Excellent Thesis

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A presentation on how to produce an excellent thesis

A presentation on how to produce an excellent thesis

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  • 1. Excellent Thesis Prof. Dr. Mohamed Amin Embi Pusat Pembangunan Akademik Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
  • 2. Students on Left Side www.polleverywhere.com/profdra min
  • 3. Students on Right Side m.socrative.com (Room No: 24996)
  • 4. What is a (postgraduate) „Thesis‟?
  • 5. Common Mistake #1 Failure to understand what a (postgraduate) thesis actually meant/requires.
  • 6. What is a thesis? “A thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge through research, puts forward a clear & consistent argument, & convinces the reader of its validity through logic, analysis & evidence”
  • 7. What is a Thesis?  A proposition laid down or stated as a theme to be discussed & proved, or to be maintained against attack.  A complete & coherent story in which each chapter is an integral part.  A model for a set of relationships. This model will be described using words, figures & tables.
  • 8.  A platform for communicating your passion for a subject.  A platform for communicating your contribution to scholarship.  Your evidence that you should be awarded your degree.  The basis for building your track record for future employment.
  • 9. List at least THREE characteristics / attributes of Scientific Research
  • 10. Characteristics of Scientific Research  Objectivity – unbiased, open-minded, not subjective.  Precision – validity & reliability in measurement, research design, statistical significance.  Verification – the results can be confirmed or revised in subsequent research.
  • 11. Characteristics of Scientific Research  Empiricism – guided by evidence obtained from systematic research methods rather than by opinions.  Logical Reasoning – using prescribed rules of logic (through deduction or induction).
  • 12. Stages in Thesis Development  „THINKING ABOUT IT‟  PREPARING THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL  CONDUCTING THE RESEARCH  WRITING THE THESIS  SHARING THE RESEARCH OUTCOMES WITH OTHERS  THESIS DEFENCE
  • 13. „THINKING ABOUT IT‟  Be inclusive with your thinking – don‟t try to eliminate ideas too quickly; try to be creative.  Write down your ideas so that you can revisit, modify & change an idea later on.  Try not to be overly influenced at this time by what you feel others (sponsors/supervisor) expect from you – one chance to decide topic of you own choosing.
  • 14. „THINKING ABOUT IT‟  Be realistic in setting your goal – you are fulfilling an academic requirement, conducting the research is as importing as the outcomes of it & it is a learning experience for you.  Be realistic about the time that you‟re willing to commit to your research work – the best time to get the most from a leave of absence from work is the „WRITING‟ stage.  Try a very small preliminary research study to test out some of your ideas to gain confidence of what you‟d like to do.
  • 15. What is the main processes involved in scientific research?
  • 16. Research Process  Select a General Problem  Review the Literature on the Problem  Decide the Specific Research Problem, Question, or Hypothesis
  • 17. Research Process  Determine the Design & Methodology  Collect Data  Analyze Data & Present the Results  Interpret the Findings & State Conclusions/ Summary regarding the Problem
  • 18. WRITING A RESEARCH PROPOSAL‟  What is the FIRST thing you should establish while writing/preparing a research proposal?
  • 19. COMMON MISTAKE #2  Failure to understand the importance to FIRST the „research gap‟?
  • 20. WRITING A RESEARCH PROPOSAL‟  What is the research gap/problem?
  • 21. Research Problem  Does it have sufficient practical or theoretical value to warrant study?  Does it have a rationale?  Has the problem been studied before?  Is the study likely to provide additional knowledge.
  • 22. COMMON MISTAKE #3  Failure to understand the „research gap/problem‟?
  • 23. Statement of the Problem  Statement of the problem introduces the importance of the problem, significance of the study & the research questions or hypotheses to follow.
  • 24. WRITING A RESEARCH PROPOSAL‟  How do best can you identify the research gap?
  • 25. COMMON MISTAKE #4  Failure to understand support „research gap‟ using relevant/appropriate literature review?
  • 26. Guiding Principles of Scientific Inquiry  Pose significant questions.  Link research to theory.  Use appropriate methods.  Provide coherent reasoning.
  • 27. What do you understand by „Posing Significant Questions‟?
  • 28. Common Mistake # 5 Failure to establish Significant Research Questions
  • 29. Pose Significant Questions that can be Investigated Empirically  Have an impact on the current state of knowledge.  Fill a gap in prior knowledge.  Seek new knowledge.
  • 30. Pose Significant Questions that can be Investigated Empirically  Formally test a new hypothesis.  Reframe a prior research problem in light of newly available methodological or theoretical tools.
  • 31. How do we formulate RQs?
  • 32. Common Mistake # 6  RQs not derived form „research gap‟ identified     (eg. Demograhic variables come „out of the blue‟). RQs not inter-related. RQs too many. RQs very difficult to measure. RQs not in line with the title of thesis.
  • 33. Questions Formulation  Descriptive RQ – asks What is? and imply a survey design.  Relationship RQ – asks What is the relationship between 2 or more variables? & imply a correlational design.  Difference RQ – asks Is there is difference between 2 groups or 2 or more treatments
  • 34. Hypotheses Formulation  RH is a tentative statement of the expected     relationship between 2 or more variables. RH should state the direction of the relationship. RH should be testable. RH should offer a tentative explanation based on theory or previous research. RH should be concise & lucid.
  • 35. What is a „Conceptual Framework‟?
  • 36. Link Research to a Relevant Theory or Conceptual Framework  CF or theory guides the entire research process.  CF or theory suggests possible questions or answers to questions posed.  CF influences the research process in the selection of what & how to observe.
  • 37. Common Mistake # 7  CF not clear & ambigious.  CF too complicated & confusing.  Some important construct missing from the CF.  CF wrongly represented (eg. incorrect use of arrows)
  • 38. How is CF different from TF & MF?
  • 39. Common Mistake #8  Theoretical underpinning not given due consideration.  TH not included in CF.  MF mistakenly use to represent CF and/or TF
  • 40. Why do we conduct literature review?
  • 41. Common Mistake # 9  Literature Review fails to highlight the „research gap/problem‟.  LR did not cover all important constructs examined/identified in the study.  LR not extensive enough.  LR not current enough.
  • 42. Purpose of Literature Review  Define & limit the problem.  Place the study in proper perspective/context.  Avoid unintentional & unnecessary replication.  Select promising methods & measures.  Relate the findings to previous knowledge & suggest further research.  Develop research hypotheses.
  • 43. Steps in Writing Literature Review  Analyze the problem statement to identify concepts & variables that suggest topic areas & key terms to search.  Read secondary literature to define the problem in more precise terms and to locate primary literature.  Decide the search strategy for primary literature.
  • 44. Steps in Writing Literature Review  Transform the problem statement into search language & conduct a search.  Evaluate the pertinent primary literature for inclusion in the review.  Organize & logically group selected literature.  Write the review.
  • 45. Review of Literature (Qs U Should k)  How adequately has the literature been surveyed?  Does the review critically evaluate previous findings & studies, or is it only a summary of what is known?  Does the review support the need for studying the problem?  Does the review establish a theoretical framework for the problem?  Does the review relate previous studies to the research problem?
  • 46. Common Mistake # 10  LR is a mere reporting of past studies – no critical appraisal and/or synthesis.  Theoretical underpinnings missing from LR.
  • 47. What is „Research Methodology?
  • 48. Methodology/ Methods & Materials  Are the procedures, design & instruments employed to gather the data described with sufficient clarity to permit another researcher to replicate the study?  Is the population described fully? Did the researcher use the total population, or was there a sample used? If a sample is used, is it representative of the population from which it was selected?
  • 49. Methodology/ Methods & Materials  Is evidence presented about the validity & reliability of the scores?  Was a pretest used? Was there a pilot study?  Are there any obvious weakness in the overall design of the study?
  • 50. Use Methods That Allow Direct Investigation of the Research  Method used must fit the question posed.  The link between question & method used must be clearly explained & justified.  Scientific claims are strengthened when they are tested by multiple methods.  Different methods should be used in different parts of a series of related studies.
  • 51. Common Mistake #11  Wrong methodology.  Too many instruments used  Each research instruments not mentioned in detail.  Failure to discuss reliability & validity (esp. in qualitative approach)
  • 52. Common Mistake #12  Instrument not piloted.  Construct in instrument not validated.  Problem with scale used in the instrument (eg. Not equal in measurement)  Construct not measuring what it is supposed to measure.
  • 53. Provide a Coherent & Explicit Chain of Reasoning  A logical chain of reasoning is important.  Validity of inferences is strengthened by identifying limitations & biases.  Detailed descriptions of procedures and analyses are crucial.
  • 54. WRITING THE THESIS  Practice progressive writing – always update your literature review. CM#13 – LR not update.  Change the tense from future tense to past tense & change sections from the proposal to sections for the thesis. CM#14 – still using future tense.  Print each draft of your thesis on a different colour paper – so that you can keep track of the latest version. CM#15 – submitted the wrong version.
  • 55. WRITING THE THESIS  Thesis writing should be clear and unambiguous - avoid complex & dangling sentences. CM#16 – sentence too complex & dangling.  Review 2 or 3 well organized & presented thesis – use them as a model .  Make sure you INTRODUCE the table or graph in your text. CM#17 – table/graph not introduced.
  • 56. An Excellent Thesis
  • 57. TITLE  A very condensed summary of your work.  Must contain key constructs/variables/words. CM#18 – title missing main constructs.  Avoid using a general title. CM#19 – Title too general or too inclusive.  Consider the need to be location/sample specific.  Avoid the unnecessary (eg. An Investigation …/A Study) CM#20 – use of redundant/unnecessary words.
  • 58. What are the main components of an abstract?
  • 59. Common Mistake #21  Abstract did not include description of methodology.  Population, sample & sampling technique not explain in the abstract.  Data analysis procedure(s) missing from abstract.  Main findings presented in a very general manner.
  • 60. ABSTRACT  Why you did the work (purposes/objectives)  How you did the work (research methods – including population, sample, sampling techniques, instrumentations & data analyses).  What your main findings/results were.  What your principal conclusions were.  Why does it matter (point out at least 1 significant implication).
  • 61. CHAPTERS  Deal with the „steps‟ required to deal with the overall problem.  Consider the relevance of each Chapter to the development of your thesis argument.
  • 62. INTRODUCTION/OVERVIEW  Background information to allow reader to understand the context & significance of the questions you are trying to address.  Explain the scope of your work – what will and will not be included.  A general „road map‟ guiding the reader to what lies ahead.
  • 63. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM  Show that the research area is important, central, interesting, problematic or relevant in some way.  Indicate gaps in previous research.  Raise questions about previous research.  Show how previous knowledge needs to be extended.
  • 64. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM  Outline where your study will extend current knowledge or how it differs from current research.  Pose an overall question/frame a broad hypothesis that requires a number of steps to address.  Outline the steps you will take to address the broad question.  Indicate the structure of the thesis (optional).
  • 65. REVIEW OF LITERATURE  Must have breadth – sufficiently comprehensive.  Must cover „landmark‟ studies.  Must highlight gaps in the knowledge including discussion of the limitations of conclusions that have been made.
  • 66. REVIEW OF LITERATURE  Must highlight areas of controversy & formulate questions that need further research.  May highlight deficiencies in current methods.  Should be concise, formal and unambiguous.  It IS a critical analysis.
  • 67. METHODS/RESEARCH DESIGN  Information to allow the reader to assess the believablity of your results (discussion of validity, reliability etc).  Information needed by another researcher to replicate your study.  Description of your research design (population, sample, sampling technique, instrumentations)  Description of your analytical methods.
  • 68. RESULTS/FINDINGS  ACTUAL statements of observations, including statistics, tables & graphs.  Mention negative as well positive – do not interpret results; save that for the DISCUSSION.  Break up your results into LOGICAL segments by using subheadings.  Key results should be stated in clear sentences at the beginning of paragraphs.
  • 69. DISCUSSION  What are the major patterns in the observations?  What are the relationships, trends and generalizations among the results?  What are the likely causes underlying these patterns observed?  Is there agreement or disagreement with previous work?
  • 70. DISCUSSION  Interpret results in terms of background laid out in the introduction – what is the relationship of the present results to the original questions?  What are the things we now know or understand that we didn‟t know or understand before the present work?  Include the evidence or line of reasoning supporting each interpretations.
  • 71. CONCLUSION  Ties the findings together in relation to the overall question – the Introduction & Conclusion should „hang together‟.  Does not introduce new material.  Include the broader implications of your results.  Should suggest further studies/questions & alternative ways of looking at the research area.
  • 72. REFERENCES  Cite all ideas, concepts, text, data that are not your own.  All references cited in the text must be listed.  Do not use footnotes.  List all references cited in the text in ALPHABETICAL order using a standardized format accepted by your institution.
  • 73. APPENDICES  Include all important instrumentations (eg. Questionnaire, Check List, Interview Guide) in the appendix.  For qualitative data, provide samples of important data (e.g. interview verbatims; field notes etc.)  Tables or calculations (where more than 2 pages)
  • 74. FIGURES & TABLES  Actual figures & tables should be embedded/inserted in the text – normally on the page following the page where they are first cited in the text.  All figures & tables should be systematically numbered & CITED consecutively in the text.  Include a CAPTION for each figure & table.  „SHOW them, don‟t just TELL them – every result claimed should be documented with data (in figures or tables).
  • 75. EDITING YOUR THESIS  Proof read your thesis a few times.  Check your spelling – don‟t totally rely on spellchecks!  Make sure that your use complete sentences.  Check your grammar: punctuation, sentence structure; subject-verb agreement, tense consistency etc.  Give it to others to read and comment.