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Steps in Writing a Science Thesis or Dissertation

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❶The introduction is your chance to set the particular issue of your report in its broader context.


Who Are You Writing This Scientific Thesis For?
Scientific Style
Cut the problem down to size

The introduction typically contains an overview of work that others in the field have completed preceding your thesis and tells the reader, broadly, what your work will add to the field. Major texts in the field as well as specific work that was important to your thesis should be referenced here as part of building the context for the document that follows. Additionally, you will establish the importance of your work to the field and, perhaps, beyond the field as well.

In some fields, the body of the dissertation is essentially three papers on a similar topic or that use a similar technique.

Each of those chapters will have its own introduction, the following three sections, and a conclusion. These chapters will be bracketed by the larger introduction and conclusion that ties them together. For fields that do not take this approach, the following sections are typical of the chapters that make up the body of the dissertation or the sections of the thesis. This section establishes how the data or new insight that follows was gathered.

If the approach is theoretical, it is established and explained here. If following sections depend upon specialty instruments, these should be described here. If data were collected, the methods used should be documented in this section. If that data were then processed or analyzed, the methods for that processing should also be described here. Break up your results into logical segments by using subheadings Key results should be stated in clear sentences at the beginning of paragraphs.

Describe the nature of the findings; do not just tell the reader whether or not they are significant. Writing for an Audience Who is your audience? Researchers working in analogous field areas elsewhere in the world i. Researchers working in your field area, but with different techniques. Researchers working on the same interval of geologic time elsewhere in the world. All other researchers using the same technique you have used. If your study encompasses an active process, researchers working on the same process in the ancient record.

Conversely, if your study is based on the rock record, people studying modem analogs. People writing a synthesis paper on important new developments in your field. People applying earth science to societal problems i. Potential reviewers of your manuscript or your thesis committee. Planning Ahead for Your Thesis. Writing for an Audience. Writing for an International Audience. Abstract A good abstract explains in one line why the paper is important.

It then goes on to give a summary of your major results, preferably couched in numbers with error limits. The final sentences explain the major implications of your work. A good abstract is concise, readable, and quantitative. Absrtracts generally do not have citations. Information in title should not be repeated. Use numbers where appropriate. Answers to these questions should be found in the abstract: What did you do?

Why did you do it? What question were you trying to answer? How did you do it? What did you learn? Why does it matter? Point out at least one significant implication. Table of Contents list all headings and subheadings with page numbers indent subheadings it will look something like this: How do you do this?

Physical separation into different sections or paragraphs. Don't overlay interpretation on top of data in figures. Careful use of phrases such as "We infer that ". Don't worry if "results" seem short.

Easier for your reader to absorb, frequent shifts of mental mode not required. Ensures that your work will endure in spite of shifting paradigms. Discussion Start with a few sentences that summarize the most important results. The discussion section should be a brief essay in itself, answering the following questions and caveats: What are the major patterns in the observations?

Refer to spatial and temporal variations. What are the relationships, trends and generalizations among the results? What are the exceptions to these patterns or generalizations? What are the likely causes mechanisms underlying these patterns resulting predictions?

Is there agreement or disagreement with previous work? Interpret results in terms of background laid out in the introduction - what is the relationship of the present results to the original question? What is the implication of the present results for other unanswered questions in earth sciences, ecology, environmental policy, etc?

There are usually several possible explanations for results. Be careful to consider all of these rather than simply pushing your favorite one. If you can eliminate all but one, that is great, but often that is not possible with the data in hand. In that case you should give even treatment to the remaining possibilities, and try to indicate ways in which future work may lead to their discrimination.

A special case of the above. Avoid jumping a currently fashionable point of view unless your results really do strongly support them. What are the things we now know or understand that we didn't know or understand before the present work? Include the evidence or line of reasoning supporting each interpretation.

What is the significance of the present results: This section should be rich in references to similar work and background needed to interpret results.

Is there material that does not contribute to one of the elements listed above? If so, this may be material that you will want to consider deleting or moving. Break up the section into logical segments by using subheads.

Conclusions What is the strongest and most important statement that you can make from your observations? If you met the reader at a meeting six months from now, what do you want them to remember about your paper? Refer back to problem posed, and describe the conclusions that you reached from carrying out this investigation, summarize new observations, new interpretations, and new insights that have resulted from the present work.

Include the broader implications of your results. Do not repeat word for word the abstract, introduction or discussion. Recommendations Include when appropriate most of the time Remedial action to solve the problem. Further research to fill in gaps in our understanding.

Directions for future investigations on this or related topics. Simpson and Hays cite more than double-author references by the surname of the first author followed by et al. Pfirman, Simpson and Hays would be: Nature , , National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commonly asked questions about ozone. Harper Collins Publishers, New York, pp. Child Review of ciliary structure and function. Biochemistry and Physiology of Protozoa , Vol.

Hutner, editor , Academic Press, New York, Bonani A high altitude continental paleotemperature record derived from noble gases dissolved in groundwater from the San Juan Basin, New Mexico. Tables where more than pages. Clear, informative sentences are dominated by verbs -- the relationship of the verb to its object, the relationship of the verb to the subject, the use of verbs instead of unnecessary nouns phrases.

Ultimately, sentences are subsumed by paragraphs, but there are still some sound techniques at the sentence level that can make your writing easier to understand. Place the person or thing whose story is being told at the beginning of a sentence. Match the emphasis conveyed by the substance with the emphasis anticipated by. You'll see immediately that there are many more principles suggested for composing clear, logical paragraphs.

Paragraphs are ground zero for comprehension: Frequently, readers experience the communication breakdown as a personal failing -- they believe it's their own fault for not understanding what looks to be straightforward text. Then, they get angry because the writing has made them feel stupid -- or they assume that your work is simply too advanced for them to follow.

Both cases kill the writer's citation count, and that is bad for a scientist's career. The object is not to find fine words or turns of phrase that will convince the reader to care if normally they wouldn't; nor is it to push the boundaries of what is clearly supported by the evidence presented. If claims matter, they will be scrutinized, and if they're not robustly supported by the results, no amount of hyperbole will convince anyone — editor, referee or reader — otherwise.

Unless you are an archaeologist, it is unlikely that you've found the Holy Grail. Similarly, avoid hollow generalities. It may be that your work will open up new avenues of exploration in your field — but surely that is the point of most novel research?

Instead, you might want to offer specific problems that could be addressed or new capabilities that might be enabled by your work. Adjectives are best used sparingly and only when justified. Avoid using the word 'very' — it doesn't add information, only syllables. Similarly, it is better to be specific about the scales reached than to invoke vague superlative prefixes, such as 'ultra': Neither does the use of 'quantum', 'nano' or 'bio' score points:

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Here is where "The Science of Scientific Writing" comes in, the main points of which are neatly summarized in "How to Write a Thesis": Follow a grammatical subject with its verb, as soon as possible. Place in the position of importance (stress position) the "new information" you.

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How to Write A Scientific Thesis Aims. It is important to remember that scientific inquiry is motivated by specific questions and that to write clearly you should have your question at the forefront of your mind throughout.

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How to Write Your Thesis compiled by Kim Kastens, Stephanie Pfirman, Martin Stute, Bill Hahn, Dallas Abbott, and Chris Scholz I. Thesis structure: II. Crosscutting Issues The Barnard Environmental Science Department has many books on scientific writing, ask the departmental administrator for assistance in locating them. i Contents Author’s Preface v Deans’ Preface vii 1 Purpose of Writing a Scientific‑Style Thesis 1 2 Introduction 2 Graduate research and academic writing 2.

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Writing a Scientific Thesis Although scientific/engineering theses/dissertations are written according to the technical interests of the individual writer, they typically follow the same structure. This format is quite similar to the IMRAD structure that you have likely already been using for papers in your field. Writing scientific thesis, - Bad drivers essay. Rest assured that you will be assigned a pro in the field of your study. Moreover, all of our experts are .