Excellent Thesis


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A presentation on how to produce an excellent thesis

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Excellent Thesis

  1. 1. Excellent Thesis Prof. Dr. Mohamed Amin Embi Pusat Pembangunan Akademik Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
  2. 2. Students on Left Side www.polleverywhere.com/profdra min
  3. 3. Students on Right Side m.socrative.com (Room No: 24996)
  4. 4. What is a (postgraduate) „Thesis‟?
  5. 5. Common Mistake #1 Failure to understand what a (postgraduate) thesis actually meant/requires.
  6. 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. 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. 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. 9. List at least THREE characteristics / attributes of Scientific Research
  10. 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. 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).
  13. 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. 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. 15. What is the main processes involved in scientific research?
  16. 16. Research Process  Select a General Problem  Review the Literature on the Problem  Decide the Specific Research Problem, Question, or Hypothesis
  17. 17. Research Process  Determine the Design & Methodology  Collect Data  Analyze Data & Present the Results  Interpret the Findings & State Conclusions/ Summary regarding the Problem
  18. 18. WRITING A RESEARCH PROPOSAL‟  What is the FIRST thing you should establish while writing/preparing a research proposal?
  19. 19. COMMON MISTAKE #2  Failure to understand the importance to FIRST the „research gap‟?
  20. 20. WRITING A RESEARCH PROPOSAL‟  What is the research gap/problem?
  21. 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. 22. COMMON MISTAKE #3  Failure to understand the „research gap/problem‟?
  23. 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. 24. WRITING A RESEARCH PROPOSAL‟  How do best can you identify the research gap?
  25. 25. COMMON MISTAKE #4  Failure to understand support „research gap‟ using relevant/appropriate literature review?
  26. 26. Guiding Principles of Scientific Inquiry  Pose significant questions.  Link research to theory.  Use appropriate methods.  Provide coherent reasoning.
  27. 27. What do you understand by „Posing Significant Questions‟?
  28. 28. Common Mistake # 5 Failure to establish Significant Research Questions
  29. 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. 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. 31. How do we formulate RQs?
  32. 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. 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. 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. 35. What is a „Conceptual Framework‟?
  36. 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. 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. 38. How is CF different from TF & MF?
  39. 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. 40. Why do we conduct literature review?
  41. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 46. Common Mistake # 10  LR is a mere reporting of past studies – no critical appraisal and/or synthesis.  Theoretical underpinnings missing from LR.
  47. 47. What is „Research Methodology?
  48. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 56. An Excellent Thesis
  57. 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. 58. What are the main components of an abstract?
  59. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.