To clear a common misconception from the world right away: Table of contents and structure are one and the same. The table of contents is a very good tool for structuring the bachelor thesis or any other scientific text. In addition, it helps to organize your own work in time. This text and short video explain how to create your outline and what belongs in it.
If you’re one of the students who does not create the table of contents until the bachelor thesis is done, then give it a big chance. At the moment, there is no consistent statement how many pages a bachelor thesis has to cover. Each university has its own guidelines, with an approximate value of between 40 and 80 pages. It is today rather negatively judged by professors, if these page numbers are clearly exceeded. The specification of the page number of the entire bachelor thesis as well as the individual outline points with the help of the table of contents is a good exercise. Think about the Sunday night crime scene. It takes exactly 90 minutes. Sometimes it is exciting and sometimes boring, but never shorter or longer than 90 minutes. A scholarly dissertation does not get better with more pages, but also with a good question, compressed information and a logical structure.
First question: How many pages should my bachelor thesis have?
It’s a lot easier than it sounds. Science knows only two logical structures: the inductive – from the particular to the general – and the deductive – from the general to the particular. In the inductive structure individual cases are collected. Here, qualitative methods such as data collection by interview or experiment predominate. From the results an attempt is made to derive a general statement.
In the deductive method, the existing scientific statement is checked on a case-by-case basis. The methods are predominantly quantitative and are part of the data analysis. The inductive method is more likely to be assigned to the humanities, the deductive will dominate in Bachelor’s theses of the natural sciences.
Second question: Which structure do I give to the structure of my bachelor thesis?
Before you can look at the table of contents, you must have worked out your question. The question must outline the topic of your bachelor thesis, include your own little question and determine the methods that should be used in the bachelor thesis. The table of contents reflects your scientific question. Your thoughts will probably turn over more often or move in a circle. But language forces us to write from left to right and from top to bottom. So work your problem from top to bottom. Depending on which structure you have chosen, start with the general and then work your way to the particular or vice versa. Create the table of contents of your bachelor thesis according to this pattern. Attention: It is not allowed to jump from the general to the specific to the general. This of course applies to all scientific work, not just for the bachelor thesis.
Third question: Is the question visible in the table of contents?
Not every chapter of a bachelor thesis is equally important and consequently not the same length. The introduction to the subject is certainly shorter than the presentation of the subject of the bachelor thesis. The final analysis takes a special position here. The examiners usually read these very precisely, so the author should invest time here. In the final analysis, the motto “short and crisp” can be applied.
The structure of a bachelor thesis consists of three large blocks. Introduction, main part, conclusion, which are further subdivided. Nevertheless, the main part should also be the most comprehensive part of the bachelor thesis. If you have already completed an important selection process with the question, you can further refine the selection when creating the table of contents with the weighting of the chapters. The magic word is “Limitation of the topic”. You already know a lot more than you could ever write in a bachelor thesis. Right from the start, you have to learn to limit oneself and only write down the important statements, and at the same time, only what fits your question. Formulating the table of contents is exactly the right step to free your bachelor thesis from obstructive ballast.