Requirements for a Research Thesis

A research thesis should have two main chapters, a research chapter and an elaboration chapter. It has the following structure:

  1. Introduction
    1. Original Thesis Goals
    2. Changes to Thesis Goals (if any)
  2. Research Chapter
    1. Introduction
    2. Related Work
    3. Research Question
    4. Research Approach
    5. Used Data Sources
    6. Research Results
    7. Results Discussion
    8. Conclusion
  3. Elaboration Chapter

The research chapter is about 6000 words long and contains all essential information. Anything that does not fit into this chapter should go into a secondary elaboration chapter (or appendix), which extends the research chapter. These constraints force students to think hard about what is important and what is not. It also allows the guiding supervisor to turn the thesis into a research paper quickly, if possible and reasonable.

Additional information on how to perform research and write a convincing final thesis can be learned in “Nailing your Thesis” (NYT), our research course. NYT not only teaches how to approach, structure, and perform research, but also how to put it into a convincing written form.

The specifics of the research chapter’s subsections vary. For example, in confirmatory research, the results discussion section is frequently split into a general discussion section and a “threats to validity” section that goes over the math and its possible limitations.

The elaboration chapter is not a repetition of the research chapter in more detail, but an elaboration of all issues that seem noteworthy but didn’t make the cut for the research chapter. Go into as much details as you would like.

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