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Thesis Format

Learn to Shape your Thoughts into a Proper Thesis Format

The formats of presenting information on the sources you use for your research may vary, depending on the discipline in which you are doing research.

MLA Format is recommended by the Modern Language Association for research papers on Humanities. MLA Thesis Format presupposes internal (parenthetical) citation. It includes two steps: citing each source in parentheses as you use it in the very text, and making a list of Works Cited at the end of your paper.

A thesis in the humanities normally includes secondary as well as primary sources and is organized as follows:

  • In the introduction you identify the particular work you will consider in the paper and formulate the question that will guide your investigation.
  • In the body of the paper you develop an answer to the basic question in terms of individual works, supplemented by comments drawn from secondary sources (books and articles). They help you to sharpen the edge of your argument; but the works themselves should be the prime source of evidence for it.
  • In the conclusion you restate the main point of your argument and indicate what it contributes to our understanding of the discussed work.

APA Format is recommended by the American Psychological Association and provides guidelines for writers of research papers in the Social Sciences. The APA Thesis Format recommends short references documented within the text (internal or parenthetical citation) and a complete list of sources (references) at the end of the paper. APA manuscripts submitted for publication require an abstract, which is a short, comprehensive summary of the paper, yet many undergraduate papers will use an outline instead.

A thesis in the social sciences (a case study or a report of findings) normally includes the following parts:

  • The introduction states the question you propose to answer and explains how the methods of a particular social science can help you find and interpret the data needed to answer this question.
  • The methods section indicates how you gathered the data for your study (the characteristics of the studied group; methods of observation, interview, questionnaire; printed sources consultation) for other researchers in order to repeat your study and test its results.
  • The results section puts the raw data you have gathered into clearly organized form: paragraphs, tabulated listings, illustrations or graphs.
  • The discussion section interprets the results of the study and explains its significance for an understanding of the topic as a whole.
  • The conclusion briefly summarizes the main points of the study.

Each subject in the Natural Sciences has its own style of documentation, that is why you must follow the specific thesis format that your instructor requests in a separate natural science.

Research papers in the natural sciences are of two kinds: review papers (analyze the current state of knowledge on a specialized topic) and laboratory reports (present the results of an actual experiment). Both kinds normally begin with an abstract. A review paper has:

  • introduction,
  • topic development,
  • conclusion.

A laboratory report presents its materials as follows:

  • The title succinctly states what was tested.
  • The abstract summarizes the report in about 200 words.
  • The introduction explains the question that the lab test is designed to answer.
  • A section on methods and materials explains how th experiment was made, what apparatus was used, and how data were collected.
  • A section on results puts the data into clearly organized form, using graphs, tables and illustrations where necessary.
  • The conclusion explains the significance of the results.
  • A reference list gives any published sources used, including any manuals or textbooks.

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