Structure of the TextA book, thesis or report is composed of three main parts: the front matter, the text, and the endmatter. In turn these parts are subdivided into components, some of which are optional. Table 1 lists some of the components you can include. The components are listed in the order they should appear in the work.
The rest of this section describes the function of each of these components.
Title PageThe best time to determine the title is after you have written the text. The title must be brief and grammatically correct but accurate and complete enough to stand alone. In most cases, omit 'the' at the beginning of the title. Spell out all terms in the title, and avoid jargon, symbols, formulas, and abbreviations.
AbstractThe abstract is a brief summary of the work. It should be a high-level overview of the big ideas, motivations, and results. Briefly state the problem or the purpose of the research, indicate the theoretical or experimental plan used, summarize the principal findings, and point out major conclusions.
An abstract should be self-contained. Only use abbreviations and acronyms if they simplify the abstract, in which case define them on first appearance as is done in the main text. Do not cite references or refer to sections of the thesis in the abstract. Do not include tables or figures. You can include equations if they occupy a single line.
PrefaceThe Preface sets out preliminary information necessary to understand the text. For instance it may indicate the purpose and scope of the text. In scientific writing it might state the units or notation used.
AcknowledgmentsIn this section you acknowledge people, organizations, and financing. The people recognized should include those who have added substantially to the work, provided advice or technical assistance, or aided materially by providing data, equipment or supplies.
ContentsThe Contents lists the page numbers of the components of the book. Note that it is titled Contents , not Table of Contents .
In LaTeX the Contents are created by the command \tableofcontents.
List of FigureA list of the figures in the text and the page where they occur.
List of TablesA list of the tables in the text and the page where they occur.
List of AbbreviationsA list of abbreviations used in the text along with their expanded meanings.
List of SymbolsA list of the symbols used in the text along with a brief meaning.
EpigraphA phrase that is set at the beginning of a work. This is often a quotation or extract from a poem.
The TextThe main body of the work. Scientific articles, theses and reports generally follow the structure summarised in Table 2.
Chapters should be of approximately the same length so it is unlikely each of the structural elements listed in Table 2 will correspond to a single chapter. However it is often easiest to start with this approach then if you have a very small chapter combinine it with another. Alternatively if a chapter becomes very large then consider dividing it. Typically doctoral thesis have about seven chapters. The functions of each structural elemnt are outlined below.
IntroductionThe introduction is the big picture of your work: placing it in context against other scientific endeavour. The introduction should include:
BackgroundThe purpose of the background is to describe the current body of knowledge of the problem you are addressing.The background is a synthesis of published information into a concise and coherent picture. You need to cite pertinent papers not just overwhelm the reader with lots of citations. The background section in a thesis is typically longer, more detailed, and more complete than for a journal article.
AppendicesAn appendix contains material that is not critical to understanding the text but provides important supporting information. Examples are mathematical derivations, computer code, instrument and circuit diagrams, and expanded discussions of peripheral findings.
BibliographyGenerally the work ends with the Bibliography or References. Here you list all the sources of information you have cited.
GlossaryA list of terms along with definitions of those terms.
IndexA list of words or phrases along with their location in the text.
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