Master Thesis Dissertation Examples Chapter


Style

In a thesis or dissertation, the style is the way in which the author communicates the research. Most important for style is that the writing be both precise and clear. Clarity calls for avoiding needless complexity and ambiguities (see Chapter 5 in The Craft of Scientific Writing). In the words of Albert Einstein, you should be "as simple as possible, but no simpler."

Being clear does not mean that the writing is informal. In other words, you should avoid colloquial language such as using an ampersand when the word and is appropriate (in other words, write research and development, not research & development.) Also, many committees frown upon the use of contractions, such as don't or can't, that would be readily accepted in a less formal document such as an e-mail. Another word that many committees frown upon, because of its informality, is the word you. While this word is appropriate for instructions and correspondence, it is seldom, if ever, appropriate in theses or dissertations (note that the implied you is certainly acceptable in clauses such as see Figure 1). In regard to the first person pronouns I or we, judicious use is widely accepted, especially to make the writing more active (see Chapter 6 of The Craft of Scientific Writing) or to assume responsibility for assumptions or actions. Be forewarned, though, that despite its acceptance by most committees (and journals), an occasional committee remains opposed to use of the first person, even when that use is judicious.

Another stylistic question concerns how wide an audience the document should target. Given the main purpose of a thesis or dissertation, the primary audience for the document is the thesis or dissertation committee. For that reason, while an author might include appendices and a glossary to reach a wider audience, the text portion of the document is usually aimed for the committee. For that reason, a thesis or dissertation written to a multi-disciplinary committee is broader in style than a thesis or dissertation written to a committee within a single discipline.
Yet another consideration for theses and dissertations concerns how much depth the author should go into. Certainly, the author should go into enough depth to allow someone to repeat the work. Moreover, the author should provide enough depth that the committee can follow the author's argument. Along those same lines, the author has to provide enough detail to persuade the committee that the work warrants the degree. Some authors, however, go too far in this direction by including details of almost every bolt that they turned. A balance has to be reached, and a good way to determine that balance is to submit a title page, table-of-contents, and sample chapter early in the writing process (see pages 70-73 in The Craft of Editing).

The following examples are acceptable ways of formatting your thesis and chapters when including one or more publications.

Essential requirements

All theses with publications must have the following:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Declaration
  • Preface – noting collaborations, and contributions to authorship
  • Acknowledgements
  • Table of contents
  • List of tables, figures & illustrations
  • Main text/chapters
  • Bibliography or list of references
  • Appendices

Main text examples

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methods
  • Chapter 4: Paper 1 & general discussion
  • Chapter 5: Paper 2
  • Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter – results
  • Chapter 7: Regular thesis chapter/general discussion tying in published and unpublished work
  • Chapter 8: Conclusion
  • Appendices - May include CD, DVD or other material, also reviews & methods papers
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Methods
  • Chapter 3: Paper 1
  • Chapter 4: Regular thesis chapter
  • Chapter 5: Paper 2
  • Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter, final preliminary study
  • Chapter 7: General discussion
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Methods
  • Chapter 3: Paper 1
  • Chapter 4: Regular thesis chapter
  • Chapter 5: Regular thesis chapter
  • Chapter 6: Regular thesis chapter
  • Chapter 7: Regular thesis chapter, final preliminary study
  • Chapter 8: General discussion
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Methods
  • Chapter 3: Paper 1
  • Chapter 4: Paper 2 - e.g. data paper, including meta analyses
  • Chapter 5: Paper 3
  • Chapter 6: Paper 4
  • Chapter 7: Paper 5
  • Chapter 8: General discussion
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Methods
  • Chapter 3: Major paper
  • Chapter 4: Normal thesis chapter, final preliminary study
  • Chapter 5: General discussion

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