What is a literature study

Structural proposals for scientific work

General structure

It is advantageous to use the Word template for scientific papers, which already contains the general framework.
Word template for academic papers

Title page

  • Title of the work and name of the author (including address)
  • Name of the supervisor, institution
  • Submission date

Table of Contents

  • Headings with page numbers

introduction

  • Question and topic
  • Overview of the procedure to process / answer a question (thus also an overview of the work itself)

The individual main chapters

  • Main chapters divide work into the most important strands (argumentation, procedure or other)

Conclusion / Outlook / Summary ...

  • Review of the work, which summarizes the most important things again ("In Chapter X it has been shown that ...") with a concluding statement.
  • Can be supplemented with an outlook on further work that still needs to be done (“It would now be necessary to investigate ...”).

bibliography

  • All sources used for the work.

attachment

  • Depending on the focus of the work (see below): List of sources of image material, transcribed interviews, questionnaires used, texts from students, etc.

Declaration of honesty

Construction according to alignment

The general structure applies to all work, regardless of the subject or discipline. Depending on the question and the approach, the more specific design can be different. This is demonstrated as an example for quantitative and qualitative studies as well as for a literature study or (research-based) development work. The following suggestions are to be understood as suggestions: Of course, a different structure can also be appropriate in specific individual cases. It is advisable to create a (provisional) table of contents in connection with the project plan.

Note
A work does not necessarily have to be assigned to exactly one of these directions, it can also combine different methods.

Quantitative study

The main part of the thesis contains main and sub-chapters that reflect the research process:

  • Hypotheses and the related theoretical background
  • Sample (selection procedure, sample size ...)
  • Construction of the questionnaire (and / or the test)
  • Conducting the survey
  • evaluation of the data
  • Interpretation of the data
  • Answering the question with recourse to the hypotheses

The appendix can contain the documents that are central for traceability. For example:

  • Questionnaire or item and scale documentation (and / or test used)
  • Protocols of the survey

Important: Make absolutely sure that you do not list any sensitive data. That means: only print out data that are sufficiently anonymized and / or that have been approved for printing.

Qualitative study

Even in a qualitative study, the main part contains chapters that reflect the research process. A guided interview is an example:

  • Problem with a theoretical background (with reference to the question and assumptions, which are already briefly outlined in the introduction)
  • Justification of the chosen method
  • Sample (selection process)
  • Explanation of the interview guide with theoretical reference
  • Conducting the interviews
  • Evaluation procedure, evaluation and interpretation
  • Answering the question with recourse to assumptions

The appendix may contain the following documents, among others:

  • Interview guide
  • Minutes of the interviews
  • transcribed (and anonymized) interviews
  • Coding system and coding guide

If you have carried out a participant observation, the list of criteria with the observation criteria and the protocol sheet would be suitable for the appendix; in the case of videography, possibly a CD-ROM with video excerpts.

Important: Make absolutely sure that you do not list any sensitive data. That means: only print out data that are sufficiently anonymized and / or that have been approved for printing.

Literature study

A slightly different structure is suitable for a literature study:

  • Purpose and focus of the literature study (area, topic, question, etc., new or not processed; commissioned work by ... with regard to ...)
    For example, a literature study can be used to work out tendencies, to create case studies from them, to highlight special or exceptional cases, etc.
  • Description of the procedure: literature research, accessibility + type of sources
  • The main chapters are structured according to the thematic focus. The literature study on educational standards that was carried out for the EDK can serve as an example:
    • Germany: standard standards for the federal states
    • Educational standards in Austria
    • England - National Curriculum and National Assessment
    • Australia - Outcome based Education

An appendix is ​​usually not necessary, but depending on the thematic focus of the literature study, a structured bibliography can also be used (primary and secondary literature, lexicons, dictionaries ...; in the above example: sorted by country), possibly even supplemented with comments .

Research-based development work

Development work can be very different depending on the subject or discipline. We therefore only suggest how such a work could be structured:

  • Aim and theoretical embedding of the development work, definitely connected with a question
  • Procedure for development: theoretical basics, criteria, own considerations
  • Description + explanation of the development work
  • Testing (procedure, implementation)
  • Evaluation of the test, possibly associated with further development or adaptation of the development work
  • Critical reflection
  • In the appendix - if something has been developed that cannot simply be enclosed - the development work can also be documented photographically.

Tip: Inquire at the on-site library where bachelor's or master's theses are kept. Look at examples and let other work inspire you. But be careful: do not adopt a structure with the same chapter naming - that would be a so-called "structural plagiarism".

 

Further information on BA and MA theses can be found in the StudiPortal.