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Tips on Thesis Research and Writing

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Tips on Thesis Research and Writing

Tips on Thesis Research and Writing
Dr. Don Jeng
IIMBA, NCKU

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    Tips on Thesis Research and Writing Tips on Thesis Research and Writing Document Transcript

    • 2008/11/30 Tips on Thesis Research and Writing Dr. Don Jeng IIMBA, NCKU What Is a Thesis? An argument An exposition of an original piece of research The product of an apprenticeship Probably the largest (most self-indulgent) piece of work you’ll ever do Something that could be published A thesis must form a distinctive contribution to the knowledge of the subject and afford evidence of originality shown by the discovery of new facts and/or by the exercise of independent critical power 2 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 1
    • 2008/11/30 How Do I Get Started? Do it today (never tomorrow!) Decide your title Write W it your titl page title Literature review Start a binder Look at some theses in your area Plan your argument… You can change things later But you can’t change it unless you have something to change! 3 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU Steps in Constructing a Thesis First, analyze your primary sources Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication The statement author made Is a point made and later reversed? How does author prove the statement? The research method, date collection, date analysis? Once you have a working thesis, write it down There is nothing as frustrating as hitting on a great idea for a thesis, then forgetting it when you lose concentration. g g y By writing down your thesis, you will be forced to think of it clearly, logically, and concisely. You probably will not be able to write out a final-draft version of your thesis the first time you try, but you'll get yourself on the right track by writing down what you have. 4 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 2
    • 2008/11/30 Steps in Constructing a Thesis (Continue) Keep your thesis prominent in your introduction A good, standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of an introductory p g p y paragraph Readers are used to finding theses there, so they automatically pay more attention when they read the last sentence of your introduction Anticipate the counter-arguments Once you have a working thesis, you should think about what might be said against it. This will help you to refine your thesis, and it will also make you think of the arguments that you'll you ll need to refute later on in your essay. Note every argument has a counter-argument. If yours doesn't, then it's not an argument—it may be a fact, or an opinion, but it is not an argument. 5 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU Plan Your Argument One sentence for each Example Introduction (area of study) The problem (that I tackle) What the literature says about this problem How I tackle this problem p How I implement my solution The result 6 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 3
    • 2008/11/30 Plan Your Argument: Example One sentence for each Example Introduction “The success of a software development project depends on (area of study) ( f t d ) capturing stakeholders’ needs in a specification ...” stakeholders The problem “However, specifications often reflect the analyst’s own bias, (that I tackle) rather than the inputs of the many different stakeholders…” What the literature says “Current methods described in the literature fail to address about this problem identification and integration of multiple views.” “By treating the specification activity as a dialogue between How I tackle this problem stakeholders, we can model each perspective separately.” “We provide a set of tools for exploring disagreement between How I implement my solution perspectives, and use these tools as the basis for a computer supported negotiation process.” “This approach is shown to significantly improve traceability and The result validity of specifications and overall stakeholder satisfaction.” 7 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU Plan Your Argument: Another Example One sentence for each Example Introduction “A Master degree is examined by submission of a thesis...” (area of study) ( f t d ) The problem “Many students fail to complete their theses within the (that I tackle) regulation two years…” What the literature says “Empirical studies indicate that late submission is highly about this problem correlated with delaying the start of the write-up…” “A model of Master study that encourages an early start to How I tackle this problem the thesis writing task is clearly desirable…” “Such a model encourages the student to plan a structure How I implement my solution for the thesis and collect material for each chapter throughout their study…” “Application of this model dramatically improves The result submission rates.” 8 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 4
    • 2008/11/30 Some Caveats A thesis is never a question Readers of academic essays expect to have questions discussed, explored, explored or even answered answered. Without an argument, a thesis is dead in the water. A thesis is never a list Not a list of description The thesis should be tensioned and advanced an argument A thesis should never be vague g A thesis should be as clear and specific as possible 9 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU Plan Your Thesis Convert these arguments into a chapter outline One chapter per sentence Start a bi d with a di i i f each chapter S binder i h division for h h Collect material in this binder Set out clearly what each chapter should say Don’t be afraid to change your mind As you write the thesis, your ideas will evolve Don t Don’t wait for them to stop evolving: It’s much easier to change an outline that you’ve written down than one you haven’t. 10 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 5
    • 2008/11/30 Don’t Omit Any of These Title (and title page) - conveys a message Abstract - for the librarian Contents Listing - shows the right things are there Acknowledgements - get your supervisor on your side! Introduction - says “I am going to look at the following things”. Significance – show why your research is important? Review of Previous Work - show you know the subject Philosophy of Approach - show you can pick out important ideas succinctly Plan of Attack - show you approached the problem in a systematic way 11 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU Don’t Omit Any of These (Continue) Description of the work - details, so that others can follow what you did Critical analysis of the results - show you know its limitations Contribution – what does your research contribute to the area of study? Future Work - show you know what’s missing Conclusions - repetition of the intro, but with reference to the detail. detail References - Cover the field; examiners will look for the key references Appendices – Nitty-Gritty details that would clutter your eloquent description 12 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 6
    • 2008/11/30 Bibliography Keep a database of complete references Use a consistent citation style Use t l E E d t U a tool. Ex. Endnote Attention to detail is important Get the spellings right Keep complete references page numbers, volume numbers, editors names, locations and dates for conference proceedings, etc. Find F d out what the rules are for citation style h h l f l 13 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU Reviewing Get other people to read your drafts Peers will give friendly comments (and may have the most time!) Supervisor will steer you Other academics (committee members) will spot things your supervisor has missed. Above all: Get the bugs out before the examiners see it at your final defense. f 14 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 7
    • 2008/11/30 Summary Start writing today (never tomorrow) Make up a title page for inspiration Write down your argument succinctly Turn the argument into a chapter plan Maintain a binder of stuff to put into these chapters Don’t be afraid to change the plan 15 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU The Examiner’s View Uh oh, not another thesis to read... Your examiners are busy people Examining theses is a chore, but: “It might help me keep up to date with an area of research” “It might inspire me” “I might learn something” “I might gain a new colleague” 16 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 8
    • 2008/11/30 Examiner’s First Question What’s this one about? Examiners have little time available, so they want to extract the most juice in the shortest time Typical scanning order of a new thesis: Abstract: What’s it about? Bibliography: Does it cite the right things? Conclusions: What was achieved? Do I believe it? Contents listing: Are all the pieces there? Is the argument clear? These may be enough to decide whether it’s worth a Master. Then: 1. What questions now spring to mind? 2. ...read through... 3. Were the questions answered? 17 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU Corrections “Now there must be some corrections…” Some examiners don’t feel they’ve done the job unless they find some corrections to do. Typical corrections Typographical / grammatical errors Poor presentation Missing statements / references Superfluous / redundant statements) Missing pieces of work Major parts missing … for example: research questions critical review of literature research methodology presentation of results validation of results discussion and conclusion 18 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 9
    • 2008/11/30 What the examiners are looking for (1) Review of literature To what extent is the review relevant to the research study? Has th H the candidate slipped i t “H did t li d into “Here i all I know about x”? is ll k b t ”? Is there evidence of critical appraisal of other work, or is the review just descriptive? How well has the candidate mastered the technical or theoretical literature? Does the candidate make the links between the review and his or h methodology explicit? her th d l li it? Is there a summary of the essential features of other work as it relates to this study? 19 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU What the examiners are looking for (2) Methodology What precautions were taken against likely sources of bias? What Wh t are th limit ti the limitations i th m th d l ? I th candidate in the methodology? Is the did t aware of them? Is the methodology for data collection appropriate? Are the techniques used for analysis appropriate? In the circumstances, has the best methodology been chosen? Has the candidate given an adequate justification to the methodology? 20 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 10
    • 2008/11/30 What the examiners are looking for (3) Presentation of results Have the hypotheses in fact been tested? Do th D the solutions obtained relate to the questions posed? l ti bt i d l t t th ti d? Is the level and form of analysis appropriate for the data? Could the presentation of the results been made clearer? Are patterns and trends in the results accurately identified and summarized? Does the software appear to work satisfactorily? 21 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU What the examiners are looking for (4) Discussion and Conclusions Is the candidate aware of possible limits to confidence/reliability/validity of the work? Have the main points to emerge from the results been picked up for discussion? Are there links made to the literature? Is there evidence of attempts at theory building or reconceptualisation of problems? Are there speculations? A th well grounded i th results? A th l ti ? Are they ll d d in the lt ? 22 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 11
    • 2008/11/30 Thesis defense “Let’s see, what can I ask the candidate?” The examiners may have decided before the exam whether to pass you by reading your thesis thesis. The exam is to check it’s your work... Talk fluently about the work Show you’ve thought about it (which you have!). This is easy Your own research, nobody knows more then you! ...and a chance to clarify things that aren’t clear in the d h l if hi h ’ l i h thesis. These are areas where corrections are likely. 23 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU Summary Know your audience Help them understand: Keep it short; K h Use signposts; Get the contents right. Make sure you’ve covered the bases 24 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 12
    • 2008/11/30 Find the References Literature review Find the articles that published in high level journals Proceeding papers has less influences P di h l i fl How? Google Scholar (# of citations) NCKU library (books, journals, and online resources) Refer some GOOD theses in your area MIT: http://dspace.mit.edu/ Others? 25 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU Thesis Proposal Dates December 15, 2008 January 12, 2009 February 23, 2009 March 16, 2009 (Not recommended) 26 Dr. Jeng, IIMBA, NCKU 13