Paltridge (2002) described, with examples, four types of thesis, based upon an analysis of fifteen master's and fifteen Australian Ph.D. theses. These types were:
1 Traditional (simple): Here, typically, there were six sections: introduction, literature review, materials and methods, results, discussion and conclusions — the IMRAD structure writ large.
2 Traditional (complex): Here there were more sections, for example introduction; background to the study and literature review; background theory and methods (optional); study 1 - IMRAD; study 2 - IMRAD, study 3 etc.; general discussion and conclusions.
3 Topic-based: This type of thesis typically began with an introductory chapter followed by a series of chapters that had titles based on the subtopics of the main topic under investigation, for example introduction; topic 1; topic 2; topic 3, etc.; conclusions.
4 Compilation theses: These theses comprised a compilation of research articles (as in Kools and Geraerts), for example introduction; background; research article 1; research article 2; research article 3, etc.; discussion and conclusions.
To this list we can add a fifth type:
5 The professional or practitioner doctorate: Here, the chapters might be formed of pre-prints of articles targeted at practitioner journals, or a mixture of both theoretical and practitioner chapters. These theses are likely to be shorter and more practical than traditional theses.
Some people have discussed other, non-traditional forms of theses. Duke and Beck (1999), for instance, discuss the novel as a form of thesis, and presentations in CD-ROM format.
These different formats for different types of thesis affect the students' writing requirements. Thus, for example, the initial literature review is probably more detailed and complex in the traditional thesis than it is in the compilation one. Furthermore, the audiences are different. The chapters in compilation theses are reprints of material written for a more specific, targeted audience (the readership of the journal in which they were first published), whereas the traditional thesis is targeted at a wider audience and is, therefore, perhaps more difficult to write. Similarly, the conclusion sections of topic-based theses will be different from those of compilation or traditional theses.
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