So, I’ve been slogging along with my thesis, trying to get everything wrapped up on time. I have a month from yesterday to get the experiments, models, and paper wrapped up to the point that my advisers are willing to sign off on me being ready to defend. I’ve gone back through my thesis, trying to add in all the stuff I’ve done since I last stopped writing (back in 2004 or so). I originally had about 70 pages worth of stuff written, and I’m almost through bringing the first 50 pages or so (Chapters 1 and 2) up to snuff. However I’m now running into a challenge in the layout of the paper, and I was wondering if I could get some suggestions (seeing as how my whole thesis committee is out of town).
As I understand it, the general format recommended goes something like this:
- Chapter One: Introduction–Here you give a basic introduction to what the problem is you’re trying to solve, what benefits it would provide, what specific question you are trying to answer (the thesis statement), what other applications there might be for the topic, and what delimitations you’re putting in to prevent the thesis from getting too nasty.
- Chapter Two: Literature Review–Here you discuss all the papers and books that you’ve found on the topic that are relevant, and give a basic introduction to the specific areas of specialized knowledge you’re going to be using in your thesis.
- Chapter Three: Methodology–Here you lay out the experimental and analytical methodology you’re going to use in your thesis, including discussions of your models, and what tests you will perform (and how).
- Chapter Four: Results–Here you discuss the results that you get from carrying out your methodology. You discuss the experiments and the data, you discuss the models and what they predict, etc.
- Chapter Five: Conclusions–Here you basically try to tie everything together and determine if you were able to answer the question, and if so what was the answer
- Chapter Six: Future Work–Here you lay out areas that you either delimited in chapter one or that came up during research that might be interesting to investigate in the future. You can also discuss what other steps need to be taken before your technology can be applied in the real world.
Or something to that effect.
However, I have a bit of a problem. For me, I didn’t know much about the problem at hand when I started (nor did any of my advisers), so I had to take a much more iterative approach. I made several prototypes, trying to figure out what would work and what wouldn’t. Some of that fed back into the modeling. I also ended up iterating several times on the models as data came in showing I needed to add complexities like damping, or was able to determine that the amplitude of the displacements was small enough that I could drop some terms in some of the models.
My original plan was to just add an additional two chapters: preliminary methodology, and preliminary results before the model refinement and final results chapters. However that seems really kind of kludgy. Not to mention the fact that after Chapter 2, I already have about 50 pages of text and graphics (not counting the 12 pages worth of stuff from the title page till Chapter 1 starts or the several pages worth of bibliography, or any of the apendices). I’m worried that at the rate I’m going, my thesis may end up being a whopping 150-200 pages thick by the time I’m done with it (if I manage to finish it at all).
So does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? Anyone else been down this road? Any examples of a good thesis that I could look at for ideas?
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