The document structure: Overview

Outline Abstract Introduction Lit. Review Methodology Results Discussion Conclusions Linking chapters

Where do I start?Rough Outline of a document

The structure of your documents, whether your publications or thesis should represent a clear ordering of your work for your reader. You will need to subdivide the work into chapters, and to ensure that you can link the chapters to form a coherent document.

Most theses, as well as many research publications, follow a standard pattern for the chapters in the main body of the document, although the number may vary according to disciplines or to the research needs. In the Arts, the document outline is defined by the research project, and you developing this structure as your formulate the research project.

These notes are primarily aimed at those writing in the Science, Medical and Engineering fields, but some of the sections will be relevant to all areas..

A common Structure

The standard components required in most academic publications, in the Science, Medical and Engineering fields are as follows:

  • Introduction - background and relevance
  • Literature Review - setting the context
  • Methadology - techniques, apparatus, etc as appropriate
  • Results
  • Discussion - commentary on your findings
  • Conclusions - overall summary

In your thesis you will probably need at least one chapter for each section. In many journal papers, and particularly those referred to as 'letters; you may combine components within titled sections, for example you may incorporate the literature review into the Introduction. But the essential purpose of these sections will be covered in a summarised format.

Most publications will also require:

  • An abstract;
  • A bibliography, although these details are sometimes dispersed within the main body;
  • And appendices, where appropriate.
>> Abstract

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