Preparing and submitting a Thesis

The thesis must be double-spaced with 1 inch or 2.5 cm margins. It should be written in the standard IMRAD format (Introduction/methods/results and discussion) and should also contain an abstract, list of abbreviations, references and acknowledgements.

The overall format of the thesis (which includes citations and references) should adhere to that of the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.  It is extremely important that the supervisor receives the final copy on or before the submission date.

A thesis must be between 30 and 85 pages in length (not including references) - most are between 40 and 60 pages.

The thesis differs from a research publication in several aspects. Some general guidelines for the various sections are given below:

  • Abstract may be single-spaced but must not be greater than one page in length. The abstract page should include the author's name, the title of the thesis, and the supervisor's name and affiliation.
  • Introduction should present a thorough review of the literature pertinent to the project. The key words here are thorough and pertinent. The objectives of the study or the hypothesis to be tested must be clearly stated.
  • Methods should be more elaborate than is normally found in a research paper. This section should provide sufficient details for the examiners to gauge the relevance of the approaches taken. Techniques should be clearly described so that the next student can carry on the work using the thesis as the major reference. Consequently, it is not enough to say the method of Burke and Hare was followed in obtaining samples for this study. Remember that analytical and statistical techniques are also methods and should be described adequately.
  • Results should include both positive and negative outcomes. Data should be presented in a logical sequence and clearly illustrated through the use of figures and tables inserted in the Results section. Figures and tables should be accompanied by appropriate legends that allow them to be understood without reference to the text.
  • Discussion should interpret the results and outline their meaning and significance. The study should be placed in context with the current literature. Avenues for further research should be indicated. Oftentimes - because of limitations of time or the nature of the project - few meaningful data are obtained. The examiners are more interested in the approach taken to deal with problems as they arose through the course of the study. Thus negative outcomes can and should be discussed.
  • Students can assume that they have discretion over any elements of style not specifically mentioned in these guidelines

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