Which sections should I include in my Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis


Contents

No matter whether you are writing a thesis for a Psychology, Business, Sociology or Medical Science program: a thesis largely looks the same across all disciplines. A typical thesis has 5 sections:

After the Conclusion your thesis usually is not finished: at the very least, you will have to include a Reference section or so-called ‘Bibliography’. But perhaps you also want to include one or more Appendices. These are discussed at the end of this post, together with a complete overview of the structure of a typical thesis.

1. Introduction

The Introduction section is the first and arguably the most important section of your thesis. Here, you introduce your topic and you discuss how you will study this topic: your research proposal.

Continue reading “Which sections should I include in my Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis”

Where and how should I include an Appendix in my thesis


Introduction

Many students include an Appendix section in their thesis where they post additional information about their study. A common question I get asked about including an Appendix is: “Where and how should I include it in my thesis?”. In this post, I’ll give you the answer:

Appendix: what is it?
Appendix always comes last
Numbering your Appendix
Cite your Appendix in the main text
I cited new material in my Appendix. What should I do?

Appendix: What is it?

In a dissertation or research paper, the Appendix-section usually contains additional materials that support the arguments made in the main text, but that are not necessary to understand them. Examples are additional tables and figures, an interview transcript or various statistical robustness checks.


How to format figures and plots in your thesis

How to format tables in your dissertation

Appendix always comes last

Let’s get straight to the heart of the matter: A common mistake is to place the Appendix before the Bibliography, which is not correct! Appendix is a Latin word, which (roughly) translates to “added last”. It therefore is the very last part of a document, and should be placed after the Bibliography (References-section). If your Appendix is not the very last part of your thesis at the moment, it’s currently at the wrong position and you should move it to the end of your document.

Continue reading “Where and how should I include an Appendix in my thesis”

Using subsections and subsubsections in your thesis


Introduction

It’s difficult to explain science: ideas are inter-connected, topics flow from one to the other, and theories can get very extensive. Many students therefore include subsections (e.g. 2.2) and subsubsections (e.g. 2.2.1) to help structure their discussion. The question is: does this structure your story? Does it really improve the readability of your text? I’ll give you my perspective on this matter in this post:

The purpose of adding sections in your thesis
What’s the difference between sections, subsections and subsubsections?
Sections should help the reader, not the writer
Does this mean I can’t use subsections in my thesis?
Okay! Anything else I should know about subsections?

The purpose of adding sections in your thesis

Just to put your mind at ease: No, there’s nothing wrong with adding sections to your thesis! They’re a great way to structure your discussion, or to neatly isolate parts that deserve a more extensive discussion. This is true for ‘major parts’ of a dissertation (e.g. it doesn’t make sense to lump together your literature review with your introduction – that’s why we separate both into two sections), but also for smaller parts inside a discussion. For example, if you want to discuss multiple theories in your thesis, then it makes sense to properly introduce each one by assigning it to a separate subsection or subsubsection.

Continue reading “Using subsections and subsubsections in your thesis”

Thesis cover page – An example


Introduction

It’s one of the things most easily overlooked: including a cover page with your Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis! But what to include? How should it look? In this post, I will help you further:

What is a cover page
How should I design the cover page of my thesis
Design: Check your university
Design: Standard cover for a thesis

What is a cover page

The cover page or front page of your thesis literally is: the first page. It’s an unnumbered page with basic information about you, your university or your study program, and your thesis.

For most Bachelor’s and Master’s dissertations, it will not be very flashy: typically, it does not contain graphics, images or figures, and is printed in black-and-white. An example is posted below.

Continue reading “Thesis cover page – An example”

How to format tables in your dissertation


Introduction

Whether you want to give an overview of the literature you have reviewed, or you want to present (statistical) results: almost everyone that is writing a thesis will at some point need to include a table. It can be tricky to correctly include these in your report, as there are many (small) things you need to look out for. Especially when it comes to scientific tables.

In this blog post, I discuss some formatting rules that I personally follow whenever I include a table in my papers (in fact the examples posted here are sourced from one of my articles!). If you want to include a table in your thesis, pay attention to the following:

Tables in a thesis
Number tables
Caption
Position of your table
Table font
Table contents
Tip: APA and tables
Tip: Journal
Tip: software to generate tables

Looking for tips on figures and plots instead?

How to format figures and plots in your thesis

Tables in a thesis

A table is a rectangularly shaped container, in which information is arranged using columns and rows. Tables are a great tool to quickly and orderly present data, and therefore are perfectly suited for presenting numerical data such as statistical results. However, tables are also quite common in dissertations that do not use any numbers (at all)! For example, in a literature study a table is often included to show which articles have been included for review.

Continue reading “How to format tables in your dissertation”

How to format figures and plots in your thesis


Introduction

Whether you want to highlight your research with a nice info-graphic or flow-chart, or you want to visually present your (statistical) results: virtually everyone that is writing a thesis will at some point need to include a figure or plot. There are many (small) things you need to look out for when posting figures in your report, especially when it comes to scientific figures.

In this blog post, I discuss some formatting rules that I personally follow whenever I include a table or figure in my papers (in fact the examples posted here are sourced from one of my articles!). If you want to include a figure in your thesis, pay attention to the following:

Figures in a thesis
Number your figures
Caption
Position of your figure
Figure font
Plot: axis label
Color
Tip: Software
Tip: when best to use figures
Tip: number of figures
Tip: Journal

Looking for tips on scientific tables instead?

How to format tables in your dissertation

Figures in a thesis

Figures or plots are graphical presentations of data. However, instead of showing numbers (which often is the case with tables), figures visualize numbers. Most people are better at processing complex data when it is presented in a visual form, making figures a great communication tool to use in a thesis!

Continue reading “How to format figures and plots in your thesis”

What are the differences between a Bachelor’s and Master’s dissertation?


Introduction

Whether it’s a Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis, the process of writing a thesis basically is the same. However, that doesn’t mean that both documents that come out of this process will be exactly the same. In this post, I will discuss 3 points on which a Master’s thesis typically differs from a Bachelor’s thesis:

I’ll also share one of the most common questions I get asked on this topic: “Does this mean that a Master’s thesis is (much) longer than a Bachelor’s thesis?” Check out my answer to this question at the end of this post!

A Master’s thesis uses more advanced literature

Books vs. articles

When they start their Master’s program, most students notice a transition when it comes to how ‘knowledge’ is transferred. Whereas most knowledge would come from books in their Bachelor’s program, suddenly academic literature such as scientific articles are dominant in the curriculum. Indeed, articles are a more advanced way of learning: whereas the author of a text-book has interpreted the findings of studies for you, with articles you have to now interpret the quality, merit and implications of this knowledge yourself!

Continue reading “What are the differences between a Bachelor’s and Master’s dissertation?”

Finished your dissertation? Check our 5 point checklist before you submit!


Introduction

Finished! After many months of reading literature, collecting data and doing your research you are finally ready to hand in your thesis and take that well-deserved holiday. Congratulations!

But wait! Whether it’s because of immense excitement, relief or happiness: each year I receive a couple of dissertations from students that miss some elementary parts! Not only may this have a negative effect on the evaluation of your thesis, but often these are minor details that can easily be avoided, especially if you know how to spot them. The following are the five most common things students forget when they hand in their thesis:

1. Page numbers

As trivial as this may sound, every year I receive a couple of dissertations without page numbers! Such a shame and completely unnecessary, as this is something that you can easily add in a word processor. Therefore, make sure that your pages are numbered (except for your cover page), and that the number is visible on all pages of your thesis (excluding your front cover).

Continue reading “Finished your dissertation? Check our 5 point checklist before you submit!”

How to write the final paragraph of your thesis or research proposal

Sample lesson


ThesisCore is an online course that helps you write your Bachelor’s or Master’s dissertation: from start to finish!

This is a sample lesson from the course:
How to write your research proposal.

In this course you will learn about the 5 questions a research proposal should always answer. This lesson is about the 5th question: “What are your research expectations?”.



Objective
In the 5th Paragraph, discuss the expectations you have for your study.
Assignment
This lesson includes an assignment.

Introduction

The fifth and final paragraph of your proposal is usually the easiest to write. In this paragraph, you discuss what you expect to find in your study. And therefore, what other researchers may learn from your study: how does your thesis change, challenge, or advance the scientific discussion on your topics? In short: it’s your personal reflection on the research idea you have laid out in the previous four paragraphs.

Continue reading “How to write the final paragraph of your thesis or research proposal”