Lindsay’s Laws of Thesis Writing

> Think > Plan  > Write > Revise >

This is the cycle of scientific writing. Messy thinking leads to messy writing: cluttered, obscure and uninviting. Think and plan before you write and revise. in his book “A Guide to Scientific Writing” [1] Lindsay’s states the folowing laws for Thesis Writing:

  1. Research is finished only after it is written up. What you write must communicate and persuade.
  1. The hallmarks of scientific writing are precision, clarity and brevity, in that order.
  1. Try to write as if you were speaking to someone: “see a face”. This way you get to say it directly and clearly.
  1. Write (your chapters) in four drafts:
  • first: putting the facts together
  • second: checking for coherence and fluency of ideas
  • third: readability
  • fourth: editing

Full details are given in Lindsay’s book [1, chapters 1 to 4].

  1. The Introduction should embody the (unified) hypothesis. The reader finds in a clearly expressed hypothesis the skeleton of the thesis on which hangs all of the skin and meat that will be presented later.
  1. The scope and emphasis of the Literature Review must be directly relevant to the subject of the thesis.
  1. Include a common chapter that presents in one place all the experimental details common to all your experimental chapters. This avoids boring repetition and clears the way for a more fluent presentation of experimental results in different chapters without the intervening distraction of tedious methodology.
  1. Experiments and results must be set out in careful detail in individual chapters. Where several related experiments are grouped into a single chapter, it is preferable to present this sequence individually for each experiment but to conclude with one Discussion. This will meld the experiments together and unify the chapter.
  1. The General Discussion or Conclusions integrate the whole thesis and present its main points at one place. This should be done in the context of the unifying hypothesis of the thesis. The Introduction and this chapter along with the Summary or Abstract are the most important parts of the thesis.


  1.  D. Lindsay, A Guide to Scientific Writing. Melbourne, (pp.15). Australia: Addison Wesley Longman Australia, 2nd ed., 1997.
  2.  D. Lindsay, “Writing and Publishing in Scientific Journals.” Staff Development Programme entitled “Writing and Publishing in Scientific Journals” organised on 3 June 1999 by the Centre for Staff Development, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA, Australia, 1999.
  3. Chandrasekhar, R. (2002). How to write a thesis: A working guide, (pp. 11). The University of Western Australia.

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