Write a thesis: structure and organization
In the end, of course, what really matters for a successful thesis is the document itself – that is, what is in it, how you set it up and approached the topic.
From the topic arises usually already the thesis work outline. You will find that the first outline is never the last. This usually changes during the research – this is completely normal.
Classically, the structure of the thesis consists of three main parts whose weighting should be as follows:
- Cover sheet and table of contents (2-3 percent)
- Introduction (10 percent)
- Body / Analysis (80 percent)
- Summary / Outlook (5 percent)
- Bibliography and appendix (2-3 percent)
Tips for the construction
The introduction and the final part form the framework of your thesis as well. You should therefore go to great lengths with both parts, because they reverberate – and they are also the figurehead of your thesis.
In the introduction you present your topic, clarify the question and also work out the goal of the thesis and your research project (What do you want to find out and why?). At the same time, you will show the reader how to proceed (and why).
This is why the introduction often refers to the current state of research, which justifies the final thesis and gives reason to do so. Anyone who is able to create a suspense here will arouse the interest of his supervisor or professor – and this is often reflected later in the evaluation of the thesis.
The main part is characterized by the actual discussion of the topic. Here, research results are cited and analyzed in detail and own findings (for example from a survey) are presented. The most important thing about this part is to argue your own hypothesis logically comprehensible and structured and to proceed step by step.
Therefore, write in the simplest possible language and avoid nesting sentences. Specialist words should only be the spice in the bachelor thesis or master thesis. Otherwise, a nominal style makes text difficult to read. Strong verbs are always better – anyway better than adjectives, which are usually just filler words.
The summary is the judgmental summary of your thesis. Here you take stock and present the quintessence of the written. Issues raised in the introduction have to be answered here and now and the conclusions must be substantiated. If this is not conclusively possible, one may of course also give an outlook on future interesting questions and research.
Avoid in the closing section but generally quotes. At this point it is about YOUR gained knowledge. For the same reason you should not mention any new points of view. The distract only. Ultimately, in the conclusion you prove your ability to reflect. Permitted are therefore more critical discussions with other work.
In order to avoid the most common mistakes and problems, you should stick to the following three tips at the end:
Structure your sources from the beginning.
A chaotic collection of sources costs a lot of strength and sleep in the days before delivery. Save yourself that and archive your sources structured from the start. The effort is worthwhile – especially for the bibliography.
Work with styles.
Even if style sheets do more work at first: Microsoft Word, Open Office, Libre Office, Mellel – no matter which word processor you use – all of them already provide style sheets. And these later allow you to make important layout changes very easily and quickly – for example, because you have not yet adhered to the university’s guidelines (font size, page margins, distances, …).
Schedule time buffer.
You can not emphasize it often enough: plan enough time for your thesis – preferably even for every single work phase. This begins with the topic selection and structure, continues with the literature search for the survey and finally to the authoring and formatting. Not to mention the correction phase before the delivery. Not to mention the regular coordination with the supervisor. All this takes time. Our tip: Hang a big annual calendar and enter the respective phases with colorful highlighters – and stick to it as much as possible.
Incidentally, it is normal for you to feel overwhelmed at first (sometimes in between). That’s because you’ve probably never created and structured such extensive text. Over time, however, you will get routine, and with each finished page, the relief grows.
It is therefore all the more important that you take breaks in between and reward for stage successes. This is the only way to keep the motivation necessary to write the thesis.