Thesis Structure Mark III


in M.Phil thesis, Oxford, Writing

My third meeting with Dr. Hurrell about the thesis generated the third possible structure:

The initial plan involved three different kinds of chapters: A chapters that serve to introduce and conclude the thesis, B chapters that deal with fairly straightforward recounting of existing work, and C chapters that constitute new analysis.

Original: (24 October 2006)

A1 Stockholm and Kyoto: Case Studies
B1 Literature review
C1 Practical consequences of science based policy-making
C2Theoretical and moral consequences
A2 Conclusion

Version generated for the thesis seminar, with each chapter around 5000 words: (24 November 2006)

A1 Introduction
B1 Literature review
B2 Background to case studies
C1 Information and consensus issues
C2 Normative and distributive issues
A2 Conclusion

The big change is greater integration between sections. Rather than treating the literature review as an isolated component, it should happen over the course of the analytic discussion. Thus, the entire B component is being integrated into the C chapters, with some of the general overview material moved to the A chapters. So too, the background to Stockholm and Kyoto. As such, the structure now resembles:

A1 Introduction
C1 Problem identification and investigation
C2 Consensus formation in science and politics
C3 Remedy design and implementation

A timeline was also developed for submission:

A1 Submit by 5 February, discuss 8 February
C1 Submit by 28 February
C2 Submit by 15 March
C3 Submit by 31 March
A2 Submit after 10 April

Dr. Hurrell leaves for Brazil on April 1st and the final thesis is due on the 22nd. That period will be used for my final editing, as well as the incorporation of suggestions from any friends who are good enough to look the thing over on my behalf.

The structure is important because it sets out the approximate fraction of my 30,000 words to be devoted to each issue. Dr. Hurrell says that 2/3 of the thesis should be comprised of C chapters, which partially explains the reasoning behind the new arrangement. Also, the structure of the thesis will ultimately be mirrored in the structure of my thinking about the question, and how I divide and answer it. One possibility discussed was to state that there are a very broad collection of literatures pertaining to this subject, but that they do not form a coherent whole. As such, a major purpose of this research could simply be to categorize differing perspectives and extract what they can usefully contribute to international relations, and where IR can contribute to them.

PS. The MIT International Review has finally committed to publishing my fish paper in a specific issue: the upcoming one, this spring. All I need to do is complete one final revision by Monday.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 26, 2007 at 10:34 pm

Titanic deck chair status = rearranged?

Milan January 26, 2007 at 10:49 pm

I think it really does make sense to mix it together more.

Rather than going through (a) an abstract discussion about problem identification (b) a historical discussion of the identification of the POPs problem and (c) a separate review of the relevant literature, it does make sense to just do it all at the same time.

Milan February 6, 2007 at 11:54 pm

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