Last Updated on July 15, 2020 by Ayla Myrick
Thesis and Dissertation Style Guides
Students pursuing doctoral degrees are frequently required to submit a dissertation–scholarly written work that contributes to the knowledge base in the field by adding new information, reinforcing existing information, or refuting historical information. Masters degree candidates are expected to submit theses or capstones as introductions to scholarly research.
Undergraduates may be expected to follow and apply these standards as a means of establishing familiarity with publications in their chosen field. Ultimately, the objective of practicing the application of the style favored by a discipline is to prepare the author for expanding the knowledge base by publishing manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals.
There are many different style formats. Arguably the most widely followed styles are Chicago Manual of Style (familiarly referred to as CMS-the one you probably learned in secondary school), developed and promoted by the University of Chicago; Publication Manual of the American Psychological Society (familiarly referred to as the APA Style Manual), popularized by the American Psychological Society; A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (familiarly referred to as Turabian), based on a version of CMS developed by Kate Turabian; and the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, published by the Modern Language Association. Associations within the fields of the physical and electrical sciences, medicine, social sciences, and others may publish and promote their own standards.
Each discipline tends to have a favorite style. Naturally, each university, school, and program may choose to require students to follow and apply other styles, but these standard styles are a good place to start. You and your editor should follow the standard required by the university/school you are attending and the program in which you are studying, but the following table offers some suggestions to get you started.
|Anthropology||CMS (University of Chicago)|
|Biology||CBE Style Manual (Council of Biology Editors)|
|Chemistry||ACS Style Guide (American Chemical Society)|
|English||MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (Modern Language Association) or CMS (University of Chicago)|
|Engineering||Information for IEEE Transactions and Journal Authors (IEEE Computer Society), a style based on CMS (University of Chicago)|
|Geology||Geowriting: A Guide to Writing, Editing, and Printing in Earth Science (American Geological Institute)|
|Government||Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources (Congressional Information Service)|
|History||CMS or A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (familiarly known as Turabian, both published by University of Chicago)|
|Information/computer sciences||Information for IEEE Transactions and Journal Authors (IEEE Computer Society), a style based on CMS (University of Chicago)|
|Journalism||Associated Press Stylebook (Basic Books)|
|Law and legal studies||Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Harvard Law Review Association)|
|Linguistics||APA Style Manual (American Psychological Association)|
|Math||A Manual for Authors of Mathematical Papers (American Mathematical Society)|
|Management||AMA Style Guide for Business Writing (American Management Association)|
|Medicine||AMA Style Manual (American Medical Association)|
|Physics||Style Manual for Guidelines in the Preparation of Papers (American Institute of Physics).|
|Psychology and social sciences||APA Style Manual (American Psychological Association)|
|Political science||Style Manual for Political Science (American Political Science Association)|
|Sociology||ASA Style Guide (American Sociological Association)|
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