We can start with a small introductory part that highlights why our thesis was needed, what is the gap that we are going to fill with our research. Two or three paragraphs here are more than enough. Then we would go on to properly discuss the results. In the end, no matter how much work there is behind a thesis, what is left to the reader are two or three main ideas, no more. As we have already said, our goal must be that these two or three ideas remain clear, highlighting the results that sustain them and citing previous publications in favor and against. It is also important that we be honest. When our results do not support the previous hypothesis, it must be clearly stated. We do not want peregrine discussions intended to justify with circus arguments theories that can not stand with the results obtained.
Towards the end it is convenient to group in one or two paragraphs the limitations of our work, honestly citing what we believe may restrict the veracity of our conclusions. It is always better to recognize it in the text before the court brings it up during oral defense.
Advice: although the discussion does not usually include subsections, this does not mean that there is no need to follow an order. The results are always discussed in the same sequence as presented above.
Extension: between 10 and 20 pages would be reasonable. Above all, it is necessary to ensure that the length of the Discussion is proportional (not equal) to that of the Introduction. A 60-page Introduction with a Discussion of five should not be written.
I find that writing it in the end is easier. We take one or two relevant paragraphs from the beginning of the Introduction; the Objectives and Conclusions and we put it all together. Now it’s about giving it a varnish so that the text takes continuity so that someone outside our research is able to understand it.
Tip: let’s try to get away from the “telegram” type of writing.
Extension: one page.
Having a bibliography manager is vital for the management of references. I recommend Endnote; its integration with Word and PubMed is perfect and the handling is sufficiently intuitive. Regarding the list of references, the format that is generally used for doctoral theses is Vancouver.
If the thesis has had publications, it is a good idea to attach them to the end of the book. Also, in this way, if we do not want to expand on a specific aspect, we can always refer the reader to the final publication.
Some final advice on the format of the text file, Word in the vast majority of cases.
Before starting to write do not forget to set the margins as “reflected”. In this way the thesis will be perfect when bound.
It is very helpful to generate the index automatically using the tool that exists in Word. Each time we write the title of a section, we select it and click on the “Mark entry” icon in the “References” tab. When finalizing the writing simply it is necessary to select “Insert index”, in the same tab, and voilà, we already have the complete index with its pagination.
Insert always different sections of Word for each section of the thesis, so we can put a different header for the Introduction, Results …
And above all, remember that things have a beginning and an end. At some point you have to stop correcting, revising, reading and rewriting. Most of the time this desire for perfection hides a fear, understandable on the other hand, to the completion of a task that will be evaluated in a court of law.
I hope that these tips can be helpful for those of you who undertake the writing of a thesis and that you can spend as soon as possible to prepare the dreaded moment of the exhibition. For that there are also tricks, but as it was said in The Endless Story: “… that’s another story and must be told on another occasion”