Common sections in research writing
Section 1: Introduction
This chapter should give sufficient background to enable the reader to understand the main body of the thesis/dissertation. This means providing the context of the research, why the subject is important, and the aim and objectives of the research. There should also be information on how the thesis/dissertation is organized.
Section 2: Literature Review
Literature Review is very common in academic writing. It can stand alone or be part of a larger piece of work, such as a report, research proposal or thesis. The purpose of writing literature review is to examine and critically evaluate the most relevant, recent and scholarly research on a particular topic. Appropriate use of citations is crucial for a good piece of literature review.
When you are writing a literature review, please make sure you have included a topic in each paragraph. Simply providing a list of unfocused literature is not a desire way to show that you have examined and evaluated the scholarly work based on the theme of your essay. Below are some tips for writing a proper literature review:
- use evidence – back up points by referring to specific writers/studies;
- be relevant – only include information related to the review focus;
- be selective – only include the most important points;
- be brief – summarise main points, rather than paraphrase or use quotations;
- show importance – the more important a study is, the more space it should take up;
- compare and contrast – highlight any similarities or differences in the findings;
- synthesise – link sources together if they say the same thing;
- be cautious – do not make claims the evidence does not show.
Section 3: Methodology
The term methodology has a broader meaning than method, including not only the method but the philosophy behind it. This chapter will outline the method and materials of your research, in other words how, when and where you gathered information. This chapter is likely to also justify the research process. In addition, you are likely to explain why other methods, which you did not use, were rejected.
Section 4: Results
This chapter presents the results of the research. There is likely to be a significant amount of data, which will need to be organised and presented in a logical way. Graphs and pie charts are common ways of presenting quantitative data. Qualitative data, such as results of interviews, can be summarised and presented in tables, along with quoted excerpts. Research questions might be used to create subsections to further organise the data. Problems with gathering data should also be considered in this section.
Section 5: Discussion
This chapter draws together prior elements by analysing the results, grounded in theory (e.g., from the literature review), and showing their implications. Major differences or similarities between your findings and those of earlier research should be shown. Limitations of the research should also be given.
Section 6: Conclusion
The conclusion consists of two chapters. The first, Conclusion, summarises information, and states the extent to which the aim and objectives of the research have been met.
There may also be a Recommendations chapter. This will give recommendations for future action, which should derive from the main body. If appropriate, ways to further develop your work will be given in this chapter.