Structuring your thesis
Structuring Your Thesis
Structuring your thesis
Structuring your text
Different assignments may have different requirements regarding structure. Below, you will find a description of the most important sections of complex works like bachelor- and master theses, followed by an overview of the IMRAD-style, which can be used in bachelor- and master theses, as well as other types of papers.
What structure you will use for your text will naturally depend on what kind of genre you are using. An essay and an article share common features, but they do not have the same structure. A report is usually descriptive in form, while an article is analytical. The first thing you must do is therefore to understand the genre. A good tip in that regard is to read other texts within the same genre. That way you will gain knowledge on the theme and a bigger understanding for the genre all at the same time.
There are many variants, but we have put up structure suggestions here:
Structure: a couple of possibilities
In some texts it is natural to use the IMRoD-structure, while in others it is more natural to have a less fine structure. Regardless, in most theses it will be good to have in mind that there should be an introduction that explains what the thesis is about, a middle part where you explain what you have discovered and a conclusion where you summarize or conclude. Dyste et al. (2010) recommends using the “thread spool model” (p. 170) where you start off wide with an introduction, followed by the narrowest point, which is the procedure, then expand in the discussion.
The book «Success in academic writing” by Trevor Day (2013, p. 101) describes the procedure for planning the thesis structure from the start, i.e., a detailed outline. In a larger document, i.e., a dissertation, you can plan from chapters to part of chapters and down to subchapters and paragraphs. In a shorter thesis you can plan from the parts you must include. You can always change the headings and reorganize later but planning from the very start can help you. The process could look like this:
- Suggest titles for chapters or parts you must include in the thesis
- Write a sentence or two underneath each chapter or a part to describe which content is planned
- Make a list of possible titles for subchapters or subtitles under each part
- Describe the logical sequence of the arguments under each part so you know you have a common thread and a good connection with the proposed subchapter titles.
- Write a sentence or a short paragraph under each part
- Calculate how many words you will use under each part or chapter so that you do not go over the word limit (if you have one)
I am writing a bachelor thesis on critical thinking and source criticism for 1st year students in nursing education. I have 10.000 words +/- 10% available. The thesis is a literature review. My structure plan will look like this:
Introduction (approx. 500 words)
- Theme and definition
- Relevance for the field
Background (approx. 220 words)
- Definition for critical thinking and source criticism
- Traditions in teaching
- Need for skills and competence
- Fake news
- Fraudulent research
- Patient safety in a world full of fake information
Method (approx. 1300 words)
- Literature overview and more on the choice of genre
- Database selection
- Search strategy and documentation
Results (approx. 3000 words)
- Presentation of the articles
- Summary of the articles
Discussion (approx. 2500 words)
- The importance of source criticism in the patient safety perspective
- Critical thinking in clinical practice
- Teaching and training in critical thinking and source criticism
Conclusion (approx. 500 words)
- Conclusions and implications for practice
Now I have a structure plan with suggestions to subchapters and an indication of total word count. This can, of course, be adjusted along the way when I get a better overview.
Your plan might look different, even if you are also writing a literature review. Follow the guidelines from your institute/faculty and use your supervisor well in the planning phase
Day, T. (2013). Success in academic writing. Palgrave Macmillan.
Dysthe, Hoel, T. L., & Hertzberg, F. (2010). Skrive for å lære : skriving i høyere utdanning (2nd ed.). Abstrakt.
Rienecker, Stray Jørgensen, P., Skov, S., & Landaas, W. (2013). Den gode oppgaven : håndbok i oppgaveskriving på universitet og høyskole (2nd ed.). Fagbokforlaget.