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Academic Writing Principles

The thesis, dissertation, or journal article, whether quantitative or qualitative, is generally a five-part document as follows:
  • Introduction
  • Review of the Literature
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion, Conclusion, and Recommendations

Although the Review of the Literature is the second chapter (section), it is useful to begin by reading the relevant literature. This gives you the necessary background and grounding for your research, as well as ideas for how to approach the design of your research. The Review of the Literature should be organized by the focus of your research and the material reviewed.

After reading and, perhaps, writing the Review of the Literature, you are then ready to design your research and to draft the Introduction chapter (section). The Introduction chapter generally contains the following sections (the order may vary by university or journal):

  • Background (drawn from the Review of the Literature)
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Purpose of the Study
  • Significance of the Study
  • Research Questions or Hypotheses
  • Methodology (overview)
  • Assumptions
  • Delimitations
  • Limitations
  • Definition of Terms
  • Organization of the Remainder of the Paper

The Methodology chapter (section) is a "recipe" for how your research will be conducted. It should contain sufficient detail so that the methodology could be replicated. The Methodology chapter generally contains the following sections (the order may vary by university or journal):

  • Overview
  • Research Design
  • Participants
  • Instrumentation
  • Procedures
  • Data Analysis Plan

The Results chapter (section) contains a factual (as opposed to interpretive) report of the results of the data analysis. Significant results, including statistical and p (probability) values, are presented, along with relevant graphical presentations such as tables and figures. Research questions or hypotheses are addressed, but no interpretations are made. This is the purpose of the final chapter, discussed below.

The Discussion, Conclusion, and Recommendations chapter (section) presents a discussion of the results in terms of the purpose of the study, the research questions or hypotheses, and the Review of the Literature. The chapter generally begins with a brief summary of the significant findings. This is followed by a discussion of the results, as indicated above. Conclusions are then made, followed by recommendations for further research. 

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