Organization of chapters

Writing Tips >> Organisation of Chapters

To clearly and effectively convey many various ideas and messages, a long piece of writing is usually divided into chapters. The main purpose of organising contents into chapters is to help readers understand the ideas and messages more easily.

All ideas and messages should flow logically. Background information and relevant literature should be presented before explaining the proposed experiment; experimental results should be detailed before analysing and making inferences from the results. Most text types in academic writing contain introductory and concluding chapters.

One effective way of organising ideas into chapters is to write an outline in the pre-writing stage. The outline can be used as the starting point for modifying and refining the structure of the writing in subsequent writing stages. A text type may have a common structure and previous writing samples should be consulted (e.g. Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion).

Reviewing literature is probably the first stage of a research project. Depending on the nature of the text type and the scientific quest, major ideas and previous works from literature may be organised into one or more chapters.

Chapters about methods, which are usually built upon ideas in the literature review, may then be organised. Appropriate connections (e.g. cross-referencing) between the literature review and methods should be established so that readers can understand the development of ideas and concepts.

Upon the completion of experiments, chapters about results and discussion can be organised under different themes or topics. Chapters should be organised in a way that best reflects the nature of the experiments conducted.

Based on the written chapters, the introductory and concluding chapters are often organised and drafted in the final stage. The introductory chapter gives an overview of the research project and the writing to readers, helping readers form expectations of the text and follow the flow of ideas. The concluding chapter may provide insights and implications as well as summaries.

Cross-referencing between chapters is crucial to a well-organised and logical writing.

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