How To Structure A PhD Thesis
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How To Structure An Abstract
- What is the reason for writing the thesis?
- What are the current approaches and gaps in the literature?
- What are your research question(s) and aims?
- Which methodology have you used?
- What are the main findings?
- What are the main conclusions and implications?
- Give a good first impression by writing in short clear sentences
- Don't repeat the title in the abstract
- Don't cite references
- Use keywords from the document
- Respect the word limit
- Don't be vague - the abstract should be a self contained summary of the research, so don't introduce ambiguous words or complex terms
- Focus on just four or five essential points, concepts, or findings. Don't, for example, try to explain your entire theoretical framework
- Edit it carefully. Make sure every word is relevant (you haven't got room for wasted words) and that each sentence has maximum impact
- Avoid lengthy background information
- Don't mention anything that isn't discussed in the thesis
- Avoid overstatements
- Don't spin your findings, contribution or significance to make your research sound grander or more influential that it actually is.
- Establish your territory
- Establish and justify your niche
- Explain the significance of your research
- What your thesis is about
- Why it is important
- How it was conducted
- How it is laid out.
How To Structure A Literature Review
- Summarise what has already been discussed in your field, both to demonstrate that you understand your field and to show how your study relates to it.
- Highlight gaps, problems or shortcomings in existing research to show the original contribution that your thesis makes.
- Identify important studies, theories, methods or theoretical frameworks that can be applied in your research.
- Pick a broad topic
- Find the way in
- Who's saying what and when
- Take notes
- Narrow down the field
- Narrow does the sources
- Think about questions that haven't been asked
- Write early, write quickly and write relevantly
Your PhD Thesis.
On one page.
Use our free PhD Structure Template to quickly visualise every element of your thesis.
How To Structure A Theory Framework Chapter
- What theoretical concepts are used in the research? What hypotheses, if any, are you using?
- Why have you chosen this theory?
- What are the implications of using this theory?
- How does the theory relate to the existing literature, your problem statement and your epistemological and ontological positions? How has this theory has been applied by others in similar contexts? What can you learn from them and how do you differ?
- How do you apply the theory and measure the concepts (with reference to the literature review/problem statement)?
- What is the relationship between the various elements and concepts within the model? Can you depict this visually?
- It can state the theoretical assumptions underpinning the study.
- It can connect the empirical data to existing knowledge.
- It can allow you to come up with propositions, concepts or hypotheses that you can use to answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions.
How To Structure A Methods Chapter
- To summarise, explain and recount how you answered your research questions and to explain how this relates to the methods used by other scholars in similar contexts and similar studies.
- To discuss - in detail - the techniques you used to collect the data used to answer your research questions.
- To discuss why the techniques are relevant to the study’s aims and objectives
- To explain how you used them.
- What did you did do to achieve the research aims?
- Why did you choose this particular approach over others?
- How does it relate to your epistemological and ontological positions?
- What tools did you use to collect data and why? What are the implications?
- When did you collect data, and from whom?
- What tools have you used to analyze the data and why? What are the implications? Are there ethical considerations to take into account?
How To Structure An Empirical Chapter
- What are the results of your investigations?
- How do the findings relate to previous studies?
- Was there anything surprising or that didn't work out as planned?
- Are there any themes or categories that emerge from the data?
- Have you explained to the reader why you have reached particular conclusions?
- Have you explained the results?
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How To Structure A Conclusion
- Fully and clearly articulate the answer to your research questions
- Discuss how the research is related to your aims and objectives
- Explain the significance of the work
- Outline its shortcomings
- Suggest avenues for future research
- Own your research by speaking with authority! You’ve earned the right to do that by the time you reach your conclusion
- See the thesis and not the detail. Drive home the contribution that the thesis has made. Whatever it is, you need to shout about it. Loudly. Like an expert.
- Each chapter is a piece of the puzzle and only when they are all slotted together do you have an entire thesis. That means that a great conclusion is one that shows that the thesis is bigger than the sum of its individual chapters.
- By the time the reader has finished reading the conclusion, they should be able to answer the following questions:
- Have you briefly recapped the research questions and objectives?
- Have you provided a brief recount of the answer to those questions?
- Have you clearly discussed the significance and implications of those findings?
- Have you discussed the contribution that the study has made?
- Do the claims you are making align with the content of the results and discussion chapters?
Our easy to follow but detailed course on planning, structuring and writing your PhD will help you worry less, write more and graduate sooner.
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