Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How to Write a Thesis

I felt it important to do a bit of a review of the Thesis/Project process/structure and get my head around it a bit more as well as get something down on paper that I could refer back to in the weeks ahead.

I have summarised some information from How to write a better thesis, 2nd Ed, David Evans, Paul Gruba, Melbourne Univ. Press 2002.

Making A Strong Start

It is essential that the thesis be structured in such a way that the reader is taken from the aim to the conclusion in the clearest possible way, and by the most direct route.

The Standard Structure

4 Parts:

1) Introduction

· Introduce the research

· Outline the problem

· State the aim

· Limit the scope

· Overview of what lies ahead

· 3-5 pages should suffice

2) Background

· Position own study in the context of what:

i. Has gone before

ii. Is currently taking place

iii. How research is conducted

· Brief historical review

· Describe study area and its characteristics

· Usually a chapter reviewing current theory or practice

· Possibly preliminary experiments

3) Own Work

· Own response

· “This is mine”

· Design of experiments, surveys or reviews to test hypothesis or answer questions developed from the background

· Results and critical analysis of results

4) Synthesis

· Develops own contribution to the state of knowledge and understanding of the topic

· Compare own results with previous state (part 2)

· Evaluation of model

· Conclusion

· Respond directly to aim

· Neglecting any of the 4 areas will cause strife.

· The issue to be careful of is the differentiation of part 1 & 2, how to explain the problem without detailing what has been done before.

· Need to find some thesis examples for structure.

· Don’t ignore the need for critical thought!!!

Possible Project Plan Structure

· Title of Thesis

· Description of Research Project

o Introduction

o Overview of relevant research

o Questions raised by this overview

· Proposed research procedure

o Research methods

o Data sources & Data collection

· Research Timetable

· Bibliography

First piece of research:

· Review of existing work

· Don’t ‘data dump’

· Try look at chronological development.

· Should help understand topic and put limits in place.

· Will help find the real unanswered questions.

· Expect to have to modify introduction later.

· It would be useful to have a folder, broken up by chapters and sections. Then, as pieces are written, build each section.

· Finally, be sure when writing to link the chapters for the reader.

No comments: