How To Organize Your PhD Thesis
A PhD thesis is a massive writing project, and many people find that their efforts get derailed simply by the sheer size of the task at hand. But by sticking to a particular, expected structure and organization when writing your dissertation, you can glide through the writing process with relative ease and quickly meet the requirements of your degree program. Follow this organization when writing your paper:
Part 1: The Introduction
In the introduction section, you should recap existing research on the topic of your choosing. Use an interesting factoid or anecdote to introduce the reader to the topic, then begin reviewing the research you have read to prepare for your own paper. Define any terms that might be unknown to some of your readers, and take care to use accessible, broadly understood language whenever you can.
In your introduction section, you should describe the current state of knowledge on a particular area in your field, and make it plain to the reader that there is still much more that needs to be studied. Lead into your own study by the end of the introduction section. This section of your paper should have many citations to existing research papers, and maybe even a few quotes directly from your sources (with citations, of course).
Part 2: The Hypotheses
After recapping the history of your topic, tell the reader what you will be studying directly. Provide your hypotheses in the form of a detailed set of paragraphs, as well as a tightly organized and labeled list. Your predictions should be clear, theoretically relevant, interesting, and falsifiable. Remember to include all hypotheses that are relevant to your study design.
Part 3: The Materials
Now you should describe to the reader how you will be collecting data to test your hypotheses. Outline all the measurement methods or experimental manipulations you will be using. Cite the sources of these materials.
Part 4: The Method
Describe the procedure you will use to collect and analyze data. Follow plain, step-by-step series that any reader can understand and replicate.
Part 5: The Results
In this section, you should test your hypotheses using precise statistical methods. Give a section or paragraph to every single hypothesis. In each of these sections, restate the hypothesis in a new, experimental way, and tell the reader how you tested it. State whether your results support or do not support your predictions.
Part 6: The Discussion
Finally, you should summarize your findings and make broader theoretical sense of them. Point out any flaws in your paper or your study design in this section -- these are called ‘limitations’ to your study. Leave the reader with something interesting to think about.