When you return to immersion you can check if your attributed meaning adequately captures the essentials. This continues until you are content with your description of the essential functions.
-- How to
conduct and report action research (including a
beginner's guide to the literature)
If the thesis is for a PhD, the university requires that it make an original contribution to human knowledge: your research must discover something hitherto unknown.
Your thesis will also be used as a scientific report and consulted by future workers in your laboratory who will want to know, in detail, what you did.
S/he already knows the answer (or one of the answers), not to mention the background, the literature, the assumptions and theories and the strengths and weaknesses of them.
For other theses, it might be appropriate to discuss different techniques in different chapters, rather than to have a single Materials and Methods chapter.
In some theses, it is necessary to establish some theory, to describe the experimental techniques, then to report what was done on several different problems or different stages of the problem, and then finally to present a model or a new theory based on the new work.
A political point: make sure that you do not omit relevant papers by researchers who are like to be your examiners, or by potential employers to whom you might be sending the thesis in the next year or two.
In other columns of the spread sheet, you can add key words (your own and theirs) and comments about its importance, relevance to you and its quality. How many papers?
Ideally, you will already have much of the hard work done, if you have been keeping up with the literature as you vowed to do three years ago, and if you have made notes about important papers over the years.
It should be a distillation of the thesis: a concise description of the problem(s) addressed, your method of solving it/them, your results and conclusions.
Many universities require something like: "I hereby declare that this submission is my own work and that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, it contains no material previously published or written by another person nor material which to a substantial extent has been accepted for the award of any other degree or diploma of the university or other institute of higher learning, except where due acknowledgment has been made in the text.
At this stage, think hard about the logic of the presentation: within chapters, it is often possible to present the ideas in different order, and not all arrangements will be equally easy to follow.
Here follow some comments on the elements Materials and Methods, Theory, Results and discussion which may or may not correspond to thesis chapters.
One anonymous post doctoral researcher told me: "You shouldtell everyone that it's going to be unpleasant, that it will mess up their lives, that they will have togive up their friends and their social lives for a while.