Reidar Conradi, 14 March 2007: Hints for structuring the main part of a PhD "article" thesis

Since we have many in "thesis writing phase" now, the below hints may be useful for you. .-)

Note: the below page estimates are for the main part of an "article thesis" of ca. 35 pages (chs. 1-7) + appendices that include 5-8 papers (verbatim) - not a "monograph" of over 200 pages. A monograph will have to increase Chs. 2-5 considerably.

Structural Recommendations

Initial pages: Main part, with ca. 35 pages:
  1. Introduction (3-5 p.): Motivation. Context, e.g. R&D project. Problem definition. Research questions. Summary of main results/contributions (hint: couple RQi/Cj and papers - see e.g. Introduction chapter in Parastoo Mohagheghi's PhD thesis at IDI from 2004, Fig. 1-1 on page 4. Complete publication list (name papers P1, P2, ...) with kernel subset and with included abstracts for this subset. Clarify possible contributions from co-authors. Outline of rest of thesis.
    For article thesis: include kernel publications in the Appendices later.
  2. State-of-the-art/practice (6-8 p.): Literature study. Conclude by identifying challenges.
  3. Initial theory (2-4 p. - can be dropped): Stated hypotheses / contributions to be tested here. I.e., not done if your study is exploratory.
  4. Research plan (5-6 p.): Challenges from ch. 2 coupled to thesis context/project/focus. Research questions/possible hypotheses vs. Empirical studies. Chosen research method(s). Overall workplan with coupling to papers.
  5. Results (6-8 p.) from testing/validating/exploring the theory/res.questions by empirical studies.
  6. Evaluation and discussion of results (3-4 p.): Assess results. Identify your contributions. Possible theory building (cause-effect). Compare to other work. Suggestions for improvements. Discuss construct-, internal-, external- and conclusion-validity.
  7. Conclusion and further work (1-2 p.): Be short; nail down the essence.


  1. References to chs. 1-7 and possibly bibliography. Start early with all this, and be accurate and complete for each reference from the start.
  2. Glossary.
  3. Technical stuff: software, questionnaires etc. - if needed.
  4. For article thesis: verbatim enclosure of kernel papers. Try to reformat these in uniform style; otherwise concatenate existing .pdf files with through-going pagination.
See Reidar Conradi: Some hints for paper writing and searching, with further links.

See also Carl-Fredrik Sørensen: Hint for skriving av tekniske rapporter, 30 slides (in Norwegian, from 2002, .ppt - 107 KB).

- Good luck!, reidar


Reidar Conradi
Last modified: Tue Mar 27 17:34:37 MEST 2007