Friday, April 29, 2011

Writing a Research Thesis or Dissertation

Disseminating research results is important as the outcome of research can lead to development of new techniques and procedures. There are many ways of putting down results on a piece of paper, but what is most important is the way you disseminate it so that readers can depict what you have arrived at.

The dissertation or thesis should follow a presentation format. This usually varies from one institution to another. The presentation format includes:
-the page margin size
-line spacings
-font size
-formats of the title page, content page, tables, figures, appendix, and the references
-the numbering systems
-citation of references
-citation of figures
-equations and tables
-and the tense in which the dissertation or thesis is written

Before you start, inquire about the guidelines set by your institution as concerns the presentation format. Alternatively, you can get a copy of a thesis or dissertation written by a student from your institution. Usually, this can be gotten from the library or from the office in charge of student affairs.

Your thesis is going to be organised into chapters or sections. How this is organised is referred to as the structure of the thesis. This is not dictated by institutions but in general, the structure should consist of the following:
-the title page
-the abstract
-the contents list
-the list of tables and figures
-the nomenclature list
-the acknowledgements
-the main text which is divided into chapters
-the references,
-the appendices

Remember that you would always save time when you plan the structure of your thesis before starting to write. To make your work look neat and organised, always start a new chapter or section on a new page. It is easier if you write the Abstract and the Introduction chapter last. Always refer to the work of a former student as a guide to help you with the formatting and the organisation of the chapters.

Ensure that each chapter is linked to the next so as to maintain consistency. The way you end a chapter can tell the reader what to expect in the next chapter, and the way you start a new chapter can remind the reader of what he/she read in the previous chapter. 

Some tips to remember:

1. Choose your words and build your paragraphs wisely so as to maintain flow. 
2. Repetition of words or paragraphs kill the flow. You should avoid this as much as possible. 
3. Write in a simple and clear way. Avoid the use of "big words" to show how super smart you are in mastering the language.
4. Use the active voice in writing unless you do not have strong evidence to support a statement.


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