In writing your thesis, it is helpful to see it as a "story", as one common criticism of theses by examiners is that they aren't unified. A possible framework for the thesis story is as follows:

  • Once upon a time, researchers believed that ... or things were done in such and such a way... or there was this big problem with X ... or people wondered why ... or ... (Introduction and literature review)
  • But then I thought that maybe ... (aims or hypotheses)
  • So what I did was ... (methods) (note the explicit link between aims and methods)
  • And I discovered that ... (results or findings)
  • Which changed the way we ... (contribution to knowledge)

Of course, the above conceptual outline is a gross simplification of reality, but one way of tackling a very complex task, such as writing a computer program, is "top down design". In this approach, one starts at the broadest level and successively refines and expands the sub-components of the whole. Likewise, it can help when developing a structure for a thesis to start with chapter headings, then under these develop the headings for the main sections of each chapter, and then under these the sub-sections of each section. Writing the thesis is then "just" a matter of fleshing out the various sub-sections.