Deciding on the order in which you will present the entire research project is perhaps the foremost decision you will make about the written thesis. Often at the proposal stage and before much writing or research has been done, a contingent contents page will be drawn up as a way of making the project more concrete and tangible. Thomas and Brubaker (2000) suggest that you consider what you would ask if you ‘knew nothing about this topic and … wanted to know about this research’ and then think about the order in which you would like to have your questions answered (p. 245). At the early stages, the structure of the written thesis may blurrily overlap with the expected progression of the research project. To some extent this is entirely appropriate because the end goal of the research project is, for most candidates, the finished thesis. Research design necessarily responds to the requirements of the thesis genre, discipline epistemology (which affects methods) and the candidate’s deepening understanding of their material.
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