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Structuring A Thesis

Structuring a thesis

When you have to bring structure into a large piece of writing, such as a thesis or a book, you may be struggling in figuring out how everything works together.

You may know that in one way or another, you need to include the following aspects:

  • introduction
  • literature review
  • methods
  • results
  • analysis
  • discussion
  • summary and conclusion

But often, the outline of your thesis will deviate from this standard outline. You may have various literature review chapters, if you work on an interdisciplinary topic and want to introduce various topics in a separate chapter. You may have used numerical, experimental, and theoretical methods, and maybe you want to write a chapter of each method, with the results included.

To make sure your various chapters form one coherent dissertation, it is important to identify how the different chapters are interrelated.

To visualize the relation between the chapters, I often recommend my students to make a scheme, diagram or flowchart of the contents. In this simplified sketch, it is important to identify the relations between the chapters.

Once you have drawn this scheme, think about how and where in your chapter you will emphasize the relation between the chapters (as identified in your sketch). You can leave bullet points for yourself in your outline, you can highlight various parts of a visual representation of your work throughout, or you can work the relations between the chapters into your second draft to strengthen the red thread through your writing.

Have you used a visual representation when you need to tackle a large piece of writing?

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