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This THESIS OVERVIEW, based on requirements at Rice University, is designed to help graduate students understand the magnitude of a traditional Master's or PhD thesis. It shows what sections need to be included in a thesis, gives advice on what should be covered in each section, and makes specific recommendations for what questions need to be answered as a student writes up research results. Although this document is directly applicable to Rice graduate students, it can be modified for other universities and for those departments that require three published papers in lieu of a traditional thesis.

What is a thesis? what should be in it?

The word “thesis” has two meanings, both of which are applicable to your writing. First, the word refers to either a Master’s Thesis or a PhD Thesis (dissertation). Additionally, the word “thesis” signals the fact that your thesis must be a work of persuasive argumentation. You first make a statement defining the focus of your research (the problem/question/issue that needed to be solved) and signal your results. Then, through evidence and reasoning, you persuade your committee of the validity of your research.

Every thesis, either Master’s or PhD, must tell a compelling and exciting story about important original research. In the process of telling that story, you must answer, clearly and precisely, the following key questions:

  • What problem/question/issue does your thesis focus on?
  • Why is it important ?
  • How does your work fit into the intellectual context of your field ?
  • What experimental design / methods did you use? Why did you choose those methods? What difficulties did you encounter along the way? How did you solve (or not) those difficulties?
  • What are your research results ? How do they differ from what you had expected or from what had previously been done by others? What evidence do you have to support those results? What conclusions did you reach?
  • What, specifically, is your unique contribution ?
  • What are some possible applications , either practical or theoretical, of your findings? What future work does your thesis suggest?

In sum, you are writing a fascinating work of non-fiction, complete with beginning, middle, and end. Your readers should be drawn smoothly from one essential page to the next. You must tell

  • what you did
  • why you did it
  • how you did it
  • with what results, and
  • why we should care (so what).

In other words, you must explain your work to your reader. If you write to the person on your committee who is least familiar with your work, that will help you decide the level of detail and explanation needed. My experience says that most graduate students need to explain more fully. Think back to when you weren’t so familiar with the subject. Leave no gaps in your argument; omit no essential step in your thinking. Include what didn’t work as well as what did work. Get comments from someone who can evaluate the technical content and from someone not so familiar with your work.

If you are incorporating published papers into your thesis, at minimum they need to be tied together and explained in an overarching Introduction and then summarized in a final chapter. Ideally, however, you will expand a published paper so that you can go into greater detail on answering the Seven Key Questions. Published papers by necessity are short; a thesis gives you the opportunity to give greater depth to your explanations and examples. It can be exciting to talk in detail about work that has been so absorbing and important to you.

Questions & Answers

What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Becoming a professional scholar. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10871/1.2
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