National College of Public Administration University of the Philippines GUIDELINES FOR WRITING THESES and DISSERTATIONS

WHAT IS A THESIS/DISSERTATION? . A thesis or dissertation is intended to showcase the research skills and concepts learned by a student in Public Administration (PA). Through it, a student is expected to show mastery of research skills in contributing to knowledge in PA. Both theses and dissertations must reflect the ability to conduct research and write the research report in a scholarly manner worthy of publication. In addition, doctoral dissertations are expected to make a unique and significant contribution to PA knowledge. For both theses and dissertations, scholarly writing expectations include a substantive and organized build-up of arguments, proper format and style (as prescribed by the college’s guidelines), and correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling (note that Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is the standard spelling reference of the APA). OVERVIEW OF THE CONTENTS OF A THESIS/DISSERTATION FRONT MATERIAL (refer to attached sample for guidelines on format) Title page Acknowledgments Abstract Table of Contents (including List of Tables and List of Figures) CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Review of Literature Theoretical/Conceptual Framework Statement of the Problem(s) Hypotheses (if applicable) Significance of the Study (for proposal, include in INTRODUCTION; for final paper, integrate in DISCUSSION) CHAPTER II METHOD Design Setting (if applicable) Participants Measures

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Procedure Data Analysis (for proposal, include in METHOD; for final paper, integrate in RESULTS) Limitations of the Study (for proposal, in METHOD; for final paper, integrate in DISCUSSION) CHAPTER III RESULTS CHAPTER IV DISCUSSION (note that the subsections in this chapter may be organized and integrated in flexible ways, depending on the nature of the topic, study design, writing style, etc.) Limitations Implications CHAPTER V (optional) SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS REFERENCES APPENDIXES GENERAL FORMAT GUIDELINES . The following general guidelines apply throughout the manuscript: SPACING  Double-space throughout the paper, including entries in tables  Double-space between entries in the Reference section; single-space within entries  Spacing between subsections or subheadings within a chapter should at least be doublespaced, but may be triple- or quadruple-spaced for added clarity FONT  Use 12-size font throughout the paper, including entries in tables  Use either Times New Roman or Courier (serif typefaces) for text and Arial or Helvetica (sans serif typefaces) for figures MARGINS  Use a 1.25-inch margin for the left side; 1-inch for all other sides of the page JUSTIFICATION Left justify throughout the paper INDENTATION Paragraph indentation should be 5-7 spaces or the normal tab default

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PAGINATION  ALL page numbers are placed at the upper right hand corner of each page  The first page of a new chapter is not numbered but is still counted  Lower-case Roman numerals are used for the front material, but beginning only with the Acknowledgments (or page iv). The title and signature pages are counted but not numbered. HEADINGS & SUBHEADINGS  Chapter titles should be boldface, uppercase, and centered on top of the page.  Format of succeeding headings and subheadings (whether italicized, upper- and lowercase, flushed left, etc.) should conform to APA rules on levels of headings (see pp. 111-115 of the APA Manual, 5th ed.) . . Content: This section should contain a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of the thesis: the research problem, methods, and results and conclusions. Format: Text should not exceed 120 words and is written in past tense. The first line is not indented; the text is left justified. The heading ABSTRACT should be bold, centered, and in uppercase. CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Content: The introductory chapter begins with the overview of the study. You should describe the general problem area you are studying in a manner that is sufficient for an educated but non-psychologist reader to understand. Here is where you discuss the motivation for studying the problem: What theoretical and/or practical situations brought about this study? Of what application is the problem or what is its significance? The goal is to describe the problem in broad strokes, justify its study, and capture the interest of the reader. Format: The overview of the study has no heading. This, as well as the rest of the introduction, is written in the present tense. Sections within this chapter follow one after the other, with no page breaks in between. Review of Literature ABSTRACT

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Content: This section discusses the theoretical foundations of the problem. The goal is to develop your problem conceptually and place it in the context of previous scientific work. Thus, a conceptual integration of previous research is needed. Point out the themes, links, gaps, and inconsistencies in the literature with the aim to provide a clearer conceptualization of the problem. Note that it is NOT the purpose of this section to display how much literature you have read. Avoid presenting a litany of past studies that are conceptually disconnected from each other. This section provides justification for your problem and hypothesis: Why study these particular variables? Why propose these particular hypotheses? Why study the problem with this method? What differentiates your approach from what has been previously done? Format: Unlike the other sections in Chapter I, this section is written in the past tense. Begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase). To enhance organization, use subheadings (refer to pages 111-115 of the APA Manual, 5th edition, on the rules on level of headings). Theoretical/Conceptual Framework Content: This is the “creative” section of your work, where you define your research’s theoretical/conceptual frame. It is different from the literature review, in that here you discuss your own original integration of the major theories and/or frameworks that you intend to apply, which serves as the basis of the conceptual definitions of your variables and the laws of interactions or presumed relationships among them. The build-up of arguments from the literature review, to the theoretical/ conceptual framework, to the research problem and hypothesis should be clear and logical. Format: This section may or may not have a visual diagram illustrating the relationships among the variables. Begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase). Statement of the Problem Content: This section presents the specific research question(s). The statement of the problem should have several characteristics: Firstly, it should be phrased in the form of a question; secondly, the question should suggest a relationship between variables to be examined (unless the study is exploratory or descriptive). Thirdly, the research question should imply the possibility of empirical testing. Format: This section is written in the present tense. Begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase). Hypothesis (if applicable) Content: This section is necessary only if you have a particular theory/framework/premise that you are testing. In the case of exploratory research, for example, a hypothesis is not necessary. Format: The hypothesis statement should contain the predicted relationship among the variables. Begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase).
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Significance of the Study (for proposal, include in INTRODUCTION; for final paper, integrate in DISCUSSION) Content: This section contains the theoretical and practical reasons why the research is being conducted. It is where you justify why the study should be conducted at all. Format: Begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase). CHAPTER II METHOD Content: Like the first chapter, the method chapter begins with an overview of the design used for the study. The research design is the plan or structure for conducting a study, whether it is experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, case-study, exploratory, etc. It summarizes the set of procedures that you will use to obtain the data to answer your research problems (e.g., how participants were assigned to groups). Format: The overview has no heading. The entire chapter is written in past tense, unless in a proposal, where it is written in the future tense. Sections in this chapter follow one after the other, with no page breaks in between. Participants Content: This section should include the number and relevant characteristics of the respondents, as well as the sampling plan or design. Format: Tables and/or figures may be used to simplify the presentation of the demographic characteristics of the participants.Begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase). Setting (if applicable) Content: This section is included only if the setting is of particular significance or importance; for example, if a specific community or organization is being studied. Describe the relevant characteristics of the setting, especially if this has bearing on the research problem, method, and results. Format: Begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase). Measures Content: In this section, discuss the conceptual and operational definition (a description of how variables will be measured or observed) of each variable. In an experiment, the
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measurement of the dependent variables is described here. If using an instrument, include the source, number of items and type of scale, scoring, reliability, and validity of the instrument. If constructing your own instrument, include the details of the steps/procedures you took to develop the scale. Format: Begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase).

Procedure

Pretest (or Pilot Phase)
Content: If applicable, this section contains everything about the pretesting process, including the sample used, a description of the materials that were pretested, and the actual conduct of the pretest procedures. Report the relevant results of your pretest and the resulting adjustments or modifications you made, especially in terms of how these affect or determine the final sample, instruments, and procedures that you employed in your study.

Actual Procedure
Content: This section contains the process used when conducting the actual study and includes the step-by-step “recipe” beginning with how the subjects were contacted all the way to how the data were collected. In an experiment, this is where you describe how the independent variables were manipulated and how the extraneous variables controlled. This section should also contain the ethical procedures applied in this study, for example, informed consent, debriefing procedures, etc. Format: Begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase). Subsections within this section have headings that are italicized and flushed left. Depending on the complexity of the design and/or procedures, additional subsections may be used (e.g., Apparatus and Materials; Manipulation of the IV; etc.) Data Analysis (for proposal, include in METHOD; for final paper, integrate in RESULTS) Content: This section describes the procedures on how the data are to be (or were) analyzed, be it quantitative or qualitative data. Format: In the proposal, begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase). In the final paper, this is integrated in the Results chapter and has no separate subsection. Limitations of the Study (for proposal, in METHOD; for final paper, integrate in DISCUSSION)

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Content: This section contains the theoretical and practical boundaries of the study. It includes the parameters of the topic, subjects and method used. In other words, it will tell the reader that it will be studying “this” but not “that”, and in “this way” but not “that way”. It also includes the limitations as to the kind of results the study will generate. Format: This section is written in the present tense. Begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase).

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CHAPTER III . RESULTS Content: Following the background and theoretical/conceptual framework provided in Chapter I, and the operationalizations and procedures from Chapter II, you are now in a position to present the results of your study in Chapter III. Here is where you present results that are relevant to the problems and hypotheses of your study, and the statistical treatments you used to analyze the data. Avoid tangential analyses, even if significant (if necessary, place in a separate subsection on supplemental analyses). Always support your conclusions or claims with the relevant quantitative (statistics) or qualitative data. As a general rule for quantitative data, descriptive (e.g., M, SD) and inferential statistics (e.g., t, F, r) are reported, including other relevant information for evaluating effects (e.g., p, df). Reserve discussion of implications and explanations of the results in the Discussion section. See page 10 for other guidelines in writing this chapter. Format: Results may be organized according to research question and hypothesis, or according to variable. Make judicious use of subsections and subheadings. Use tables and figures to clearly present results and statistical data. APA guidelines must be strictly followed. For formatting guidelines of tables and figures, refer to pages 147-201 of the APA manual, 5th edition. APA conventions in reporting statistics must also be followed (refer to pages 137-146 of the APA manual, 5th edition). This section is generally written in the past tense except when referring to a table or figure within the text (for example, “Table 1 shows that…”). CHAPTER IV DISCUSSION Content: This chapter is where results are interpreted, evaluated, and placed in context. Interpret your findings: What do they mean? Discuss why the proposed hypotheses (if any) were or were not supported. Place your findings in context by discussing how the results relate to previous findings/research. What do they contribute to the research area? Discuss the limitations of your study, and note internal and external validity issues in relation to the topic, design, participants, tools, and other problems encountered in the conduct of the research. This section may be integrated in the general discussion or placed in a separate section (depending on the nature of your study). In the latter case, begin the section with a heading (i.e., Limitations), bold, centered, and in upper- and lowercase.

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Format: The entire discussion is written in the present tense. To enhance organization, use subheadings (refer to pages 111-115 of the APA Manual, 5th edition, on the level of headings). Implications Content: What are the implications of your findings for theory, research, and application or practice? This section discusses the key ideas that the reader can draw from the study that may be applied to similar areas of concern. Comment on future directions in this area, including implications on how the work can be extended or improved for both research and practice. Format: Begin this section with a heading (bold, centered, upper- and lowercase). CHAPTER V SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS (optional) Content: This chapter summarizes your most important findings and the implications and conclusions that can be derived from them in a concise manner. Note that it is not meant to be a repetition of your Discussion chapter. It contains the “take-home” message, so to speak, such that a reader would have an essential grasp of what you did and what you found. Such a chapter is particularly important for lengthy and complex manuscripts. Format: The chapter is written in past tense. Use subsections and subheadings as necessary for clarity and organization. REFERENCES .

Content: This section lists all references cited in the text. If an abstract rather than an actual journal/book is utilized, this should be cited as such. Electronic references (e.g., Internet sources) must also be formally cited. For citation and formatting guidelines, refer to pages 215-281 of the APA Manual, 5th edition. APA guidelines must be strictly followed. Format: The heading REFERENCES should be bold, all CAPS, and centered on top of the first page of this section. References follow a hanging indent format. Single-space within entries, but double-space between entries. APPENDIX Content: The appendixes section should include the instruments, and other special materials, tools, and instructions that were used in the study. It may also contain information that may be
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too detailed for the text but which some may want to refer to (e.g., complex scoring procedures; a different type of analysis). No raw data are included here. Format: Each appendix should be placed in its own separate page, and affixed with its own heading (APPENDIX A; APPENDIX B, so on). Headings should be in boldface, uppercase, and centered on top of each page.

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REVIEW OF LITERATURE CHECKLIST .

LOCATE RELEVANT LITERATURE

 Identify key authors and journals  Use bibliographic reference sources  Use computerized literature searches  Obtain reprints and preprints  Look at literature from other disciplines  Scan tables of contents of key journals  Use reference lists from articles, chapters, and books  Use primary sources  Avoid the popular press

CRITICALLY READ THE LITERATURE

 Identify conceptual and methodological themes  Identify strengths and weaknesses of individual articles  Identify strengths and weaknesses of field as a whole  Collect photocopies or notes

PREPARE TO WRITE and logical build-up of arguments and ideas

 Make an outline of the sections and subsections of your review to ensure substantive   
Include page allocations Limit the scope of your review; weed out conceptually irrelevant studies Organize the papers and notes of the literature you will cover

WRITE THE REVIEW

 Write the introduction, sections and subsections 
Use transitions and integrative phrasing

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Synthesize and critically analyze the literature

 

SET THE STAGE FOR YOUR FRAMEWORK, PROBLEMS, AND HYPOTHESES BE CAREFUL NOT TO PLAGIARIZE!

Adapted from Cone, J.D. & Foster, S.L. (1999). Dissertations and theses from start to finish: Psychology and related fields. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. RESULTS CHECKLIST .

 

PRESENT DATA RELEVANT TO PROBLEMS AND HYPOTHESES OF THE STUDY PRESENT RESULTS IN AN ORDERLY, LOGICAL WAY

 Order and sequence the results
• According to problem/hypothesis • Or according to variable

 Support results, conclusions with the relevant statistical data
• • • • • •

Name of statistic Relevant details about the statistic Statistical values for significant effects Means Standard deviations Sample size

   

WORD RESULTS IN CLEAR AND STRAIGHTFORWARD MANNER

FOLLOW CONVENTIONS IN PSYCHOLOGY REGARDING PRESENTATION OF STATISTICS CREATE WELL-CRAFTED, CLEAR TABLES PREPARE WELL-CRAFTED, CLEAR FIGURES

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Adapted from Cone, J.D. & Foster, S.L. (1999). Dissertations and theses from start to finish: Psychology and related fields. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

DISCUSSION CHECKLIST .

SUMMARIZE YOUR FINDINGS

 Avoid technical detail  Use clear language

  

INTERPRET YOUR FINDINGS PLACE YOUR FINDINGS IN CONTEXT

 Consider how your findings converge with, clarify, or contradict past findings
CONSIDER THE IMPLICATIONS OF YOUR FINDINGS

 Theoretical implications  Research implications  Practical implications

INCLUDE A HUMILITY SUBSECTION

 Consider internal validity issues  Consider external validity issues  Consider measurement issues  Consider statistical issues
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 

INCLUDE COMMENTS ABOUT FUTURE DIRECTIONS USE THESE TIPS:

 Be a critical thinker  Avoid common problems  Select an appropriate organization
Source: Cone, J.D. & Foster, S.L. (1999). Dissertations and theses from start to finish: Psychology and related fields. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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