In carrying out your review of the literature, you will observe that all research articles are organized in essentially the same manner. Theses and dissertations follow this same organizational pattern, but because they are less restricted in length, some topics are covered more thoroughly than in the published research article. Figure 21.1 is an outline giving the usual organization of the thesis or dissertation. Some variations in this outline will be found in the requirements of different universities.
Students often wait until all data have been collected and all analysis has been completed before starting to write their thesis or dissertation. It is more efficient; though, for the student to prepare some portions of the research report much earlier. It seems to be an almost inevitable features of research that the student encounters some periods when she is extremely busy and some periods when she must sit and wait. These lulls in the research routine can be used profitably by the student to prepare drafts of the first chapters of her report.
Most students find that the easiest way to prepare a well-organized research report is to outline carefully each section before starting to write it. This outline may start merely as a listing of all major points that you wish to discuss in the ‘section. These major points can then be placed in what appears to be the most logical order, and finally the topics to be discussed under each subheading can be added to the outline. A well-thought-out set of subheadings helps the reader a great deal in understanding the organization of the report and the nature of the research project.
If you have followed good procedure in planning and carrying out the study, you will have many guides for organizing the report. For example, the research proposal which is prepared early in the research sequence will contain a detailed statement of the problem arid hypotheses that can be filled out quickly to become part of the introductory chapter of the thesis or dissertation.
When you are ready to start writing the thesis, you should obtain specific information concerning the format required at your university. This information usually can be obtained from the research committee chairman or from the dean of the graduate school.
Organization of the thesis or dissertation
- Title page
- Preface and Acknowledgments
- Table of contents
- List of tables
- List of figures
Body of the Paper
Chapter 1. Introduction
- General Statement oi the problem
- Statement of the hypotheses, objectives, or questions
- Definition of terms
Chapter 2. Review of the Literature
- Review of previous research
- Pertinent opinion
- Summary of the state of the art
Chapter 3. Method
- Description of subjects
- Research design and procedures
- Description of measures employed
Chapter 4. Findings
- Overview of statistical procedures
- Description of findings pertinent to each hypothesis, objective, or question
- Other findings
Chapter 5. Summary and Discussion
- Summary of research problem, method, and findings