your appendix or appendices. Ensure each appendix complies with margin and pagination requirements.

You are required to list all the references you consulted. For specific details on formatting your references, consult and follow a style manual or professional journal that is used for formatting publications and citations in your discipline.

References with mesaurements described in surrounding text

Your reference pages must be prepared following these guidelines:

  • If you place references after each chapter, the references for the last chapter must be placed immediately following the chapter and before the appendices.
  • If you place all references at the end of the thesis or dissertation, they must appear after the appendices as the final component in the document.
  • Select an appropriate heading for this section based on the style manual you are using (e.g., “REFERENCES”, “BIBLIOGRAPHY”, or “WORKS CITED”).
  • Include the chosen heading in all capital letters, and center it 1″ below the top of the page.
  • References must be single-spaced within each entry.
  • Include one double-spaced line between each reference.
  • Page numbering must continue throughout your references section. Ensure references comply with margin and pagination requirements.

In some cases, students gain approval from their academic program to include in their thesis or dissertation previously published (or submitted, in press, or under review) journal articles or similar materials that they have authored. For more information about including previously published works in your thesis or dissertation, see the section on Use of Your Own Previously Published Materials and the section on Copyrighting.

If your academic program has approved inclusion of such materials, please note that these materials must match the formatting guidelines set forth in this Guide regardless of how the material was formatted for publication.

Some specific formatting guidelines to consider include:

Formatting previously published work with mesaurements described in surrounding text

  • Fonts, margins, chapter headings, citations, and references must all match the formatting and placement used within the rest of the thesis or dissertation.
  • If appropriate, published articles can be included as separate individual chapters within the thesis or dissertation.
  • A separate abstract to each chapter should not be included.
  • The citation for previously published work must be included as the first footnote (or endnote) on the first page of the chapter.
  • Do not include typesetting notations often used when submitting manuscripts to a publisher (i.e., insert table x here).
  • The date on the title page should be the year in which your committee approves the thesis or dissertation, regardless of the date of completion or publication of individual chapters.
  • If you would like to include additional details about the previously published work, this information can be included in the preface for the thesis or dissertation.

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  • Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates

Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates

Published on 8 June 2022 by Tegan George .

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process . It helps you to lay out and organise your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation, such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review, research methods, avenues for future research, etc.)

In the final product, you can also provide a chapter outline for your readers. This is a short paragraph at the end of your introduction to inform readers about the organisational structure of your thesis or dissertation . This chapter outline is also known as a reading guide or summary outline.

Table of contents

How to outline your thesis or dissertation, dissertation and thesis outline templates, chapter outline example, sample sentences for your chapter outline, sample verbs for variation in your chapter outline, frequently asked questions about outlines.

While there are some inter-institutional differences, many outlines proceed in a fairly similar fashion.

  • Working Title
  • ‘Elevator pitch’ of your work (often written last).
  • Introduce your area of study, sharing details about your research question, problem statement , and hypotheses . Situate your research within an existing paradigm or conceptual or theoretical framework .
  • Subdivide as you see fit into main topics and sub-topics.
  • Describe your research methods (e.g., your scope, population , and data collection ).
  • Present your research findings and share about your data analysis methods.
  • Answer the research question in a concise way.
  • Interpret your findings, discuss potential limitations of your own research and speculate about future implications or related opportunities.

To help you get started, we’ve created a full thesis or dissertation template in Word or Google Docs format. It’s easy adapt it to your own requirements.

 Download Word template    Download Google Docs template

Chapter outline example British English

It can be easy to fall into a pattern of overusing the same words or sentence constructions, which can make your work monotonous and repetitive for your readers. Consider utilising some of the alternative constructions presented below.

Example 1: Passive construction

The passive voice is a common choice for outlines and overviews because the context makes it clear who is carrying out the action (e.g., you are conducting the research ). However, overuse of the passive voice can make your text vague and imprecise.

Example 2: IS-AV construction

You can also present your information using the ‘IS-AV’ (inanimate subject with an active verb) construction.

A chapter is an inanimate object, so it is not capable of taking an action itself (e.g., presenting or discussing). However, the meaning of the sentence is still easily understandable, so the IS-AV construction can be a good way to add variety to your text.

Example 3: The I construction

Another option is to use the ‘I’ construction, which is often recommended by style manuals (e.g., APA Style and Chicago style ). However, depending on your field of study, this construction is not always considered professional or academic. Ask your supervisor if you’re not sure.

Example 4: Mix-and-match

To truly make the most of these options, consider mixing and matching the passive voice , IS-AV construction , and ‘I’ construction .This can help the flow of your argument and improve the readability of your text.

As you draft the chapter outline, you may also find yourself frequently repeating the same words, such as ‘discuss’, ‘present’, ‘prove’, or ‘show’. Consider branching out to add richness and nuance to your writing. Here are some examples of synonyms you can use.

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organise your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

All level 1 and 2 headings should be included in your table of contents . That means the titles of your chapters and the main sections within them.

The contents should also include all appendices and the lists of tables and figures, if applicable, as well as your reference list .

Do not include the acknowledgements or abstract   in the table of contents.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

George, T. (2022, June 08). Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved 15 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/outline-thesis-dissertation/

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Are you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of formatting your thesis or dissertation? It's a common challenge that many graduate students and researchers face. 

The requirements and guidelines for thesis writing can be complex and demanding, leaving you in a state of confusion.

You may find yourself struggling with questions like:  

How do I structure my thesis properly? 

What are the formatting rules I need to follow? 

Don't worry! 

In this comprehensive blog, we will explain the thesis format step by step. 

Whether you're a graduate student or a postdoctoral researcher, our thesis format guide will assist you in academic writing.

Let's get started!

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What is a Thesis and a Dissertation? 

At some point in your academic journey, you've likely come across the terms "thesis" and "dissertation," but what exactly are they, and how do they differ? 

A thesis and a dissertation both represent substantial pieces of academic work, sharing some similarities, but they also have distinct characteristics.

A thesis is typically associated with undergraduate or master's degree programs. It represents a student's independent research and findings on a specific topic. The objective is to demonstrate a deep understanding of the subject matter and the ability to conduct research.

On the other hand,

A dissertation is commonly linked with doctoral programs. It's a more extensive and comprehensive research project that delves into a specific area of study in great detail. Doctoral candidates are expected to make an original contribution to their field of knowledge through their dissertation.

Give a read to our thesis vs dissertation blog to learn the difference!

How to Structure a Thesis - The Formatting Basics 

Structuring your thesis is a crucial aspect of academic writing. The thesis format font size and spacing follows a specific framework.

A well-organized thesis not only enhances readability but also reflects your dedication to the research process.

The structure can be divided into three main sections: Front Matter, Body, and End Matter.

Front Matter 

  • Title Page: The title page is the very first of preliminary pages of your thesis. It typically includes the thesis title, your name, the name of your institution, and the date of submission.
  • Abstract: The abstract is a concise summary of your thesis, providing readers with a brief overview of your research problem, methodology, key findings, and conclusions.
  • Table of Contents: A well-organized table of contents lists all the main sections, subsections, and corresponding page numbers within your thesis.
  • List of Figures and Tables: If your thesis contains figures and tables, create a separate list with captions and page numbers for easy reference.
  • List of Abbreviations or Acronyms: If you've used abbreviations or acronyms in your thesis, include a list to explain their meanings.
  • List of Symbols: If your research involves symbols or special characters, provide a list of these elements and their definitions.
  • Acknowledgments: In this section, you can acknowledge individuals or institutions that have supported your research and thesis writing process.
  • Dedication (Optional): Some students choose to include a dedication page to honor someone or express personal sentiments.
  • Preface (Optional): In the preface, you can explain the background and context of your research, providing additional context for the reader.
  • Introduction: The introduction sets the stage for your thesis. It introduces the research problem, its significance, research objectives, and research questions.
  • Literature Review: The literature review section provides a comprehensive review of existing literature and research related to your topic. It helps establish the context for your research.
  • Methodology: Describe the research methods and techniques you employed in your study. Explain how you collected and analyzed data.
  • Results: Present your research findings in a clear and organized manner. Use tables, figures, and charts to illustrate key points.
  • Discussion: Interpret the results and discuss their implications. Address any limitations and suggest areas for future research.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the main findings and their importance. Restate the research questions and provide a final perspective on the topic.

End Matter 

  • References: List all the sources you cited in your thesis, following a specific citation style (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).
  • Appendices: Include any supplementary materials, such as raw data, surveys, questionnaires, or additional information that supports your research.
  • Vita (Optional): Some academic institutions require or allow a vita, which is essentially a brief academic resume or biography.

By following this structured framework for your thesis, you'll ensure that your research is presented in a clear and organized manner, meeting the formatting basics and academic standards.

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Thesis Format Guidelines 

Formatting your thesis makes your research work not just look good but also helps others understand it easily. 

These guidelines show you how to structure and organize your thesis neatly, from the title page to the reference section. 

  • Page Layout:
  • Use standard 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
  • Set 1-inch margins on all sides.
  • Use a readable and professional font such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri.
  • Font size for the main text should typically be 12 points.
  • Line Spacing:
  • Use double-spacing throughout the document.
  • Exceptions include footnotes, long quotations, and the bibliography , which may be single-spaced.
  • Heading Structure:
  • Use a clear and hierarchical heading structure to organize your content.
  • Differentiate between main headings and subheadings with bold, italics, or size variations.
  • Page Numbering:
  • Page numbers are typically placed in the header or footer.
  • Number the pages consecutively throughout the document.
  • Arabic numerals or roman numerals are used for the body of the thesis.
  • Title Page:
  • The title page should include the thesis title, your name, institutional affiliation, and the date of thesis submission.
  • Follow your institution's specific guidelines for title page formatting.
  • Table of Contents:
  • Create a well-organized table of contents listing all sections and subsections with corresponding page numbers.
  • Use a clear and consistent format for this section.
  • List of Figures and Tables:
  • If applicable, provide separate lists for figures and tables, including captions and page numbers.
  • Ensure consistent formatting for these lists.
  • Present a concise summary of the thesis, highlighting the research problem, methodology , key findings, and conclusions.
  • Typically, the abstract is on a separate page immediately following the title page.
  • Citations and References:
  • Follow a specific citation style consistently throughout your thesis (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).
  • Ensure that in-text citations and references are accurate and properly formatted.
  • Page Breaks:
  • Use page breaks to separate sections properly. This ensures that your chapters and other major divisions begin on new pages.
  • Maintain the required margins (usually 1 inch) on all sides, including the top, bottom, left, and right.
  • Appendices:
  • If you include appendices, ensure they follow the same formatting rules as the main body of the thesis.

You can also refer to the below-given document to understand the format template of a thesis paper.

Thesis Format Template

Thesis Format Sample

Here are some thesis format examples to get a better understanding.

MLA Thesis Format

APA Thesis Format

Baby Thesis Format

Undergraduate Thesis Format

Master Thesis Format pdf

PhD Thesis Format Pdf

Thesis Format for Computer Science

Research Thesis Format

Thesis Paper Formatting Tips

Formatting your thesis paper correctly is not only about making it look neat and professional but also about meeting the stringent requirements set by your academic institution.

Whether you're in the early stages of writing your thesis or preparing for submission, these tips will help you in formatting.

  • Adhere to Institutional Guidelines: Follow your institution's specific formatting requirements, including thesis format margins, font styles, and citation styles.
  • Consistency in Formatting: Maintain uniform font, font size, and spacing throughout the thesis for a professional appearance.
  • Proper Page Numbering: Place page numbers correctly in the header or footer, starting with the first chapter after the front matter.
  • Title Page Accuracy: Ensure the title page contains the accurate title, your name, institutional affiliation, and submission date.
  • Organized Table of Contents: Create a well-structured table of contents listing all sections and subsections with page numbers.
  • List of Figures and Tables: Provide separate, well-labeled lists for figures and tables, including captions and page numbers.

In conclusion, this blog has provided valuable insights into the essential aspects of formatting a thesis paper.

By following these tips, students can ensure that their research is not only well-structured and polished but also meets the rigorous standards set by their academic institutions.

Formatting and writing a thesis is a challenging task for most people, as it requires a lot of time.

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Formatting Guidelines For Theses, Dissertations, and DMA Documents

Guidelines for Formatting Theses, Dissertations, and DMA Documents is intended to help graduate students present the results of their research in the form of a scholarly document.

Before beginning to write a master’s thesis, PhD dissertation, or DMA document, students should read the relevant sections of the  Graduate School Handbook, section 7.8  for dissertations and/ or  section 6.4  for master’s theses.

Candidates for advanced degrees should also confer with their advisors and members of their graduate studies committees to learn about any special departmental requirements for preparing graduate degree documents.

Members of the graduation services staff at the Graduate School are available to provide information and to review document drafts at any stage of the planning or writing process. While graduation services is responsible for certifying that theses and/or dissertations have been prepared in accordance with Graduate School guidelines, the student bears the ultimate responsibility for meeting these requirements and resolving any related technical and/or software issues . Graduation services will not accept documents if required items are missing or extend deadlines because of miscommunication between the student and the advisor.

Accessibility Features

As of Spring, 2023, all theses and dissertations will need to incorporate the following accessibility features to align with the university’s accessibility policy.  When you submit your final document to OhioLINK you will be verifying that accessibility features have been applied.

  • PDF file includes full text
  • PDF accessibility permission flag is checked
  • Text language of the PDF is specified
  • PDF includes a title

Features and Other Notes

Some features are required, and some are optional. Each component is identified with a major heading unless otherwise noted. The major heading must be centered with a one-inch top margin. 

Sample Pages and Templates

Templates are available for use in formatting dissertations, theses, and DMA documents. Please read all instructions before beginning. 

  • Graduate Dissertations and Theses Templates - OSU Login Required

FRONTISPIECE (OPTIONAL)

If used, no heading is included on this page.

TITLE PAGE (REQUIRED)

The title page should include:

  • the use of title case is recommended
  • dissertation, DMA. document, or thesis
  • Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree [insert the applicable degree such as Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Musical Arts, Master of Science, etc.] in the Graduate School of The Ohio State University
  • Name of the candidate 
  • Initials of previous earned degrees
  • insert correct name from program directory
  • Year of graduation
  •  Dissertation, document, or thesis [select applicable title] committee and committee member names

COPYRIGHT PAGE (REQUIRED)

Notice of copyright is centered in the following format on the page immediately after the title page. This page is not identified with a page number.

Copyright by John James Doe 2017

ABSTRACT (REQUIRED)

The heading Abstract is centered without punctuation at least one inch from the top of the page. The actual abstract begins four spaces below the heading. See sample pages.

DEDICATION (OPTIONAL)

If used, the dedication must be brief and centered on the page.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

(OPTIONAL, BUT STRONGLY RECOMMENDED)

Either spelling of the word, acknowledgments or acknowledgments, is acceptable. The acknowledgment is a record of the author’s indebtedness and includes notice of permission to use previously copyrighted materials that appear extensively in the text. The heading Acknowledgments is centered without punctuation at least one inch from the top of the page.

VITA (REQUIRED)

Begin the page with the heading Vita, centered, without punctuation, and at least one inch from the top of the page. There are three sections to the vita: biographical information (required), publications (if applicable), and fields of study (required).

There is no subheading used for the biographical information section. In this section, include education and work related to the degree being received.

Use leader dots between the information and dates. The publication section follows. The subheading Publications should be centered and in title case. List only those items published in a book or journal. If there are none, omit the Publication subheading. The final section of the vita is Fields of Study, which is required. Center the subheading and use title case. Two lines below the Fields of Study subheading, place the following statement: Major Field: [insert only the name of your Graduate Program as it reads on the title page] flush left. Any specialization you would like to include is optional and is placed flush left on the lines below Major Field.

TABLE OF CONTENTS (REQUIRED)

The heading Table of Contents (title case preferred) appears without punctuation centered at least one inch from the top of the page. The listing of contents begins at the left margin four spaces below the heading. The titles of all parts, sections, chapter numbers, and chapters are listed and must

be worded exactly as they appear in the body of the document. The table of contents must include any appendices and their titles, if applicable. Use leader dots between the listed items and their page numbers.

LISTS OF ILLUSTRATIONS (REQUIRED IF APPLICABLE)

Lists of illustrations are required if the document contains illustrations. The headings List of Tables , List of Figures , or other appropriate illustration designations (title case preferred) appear centered without punctuation at least one inch from the top of the page. The listing begins at the left margin four spaces below the heading. Illustrations should be identified by the same numbers and captions in their respective lists as they have been assigned in the document itself. Use leader dots between the listed items and their page numbers. See sample pages .

BIBLIOGRAPHY/REFERENCES (REQUIRED)

Include a complete bibliography or reference section at the end of the document, before the appendix, even if you have included references at the end of each chapter. You may decide how this section should be titled. The terms References or Bibliography are the most commonly chosen titles. The heading must be centered and at least one inch from the top of the page.

Include this heading in the table of contents.

APPENDICES (REQUIRED IF APPLICABLE)

An appendix, or appendices, must be placed after the bibliography. The heading Appendix (title case preferred) centered at least one inch from the top of the page. Appendices are identified with letters and titles. For example: Appendix A: Data. Include all appendix headers and titles in the table of contents.

Other Notes

Candidates are free to select a style suitable to their discipline as long as it complies with the format and content guidelines given in this publication. Where a style manual conflicts with Graduate School guidelines, the Graduate School guidelines take precedence. Once chosen, the style must remain consistent throughout the document.

Top, bottom, left, and right page margins should all be set at one inch. (Keep in mind that the left margin is the binding edge, so if you want to have a bound copy produced for your personal use, it is recommended that the left margin be 1.5 inches.)

It is recommended that any pages with a major header, such as document title, chapter/major section titles, preliminary page divisions, abstract, appendices, and references at the end of the document be set with a 2-inch top margin for aesthetic purposes and to help the reader identify that a new major section is beginning.

The selected font should be 10 to 12 point and be readable. The font should be consistent throughout the document. Captions, endnotes, footnotes, and long quotations may be slightly smaller than text font, as long as the font is readable.

Double spacing is preferred, but 1.5 spacing (1.5 × the type size) is acceptable for long documents. Single spacing is recommended for bibliography entries, long quotations, long endnotes or footnotes, and long captions. Double spacing between each bibliography entry is recommended.

Each major division of the document, including appendices, must have a title. Titles must be centered and have at least a one inch top margin. The use of title case is recommended. If chapters are being used, they should be numbered and titled. For example: Chapter 1: Introduction. Appendices are identified with letters and titles. For example: Appendix A: Data.

PAGE NUMBERS

Every page must have a page number except the title page and the copyright page. If a frontispiece is included before the title page, it is neither counted nor numbered. The page numbers are centered at the bottom center of the page above the one inch margin. Note: You may need to set the footer margin to 1-inch and the body bottom margin to 1.3 or 1.5- inches to place the page number accurately.

Preliminary pages (abstract, dedication, acknowledgments, vita, table of contents, and the lists of illustrations, figures, etc.) are numbered with small Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, etc.). Page numbering begins with the first page of the abstract, and this can be either page i or ii (The title page is technically page i, but the number is not shown on the page).

Arabic numerals are used for the remainder of the document, including the text and the reference material. These pages are numbered consecutively beginning with 1 and continue through the end of the document.

Notation practices differ widely among publications in the sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences. Candidates should confer with their advisors regarding accepted practice in their individual disciplines. That advice should be coupled with careful reference to appropriate general style manuals.

  • Arabic numerals should be used to indicate a note in the text. 
  • Notes may be numbered in one of two ways: either consecutively throughout the entire manuscript or consecutively within each chapter.
  • Notes can be placed at the bottom of the page (footnotes) or at the end of a chapter or document (endnotes). Once chosen, the notation style must be consistent throughout the document.
  • Notes about information within tables should be placed directly below the table to which they apply, not at the bottom of the page along with notes to the text.

ILLUSTRATIONS

Tables, figures, charts, graphs, photos, etc..

Some documents include several types of illustrations. In such cases, it is necessary that each type of illustration (table, figure, chart, etc.) be identified with a different numbering series (Table 1, Table 2, and so on, or Chart 1, Chart 2, and so on). For each series, include a list with captions and page numbers in the preliminary pages (for example, List of Tables, List of Charts, etc.). These lists must be identified with major headings that are centered and placed at the two-inch margin.

Each illustration must be identified with a caption that includes the type of illustration, the number, and a descriptive title (for example, Map 1: Ohio). Numbering may be sequential throughout the document (including the appendix, if applicable) or based on the decimal system (corresponding to the chapter number, such as Map 2.3: Columbus). When using decimal numbering in an appendix, the illustration is given a letter that corresponds with the appendix letter (for example, Figure A.1: Voter Data). Captions can be placed either above or below the illustration, but be consistent with the format throughout the document. If a landscape orientation of the illustration is used, make sure to also orient the illustration number and caption accordingly. The top of the illustration should be placed on the left (binding) edge of the page.

If an illustration is too large to ft on one page it is recommended that you identify the respective pages as being part of one illustration. Using a “continued” notation is one method. For example, the phrase continued is placed under the illustration on the bottom right hand side of the first page. On the following pages, include the illustration type, number, and the word continued at the top left margin; for example, Map 2: Continued. Whatever method you choose just make sure to be consistent. The caption for the illustration should be on the first page, but this does not need repeated on subsequent pages.

If an illustration is placed on a page with text, between the text and the top and/or bottom of the illustration, there must be three single spaced lines or two double spaced lines of blank space. The same spacing rule applies if there are multiple illustrations on the same page. The top/bottom of the illustration includes the caption.

All final Ph.D. dissertations, DMA. documents, and master’s theses are submitted to the Graduate School through OhioLINK at https://etdadmin. ohiolink.edu. The document must be saved in PDF embedded font format (PDF/A) before beginning the upload at OhioLINK. During the submission process, OhioLINK will require an abstract separate from your document. This abstract has a 500-word limit. You will get a confirmation from OhioLINK that the submission is complete. The submission then goes to the Graduate School for review. After it is reviewed by staff of the Graduate School, you will receive an email that it has been accepted or that changes need to be made. If changes are required, you will need to re-submit the revised document via an amended OhioLINK submission. You will receive an “accepted” email from the Graduate School once the document has been approved.

THESIS OR DISSERTATION IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

The Graduate School has no policy specifically permitting graduate degree documents to be written in a foreign language. The practice is allowed as long as it is approved by the student’s advisor and Graduate Studies Committee. Documents in a foreign language must comply with the following requirements:

  • The title page must be in English, but the title itself may be in the same language as the document.
  • If the title is in a language using other than Roman characters, it must be transliterated into Roman character equivalents.
  • The abstract must be in English.
  • The academic unit must notify the Graduate School of dissertations in a foreign language so that an appropriate graduate faculty representative can be found to participate in the final oral examination

Dissertation and Theses

The dissertation is the hallmark of the research expertise demonstrated by a doctoral student. It is a scholarly contribution to knowledge in the student’s area of specialization. 

A thesis is a hallmark of some master’s programs. It is a piece of original research, generally less comprehensive than a dissertation and is meant to show the student’s knowledge of an area of specialization.

Still Have Questions?

Dissertations & Theses 614-292-6031 [email protected]

Doctoral Exams, Master's Examination, Graduation Requirements 614-292-6031 [email protected]

Grad Coach (R)

What’s Included: The Dissertation Template

If you’re preparing to write your dissertation, thesis or research project, our free dissertation template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples .

The template’s structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research projects such as dissertations and theses. The template structure reflects the overall research process, ensuring your dissertation or thesis will have a smooth, logical flow from chapter to chapter.

The dissertation template covers the following core sections:

  • The title page/cover page
  • Abstract (sometimes also called the executive summary)
  • Table of contents
  • List of figures /list of tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction  (also available: in-depth introduction template )
  • Chapter 2: Literature review  (also available: in-depth LR template )
  • Chapter 3: Methodology (also available: in-depth methodology template )
  • Chapter 4: Research findings /results (also available: results template )
  • Chapter 5: Discussion /analysis of findings (also available: discussion template )
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion (also available: in-depth conclusion template )
  • Reference list

Each section is explained in plain, straightforward language , followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover within each section. We’ve also included practical examples to help you understand exactly what’s required in each section.

The cleanly-formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

FAQs: Dissertation Template

What format is the template (doc, pdf, ppt, etc.).

The dissertation template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What types of dissertations/theses can this template be used for?

The template follows the standard best-practice structure for formal academic research projects such as dissertations or theses, so it is suitable for the vast majority of degrees, particularly those within the sciences.

Some universities may have some additional requirements, but these are typically minor, with the core structure remaining the same. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalise your structure.

Will this work for a research paper?

A research paper follows a similar format, but there are a few differences. You can find our research paper template here .

Is this template for an undergrad, Masters or PhD-level thesis?

This template can be used for a dissertation, thesis or research project at any level of study. It may be slight overkill for an undergraduate-level study, but it certainly won’t be missing anything.

How long should my dissertation/thesis be?

This depends entirely on your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. As a general ballpark, Masters-level projects are usually 15,000 – 20,000 words in length, while Doctoral-level projects are often in excess of 60,000 words.

What about the research proposal?

If you’re still working on your research proposal, we’ve got a template for that here .

We’ve also got loads of proposal-related guides and videos over on the Grad Coach blog .

How do I write a literature review?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack how to write a literature review from scratch. You can check out the literature review section of the blog here.

How do I create a research methodology?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack research methodology, both qualitative and quantitative. You can check out the methodology section of the blog here.

Can I share this dissertation template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template. If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, all we ask is that you reference this page as your source.

Can Grad Coach help me with my dissertation/thesis?

Within the template, you’ll find plain-language explanations of each section, which should give you a fair amount of guidance. However, you’re also welcome to consider our dissertation and thesis coaching services .

Free Webinar: Literature Review 101

Library Subject Guides

4. writing up your research: thesis formatting (ms word).

  • Books on Thesis Writing
  • Thesis Formatting (MS Word)
  • Referencing

Haere mai, tauti mai—welcome! These instructions are designed to be used with recent versions of MS Word. Please note there is no template or specific formatting guidelines for a thesis at UC. Please talk to your supervisor and take a look at theses in the UC Research Repository to see how they are usually formatted.

  • Where to start
  • Show/Hide Formatting
  • Heading Styles
  • Navigation Pane
  • Table of Contents
  • Numbered Headings
  • List of Figures/Tables
  • Page/Section Breaks, Page Numbering & Orientation

Word Thesis Formatting workshops run throughout the year.

Some useful documents.

  • Word Formatting Instructions PDF This PDF contains the same instructions that are available on this page.
  • Sample Thesis Document with No Formatting This sample thesis file can be used to practise formatting. It is not a template for how to format a thesis. UC does not provide any guidelines on formatting a thesis.
  • APA 7th Edition Formatting Example This document is formatted according to APA 7th Edition formatting guidelines. It could be used as a template or as an example to follow. It contains some additional instructions for certain APA formatting in Word.

For more APA formatting advice see the APA Style Blog's excellent Style and Grammar Guidelines .

Finding Examples

Look at examples and ask your supervisor.

The best guide on how to format your thesis is a combination of:

  • Looking at previous theses in your discipline. Search the UC Research Repository  for your subject or department, and browse by issue date to get the most recent.
  • Asking your supervisor for recommendations on specific formatting and details. 

General Recommendations

The following is an example only of preliminaries to the thesis that could be included.

  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Abbreviations
  • Toggle show Home ->Show/Hide formatting

thesis layout

Using styles for headings allows you to create an automatic table of contents.

  • Select major headings one at a time and choose Home ->Styles ‘Heading 1’

thesis layout

  • Select subheadings and apply Home ->Styles ‘heading 2’ and ‘heading 3’
  • Modify a style by right clicking on it and choosing Modify in the styles pane at the top of the screen.

thesis layout

The Navigation Pain is useful for seeing the outline of your document as well as providing links to quickly go to any section of the document.

  • View->check Navigation Pane

thesis layout

In order to create an automatic table of contents heading styles must be used.

  • References -> Table of Contents -> Custom Table of Contents (no heading in table)

thesis layout

  • Right click table of contents to ‘update field’ and choose ‘update entire table’

thesis layout

  • Home->Multilevel list-> choose style with a number level for each heading level

thesis layout

  • To change the heading level 1 number to say ‘Chapter 1’ right click on heading level 1 in the styles area Heading 1->Modify .

thesis layout

  • In the modify screen click Format->Numbering.

thesis layout

  • Then click ‘ Define New Number Format’.

thesis layout

  • Then add the word ‘Chapter’ and a space before the ‘1’.

thesis layout

To create automatic lists of figures or tables you first have to give a caption to all your figures and tables.

  • Right click figure or table and select Insert Caption

thesis layout

  • Choose Label type eg. Figure, Table etc
  • Choose position above or below
  • Give the table or figure a title in the top box
  • Go to the headings for List of Figures and List of tables and then click References->Insert Table of Figures -> select caption label type (Figure or Table)

thesis layout

  • On the following menu select caption label type (Figure or Table) and click OK

thesis layout

This can be used to have different page numbering styles of different sections of your document or to have certain pages landscape to display a large table or graph.

  • Insert a section break (next page) at the end of the title page ( Layout -> Breaks -> Next Page )

thesis layout

  • Insert a section break at chapter 1 ( Layout -> Breaks -> Next Page )
  • Insert page breaks for all other ‘heading 1’ headings ( Layout -> Breaks -> Page )

Adding Page Numbers

  • Insert -> Page Number and choose a position on the page

thesis layout

  • Double click on title page header or footer (top or bottom of the page) and tick ‘ Different First Page’ in the Design ribbon that appears

thesis layout

  • Click in second page header or footer, right click on the page number and select ‘ format page numbers ’

thesis layout

  • Select Roman numerals eg. ‘i, ii, iii, iv’ etc
  • Select start at ‘i’ (start at ‘1’)

thesis layout

  • Scroll to chapter 1 and change number style for this section back to ordinary numbers and start at 1

Change Page Orientation

  • Insert a section break before and after the pages you want to change to landscape orientation (See instructions above for inserting a section break)
  • Layout -> Orientation -> Landscape

NOTE:  A section break is usually only needed if page orientation or separate page numbers are required.

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Research Method

Home » Thesis Format – Templates and Samples

Thesis Format – Templates and Samples

Table of contents.

Thesis Format

Thesis Format

Thesis format refers to the structure and layout of a research thesis or dissertation. It typically includes several chapters, each of which focuses on a particular aspect of the research topic .

The exact format of a thesis can vary depending on the academic discipline and the institution, but some common elements include:

Introduction

Literature review, methodology.

The title page is the first page of a thesis that provides essential information about the document, such as the title, author’s name, degree program, university, and the date of submission. It is considered as an important component of a thesis as it gives the reader an initial impression of the document’s content and quality.

The typical contents of a title page in a thesis include:

  • The title of the thesis: It should be concise, informative, and accurately represent the main topic of the research.
  • Author’s name: This should be written in full and should be the same as it appears on official university records.
  • Degree program and department: This should specify the type of degree (e.g., Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral) and the field of study (e.g., Computer Science, Psychology, etc.).
  • University: The name of the university where the thesis is being submitted.
  • Date of submission : The month and year of submission of the thesis.
  • Other details that can be included on the title page include the name of the advisor, the name of the committee members, and any acknowledgments.

In terms of formatting, the title page should be centered horizontally and vertically on the page, with a consistent font size and style. The page margin for the title page should be at least 1 inch (2.54 cm) on all sides. Additionally, it is common practice to include the university logo or crest on the title page, and this should be placed appropriately.

Title of the Thesis in Title Case by Author’s Full Name in Title Case

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Department Name at the University Name

Month Year of Submission

An abstract is a brief summary of a thesis or research paper that provides an overview of the main points, methodology, and findings of the study. It is typically placed at the beginning of the document, after the title page and before the introduction.

The purpose of an abstract is to provide readers with a quick and concise overview of the research paper or thesis. It should be written in a clear and concise language, and should not contain any jargon or technical terms that are not easily understood by the general public.

Here’s an example of an abstract for a thesis:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health among Adolescents

This study examines the impact of social media on mental health among adolescents. The research utilized a survey methodology and collected data from a sample of 500 adolescents aged between 13 and 18 years. The findings reveal that social media has a significant impact on mental health among adolescents, with frequent use of social media associated with higher levels of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. The study concludes that there is a need for increased awareness and education on the risks associated with excessive use of social media, and recommends strategies for promoting healthy social media habits among adolescents.

In this example, the abstract provides a concise summary of the thesis by highlighting the main points, methodology, and findings of the study. It also provides a clear indication of the significance of the study and its implications for future research and practice.

A table of contents is an essential part of a thesis as it provides the reader with an overview of the entire document’s structure and organization.

Here’s an example of how a table of contents might look in a thesis:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION ……………………………………………………..1

A. Background of the Study………………………………………..1

B. Statement of the Problem……………………………………….2

C. Objectives of the Study………………………………………..3

D. Research Questions…………………………………………….4

E. Significance of the Study………………………………………5

F. Scope and Limitations………………………………………….6

G. Definition of Terms……………………………………………7

II. LITERATURE REVIEW. ………………………………………………8

A. Overview of the Literature……………………………………..8

B. Key Themes and Concepts………………………………………..9

C. Gaps in the Literature………………………………………..10

D. Theoretical Framework………………………………………….11

III. METHODOLOGY ……………………………………………………12

A. Research Design………………………………………………12

B. Participants and Sampling……………………………………..13

C. Data Collection Procedures…………………………………….14

D. Data Analysis Procedures………………………………………15

IV. RESULTS …………………………………………………………16

A. Descriptive Statistics…………………………………………16

B. Inferential Statistics…………………………………………17

V. DISCUSSION ………………………………………………………18

A. Interpretation of Results………………………………………18

B. Discussion of Finding s …………………………………………19

C. Implications of the Study………………………………………20

VI. CONCLUSION ………………………………………………………21

A. Summary of the Study…………………………………………..21

B. Limitations of the Study……………………………………….22

C. Recommendations for Future Research……………………………..23

REFERENCES …………………………………………………………….24

APPENDICES …………………………………………………………….26

As you can see, the table of contents is organized by chapters and sections. Each chapter and section is listed with its corresponding page number, making it easy for the reader to navigate the thesis.

The introduction is a critical part of a thesis as it provides an overview of the research problem, sets the context for the study, and outlines the research objectives and questions. The introduction is typically the first chapter of a thesis and serves as a roadmap for the reader.

Here’s an example of how an introduction in a thesis might look:

Introduction:

The prevalence of obesity has increased rapidly in recent decades, with more than one-third of adults in the United States being classified as obese. Obesity is associated with numerous adverse health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Despite significant efforts to address this issue, the rates of obesity continue to rise. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between lifestyle behaviors and obesity in young adults.

The study will be conducted using a mixed-methods approach, with both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. The research objectives are to:

  • Examine the relationship between lifestyle behaviors and obesity in young adults.
  • Identify the key lifestyle factors that contribute to obesity in young adults.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of current interventions aimed at preventing and reducing obesity in young adults.

The research questions that will guide this study are:

  • What is the relationship between lifestyle behaviors and obesity in young adults?
  • Which lifestyle factors are most strongly associated with obesity in young adults?
  • How effective are current interventions aimed at preventing and reducing obesity in young adults?

By addressing these research questions, this study aims to contribute to the understanding of the factors that contribute to obesity in young adults and to inform the development of effective interventions to prevent and reduce obesity in this population.

A literature review is a critical analysis and evaluation of existing literature on a specific topic or research question. It is an essential part of any thesis, as it provides a comprehensive overview of the existing research on the topic and helps to establish the theoretical framework for the study. The literature review allows the researcher to identify gaps in the current research, highlight areas that need further exploration, and demonstrate the importance of their research question.

April 9, 2023:

A search on Google Scholar for “Effectiveness of Online Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic” yielded 1,540 results. Upon reviewing the first few pages of results, it is evident that there is a significant amount of literature on the topic. A majority of the studies focus on the experiences and perspectives of students and educators during the transition to online learning due to the pandemic.

One recent study published in the Journal of Educational Technology & Society (Liu et al., 2023) found that students who were already familiar with online learning tools and platforms had an easier time adapting to online learning than those who were not. However, the study also found that students who were not familiar with online learning tools were able to adapt with proper support from their teachers and institutions.

Another study published in Computers & Education (Tang et al., 2023) compared the academic performance of students in online and traditional classroom settings during the pandemic. The study found that while there were no significant differences in the grades of students in the two settings, students in online classes reported higher levels of stress and lower levels of satisfaction with their learning experience.

Methodology in a thesis refers to the overall approach and systematic process that a researcher follows to collect and analyze data in order to answer their research question(s) or achieve their research objectives. It includes the research design, data collection methods, sampling techniques, data analysis procedures, and any other relevant procedures that the researcher uses to conduct their research.

For example, let’s consider a thesis on the impact of social media on mental health among teenagers. The methodology for this thesis might involve the following steps:

Research Design:

The researcher may choose to conduct a quantitative study using a survey questionnaire to collect data on social media usage and mental health among teenagers. Alternatively, they may conduct a qualitative study using focus group discussions or interviews to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences and perspectives of teenagers regarding social media and mental health.

Sampling Techniques:

The researcher may use random sampling to select a representative sample of teenagers from a specific geographic location or demographic group, or they may use purposive sampling to select participants who meet specific criteria such as age, gender, or mental health status.

Data Collection Methods:

The researcher may use an online survey tool to collect data on social media usage and mental health, or they may conduct face-to-face interviews or focus group discussions to gather qualitative data. They may also use existing data sources such as medical records or social media posts.

Data Analysis Procedures:

The researcher may use statistical analysis techniques such as regression analysis to examine the relationship between social media usage and mental health, or they may use thematic analysis to identify key themes and patterns in the qualitative data.

Ethical Considerations: The researcher must ensure that their research is conducted in an ethical manner, which may involve obtaining informed consent from participants, protecting their confidentiality, and ensuring that their rights and welfare are respected.

In a thesis, the “Results” section typically presents the findings of the research conducted by the author. This section typically includes both quantitative and qualitative data, such as statistical analyses, tables, figures, and other relevant data.

Here are some examples of how the “Results” section of a thesis might look:

Example 1: A quantitative study on the effects of exercise on cardiovascular health

In this study, the author conducts a randomized controlled trial to investigate the effects of exercise on cardiovascular health in a group of sedentary adults. The “Results” section might include tables showing the changes in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other relevant indicators in the exercise and control groups over the course of the study. The section might also include statistical analyses, such as t-tests or ANOVA, to demonstrate the significance of the results.

Example 2: A qualitative study on the experiences of immigrant families in a new country

In this study, the author conducts in-depth interviews with immigrant families to explore their experiences of adapting to a new country. The “Results” section might include quotes from the interviews that illustrate the participants’ experiences, as well as a thematic analysis that identifies common themes and patterns in the data. The section might also include a discussion of the implications of the findings for policy and practice.

A thesis discussion section is an opportunity for the author to present their interpretation and analysis of the research results. In this section, the author can provide their opinion on the findings, compare them with other literature, and suggest future research directions.

For example, let’s say the thesis topic is about the impact of social media on mental health. The author has conducted a survey among 500 individuals and has found that there is a significant correlation between excessive social media use and poor mental health.

In the discussion section, the author can start by summarizing the main findings and stating their interpretation of the results. For instance, the author may argue that excessive social media use is likely to cause mental health problems due to the pressure of constantly comparing oneself to others, fear of missing out, and cyberbullying.

Next, the author can compare their results with other studies and point out similarities and differences. They can also identify any limitations in their research design and suggest future directions for research.

For example, the author may point out that their study only measured social media use and mental health at one point in time, and it is unclear whether one caused the other or whether there are other confounding factors. Therefore, they may suggest longitudinal studies that follow individuals over time to better understand the causal relationship.

Writing a conclusion for a thesis is an essential part of the overall writing process. The conclusion should summarize the main points of the thesis and provide a sense of closure to the reader. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the research process and offer suggestions for further study.

Here is an example of a conclusion for a thesis:

After an extensive analysis of the data collected, it is evident that the implementation of a new curriculum has had a significant impact on student achievement. The findings suggest that the new curriculum has improved student performance in all subject areas, and this improvement is particularly notable in math and science. The results of this study provide empirical evidence to support the notion that curriculum reform can positively impact student learning outcomes.

In addition to the positive results, this study has also identified areas for future research. One limitation of the current study is that it only examines the short-term effects of the new curriculum. Future studies should explore the long-term effects of the new curriculum on student performance, as well as investigate the impact of the curriculum on students with different learning styles and abilities.

Overall, the findings of this study have important implications for educators and policymakers who are interested in improving student outcomes. The results of this study suggest that the implementation of a new curriculum can have a positive impact on student achievement, and it is recommended that schools and districts consider curriculum reform as a means of improving student learning outcomes.

References in a thesis typically follow a specific format depending on the citation style required by your academic institution or publisher.

Below are some examples of different citation styles and how to reference different types of sources in your thesis:

In-text citation format: (Author, Year)

Reference list format for a book: Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Publisher.

Example: In-text citation: (Smith, 2010) Reference list entry: Smith, J. D. (2010). The art of writing a thesis. Cambridge University Press.

Reference list format for a journal article: Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year of publication). Title of article. Title of Journal, volume number(issue number), page range.

Example: In-text citation: (Brown, 2015) Reference list entry: Brown, E., Smith, J., & Johnson, L. (2015). The impact of social media on academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(3), 393-407.

In-text citation format: (Author page number)

Works Cited list format for a book: Author. Title of Book. Publisher, Year of publication.

Example: In-text citation: (Smith 75) Works Cited entry: Smith, John D. The Art of Writing a Thesis. Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Works Cited list format for a journal article: Author(s). “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, volume number, issue number, date, pages.

Example: In-text citation: (Brown 394) Works Cited entry: Brown, Elizabeth, et al. “The Impact of Social Media on Academic Performance.” Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 108, no. 3, 2015, pp. 393-407.

Chicago Style

In-text citation format: (Author year, page number)

Bibliography list format for a book: Author. Title of Book. Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication.

Example: In-text citation: (Smith 2010, 75) Bibliography entry: Smith, John D. The Art of Writing a Thesis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Bibliography list format for a journal article: Author. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal volume number, no. issue number (date): page numbers.

Example: In-text citation: (Brown 2015, 394) Bibliography entry: Brown, Elizabeth, John Smith, and Laura Johnson. “The Impact of Social Media on Academic Performance.” Journal of Educational Psychology 108, no. 3 (2015): 393-407.

Reference list format for a book: [1] A. A. Author, Title of Book. City of Publisher, Abbrev. of State: Publisher, year.

Example: In-text citation: [1] Reference list entry: A. J. Smith, The Art of Writing a Thesis. New York, NY: Academic Press, 2010.

Reference list format for a journal article: [1] A. A. Author, “Title of Article,” Title of Journal, vol. x, no. x, pp. xxx-xxx, Month year.

Example: In-text citation: [1] Reference list entry: E. Brown, J. D. Smith, and L. Johnson, “The Impact of Social Media on Academic Performance,” Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 108, no. 3, pp. 393-407, Mar. 2015.

An appendix in a thesis is a section that contains additional information that is not included in the main body of the document but is still relevant to the topic being discussed. It can include figures, tables, graphs, data sets, sample questionnaires, or any other supplementary material that supports your thesis.

Here is an example of how you can format appendices in your thesis:

  • Title page: The appendix should have a separate title page that lists the title, author’s name, the date, and the document type (i.e., thesis or dissertation). The title page should be numbered as the first page of the appendix section.
  • Table of contents: If you have more than one appendix, you should include a separate table of contents that lists each appendix and its page number. The table of contents should come after the title page.
  • Appendix sections: Each appendix should have its own section with a clear and concise title that describes the contents of the appendix. Each section should be numbered with Arabic numerals (e.g., Appendix 1, Appendix 2, etc.). The sections should be listed in the table of contents.
  • Formatting: The formatting of the appendices should be consistent with the rest of the thesis. This includes font size, font style, line spacing, and margins.
  • Example: Here is an example of what an appendix might look like in a thesis on the topic of climate change:

Appendix 1: Data Sources

This appendix includes a list of the primary data sources used in this thesis, including their URLs and a brief description of the data they provide.

Appendix 2: Survey Questionnaire

This appendix includes the survey questionnaire used to collect data from participants in the study.

Appendix 3: Additional Figures

This appendix includes additional figures that were not included in the main body of the thesis due to space limitations. These figures provide additional support for the findings presented in the thesis.

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Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements

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This resource provides tips for creating a thesis statement and examples of different types of thesis statements.

Tips for Writing Your Thesis Statement

1. Determine what kind of paper you are writing:

  • An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience.
  • An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience.
  • An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided.

If you are writing a text that does not fall under these three categories (e.g., a narrative), a thesis statement somewhere in the first paragraph could still be helpful to your reader.

2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.

3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper.

4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

Thesis Statement Examples

Example of an analytical thesis statement:

The paper that follows should:

  • Explain the analysis of the college admission process
  • Explain the challenge facing admissions counselors

Example of an expository (explanatory) thesis statement:

  • Explain how students spend their time studying, attending class, and socializing with peers

Example of an argumentative thesis statement:

  • Present an argument and give evidence to support the claim that students should pursue community projects before entering college

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NewSchool recommends Adobe InDesign for designing your thesis book. Many free templates and tutorials are available online. Try starting with Blurb.com. 

The grid is your underlying structure which helps create visual hierarchy by sizing and positioning images and text to create a coherent design. The grid is the graphic expression of a set of assumptions about the permissible sizes and shapes of images and blocks of text. It enables you to achieve and sustain design consistency.

Your prime consideration for text should always be legibility. Text needs to be readable and perfectly clear. Don't allow it to compete with or obscure images; it should always work with them to explain and enhance them. Keep text clearly separate from images by spacing and/or maintaining a strong contrast between values of the images and values of the text blocks.

Familiarize yourself with type, it's legibility and emotional impact, by studying the typefaces used in books and magazines and on the web. Remember less is more--don't use more the three different fonts in any portfolio. Additionally, make sure all of the fonts are very different looking to create contrast.

Basics in Graphic Design

Remember, your thesis layout should follow graphic design standards. Here are recommended resources on design concepts including text, images, color, and white space.

See Examples of Attractive Layout Here

Ambrose / Harris. (2005).  Basics Design 02: Layout.  AVA Academia.

Linton, H. (2012).  Portfolio Design 4th ed.  W.W. Norton & Company.

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Thesis / dissertation formatting manual (2024).

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UCI Libraries maintains the following  templates to assist in formatting your graduate manuscript. If you are formatting your manuscript in Microsoft Word, feel free to download and use the template. If you would like to see what your manuscript should look like, PDFs have been provided. If you are formatting your manuscript using LaTex, UCI maintains a template on OverLeaf.

  • Annotated Template (Dissertation) 2024 PDF of a template with annotations of what to look out for
  • Word: Thesis Template 2024 Editable template of the Master's thesis formatting.
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Chicago 17th (A) Notes and Bibliography

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Note number. Lecturer Full Name, "Title of Lecture: Subtitle," Unit Code: Title of Unit . (Lecture, University, Location, Month DD, YYYY). URL.

1. Leah Gerber, “Translation/Transnation: Lecture 3,” APG5555: Translation Studies . (Lecture, Monash University, Caulfield VIC, May 1, 2012). https://echo360.org.au/lesson/G_4fc1005c-0815-63e0-91b6-abbecf_90ad7995-7df3-4bed-baf4-96df922b5e5f_2012-0T11:58:00.000/classroom#sortDirection=desc.

2. Mark Smith, "Baroque Art: Week 4," AHT1111: Art History and Theory. (Lecture, Monash University, Caulfield VIC, July 15, 2021). https://lms.monash.edu/mod/resource/view.php?id=10100789.

Subsequent note entry

3. Gerber, “Translation/Transnation.”

Lecturer Surname, First Name. “Title of Lecture: Subtitle.” Unit Code: Title of Unit . Lecture presented at University Name, Location, Month DD, YYYY. URL.

Gerber, Leah. “Translation/Transnation: Lecture 3.” APG5555: Translation Studies. Lecture presented at Monash University, Caulfield VIC, May 1, 2012. https://echo360.org.au/lesson/G_4fc1005c-0815-63e0-91b6-abbecf_90ad7995-7df3-4bed-baf4-96df922b5e5f_2012-0T11:58:00.000/classroom#sortDirection=desc.

Smith, Mark. "Baroque Art: Week 4." AHT1111: Art History and Theory. Lecture presented at Monash University, Caulfield VIC, July 15, 2021. https://lms.monash.edu/mod/resource/view.php?id=10100789.

  • References to university lecture recordings and presentation slides follow similar patterns to other audiovisual material and presentations.

Online theses or dissertations

Note number. Author Full Name, “Title of Thesis: Subtitle” (Thesis type, University Name, Year of award), page number(s), Database name (Document identifier) or URL.

1. Shakela Carion Johnson, “An Examination of the Social Characteristics and Beliefs of Delinquent and Non-Delinquent Youth” (PhD thesis, Auburn University, 2007), ProQuest (AAI3270975).

2. Ilya Vedrashko, “Advertising in Computer Games” (master’s thesis, MIT, 2006), 59, http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/39144.

3. Johnson, “An Examination of the Social Characteristics and Beliefs of Delinquent and Non-Delinquent Youth”.

Author Surname, First Name. “Title of Thesis: Subtitle.” Thesis type, University Name, Year of award. Database name (Document identifier) or URL.

Johnson, Shakela Carion. “An Examination of the Social Characteristics and Beliefs of Delinquent and Non-Delinquent Youth.” PhD thesis, Auburn University, 2007. ProQuest (AAI3270975).

Vedrashko, Ilya. “Advertising in Computer Games.” Master’s thesis, MIT, 2006. http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/39144.

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How to Structure a Thesis: A Complete Guide

Writing a thesis can be an overwhelming task for many college and graduate students. Managing all the elements associated with a thesis while ensuring that the quality is not compromised can be challenging. However, what is even more strenuous is deciding on a thesis's layout. "How to structure a thesis" is a question that several final-year students struggle to answer. And understandably so, as all colleges and universities have their guidelines for drafting a thesis. However, there is an immutable structure that's common for every thesis. In this brief guide, we will take a look at this structure and analyze each of its components.

thesis layout

This guide discusses how to structure a thesis effectively. To give you an opportunity to practice proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.  

A thesis or dissertation is a long academic document that a master's or doctoral candidate writes to obtain a relevant academic degree. Hence, writing a quality thesis is crucial for college and university students. A good thesis demonstrates a student's academic prowess in their field of study as well as helps hone their analytical and research skills. Writing a thesis can be an overwhelming task for many college and graduate students. Managing all the elements associated with a thesis while ensuring that the quality is not compromised can be challenging. However, what is even more strenuous is deciding on a thesis's layout.

"How to structure a thesis" is a question that several final-year students struggle to answer. And understandably so, as all colleges and universities have their guidelines for drafting a thesis. However, there is an immutable structure that's common for every thesis. In this brief guide, we will take a look at this structure and analyze each of its components. If you are also struggling to initiate the writing process for your thesis, follow this guide and get over your writer’s block.

How to Structure a Thesis: Examining the Constituents of a Thesis Structure

Here we have a list of all major sections that a thesis structure generally comprises. The entire thesis structure is segregated into 3 sections, with each section comprising its relevant subsections to facilitate greater legibility.

Front/Preliminary Matter of a Thesis Structure

1. abstract.

An abstract is a concise summary of an entire thesis and consists of the condensation of your entire thesis. A good abstract  is precise, concise (usually not more than 250 words) and emphasizes the importance of the document. When writing an abstract, make sure you explicitly mention the crux of your thesis. Also, avoid reiterating what you have mentioned in the title of your document.

Body of a Thesis Structure

2. introduction/preface.

The introduction chapter of your thesis outlines its core arguments, hypotheses, and results. It is longer than the abstract and contains adequate background information on your topic of interest. Furthermore, it establishes the relevance of your thesis by highlighting its contribution to the knowledge base of its topic. Writing a gripping introduction helps the readers understand the context of your thesis. According to USNSW Sydney, the introduction of a thesis should have the following stages:

State the general topic and give some background

Provide a review of the literature related to the thesis subject

Define the terms and scope of the thesis topic

Outline the existing situation

Evaluate the current situation and identify the gap in the literature

Identify the importance of the proposed research

State the main research questions

State the purpose of the study and/or research objectives

State the study hypotheses

Outline the order of information in the thesis

Outline the methodology.

3. Literature review

The literature review chapter sets the premise of your thesis. It examines and evaluates the research works that’s been conducted so far on your thesis topic and passively highlights the contributions of your thesis.

A literature review is a survey of academic sources on a specific subject, providing an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to discuss relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research. Writing a literature review contains finding relevant publications, critically analyzing the sources, and explaining your findings in the literature. A well-written literature review doesn’t only summarize sources, it also aims to analyze, synthesize, and critically evaluate to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the topic.

To write an impeccable literature review, consult a plethora of sources and mention the canon related to your thesis topic. Also, put forward your review in a logical, chronological, and structured manner to better outline the knowledge gaps in your field of study and how your thesis will fill them.

How structure a thesis

The following simple and straightforward tips can act as the exhaustive rubric and offer meaningful insight to prospective authors on how to formulate a flawless literature review:

Step 1. Probe similar works for a well-structured literature review

Step 2. Analyze, not just synthesize: Authors should provide a detailed critique of the subject

Step 3. Organize your literature review systematically

Step 4. Establish the purview: Authors should specify the scope of the literature review

Step 5. Abstain from plagiarism

Step 6 . Be mindful of the language

4. Methodology

As the name suggests, the methodology section of a thesis consists of all methods and procedures you have used in your thesis. A well-written methodology accentuates the plausibility of your research methods. In addition, it enables your readers to understand why you chose specific methods and how they are justified for your research.

To garner more credibility, you can include the pitfalls and difficulties associated with your choice of research methods. The methodology section is an unavoidable part of a thesis or a research paper. Considering errors in the methodology section enervates the entire thesis.

Follow the steps below to write a perfect methodology for a thesis: 

a. Give an outline of the research design

b. Don’t forget to define the philosophy behind the research

c. Mention the research approach

d. Introduce the research methods

e. Note the following points to highlight in the methodology. No matter what methodology you have chosen, you have to focus on the following points:

Explain sampling strategy.

Clearly state the procedure of the research paper.

Mention how you collect the data. (Data collection)

Explain how data are analyzed for your research. (Data analysis). Suppose you have written in qualitative strategy like thematic analysis, mention the researcher you have followed.

Mention the validity of the data and result.

Discuss all ethical aspects of your research paper.

f. Avail professional proofreading and editing services

g. Most important tips to compose an impactful methodology for a dissertation

Don’t drift from your objective and the purpose of your dissertation.

Explore scholarly research papers and their methodology sections to have a better idea.

Plan a proper writing structure.

Understand your audience and target group.

Don’t make mistakes in citing relevant sources. You may use  APA  and  MLA citation

Refer to all the hurdles you have experienced while writing your dissertation.

Make sure to rectify grammatical and punctuation errors.

Ensure that the section is readable and doesn’t consist of long and complex sentences. Long sentences can hamper the tone of the methodology.

This section comprises the outcomes of your research work. It includes all the observations you made and the answers to all your hypotheses in the thesis. When writing the “results” chapter, include only factual data and format it to be distinguishable. Use tables, graphs, subheadings, and generic comments for the results. The aim is to enable your readers to discern the result of your research.

6. Discussion

The discussion chapter of your thesis should begin with a brief summarization of the outcome of your research work. It should explain how your results address your hypotheses and highlight any repetitions in your observations. You can also add comments on how you want the readers to interpret your results and about your agreements and disagreements with the available research work in your field. 

Writing a flawless thesis requires much more than only subject matter expertise. It requires expertise, experience, and in-depth thinking, along with sharp intelligence. Though most students add a discussion chapter in their thesis or dissertation, many of them end up messing up the essay or missing out on the central issues.

A discussion chapter in a thesis is a place where you have the chance to delving into the analysis, importance, and relevance of your research. This section focuses on explaining and analyzing what you have researched, presenting how it is associated with the existing literature. It is also a place for argument supporting your entire discussion.

We often find that people seek thesis writing help from experienced editing and proofreading services to prepare a flawless discussion chapter. However, the following helpful tips can help you design a perfect master's or Ph.D.. thesis with an excellent discussion chapter: 

Understand the objective of your thesis

Determine a clear structure

Usage of grammar and tense

Refer to hypotheses and literature review

Evaluate your results and compare them with existing studies

Understand the limitation of your research

Don’t be afraid to be unique

Don’t forget to avail a professional thesis editing and proofreading service 

Click here to review the details of the aforementioned tips. 

The following 5 questions might be helpful to write a sound discussion section: 

How well do you understand the objective of your study? 

What message is conveyed by your results? 

How do your findings compare to findings in literature? 

Why should your findings matter? 

In what light should your findings be viewed?

7. Conclusion

The final section of your document consists of a precise answer to your hypothesis. In addition, the “conclusion” chapter of your thesis should stress the achievement of the aims of your thesis. You should also include certain limitations of your research to convey the fact that there is still scope for further research in your field. 

The end matter of a thesis structure

The components of this section include an acknowledgment, a bibliography, and (occasionally) an appendix. 

Parting words

The first step to writing a thesis is to chalk out its layout. Doing so not only helps you deal with the writing process one step at a time but also enables you to better attend to each component of a thesis structure.

Also, before you follow this thesis structure, make sure to check with your university for “how to structure a thesis” guidelines. If the guidelines offered by your institution deviate slightly from what’s mentioned in this guide, then make sure to prioritize the former.

If you need us to make your thesis shine, contact us unhesitatingly!

Best Edit & Proof expert editors and proofreaders focus on offering papers with proper tone, content, and style of  academic writing,  and also provide an upscale  editing and proofreading service  for you. If you consider our pieces of advice, you will witness a notable increase in the chance for your research manuscript to be accepted by the publishers. We work together as an academic writing style guide by bestowing subject-area editing and proofreading around several categorized writing styles. With the group of our expert editors, you will always find us all set to help you identify the tone and style that your manuscript needs to get a nod from the publishers.

How structure a thesis

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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

Published on September 7, 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes. Revised on November 21, 2023.

The introduction is the first section of your thesis or dissertation , appearing right after the table of contents . Your introduction draws your reader in, setting the stage for your research with a clear focus, purpose, and direction on a relevant topic .

Your introduction should include:

  • Your topic, in context: what does your reader need to know to understand your thesis dissertation?
  • Your focus and scope: what specific aspect of the topic will you address?
  • The relevance of your research: how does your work fit into existing studies on your topic?
  • Your questions and objectives: what does your research aim to find out, and how?
  • An overview of your structure: what does each section contribute to the overall aim?

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Table of contents

How to start your introduction, topic and context, focus and scope, relevance and importance, questions and objectives, overview of the structure, thesis introduction example, introduction checklist, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about introductions.

Although your introduction kicks off your dissertation, it doesn’t have to be the first thing you write — in fact, it’s often one of the very last parts to be completed (just before your abstract ).

It’s a good idea to write a rough draft of your introduction as you begin your research, to help guide you. If you wrote a research proposal , consider using this as a template, as it contains many of the same elements. However, be sure to revise your introduction throughout the writing process, making sure it matches the content of your ensuing sections.

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Begin by introducing your dissertation topic and giving any necessary background information. It’s important to contextualize your research and generate interest. Aim to show why your topic is timely or important. You may want to mention a relevant news item, academic debate, or practical problem.

After a brief introduction to your general area of interest, narrow your focus and define the scope of your research.

You can narrow this down in many ways, such as by:

  • Geographical area
  • Time period
  • Demographics or communities
  • Themes or aspects of the topic

It’s essential to share your motivation for doing this research, as well as how it relates to existing work on your topic. Further, you should also mention what new insights you expect it will contribute.

Start by giving a brief overview of the current state of research. You should definitely cite the most relevant literature, but remember that you will conduct a more in-depth survey of relevant sources in the literature review section, so there’s no need to go too in-depth in the introduction.

Depending on your field, the importance of your research might focus on its practical application (e.g., in policy or management) or on advancing scholarly understanding of the topic (e.g., by developing theories or adding new empirical data). In many cases, it will do both.

Ultimately, your introduction should explain how your thesis or dissertation:

  • Helps solve a practical or theoretical problem
  • Addresses a gap in the literature
  • Builds on existing research
  • Proposes a new understanding of your topic

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thesis layout

Perhaps the most important part of your introduction is your questions and objectives, as it sets up the expectations for the rest of your thesis or dissertation. How you formulate your research questions and research objectives will depend on your discipline, topic, and focus, but you should always clearly state the central aim of your research.

If your research aims to test hypotheses , you can formulate them here. Your introduction is also a good place for a conceptual framework that suggests relationships between variables .

  • Conduct surveys to collect data on students’ levels of knowledge, understanding, and positive/negative perceptions of government policy.
  • Determine whether attitudes to climate policy are associated with variables such as age, gender, region, and social class.
  • Conduct interviews to gain qualitative insights into students’ perspectives and actions in relation to climate policy.

To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline  of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.

I. Introduction

Human language consists of a set of vowels and consonants which are combined to form words. During the speech production process, thoughts are converted into spoken utterances to convey a message. The appropriate words and their meanings are selected in the mental lexicon (Dell & Burger, 1997). This pre-verbal message is then grammatically coded, during which a syntactic representation of the utterance is built.

Speech, language, and voice disorders affect the vocal cords, nerves, muscles, and brain structures, which result in a distorted language reception or speech production (Sataloff & Hawkshaw, 2014). The symptoms vary from adding superfluous words and taking pauses to hoarseness of the voice, depending on the type of disorder (Dodd, 2005). However, distortions of the speech may also occur as a result of a disease that seems unrelated to speech, such as multiple sclerosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This study aims to determine which acoustic parameters are suitable for the automatic detection of exacerbations in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by investigating which aspects of speech differ between COPD patients and healthy speakers and which aspects differ between COPD patients in exacerbation and stable COPD patients.

Checklist: Introduction

I have introduced my research topic in an engaging way.

I have provided necessary context to help the reader understand my topic.

I have clearly specified the focus of my research.

I have shown the relevance and importance of the dissertation topic .

I have clearly stated the problem or question that my research addresses.

I have outlined the specific objectives of the research .

I have provided an overview of the dissertation’s structure .

You've written a strong introduction for your thesis or dissertation. Use the other checklists to continue improving your dissertation.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

Research bias

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  • Self-serving bias
  • Availability heuristic
  • Halo effect
  • Hindsight bias
  • Deep learning
  • Generative AI
  • Machine learning
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Supervised vs. unsupervised learning

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The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

Scope of research is determined at the beginning of your research process , prior to the data collection stage. Sometimes called “scope of study,” your scope delineates what will and will not be covered in your project. It helps you focus your work and your time, ensuring that you’ll be able to achieve your goals and outcomes.

Defining a scope can be very useful in any research project, from a research proposal to a thesis or dissertation . A scope is needed for all types of research: quantitative , qualitative , and mixed methods .

To define your scope of research, consider the following:

  • Budget constraints or any specifics of grant funding
  • Your proposed timeline and duration
  • Specifics about your population of study, your proposed sample size , and the research methodology you’ll pursue
  • Any inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • Any anticipated control , extraneous , or confounding variables that could bias your research if not accounted for properly.

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George, T. & McCombes, S. (2023, November 21). How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction. Scribbr. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/introduction-structure/

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    Formatting Guidelines Margins All copies of a thesis or dissertation must have the following uniform margins throughout the entire document: Left: 1″ (or 1 1/4" to ensure sufficient room for binding the work if desired) Right: 1″ Bottom: 1″ (with allowances for page numbers; see section on Pagination) Top: 1″

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