STRUCTURING A THESIS BY COMPILATION

ON THIS PAGE

Typical structure
Declarations
Relationship between the papers
Introduction
Order of papers
Handling repetition

*Many thanks to Jack Pezzey of the Fenner School who gave us permission to adapt his own 'Supplementary brief on thesis by compilation (TbC)' for Crawford's purposes.

TYPICAL STRUCTURE

Although there is no set format for a thesis by compilation at Crawford, the following generic outline might assist you in the planning of your thesis:

  • Front matter: title, abstract, acknowledgements, table of contents, list of figures, etc.

  • Declarations, stating publication status and authorship of all papers

  • Chapter 1. Introduction

  • Foreword to Chapter 2

  • Chapter 2. The exact text of first paper, maybe as a PDF supplied by the journal

  • Foreword to Chapter 3

  • Chapter 3. The exact text of second paper, maybe as a PDF supplied by the journal

  • Foreword to Chapter 4

  • Chapter 4. The exact text of third paper, maybe as a PDF supplied by the journal

  • Chapters 5, 6, 7, etc. (Can include chapters not yet accepted or submitted, or never intended for publication)

  • Final chapter). Conclusion

  • References list containing all works referred to in all parts of the thesis

DECLARATIONS

A number of distinct papers is expected, and while some overlap between related papers is acceptable, each paper should nevertheless be substantially different in focus or content. A thesis by compilation must be presented in a logical and coherent way and will require the addition of linking text to establish the relationship between one chapter and the next. This could, for example, be achieved by the inclusion of a foreword to each chapter.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CHAPTERS

A number of distinct papers is expected, and while some overlap between related papers is acceptable, each paper should nevertheless be substantially different in focus or content. A thesis by compilation must be presented in a logical and coherent way and will require the addition of linking text to establish the relationship between one chapter and the next. This could, for example, be achieved by the inclusion of a foreword to each chapter.

INTRODUCTION

An introduction demonstrating the relationship between all aspects of the research is also required as part of the thesis. This will include an introduction to the field of study and the hypothesis or research questions, how these are addressed through the ensuing chapters, and a general account of the theory and methodological components of the research where these components may be distributed across separate papers. The introduction should be in the order of 10,000 words in length. The outcomes of the project and the author’s conclusions will either be summarised in the context statement or covered in a concluding chapter.

ORDER OF PAPERS

The order of papers in your thesis should have been logical and coherent since at least your mid-term review, ideally earlier, but writing the Introduction will be a key test of whether you can explain that logical coherence to your examiners. Writing may make you switch the order of a chapter or two, and will almost certainly show you what you need to add requirements for “linking text to establish the relationship between one chapter and the next”. Because of the vagaries of publication, your chapters/papers may not fit together as well as you might ideally wish. For example, maybe you always intended Chapter 3 to be a pre-cursor to Chapter 4, but Chapter 4 actually got accepted for publication first and so could not directly refer to Chapter 3. In that case, add short forewords to both chapters in your TbC to explain how Chapter 4 draws on Chapter 3, but why that connection doesn’t appear in the published text.

HANDLING REPETITION

How can you minimise repetition in terms of, for example, a methodology section or chapter in the thesis and an explanation of the methodology required for each journal article? Can journal articles included in the final thesis be edited to minimise repetition?

There are no simple answers to these questions, beyond not changing any text from your published/accepted papers and doing what you and your panel think will be most appreciated by busy examiners. But for some ideas on the range of possibilities, here are three contrasting examples.

  • Case A. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 (all published) have near-identical methodology sections, which are all fine in themselves. Possible solution: Mention this repetition clearly in Chapter 1 (Introduction) and in the forewords to each chapter, but do not omit the published text of any chapter.

  • Case B. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 (all published) have near-identical methodology sections, all of which were too short and hard to follow in your view because of the journals’ tight word limits. Possible solution: Write a more detailed methodology section as a special Appendix to Chapter 2, and note this in Chapter 1 (Introduction) and the chapter forewords.

  • Case C. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 (all published) have very similar methodology sections, but Chapter 3 (as published) has a better, more detailed exposition than the other two chapters. Possible solution: Note this in the Chapter 1 (Introduction), and particularly in the Forewords to Chapters 2 and 3.

 
 
 
 
 
 

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