Parts of a thesis / report

Writing a thesis is not about following a checklist but about being aware of what is expected in terms of audience, content, structure, and style amongst other things. See the section ”Before you start writing” for more information.

At both Bachelor and Master levels at Chalmers, the type of thesis written varies from department to department and even within departments. When starting work on your thesis, you need to establish what kind of thesis you will work on and what the expected format of such a thesis is.

1)   Find examples of Master theses in your field at the library.
All Master theses are saved in Chalmers Library
2)   Ask your supervisor

3)   Check your department guidelines on thesis writing to see if they suggest a model thesis structure

The basic, common structure of a scientific text is shown below, the IMRAD structure, Introduction-Methods-Results and Discussion. However, this structure is very simplified and needs to be adapted to suit the task, purpose and audience in the best way.

Introduction:  Why was the study undertaken? What was the research question, the tested hypothesis or the purpose of the research?
Methods:  When, where, and how was the study done? What materials were used or who was included in the study groups?
Results: What answer was found to the research question; what did the study find? Was the tested hypothesis true?
Discussion:  What might the answer imply and why does it matter? How does it fit in with what other researchers have found? What are the perspectives for future research?

Language and tenses in a thesis

Though there are no fixed rules, some tendencies have been seen as regards use of tense in the different sections of the thesis. See the different sections of the thesis for more information.

Table 1: Use of tense in parts of the thesis (Swales and Feak, 2012)

Introduction Method Result Discussion Conclusion
Present tense High Low Varying High High
Past tense Low High Varying Low Low
Passive form Low High Low High Varying
Active form High Low High Low Varying
References High Varying Varying High Low