We are at the moment designing a document which we can hand out to Bachelor and Master students to give them a general idea on how to efficiently write a thesis. We also do this to make correcting easier for us. We are working in the field of cell biology. A thesis in our field is usually structured like this:
- Materals and Methods
What we've come up so far is the following list of best practices. This is based on our experiences with previous students and our own theses.
- You can already start writing your materials and methods (M&M) section during your regular lab schedule. This will save you time later on.
- You will have discussions with your supervisors on your results, in which you will decide on what to include in your thesis.
- Start by making the figures for your results and a corresponding caption. Lay out bullet points of your results. Afterwards, start writing the text around these bullet points. After finishing, send this part to your supervisor for proofreading.
- Proceed with the discussion. Again, lay out bullet points, but this time, before writing, clarify each point with your supervisor. This will prevent you from having to rewrite large parts.
- Continue with the introduction and, if you haven’t written it yet, M&M. The introduction should contain everything the reader has to know in order to understand why you did what you did and what the results mean. Be brief and clear.
- Finalize by writing an abstract (“Zusammenfassung”). This has to be written and edited very carefully because it will be the part most people read. Your thesis also needs to include an english abstract which is an exact translation of the german one.
- Don’t forget the acknowledgements (“Danksagung”). This is the second part everyone will read, and it’s extremely unpolite if you don’t have one. It doesn’t have to be formal and can be personal.
My question: Is there something important missing and would you recommend things differently? Maybe you could elaborate how you handle this in your lab.