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This article explores the extent to which published advice on the organisation and structure of theses and dissertations concurs with what happens in actual practice. The study examines guides and handbooks which focus on thesis and dissertation writing and postgraduate research. The sample texts examined were master’s and doctoral theses written in a number of different study areas at a major research university. The study found that only a few of the books examined devoted a substantial amount of space to this topic. It also found a wider range of thesis types than the guides and handbooks would suggest occurs. The study identified four main kinds of thesis: ‘traditional: simple’, ‘traditional: complex’, ‘topic-based’ and ‘compilations of research articles’. The article argues for teaching materials which show students the range of thesis options they might have, highlight the kind of variation that occurs in actual texts, and consider the rationale for the various choices they might make.
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Compilations are of two types. In one, the reprinted articles are appended to an overall summary of their content, here called the Scandinavian model . In the other, the reprinted articles are sandwiched between introductory and concluding chapters, here called the sandwich format .
This chapter is a review of the article-based thesis, also called compilation thesis. The compilation is increasingly encouraged, especially in the hard sciences such as biology, medicine, and technology.
Please read about the annotations (PDF) to help you make the most of the two examples.
Some of the examples below are only available to access on campus.