How to Write a Thesis paper


To get a master’s degree, it is sufficient to make a new synthesis or application of knowledge already available, and report the results in a thesis. The purpose of a thesis is the documentation of a student’s scholarly activity in a formal structure that lends a relatively uniform appearance to work completed at University. The thesis structure is intended to facilitate the understanding of students scholarly work by people unfamiliar with the specific work presented, but who are familiar with professional writing in general. Also the thesis structure is intended to aid students in the preparation of manuscripts from their scholarly work.Components of a thesis paper include:

  • Title Page
  • Dedication page
  • Declaration page
  • Certification page
  • Acknowledgements
  • Abstract
  • Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figure
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Summary/Conclusion, Recommendations
  • References/Bibliography
  • Appendices

An effective thesis could be written according to the following guideline:
Title Page
The title should be specific and indicate the problem the research project addresses using keywords that will be helpful in literature reviews in the future.This may vary among institutions, but as an example: Title/author/”A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty /University /date.

Dedication page
This is the page for dedicating the thesis to certain people or groups who have inspired the researchers while doing the thesis.

Declaration page
For many universities, require something like: “I hereby declare that this submission is my own work and that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, it contains no material previously published or written by another person nor material which to a substantial extent has been accepted for the award of any other degree or diploma of the university or other institute of higher learning, except where due acknowledgment has been made in the text (signature/name/date)”.

Among other acknowledgements, the student is required to declare the extent to which assistance (paid or unpaid) has been given by members of staff, fellow students, research assistants, technicians, or others in the collection of materials and data, the design and construction of apparatus, the performance of experiments, the analysis of data, and the preparation of the thesis (including editorial help).In addition, it is appropriate to recognize the supervision and advice given by the thesis supervisor(s) and advisors.

An abstract presents a brief summary of your thesis. The aim of the abstract is to briefly provide the reader with the most important information from the entire text. An abstract never contains new information. An abstract plays a key role in determining whether someone reads on, and so deserve to be well written. It is typically include:

  • Background/motivation
  • Aims/Problem statement
  • Methods/Approach
  • Results
  • Conclusions/Significance

The list of content presents the systematic structure of the thesis. Make sure that the layout of your list of content is as clear as possible. Make sure you use informative chapter headings and subheadings to give the reader a clear impression of what to expect where.

It provides a clear statement of the topic/problem under investigation and provides the general context for the research sometimes giving details of the methodology and the theoretical background and usually outlining applications of the research. It forcefully justifies the need for this research, and states the aims. It usually concludes with a chapter by chapter outline of the content of the dissertation. An effective introduction:

  • Describes the importance (significance) of the study – why was this worth doing in the first place? Provide a broad context.
  • Defends the model – why did you use this particular organism or system? What are its advantages? You might comment on its suitability from a theoretical point of view as well as indicate practical reasons for using it.
  • Provides a rationale. State your specific hypothesis (es) or objective(s), and describe the reasoning that led you to select them.
  • Describes briefly the experimental design and how it accomplished the stated objectives.

Literature Review
It presents a critical review of relevant previous studies in the research field. This chapter shows how knowledge has been built up in the research field and, by clearly demonstrating the achievements but also the limitations of the previous research, it presents a well argued justification for the research to be undertaken.

Materials and Methods
There is no specific page limit, but a key concept is to keep this section as concise as you possibly can. The objective is to document all specialized materials and general procedures, so that another individual may use some or all of the methods in another study or judge the scientific merit of your work.


  • Describe materials separately only if the study is so complicated that it saves space this way.
  • Include specialized chemicals, biological materials, and any equipment or supplies that are not commonly found in laboratories.
  • Do not include commonly found supplies such as test tubes, pipet tips, beakers, etc., or standard lab equipment such as centrifuges, spectrophotometers, pipettors, etc.
  • If use of a specific type of equipment, a specific enzyme, or a culture from a particular supplier is critical to the success of the experiment, then it and the source should be singled out, otherwise no.
  • Materials may be reported in a separate paragraph or else they may be identified along with your procedures.
  • In bio-sciences we frequently work with solutions – refer to them by name and describe completely, including concentrations of all reagents, and pH of aqueous solutions, solvent if non-aqueous.


  • Report the methodology (not details of each procedure that employed the same methodology)
  • Describe the methodology completely, including such specifics as temperatures, incubation times, etc.
  • To be concise, present methods under headings devoted to specific procedures or groups of procedures
  • Generalize – report how procedures were done, not how they were specifically performed on a particular day.
  • If well documented procedures were used, report the procedure by name, perhaps with reference, and that’s all.

The page length of this section is set by the amount and types of data to be reported. Continue to be concise, using figures and tables, if appropriate, to present results most effectively. The purpose of a results section is to present and illustrate your findings. Make this section a completely objective report of the results, and save all interpretation for the discussion.

  • Summarize your findings in text and illustrate them, if appropriate, with figures and tables.
  • In text, describe each of your results, pointing the reader to observations that are most relevant.
  • Provide a context, such as by describing the question that was addressed by making a particular observation.
  • Describe results of control experiments and include observations that are not presented in a formal figure or table, if appropriate.
  • Analyze your data, then prepare the analyzed (converted) data in the form of a figure (graph), table, or in text form.

What to avoid

  • Do not discuss or interpret your results, report background information, or attempt to explain anything.
  • Never include raw data or intermediate calculations in a research paper.
  • Do not present the same data more than once.
  • Text should complement any figures or tables, not repeat the same information.
  • Please do not confuse figures with tables – there is a difference.

The objective here is to provide an interpretation of your results and support for all of your conclusions, using evidence from your experiment and generally accepted knowledge, if appropriate. The significance of findings should be clearly described. Interpret your data in the discussion in appropriate depth. This means that when you explain a phenomenon you must describe mechanisms that may account for the observation. If your results differ from your expectations, explain why that may have happened. If your results agree, then describe the theory that the evidence supported. It is never appropriate to simply state that the data agreed with expectations, and let it drop at that.

  • Decide if each hypothesis is supported, rejected, or if you cannot make a decision with confidence. Do not simply dismiss a study or part of a study as “inconclusive.”
  • Research papers are not accepted if the work is incomplete. Draw what conclusions you can based upon the results that you have, and treat the study as a finished work.
  • You may suggest future directions, such as how the experiment might be modified to accomplish another objective.
  • Explain all of your observations as much as possible, focusing on mechanisms.
  • Decide if the experimental design adequately addressed the hypothesis, and whether or not it was properly controlled.
  • Try to offer alternative explanations if reasonable alternatives exist.
  • One experiment will not answer an overall question, so keeping the big picture in mind, where do you go next? The best studies open up new avenues of research. What questions remain?
  • Recommendations for specific papers will provide additional suggestions.

The research findings are interpreted in the conclusion. This interpretation is based on the research question and the theory used. You should explicitly answer the research question and the sub-questions. If you have formulated hypotheses then you must indicate to what extent the research findings confirm or refute these.

The research paper is not complete without the list of references. This section should be an alphabetized list of all the academic sources of information utilized in the paper.  The format of the references will match the format and style used in the paper.  Common formats include APA, MLA, Harvard and so forth.

Appendices are useful to present supplementary or raw data, details of methodology (particularly for manuscript-based theses), consent forms, or other information that would detract from the presentation of the research in the main body of the thesis, but would assist readers in their review. All material in appendices will be open to examination.

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