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How To Write A Thesis

How To Write A Thesis

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Published by: A Roy on Apr 10, 2008
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How to Write a Thesis:
A Working Guide
R ChandrasekharAustralian Research Centre for Medical Engineering (ARCME)The University of Western Australia35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
chandra@arcme.uwa.edu.au
Written: 24 Feb 2000; Revised: 30 April 2002
Contents
1 Introduction 3
1.1 What is a thesis and why write one? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31.2 Differences between the undergraduate and postgraduate theses . . . . . . 4
2 Structure 5
2.1 Thesis structure at UWA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52.2 Rationale for structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62.3 The hypothesis underpins the thesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62.4 Does an engineering thesis need a hypothesis? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
3 Substance 8
3.1 Begin at the beginning: keep records . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83.2 Write with the reader in mind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93.3 Think-Plan-Write-Revise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103.4 Attikiouzels aphorisms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103.5 Lindsays laws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113.6 Hartmanns hints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123.7 Cobbling together your rst draft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133.8 The Experimental Chapters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143.9 The Literature Review . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153.10 The Introduction and Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163.11 Linking your chapters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163.12 The Summary or Abstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163.13 Writing other parts of your thesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
 
HOW TO WRITE A THESIS 
Contents 
3.14 Polishing up your thesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173.15 The time element . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183.16 Dos and Donts in Science and Engineering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
4 Style: Language 18
4.1 The craft of writing good English . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184.2 Ambiguity and Clarity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194.3 Precision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204.4 Brevity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204.5 Examples of what to avoid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204.6 Punctuation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224.7 The I/We Active/Passive controversy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234.8 Examples of good writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 254.9 Spelling and grammar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
5 Style: Layout 27
5.1 Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275.2 Word Processor vs Markup Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275.3 Diagrams, Graphs and Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 275.4 Table of Contents, Bibliography and Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
6 Conclusions 287 Acknowledgements 29References 29Quick Reference Guide 32
Abstract
This is a short guide on how to write a thesis at both the undergraduate andpostgraduate levels. It is aimed at students of engineering and science. A thesismay be analysed into three S’s:
structure, substance
and
style
. Structure conferslogical coherence; substance, significance and depth; and style, elegance and appeal.State your hypothesis clearly, ensuring that it is both reasonable and testable.Keep meticulous records and write up rough drafts of your work as you go along.Begin writing your thesis proper with the experimental chapters. Progress to theliterature review, introduction and conclusions. Write the summary or abstract last,
after 
writing the conclusions.Write clearly and directly, with the reader’s expectations always in mind. Leadthe reader from the known to the unknown. Write clearly, precisely and briefly.Think, plan, write, and revise. Follow layout guidelines and check spelling andgrammar. Re-read, seek criticism, and revise. Submit your best effort as yourcompleted thesis.
2
 
HOW TO WRITE A THESIS 
1 Introduction
1 Introduction
This is a working guide on writing a thesis. It is intended to assist final year and post-graduate students in Electrical/Electronic/IT Engineering at the Centre for IntelligentInformation Processing Systems (CIIPS), and the Australian Research Centre for Medi-cal Engineering (ARCME), at The University of Western Australia (UWA). The guide isdivided into three main parts:I Structure;II Substance; andIII StyleThe structure of a thesis is governed by logic and is invariant with respect to subject. Thesubstance varies with subject, and its quality is determined by the technical knowledgeand mastery of essentials exhibited by the student. Style has two components: languageand layout. The former deals with the usage of English as a medium of sound technicalcommunication; the latter with the physical presentation of the thesis on paper, accordingto the requirements laid out by UWA. All three components—structure, substance andstyle—influence one another. A good thesis will not be found wanting in any of thesethree
1
.
1.1 What is a thesis and why write one?
thesis
/
"Ti:sIs 
/
1
a proposition to be maintained or proved.
2
a dissertation esp. by acandidate for a degree. [Middle English via Late Latin from Greek = putting, placing, aproposition, etc.] [1]
hypothesis
/
h2I"p6TI:sI
/
1
a proposition made as a basis for reasoning without the as-sumption of its truth.
2
a supposition made as a starting point for further investigationfrom known facts. [Late Latin from Greek
hypothesis
‘foundation’; Greek
hypo
‘under’] [1]One might infer from the etymology above that a thesis is an (obligatory) offering
placed 
at the desk of the examiner by a candidate who wishes to get a degree. This isthe most common, and often only, reason why a thesis is written. But there
are
otherreasons for writing a thesis.A thesis is a written record of the work that has been undertaken by a candidate. Itconstitutes objective
evidence
of the author’s
knowledge
and
capabilities
in the field of interest and is therefore a fair means to
gauge
them. Although thesis writing may beviewed as an unpleasant obligation on the road to a degree, the
discipline
it induces mayhave lifelong benefits.
1
This guide does not cover the earlier phases, such as selecting a supervisor and research topic, doinga literature search etc., nor does it give advice on how to do research, except as it pertains to writing athesis.
3

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On of the best docs I've found
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Wow, great document here. Actually I'm writing my thesis so this helped me a lot.
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yournewventure added this note
This is the most thorough guide on this topic that I've seen!
Somasundaram Poopal added this note
Thank you, my daughter was struggling to write her final thesis, after reading your guidelines she completed her writing sucessfully. Thank you

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