Senior Thesis Guidelines
The abstract is a short narrative summary of your thesis. Introduce the problem or question you are studying, describe the experimental approach, your results (what data you collected and what facts you learned), and summarize your conclusions (what you think those facts mean).
As students, we felt compelled to write the abstract first because it came at the beginning. However, you should write it last to summarize the paper or proposal. You should plan on writing (or rewriting) the abstract when you are finished writing the body of the thesis.
In the introduction, you should give background information to help the reader understand why your topic is interesting and/or important, and tell the reader (in general terms) what you were trying to do for your thesis (i.e. What question will be addressed in the thesis?). Include a summary (review) of relevant scientific literature with citations.
The "results" section contains just what is implied - the data - with just enough narrative to ensure it is "sensible." Save your interpretations and conclusions for the "discussion" section. Describe or list the actual raw data that were obtained and results of data analysis. Use appropriate formats for particular data (figures, photos, lists, tables, diagrams, graphs) with sufficient captions so the tables, etc., are "stand alone."
Here is where you interpret your data. What do your findings mean? How do your findings bear on the question (hypothesis) you set out to answer? Were there any unexpected findings that changed your hypothesis or pre-study ideas? If so, how, and what are your new ideas? What are your conclusions ? (watch out- they must be supported by your data – you can speculate about other possibilities, but make sure you identify these as such). Compare your results with those of others (i.e., compare your results and conclusions with those published by others). Are there additional experiments you would propose to resolve new or unanswered questions? If so, describe them.
The bibliography should list all of the publications or references cited in the sections mentioned above. Citations should be referenced in the text, but you can include general information sources you used that are not specifically cited. Published work is often described and cited in the introduction, methods are often cited in the methods section, analytical methods and/or publications that provide information that help you interpret your results are often cited in the discussion. For each item, include author, title, journal name (if from a journal), and publication date so anyone can find the articles you reference in the library or through interlibrary loan. For web sites, give the URL in addition to author, title, etc. - URL alone is not acceptable. Follow the citation style of a major journal or the CBE Manual recommendations. Caveat: the style must be consistent throughout.