R. Siegel

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Human Biology
Summer Honors College
September 1997

(with thanks to Christina Pham)

What makes a GOOD TITLE?

o informative and specific
o short
o catchy
o not trite
o don't be trendy (you'll have dated your work)
o title should be your "thesis statement"
o could be in form of a question
o may take a position
o audience-dependent

Elements of a GOOD THESIS

o logical argument
o structured paragraphs
o readers have certain expectations that you should consider
(i.e. the expectations of the rigid structure of the HumBio theses)
o obvious points don't belong in thesis
o choose the standard structure and
depart from it only if you feel you have a good reason to

SECTIONS in a thesis

1. Title Page with

o Name
o Date
o name of Reader

NOTE: Always remember to include page numbers and date on every page on drafts.

2. Abstract

o voice is in the third person
o passive voice
o a detached feel to it
o someone else is describing your work
o include your most compelling information here
o catchy
o drop the logic
o it is an advertisement and you want your results to hit hard
o want to show people that you have something new worth reading

3. Key Words

o help reader with key concepts
o avoid using trendy terms that will date your work

4. Table of Contents

o dependent on the length of your paper
o may also include list of maps/figures/tables

5. Acknowledgments

o not required
o can put in front or back of document
o shows vanity or appreciation
o can serve as a road map for the readers as to
where you got your information and support
o part of the politics of the game

6. Introduction

o it's an overview
o it tells WHY you did this project
o tells the implications, significance
o gives broader context
o do not give them the results here because they do not deserve to know results
until they've read through your process.

7. Background

o nine tenths of your references will show up here
o tells of previous work done in this area
o the goal is to inform the reader on your topic and display the range of ideas
o give the intellectual context
o the research you use must be current
o do not get too detailed with the bibliographic padding
o written for a professional audience
o be thorough in your research
o can direct the background toward your own stand on the
o subject
o can refer reader to other big sources for background on your
o subject if you don't want to regurgitate another's work
or detract from the focus of your own research
o can use subtopics in the background section
o be succinct
o background doesn't need to reflect your own research processes and dead-ends
o can also use the bibliographic software program ENDNOTES
to make your life easier.

NOTE: forget about the length of the paper; the thesis should be as long as it needs to be; put extraneous information (stuff that the reader doesn't necessarily want to read, yet that is necessary for complete clarity of your methods and procedures) in appendices -- this may include raw data, methodology.

8. Methods

o procedures
o population (with selection bias)
o definitions
o data acquisition
o anyone else should be able to go back and replicate exactly what you did
o sample size
o statistical methods.
Note: The methods should be like a recipe in a cookbook: only the ingredients and the instructions are included.
The methods should be sufficient for someone else to carry out exactly the same experiment or study.

9. Results

o unbiased information
o unprocessed data

10. Analysis

11. Discussion

12. Conclusions

o interpretation
o limitations
o bias
o policy implications
o future studies
o this is not a restatement of previous phrases
o it verifies importance of your research
o brings the small context of your research into a bigger picture.

NOTE: there is a lot of room for variability in structure with numbers 10-12.

13. References

14. Appendices

15. Glossary

FINAL NOTE: Ultimately, you are the one deciding how your thesis will turn out because it is your very own project, which is an expression of the individual.

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Last modified: November 19, 1997