Tips for Writing-up your Thesis

Before writing-up your thesis, there are several things you need to consider:

  • Your thesis is a simple well-written prose (may add some images)

Like in other writing process, you should understand: Who is your audience (read your thesis)? Yes, of course in this case is the examiner. Your examiner is busy, therefore you have to make your thesis short and beautiful. They may not have much time to read a dull and  lengthy/verbose writing. Use simple writing and clear English. Paragraph should be short, please do not make 1 paragraph 1 page, make it maximum less than half-page.

Simple prose, simple style

  • Organize your references

From now, start to organize your references in electronic database. Make it neat. By the end of your thesis, you can have more than 300 references.

  • Previous thesis

You should have a look at good thesis report samples from your research group. From those good examples, you can analyse the template, the writing style, and guidance. Make sure you use the same format as the one used in your department.

  • Back-up

Keep lots of copies. You do not know which version you use, sometimes previous one can be better. Don’t lose it. Nowadays, it is easy to store your files anywhere, put them in laptop, cloud, external hard-disk, tab etc.

  • PLAN. PLAN. PLAN

DO NOT start writing before you plan! You need to plan first, deciding the details, outline, headings and sub-headings. You should also specify how many pages or rough length for each chapter/section. Typical parts in thesis report are:

Beginning: set scenes for your work (title, abstract, table of content, introduction)

Middle     : core of your research (material and methods, results)

Ending     : drawn from research (discussion, conclusion, reference, appendix)

How about writing order?

You can start anywhere you like and find it most convenience to write. However, the following order may be a good idea to follow.

  • Material and methods

When you are still doing your experiment, this section is the most possible part to write. In this section, you can write what materials you use and why choose the methods. Explain it well on how you did the experiments in order to make sure other researchers can re-produce the results, by only reading what you wrote.

  • Results

You should kinda lead the progress from aim to this part, which end-up in conclusion, make it flow. Results have to be structured in a logical way and related with the aims. Include everything that is relevant (exclude the irrelevant results, as the examiners may ask everything you write). But, be honest about contradictory results and what do not work, since it may help other researchers not to stuck in the same mistakes.

If you have any statistics, use them to analyse results. Remember, interpret statistic results intelligently. If you have graphs, these graphs must be useful. You should choose the most suitable type to represent your result and make it easy to read (take care about the label, axis, unit, comment on your graph).  If you have figures such as diagrams and illustrations, they have to be well-presented. One of the advantages using figures is you do not have to write lots of text to describe.

An image worth a thousand words

  • Discussion and Conclusion

In this section, you can analyse further the individual result and discuss their significance. Afterwards, you can synthesize them to draw broader conclusion. You can also write about what I did not know before doing this research, what are the impacts, and what to do next.

  • Introduction

This first section is written up at the end. It is because, after write all of those thing and know your conclusion, now you KNOW what you are going to introduce. You have better position to write an introduction. You can start board and focusing about why you did that work, what your aims, and what approach you take.

  • Abstract

It is easier to write an abstract now as you have all of the components, one paper summary from your field of study, topic, aim, approach, results, discussion, and conclusion.

  • Appendix

You may or may not include this, it depends. Formally it is not part of the thesis, but it is more useful for the next students (who possibly use your research for theirs). This section can include questioners, raw data sets, codes, or circuit diagram.

Possible Order to Write Thesis

Possible Order to Write Thesis

Another thing: always acknowledge anything you used. If you are in a team, you can tell which one is your contribution. Supervisor may also help on advice how to structure your thesis. For the viva, you can take your thesis report with you and re-read before it. Practice saying a short summary and knowing all (be familiar with) references you have written are also great tips. Keep in mind that your supervisor, your family, and of course your examiners bukan mau ngebantai want you to pass the viva! So you shouldn’t be too nervous..

To summarize, writing a thesis is not only showing your 3-year research, but it is a kind of prose.

You must take your reader on a Journey.

Make them enjoy reading your research journey, starting from aims until you find (hopefully) excellent results. Start with a broad view of your research field (make them wanna read more), narrow to your specific work (show that it is significant), and broaden out again (to show your results fit in)

Extracted from the book: “Enjoy Writing your Science Thesis or Dissertation!” by Elizabeth Fisher & Richard Thompson (2015)