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Experiment!: Planning, Implementing and Interpreting by Oivind Andersson

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12.5 Writing a Ph.D. Thesis

The Ph.D. degree is awarded for an original contribution to knowledge. One important function of the Ph.D. thesis is, therefore, to demonstrate that you have made such a contribution. This is where you put the parts of your work together to formulate higher-level conclusions. These are then related to the work of others to define, in a wider sense, how your research has developed the knowledge in your field. A thesis thus contains a more general synthesis than that in a research paper.

As the thesis is the last stop on your journey towards the Ph.D. it is appropriate to briefly discuss its parts here. Though these parts are similar to those of a scientific paper, their functions are different. The following lies close to Phillips and Pugh [3]. Originally, a master's degree was a license to practice, whereas a doctor's degree was a license to teach at university level. To teach with authority, faculty members obviously need to have a deep knowledge of their subject. They need to have a grasp of the current knowledge and be capable of extending it. You demonstrate these abilities through the parts of your thesis.

Just as a scientific paper, a Ph.D. thesis begins with a background. The main purpose, however, is not to prepare the reader for the upcoming analysis. It is to demonstrate that you master the theory in your field to the full professional standard. This is normally accomplished by a literature review of your field but it is not sufficient to just ...

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