Thesis/Project Guidelines for Graduate Students Acknowledgement: This guide is an abbreviated and heavily edited version of the MS Thesis Guidelines at the New Castle University in England. 1 Overview These guidelines are intended to help you in the thesis/project process. Given that a thesis/project is an individual piece of work there is no intention unduly to restrict you in your approach. This document presents guidelines to support your work, therefore, and is not a set of absolute rules or procedures to which you must adhere. You will talk in more detail about your own project with your thesis/project supervisor. In general, thesis/projects vary in style and approach according to your program of study. The following represent some core principles that differentiate a thesis from a practical project: â€¢ Thesis: You undertake a thorough review of literature and of current knowledge and test the theoretical base for your work in some way in some practical situation. You typically present some hypothesis and test them for validity through some hands-on experiments, surveys or other instruments. The objective is to help the research community. â€¢ Practical Project: You undertake a thorough investigation of a topic (e.g., use of mobile devices in healthcare) and develop deep understanding of the practical aspects and real life applications/implications of the field. You may develop prototypes or insightful reports that are of value to practitioners. The objective is to help the practitioner community. The primary goal of the thesis/project is to allow you to enrich your knowledge and integrate your academic study with the analysis of related practical or theoretical work. The results produced should be publishable in a conference paper after minor additional work. This is not a requirement, just a desirable goal. 2 Assessment Criteria 2.1. The scope of assessment Ideally, your thesis/project should reflect: â€¢ A clear statement of the problem you have chosen to investigate â€¢ A thorough reading of the relevant literature (practical or theoretical) â€¢ Appropriate selection of a study approach â€¢ An ability to synthesise various perspectives â€¢ A good grasp of the theoretical and/or practical issues â€¢ An ability to evaluate evidence, drawing appropriate conclusions and acknowledging ambiguity; â€¢ Clarity of presentation â€¢ A fluent style 2.2 How your work is Assessed The thesis/project will be assessed by your advisor and also by a committee of three peers (other graduate students). You can suggest the peer review committee members. 2.3 Presentation and format Length: The Thesis/project should be between 10,000 to 12,000 words (it should not exceed 12,000 words), not including references and appendices. You must submit an electronic copy of your work in PDF format. There are no firm specific rules for content and presentation. However, thesis/projects will normally comprise: â€¢ A Title Page (this is essential): including the title of the thesis/project, your name and degree course, and the institution awarding the degree. The title should be succinct yet clearly specify the content of the report. This should be brief (thirty words is normally the maximum length). It should be agreed and finalised as part of the final draft. It may be different from the original working title. â€¢ An Abstract (essential): stating briefly the mode of enquiry and any conclusions reached. This should be brief, certainly no more than one page in length. â€¢ A Contents Page â€“ â€¢ A Preface: acknowledging any help, advice or support â€“ especially from people outside the School â€“ and mentioning any specific difficulties encountered in carrying out the project which may have detracted from the outcome. â€¢ An Introduction (essential): the purpose of this chapter is to introduce and contextualize the study. This means that the significance or importance of the topic is set out. If there is no apparent importance to the study to any external reader, the topic may not be appropriate. This can best be done by positioning the thesis/project in relation to other work that has been published, whether in agreement with that work or otherwise. This Introduction should also discuss the questions your thesis/project addresses. This section should also tell the reader how the topic will be unfolded and the order of forthcoming material. â€¢ Literature Review: Depends on Project or Theses. Discussed in Proposal â€¢ Method (Aproach Used): Depends on Thesis or Project. Discussed in Proposal â€¢ Results or findings: these should be clearly presented. Avoid over- burdening the reader with masses of data: produce summaries of the main findings Where statistical procedures are employed, these should be described. You should include samples of data, calculations and computer printouts in the appendices (appendices do not contribute to the word count). â€¢ Discussion: this should summarise your findings, and indicate their implications for your questions. The discussion functions as an appraisal and criticism of your work, in relation to the issues and hypotheses raised in the introduction. It should not simply repeat chunks from your introduction or findings. In some cases, discussion is included in the Results section. â€¢ Conclusion (essential): a brief statement of any conclusions you have reached as a result of your work. What do you want the reader to know as a result of having read your thesis/project? If you have developed any strong personal opinions about the subject which seem appropriate to relate, this is the place where such content is appropriate. â€¢ References: a complete list, properly set out, with all relevant details. All references cited in the text should be included here – and vice versa. â€¢ Appendices: if appropriate. As a general rule, if figures, tables, charts or quotes are less than a full page and can be conveniently included in the text, you will want to do so, since reference to appendices is awkward for the reader. All such material, in the text or at the end, should be titled and sequentially numbered. Appendices are intended to support and provide additional, substantiating information for your work, not as a â€˜dumping groundâ€™ for anything that you couldnâ€™t get into the main text because of word count restrictions. 2.4 General points Writing Style: The level of writing must be appropriate to the level of your degree. Specifically, you should pay attention to correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and clarity of style. It is your responsibility to edit the text for typing and grammatical errors. Page Layout: Pages should be numbered, starting with and including the title page. Margins: Please leave sufficient margins to allow for binding. Tables and charts: should be numbered in sequence by chapter, e.g. Table 3.1 is the first table in Chapter 3. Each figure should be accompanied by a descriptive title which completely explains the contents of the figure. Final Note: Plagiarism â€¢ The intellectual work of others that is being summarised in the thesis/project must be attributed to its source. This includes material you yourself have published or submitted for assessment here or elsewhere. â€¢ It is also plagiarism if you copy the work of another student. In that case both the plagiariser and the student who allows their work to be copied will be disciplined. â€¢ When writing thesis/projects and essays, it is not sufficient to just indicate that you have used other people’s work by citing them in your list of references at the end. It is also not sufficient to just put “(Bloggs 1992)” at the end of a paragraph where you have copied someone elseâ€™s words. It is essential that the paragraph itself be IN YOUR OWN WORDS. â€¢ The only exception to this is if you are quoting a source. In that case you must put the quotation in quotation marks and cite the source, including page reference, immediately afterwards. If the quotation is longer than a s
entence, you should indent and set off the whole passage; when the quotation is indented in this way it is not necessary to use quotation marks, but, as always, the author, date, and page number should be cited. â€¢ It is assumed that all ideas, opinions, conclusions, specific wording, quotations, conceptual structure and data, whether reproduced exactly or in paraphrase, which are not referenced to another source, is the work of the student on this thesis/project. If this is not the case, an act of plagiarism may have occurred, which is cause for disciplinary action at the programme or University level.