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It has to be acknowledged, though, that the word limit that some journals put on abstracts means that it is not possible to answer all five of the above questions in your abstract, but in such cases key findings should not be something that gets sacrificed.
Finally, as a summary of the entire thesis, the abstract is the often the last thing to get finalised, but it shouldn't necessarily be the last thing to get written.
If you're drowning in data or literature and feel you're not sure where you're going anymore, writing a "working abstract" might help you to get a "big-picture" view of what you're trying to do and, therefore, help you to get focussed again. The Introduction and Literature Review All theses require introductions and literature reviews, but the structure and location of these vary considerably.
Options that are used include: A brief introductory chapter with a lengthy separate literature review chapter. A lengthy introductory chapter which includes a brief "Introduction" section followed by literature review sections.
A lengthy introduction which includes a literature review. A brief introductory chapter with detailed literature reviews relevant to the topic of each chapter provided separately in each chapter this is typical when each chapter is basically or literally a paper for publication.
More than one literature review chapter. For example, one chapter might review what's known in an area and identify gaps or problems to address, while another might review the methodological approaches taken to investigating questions in this area and identify the strengths and weaknesses of each of these, thus providing a justification for the approach taken in this thesis this may also occur in the first sections of a Methodology chapter.
Regardless of the approach taken, the Introduction to a thesis answers the three questions: May be stated in terms of both general aims e. Why was it done? If the introduction is brief, then provide only the broad motivation e.
Why is there interest in this area? Why is it important?
Why is this an interesting topic? Why pursue the specific line of investigation you do? One way of thinking about a brief introduction, is to think about providing the level of motivation or justification that would satisfy a well-educated friend of yours curious about what you are doing and why, with the literature review providing the level of motivation and justification that would satisfy an expert in the field.
Longer introductions might occur when a significant amount of background material needs to be reviewed in order for the reader to appreciate the context and significance of your research question.
But if this is the case, then it is important to make it clear to the reader what the point of a long review is!
How do the pieces of the thesis fit together?
This is the "outline" or "overview". Provides the rationale for proceeding in the way you did and perhaps for why you have organised things the way you have e. Wgives a good example of what a useful outline looks like. These three questions can be used to broadly analyse the structure of other people's writing so that you can get an overview of what they have done and how they have organised things.
Another way of analysing your writing and the writing of others is to consider which of the following three "moves" are being made in each paragraph or section of a paragraph see Paltridge and Starfield,Ch. This involves showing or explaining why the area is of interest or important.
Some writers also state their main findings at this point sort of like stating your thesis in the opening paragraph of an essay.
A common structure is to start with the broadest possible motivation and then gradually narrow the scope until the particular focus of the thesis or article is reached e. However, some writers prefer to start with a statement of the aim of the research, then proceed to give the arguments for pursuing that aim.
Because of these reasons or observations, I'm going to do this, as opposed to: I am going to do this because of these reasons. In many instances, researchers don't know exactly where they will end up until they get there, so introductions and abstracts are often the last sections of a paper or thesis which are written.
However, writing "working" abstracts and introductions as you go along can be useful to force you to think about the overview of, and motivation for, what you are doing. And while they will have to be revised and fine-tuned, having a general sense of where you are going and why is very useful when making the journey.
Common problems Providing unnecessary or uncontextualised background Background is necessary to orientate the reader to what you are doing, but it is possible to give too much detail so that the reader starts to wonder why they need to know all of what they are being told.
Not explaining things enough To simply say that your research will look at ways to deal with power grid instabilities indicates to the reader that you're working on solving a problem, but not why that problem is significant enough to work on. To indicate the significance of the problem, it would be necessary to briefly explain: What are power grid instabilities?
How often do they occur?Writing a thesis is probably the biggest and most complex writing task you will ever undertake, and even if you do go on to write other scholarly books and articles, the first time you tackle something of this size and complexity is obviously the hardest.
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