1. Excellent Thesis
Prof. Dr. Mohamed Amin Embi
Pusat Pembangunan Akademik
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
2. Students on Left Side
3. Students on Right Side
(Room No: 24996)
4. What is a (postgraduate) „Thesis‟?
5. Common Mistake #1
Failure to understand what a
(postgraduate) thesis actually
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
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
A platform for communicating your contribution
Your evidence that you should be awarded your
The basis for building your track record for future
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
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
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
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
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
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
16. Research Process
Select a General Problem
Review the Literature on the Problem
Decide the Specific Research Problem, Question, or
17. Research Process
Determine the Design & Methodology
Analyze Data & Present the Results
Interpret the Findings & State Conclusions/
Summary regarding the Problem
18. WRITING A RESEARCH
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
20. WRITING A RESEARCH
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
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
How do best can you identify the research gap?
25. COMMON MISTAKE #4
Failure to understand support
„research gap‟ using relevant/appropriate literature
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
29. Pose Significant Questions that can be
Have an impact on the current state of
Fill a gap in prior knowledge.
Seek new knowledge.
30. Pose Significant Questions that can be
Formally test a new hypothesis.
Reframe a prior research problem in light of
newly available methodological or theoretical
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
Relationship RQ – asks What is the relationship
between 2 or more variables? & imply a correlational
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
36. Link Research to a Relevant Theory or
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
38. How is CF different from TF &
39. Common Mistake #8
Theoretical underpinning not given due
TH not included in CF.
MF mistakenly use to represent CF and/or TF
40. Why do we conduct literature
41. Common Mistake # 9
Literature Review fails to highlight the „research
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
Develop research hypotheses.
43. Steps in Writing Literature Review
Analyze the problem statement to identify concepts
& variables that suggest topic areas & key terms to
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
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
Does the review establish a theoretical framework for
Does the review relate previous studies to the
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 &
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
Too many instruments used
Each research instruments not mentioned in
Failure to discuss reliability & validity (esp. in
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
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
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
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
58. What are the main
components of an abstract?
59. Common Mistake #21
Abstract did not include description of
Population, sample & sampling technique not
explain in the abstract.
Data analysis procedure(s) missing from abstract.
Main findings presented in a very general
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
Deal with the „steps‟ required to deal with the
Consider the relevance of each Chapter to the
development of your thesis argument.
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
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
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
Outline the steps you will take to address the
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
Description of your analytical methods.
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
Key results should be stated in clear sentences at
the beginning of paragraphs.
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
Is there agreement or disagreement with
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
Include the evidence or line of reasoning
supporting each interpretations.
Ties the findings together in relation to the overall
question – the Introduction & Conclusion should
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.
Cite all ideas, concepts, text, data that are not
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.
Include all important instrumentations (eg.
Questionnaire, Check List, Interview Guide) in the
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
Make sure that your use complete sentences.
Check your grammar: punctuation, sentence
structure; subject-verb agreement, tense
Give it to others to read and comment.