While a thesis is often required by most universities as a final paper for students who desire to get their degrees, it constitutes an objective proof of the author’s understanding and capabilities in their chosen field of interest.
Before undertaking any research study, it is important to pick a thesis topic that you are interested in. This topic may be taken from a personal or an established research. Since researchers have a timetable in completing their papers, it is necessary to narrow the topic and to use sources that are recent and relevant.
It is also beneficial to choose a topic that is focused, with enough sources of information, approved by the university or adviser and a topic that will be beneficial to your career and will lead towards the completion of more books or researchers becoming an expert in the field (Childress, n.d; University of Ottawa, n.d.).
A thesis must consistently follow a format, e.g. American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), Chicago, Turabian or Harvard for in-text and bibliography citation.
The introductory pages of a thesis usually includes a title page, an approval page, an acknowledgement page, a table of contents, a list of tables and figures and an abstract.
A title is a concise statement of the topic, mentioning the major variables investigated. An abstract is a brief, accurate and comprehensive summary of the content, results, purpose as well as the implications of the study. It is written after the whole study has been finished (Kastens, et al, 2009).
Introduction and Review of Related Literature
The main purpose of the introduction is to show your answer to the questions, “What are you doing?”and “Why are you doing it?”. It also presents the background of the study to acquaint the reader of the problem to be dealt with as well as the significance of the research study.
Literature on any topic may be found from several sources. Reviewing the past literature helps define the problem and provide an empirical basis for the hypotheses. It is important to cite only selected studies pertinent to the specific issue and emphasize major findings and methodological issues. There must be a logical continuity between previous studies and the study being undertaken.
The statement of the problem, statement of hypotheses or objectives, definition of terms and scope and delimitations are part of the introduction. The problem must be clearly stated and written as a declarative statement or as a question, broken down into specific sub-problems, usually written in the form of questions. The research hypotheses that will be tested or the specific objectives at which the research is aimed must be stated in terms of observable behaviour allowing objective evaluation of results. Hypotheses should be used wherever there is a basis for prediction and must be clear, concise predictions of expected outcomes and findings.
In the definition of terms, the principal terms that are used will be listed and defined, particularly where the terms have different meanings to different people. The scope and delimitations includes explicit statements on the scope and delimitation of the study and will indicate what the study will include and will not include.
In a research proposal, this section should tell the reader what the researcher intends to do and how it is going to be done. It should also inform the reader how the study was conducted in sufficient detail so that the reader can replicate the study or evaluate the appropriateness of the methods and the reliability of the results. This section also includes the research design used, use of and the process of constructing the research instruments, data gathering procedure, statistical designs used and the analysis undertaken as well as the group from which the sample is drawn, the method of sampling and the rationale for the sampling method.
Results and Findings
This section should summarize the data collected, including the statistical treatment, if any. A general rule is to prepare the text in details so that the reader can comprehend the results by reading the text without consulting the tables or figures. The tables and figures should be prepared so that they can stand alone in describing the outcomes of the study.
Discussion and Interpretation
This is the most critical part of the research report and this section answers the questions, “So what?” in relation to the results of the study. “What do the results of the study mean?” The researcher must carefully examine, summarize, interpret, justify the results and draw inferences.
Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations
Wording of the summary and abstract should not be exactly the same. Summarize everything covered in the research paper. The conclusions provide the “so what” of the findings. The recommendations are practical suggestions for the implementation of findings or for additional research.
This should list all sources cited in the text. References must be carefully chosen and cited accurately. Use the appropriate format required by the university.
Refer to How To Write A Bibliography.
This is used when a description of certain materials would be distracting or inappropriate to the main body of the report. In deciding whether to include material in the Appendices, be guided by the criterion: “Will it be useful to the reader in understanding, evaluating, or replicating the study?”
A thesis is a reflection of the writer’s mastery of the subject area. The research paper must be free from typographical and grammatical error and must follow the required structure. Repeated reading and revision and asking the supervisor to critique the thesis draft will ensure a well polished paper.
Childress, K. (n.d.).How to pick a thesis topic. Retrieved July 6, 2009 from http://www.ehow.com/how_4840217_pick-thesis-topic.html
Kastens, K., Pfirman,S., Stute, M., Hahn, B., Abbott, D. and Scholz, C. (2009) How to write your thesis. Retrieved July 9, 2009 from http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~martins/sen_sem/thesis_org.html
University of Ottawa. (n.d.). Tips on writing a thesis. Retrieved July 6, 2009 from http://www.grad.uottawa.ca/Default.aspx?tabid=1392