Your Masters Thesis

An Introduction

Check out the Eleum course for the M.Sc. Thesis:

MASTER THESIS (MGSOG-2010-001-MTH4911)

Agenda
•  What do we want from you? •  What are the important dates? •  How to develop your proposal? •  How to find a supervisor? •  What about the thesis defense? •  What will you be graded on? •  Some small words of warning and advice…

What do we want from you?
…or: what is the thesis? •  The thesis is a piece of independent research of high quality that proves your ability to conduct scientific research. •  It covers all parts of the research process:
–  Literature study –  Formulation of a research question –  An original contribution to the field –  An interpretation of the findings

What do we want from you? •  A paper of 15’000–20’000 words
Not counting title page, table of contents, abstract, illustrations, tables, graphs, bibliography and appendices

•  Original research
You are free to choose your own method. Frequent options are theoretical, empirical or case studies; literature reviews.

•  Fulfilling the formalities
Title page, abstract, table of contents, bibliography, formatting: legible serif font, 12 pt., 1.5 line spacing, 2+ cm margin on all sides, correct and complete referencing (APA/ CMOS)

What are the important dates?

•  We distinguish between
– Hard deadlines: you need to keep these if you want to graduate on time. – Milestones: suggested dates that help you progress sufficiently, but which you are free to adjust to your own needs

Hard deadlines
•  Jan. 28, 2011
Submit your (draft) proposal

•  Jan. 31–Feb. 4, 2011
Present your proposal

•  By Aug. 15, 2011
Hand in your graduation request and thesis

•  By Aug. 31, 2011
Defend your thesis

Milestones
When? Dec–Jan Feb Mar–May Early May May–June Early July July–Aug Late July (or earlier) What? Draft proposal, potential early contact with supervisors Revise, finalize thesis proposal; find supervisor Literature study, methodology, early data collection First progress report to supervisor Finish data collection, analysis Second progress report to supervisor Conclusion, appendices, proof-reading Agree w/ supervisor on date of defense, second reader, register for thesis defense

How to develop your thesis proposal?

•  Four steps:
– Focus on an area that interests you – Develop a focused research question – Formulate sub-questions – Figure out the research method

•  Writing:
– Explain your logic to your readers so they can give you feedback

Requirements for your draft proposal
•  Length: 800–2’000 words, excluding title page and references •  Submission: On or before Jan. 28 •  Formatting: legible serif font, 12 pt., 1.5 line spacing, 2+ cm margin on all sides, correct and complete referencing (APA/ CMOS) •  Perfection is not a requirement!

Presenting the proposal
•  Your first version of the proposal is fodder for discussion •  Presenting it will give you feedback from your fellow students (and me…) •  You will have time to work on it afterwards •  Attend other presentations, give feedback and find like-minded students

How to find a supervisor?
•  You need to find your own supervisor:
–  Internal and external MPP teaching staff –  Academic staff and research fellows MGSoG and UNU-MERIT –  Other UM faculties & institutes; universities –  Special cases: non-academic supervisors

•  Note: We will start posting supervisors offering topics on Eleum

How to find a supervisor?
•  Don’t be afraid to ask! External supervisors get paid  •  MGSoG staff is often happy to supervise people (if their work load and expertise permits) •  Keep in mind that they are only meant to advise, not run the entire show… •  Need help? Contact us!

A lot of hard work follows…

What about the thesis defense?
•  During the defense, you will have to present your findings and answer questions from your supervisor, second reader and the audience •  You are in charge of finding a date that works for your supervisor and second reader •  Inform student affairs, hand in your thesis at least one week in advance

What will you be graded on?

•  The subject matter, and particularly your understanding and use of literature •  Your reasoning, including its originality, choice of research question and sub-questions, quality of results and discussion •  Method and form

Reminder: hard deadlines!
•  Jan. 28, 2011
Submit your (draft) proposal

•  Jan. 31–Feb. 4, 2011
Present your proposal

•  By Aug. 15, 2011
Hand in your graduation request and thesis

•  By Aug. 31, 2011
Defend your thesis

Some small words of advice

… or take notes in another way

•  Cornell method? •  Evernote? SimpleNote? OneNote? •  Wiki? Confluence? •  Post-Its? Stenopad? Moleskin?

One way to do it…
1.  2.  3.  4.  5.  6.  7.  8.  Brainstorming Sorting and grouping Writing plan Structure Raw text Revision: Content Revision: Language & Style Proof reading

In particular…

•  Use style sheets so you don t have to worry about formatting (too much)
– Or use LaTeX (LyX?)

•  Use a bibliography manager
– EndNote X2 is free for UM students – Sente is great on Macs – BibTeX for LaTeX

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