ELEMENTS OF A THESIS
Dr. Sano-Franchini | email@example.com | October 11, 2016
FIRST, A CAVEAT…
Thesis conventions vary depending on discipline &
• Check your program’s graduate handbook for any guidelines
• Talk with your graduate director, advisor, & other professors.
• Check to ensure that you have met any requirements outlined by
your department and the Graduate School (see the Graduate
Catalog and http://etd.vt.edu/guidelines/).
• Check out recently ﬁled theses in your department and in your
ﬁeld. (Ask your peers and see: ProQuest Dissertations and Theses)
• Title Page
• Table of Contents
• List of Figures
• List of Tables
• List of Abbreviations
• Literature Review
ital. = optional
ONE WAY OF LOOKING AT IT…
(Describe larger exigence)
Narrow: Thesis/Purpose Statement
(Deﬁne your speciﬁc contribution)
Broad: Literature Review
(Situate project in larger disciplinary conversation)
(What does your speciﬁc data say?)
(What are the larger implications of this work?)
• Background Information
• Summary of the Project
- Theoretical Framework
- Research Questions
• Road Map (Overview of the chapters that follow.)
• Summary of Findings
• Larger Social or Disciplinary Implications
• Future Directions
SELECTING A TOPIC
Deﬁning a research question
• Is it both broad and narrow enough such that you will be able to
address it in the allotted amount of time?
• How might that question speak to—and extend upon—larger
conversations going on in your ﬁeld?
• What objects of analysis can help you address that research
question? In other words, what is your data?
Making it your own
• Does your selected topic reﬂect your passions, interests, your
previous academic experiences and/or your future goals?
• Identify your data. Will you do interviews, textual analysis,
surveys, experiments, etc.?
• Identify your methodologies. What methodologies will inform
your approach to studying that data and what methods will you
use? In other words, through what lens(es) will you observe your
• Start with your analysis. Write down your observations. Your
ﬁndings and thus your argument should emerge from your
Note that writing is a recursive process.
Draw your writing process.
• What does your writing process look like?
• How do you begin? What do you need to
do to get started? What motivates you to
• When do you tend to write?
• What do your writing spaces look like?
Where do you do your best writing? What
do you like to have around you?
Make sure that all text can be read by screen
readers and other assistive technologies.
• Clearly identify and describe all tables, images, ﬁgures, and graphs
using captions and alt text.
• Avoid using images of text that are not also transcribed in-text.
• Use “heading styles” to ensure that structure is clear.
• Use columns instead of tabs and spaces to create columns.
• Use text for hyperlinks rather than URLs when doing so enhances
the ability to read the text out loud.