:Reviewing the Outline & Structure




Here is the order like a recipe but you provide the main ingredients (content in each part)…


Title Page


Acknowledgements (optional)


Table of Contents

Thesis in Chapters

* Introduction (Chapter 1)

** Body (Chapter 2—5 or 6)

*** Conclusion (final chapter)

Works Cited page(s) / Bibliography

Appendices (if included)



This is a summary of the thesis’s main idea(s). It should include the thesis statement. The purpose of the Abstract is to give the reader a clear and general idea of the thesis content. Eco advises that you write the Abstract even before you embark on the thesis as a guide for you. Of course, you will revise the first draft Abstract fully after you have completed the thesis too.


The abstract is approximately one hundred words – one paragraph is sufficient.

It is placed alone on a separate page.


The purpose of the abstract is to inform the reader of the main points in your thesis.

What you have researched (Topic)

Why you have researched this topic (as an issue and its relevance)

What have you proven (discovered/realized) – this is the thesis statement

How have you conducted your research (explain the methodology)

Who have you read (literature review)

What is the importance and implications of your study/research?


An abstract can often be followed by a list of key terms.


—table of contents (to set this automatically in Word go to References then Table of Contents) — on one hand this is naturally done with precision as the last tasks BUT you should make one of these early on and put instead of actual page (Expected pages that will go into this section). This helps you to manage space.


Put the sections of the thesis in the Table of Contents. Sections should be enumerated in a decimal system, like this in the final version.

1.Introduction……………………………………………………………  1

1.1………………………………………………………………………  3

     2.   Methodology/Theoretical Framework…………………………………4



     3.   Literature Review / Previous Research



     4.   Results of your study (if you are doing primary research)



     5.   Discussion



      6.  Conclusion



—-body of the thesis —- the basic structure of the thesis (see above and below)



2.Methodology and/or theoretical framework (theoretical section)

3.Literature Review / previous scholarship about your topic

4.Results/data (if you are doing primary research)





The Introduction


In this section you should introduce the context and provide background for your topic. Tell the reader briefly why is the topic important (purpose of your study and its relevance). What is at issue? Explain this only briefly and then in more detail in the Literature Review. You can also define the key terms in this section.

The introduction should include your Research Question

Here you will also define and limit the scope of the study


This section should make clear your thesis statement (which is the answer to your research question).


This section should present the outline (indicate the chapters that follow in the body)


The Literature Review


If your thesis is based on secondary sources (if you are not doing primary research), then this section is significant to explain what others have written about your topic. If you have done primary research, this section can provide necessary background. The literature review tells the reader about previous research in this area, whether it is theoretical or empirical. It does more than describe the work, it critically comments on the work. Your research can then build on this.


This section helps you to investigate the topic, and here you explain what you have done.

The sources that you include here should be related to your thesis statement and organized to show the relevance to the issue and their support of your thesis. It should be a critical review of the literature (theoretical and methodological approaches that the other researchers have used).  

You have started this section already be doing the Annotated Bibliography. The annotated bibliography can be seen as the first draft of your Literature Review, but you will still expand on this and revise it significantly by the time you have reached the conclusion of your research.  




The methodology section explains your research methods and tells the reader why you have done it in this way. This is connected to the Literature Review (how others have researched the topic similarly), but then based on this, you have marked your own path of research. Here you explain why you have chosen to do either primary or secondary research. This is usually due to practical options/resources available. If you are doing only secondary research, this section is brief and can be combined with the introduction. If you are doing primary research, the methodology section should be explained carefully and as a separate chapter/section of the thesis. Here you would need to explain the data collection, sampling, data analysis, and specific details relevant and unique to your research. You should also note ethical issues relevant to the study.




This section is only relevant if you are doing primary research. Here you present the findings/your data. This is presented as your qualitative or quantitative research. What is the significance of your research? What have you discovered/realized/uncovered?




The discussion section allows you to demonstrate how you understood the importance of your primary or secondary research, and that you have applied the appropriate theories to your findings. This section is analytical and it is a thorough synthesis of your various sources.  

In this section, you are supporting (explaining) your thesis statement, as the results help you to prove it. If you are doing secondary research, then you are analyzing the central and most important ideas presented in the literature review. From the analysis of the theories of the other scholars, you will try to present (formulate) your own original ideas in this section.


If you have done primary research, this section discusses/analyzes your original findings, and in comparison to previous studies (when applicable).


The main point of the discussion section (whether you use primary or secondary sources) is to synthesize an answer to your research question and thus you support your thesis statement.




In this section, at the very least, you can pose the research question again and summarize the most important issues. Focus here on the discussion, which supports your thesis. In this section, you answer the research in your restated thesis.  


Beyond a mere summary of what you have done in your thesis, this section as conclusion should also place the study in a wider context. How has this contributed to a better understanding of your topic? How can other researchers now build upon your efforts? Admit or acknowledge any goals that were unmet (i.e. unanswered questions) or research goals that were inconclusive. In this section you can make recommendations, propose solutions, suggest further research.  


The conclusion reconnects to the introduction/they complement or reflect each other, just as you have been taught to connect in short essays. Don’t forget this in your final project of BA studies.


In comparison, ECO’s version of Table of Contents as a Working Hypothesis is below….


According to Eco, this would be your Work Plan. Best of all is to do a summary, where you would attempt a short description of each chapter. By doing it this way, you would clarify for yourself what you want to do, and secondly you would be able to propose an intelligible proposal to your advisor. Thirdly, he says, you would clarify or test the clarity of your ideas. Does it make sense once you put it down paper! Eco says, “A thesis is like a chess game that requires a player to plan in advance all the moves he will make to checkmate his opponent” (108).


For Eco, The WORK PLAN includes The Title, The Table of Contents, and The Introduction  


For example as a “public title” Radio Commentary and the Attempted Murder of Palmiro Togliatti” but the subtitle or secret title for this would be “Radio Commentators’ Use of Gino Bartali’s Tour de France Victory to Distract the Public from the Attempted Murder of Palmiro Togliatti.”


This secret title has your focus and nothing should deviate from this secret title (focus for you).

The research question is framed to answer this.  


“Has there in fact been a deliberate political use of a sport celebrity’s victory to distract the public from the attempted murder of the Italian Communist Party Leader Palmiro Togliatti?”


Can a content analysis of the radio news commentary reveal such an effort?  


In this way, he says the secret title (turned into a question) becomes essential to the Work Plan.


AFTER YOU HAVE FORMULATED THIS QUESTION, subdivide you topic into logical sections that will correspond to chapters in the Table of Contents, like this example below…


1.Critical Literature on the Topic

2.The Event

3.The Radio News

4.Quantitative Analysis of the News &  Its Programing Schedule

5.Content Analysis of the News



Or you can organize (plan it) differently, in this example below…


1.The Event. Synthesis of the Various Sources of Information

2.Radio News Commentary on the Attempted Murder Before Bartali’s Victory

3.Radio News Commentary on the Attempted Murder over the Three Days Following Bartali’s Victory

4.Quantitative Comparison Between the Two Sets of News

5.Comparative Content Analysis of the Two Sets of News

6.Sociopolitical Evaluation


Ideally, he says it should be even more detailed than this example.




1.The State of the Issue

2.The Previous Research

3.Your Hypothesis

4.Your Supporting Data

5.Your Analysis of the Data

6.The Demonstration of Your Hypothesis

7.Conclusions and Suggestions for Further Research


Then the third phase is to draft the Introduction….(beginning already now)

It is an analytical commentary related to the Table of Contents


“With this work, we propose to demonstrate this thesis. The previous research has left many questions unanswered and the data gathered is still insufficient. In the first chapter, we will attempt to establish this point; in the second chapter we will tackle this other point. In conclusion, we will attempt to demonstrate a, b, and c. We have this specific limits for the work. Within these limits, we will use the following method. And so on…”


This is a fictitious Introduction, but by doing this it HELPS YOU. It is fictitious because you will revise it many times to make it much better, more accurate. Still this draft sets a direction for you, which should not change unless you change drastically the Thesis or restructure the organization. This introduction sets you in motion and keeps you on course, so you don’t get distracted (no detours). This introduction is also helpful to show the advisor what you want to do.  


Most importantly, by doing this, it shows you whether your ideas are organized (or not).


If you cannot write the introduction, it means you do not have clear ideas on how to begin.


If you do in fact have clear ideas how to begin, it is because you at least suspect where you will arrive. And it is precisely due to this suspicion, that you must write the Introduction, as if it were a review of the already completed work. Don’t be afraid to go too far with the Introduction, as there will always be time to step back.