Tips and Guidelines: Writing Your Thesis UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Photo of a Black person's hands typing on a laptop with a blue keyboardIt's time to write your thesis. Congratulations!

You've completed the bulk of your experiments, you have fascinating results to share...time to turn it into a cohesive story! Here's how:

Getting Started:

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The Nitty Gritty:

Your thesis should include the sections listed below, as well as a section detailing your Materials and Methods

Click through the dropdowns for helpful hints on writing each section of your thesis. Good luck!


The Introduction should contain an organized review of the literature that introduces the reader to the field and leads to the hypotheses to be tested.  

  • 20-30 pages in length
  • Not a full topic review
  • 30-50 pages in length
  • Full review of the topic/field
  • Typically, the review material is organized around one or more summary Tables or Figures. These help keep the information organized. 
  • The Introduction usually takes the longest to write.
  • Go over your proposed Introduction sections with your Supervisor before you write them.
  • The Introduction will include your rationale, hypothesis, and objectives.
  • It can be very helpful to have your objectives/research aims presented in graphic format.


  • The Results section may consist of content from your previously or soon-to-be published manuscripts written in the usual format (Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion). 
  • Collaborative papers must be edited to ensure they represent your own work.
  • Even if using previously written material, editing your work into a single Results section is preferable to avoid repetition of introductory concepts and methods.
  • Length will depend on style (compilation of papers vs. traditional single discussion style), but should be a maximum of 50 pages, written in concise, scientific writing, that provides adequate detail.


In the Discussion section, you should:

  • Consider all the major lines of evidence in the Results section(s). 
  • Clearly establish the novelty and importance of your contribution to knowledge.
  • Examine alternate interpretations of the data.
  • Suggest any necessary qualifications.
  • Detail future directions for experimentation. 

References, Acknowledgments, and Appendices

  • Collect your References at the end of the thesis in the format used for your preferred journal.
  • Acknowledge any students who have helped in an important way. 
  • Note that if you include work generated by others in your Results, you must be prepared to defend all aspects of this work.
  • If you are not prepared to defend all aspects of this work, then just make a mention of it in the text, or discuss it in an Appendix instead.
  • You can omit some of your work from the Results section in order to create a more coherent story. 
  • With your Supervisory Committee’s approval, you can include work extraneous to the thesis topic in one or more Appendices. 

Additional Tips

  • It is helpful to use lots of headings and subheadings to organize and unify your thesis.
  • Consider using a "4 deep" heading structure (e.g. 1.2.1.b). Refer to sample theses to see how this may be done.
  • Remember that any text copied or paraphrased from other sources must be appropriately referenced. Click here to learn more about plagiarism and how to avoid it. 
  • Check with your Supervisory Committee members regarding how to submit your thesis. Some faculty members prefer to receive it by email, while others prefer a bound, printed copy.