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Elements of a Thesis

Each completed thesis must contain the following elements:

  1. Title page: Title of the thesis and the author's name. Include a short statement indicating that the thesis has been submitted in partial fulfillment of the A.B, Sc.B or Master's degree. For an example see the end of this document.
  2. Signature page: A short statement indicating that the thesis has been accepted in partial fulfillment of the A.B, Sc.B or Master's degree, signed by the principal academic advisor in the case of the standard two-semester thesis, and signed by all advisors and readers in the case of honors theses. For an example see the end of this document.
  3. Acknowledgments: An optional personal statement by the author.
  4. Table of Contents and List of Figures: It may also be appropriate to include a list of abbreviations.
  5. Abstract: A one page, single-spaced summary of the thesis question, the method(s) used to address the question, the results and the conclusion. The abstract is quite important. A digital copy of it will be posted on international bulletin boards and displayed on the CES Webpage. It should present the most important things that you have learned, not merely say that you have learned them; e.g. say "I determined that humidity was unacceptably high in the houses I tested, thus justifying remedial ventilation", not "Chapter 4 of my thesis gives my findings on indoor air quality in the houses I tested." The abstract should allow others to decide whether they would like to read further in your thesis, or to order a digital copy.
  6. Body of the thesis: The format of the thesis should be appropriate to its intended audience. In some cases the thesis may take the form of a journal article, and in others a policy report. You should consult with your thesis advisor on the format appropriate for your work.
  7. Bibliography: Alphabetized list of all published information referred to in the body of the thesis.
  8. References and Footnotes: Research skills are a particularly important aspect of the thesis writing process. Therefore, special attention should be paid to references and footnotes.

The purpose of providing references is to 1) attribute cited information, ideas and quotations properly to the original author, and 2) enable readers to easily locate the cited information. The Center does not stipulate a particular format for references although students are strongly encouraged to adopt the format typically used in the published literature in the student's primary area of study.

Footnotes enable the author to expand upon ideas or information presented in the body of the thesis which are supplemental or secondary to the text. Again, the format for footnoting is not stipulated and students are encouraged to look at the approaches used by authors in their area of interest.