IMPORTANT NOTE: Find here some recommendations about the generic structure of a scientific research paper. The PhD candidate should always follow their tutor’s instructions about the structure and contents of their own work. A thesis must be an original research project (Art. 13 Royal Decree 99/2011) and must contain personal contributions and ideas from the PhD candidate, in addition to data analysis and a presentation of results.
The body of the work is the main part of the thesis, and the longest part. It must be divided into chapters or sections, which should preferably be numbered. We use an Arabic numeral for the first page of the Introduction, which indicates that we are in the main part of the work. We recommend following the IMRAD format (Introduction, Materials/Methods, Results and Discussion/Conclusions), the de facto standard for scientific publications adopted, among others, by the APA and the Vancouver Style, and adopted as the standard by the American National Standards Institute as ANSI Z39.16-1979. According to the IMRAD format, the main body of the thesis will consist of:
1. INTRODUCTION. To answer the question “What is being studied, and why?” the introduction must briefly mention the following aspects of the work:
- Motivation or justification (why we chose this subject for the work; why this research is important)
- Specific goal of the study (precedents, current status, premise or hypothesis of the work)
2. MATERIALS/METHODS. To answer the question “How is this studied?” in this section, you must present the essential aspects to understand the results of the research. Also, you must explain the methodological framework and systems of analysis used to obtain data.
3. RESULTS. To answer the question “What are your findings?” in this section, you must describe (not interpret or discuss) the results obtained from the research carried out, as outlined in the previous section. This is done with text and, where appropriate, tables and figures. We stress that the Code of Good Practice of the UC3M Doctoral School states in art. 3 that scientific integrity includes applying standards in the publication of results and considers unacceptable the practices of duplicate publication, the elimination of pertinent data and the inclusion of false data.
4. DISCUSSION/CONCLUSIONS. To answer the question “What does this mean?” the final section of the main body of an academic work must contain the conclusions that respond to the questions posed in the introduction of the work--in particular, the objective, which with the conclusions must be consistent--on the basis of the analysis and interpretation of the data presented in the previous section. This last section must include a section for discussion, which will be a final observation based on the arguments set forth in the work. It will have a personal contribution from the author which will be free of subjectivity--ideological or moral, for example--and will evaluate the results obtained, recognize the limitations and difficulties encountered, and outline a proposal for hypothetical future research.