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					                 Thesis Writing Methodology


                       Bachelor’s Thesis

                  How do I write a good thesis?




Ricard Højberg
ISEK
Dias 2     Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




         Contents of the lecture (I)
           Formal requirements
           Timetable
           What is a thesis?
           Evaluation criteria
           Possible thesis topics
           Relevant theoretical concepts
           Theory – definition
           The role of theory in the project
           Definition of ”method”
           Where to present and explain theory and
            method in the project
           Types of theses
Dias 3   Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          Contents of the lecture (II)
               What is a good thesis ? - contents
               What is good thesis ? - form and presentation
               The thesis statement
               The structure of the thesis
               The thesis as an argument
               How to analyze correctly
               How to find sources
               How to handle sources
               How to make a summary
               Typical mistakes in Bachelor’s theses
               The writing process
               Books and links on project writing
Dias 4         Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009


             Bachelor’s thesis
             – formal requirements (I)
          Project with oral exam (30 min.)
          Individual or in groups (max. 4 students)
          Each student’s contribution must be indicated
          The oral exam is always individual
          Topic within the fields of communication and
           language. Must be approved by your project
           supervisor
          Must be written in English (incl. summary)
          Do not commit plagiarism!
               − Definition: Slavish imitation af sources without
                 indicating the source
               − Could mean suspension or expulsion
Dias 5     Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009


         Bachelor’s thesis
         – formal requirements (II)
           Max. 25 pages (of 2200 characters) per
            student + appendices and summary if
            written by one student alone
           Max. 45 pages if written by a group of two
           Max. 60 pages if written by a group of three
           Max. 70 pages if written by a group of four
           Summary (max. 2 pages per thesis)
           The length of the text (number of characters
            excluding spaces) must be indicated. Also
            the length of the summary
Dias 6     Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




         Bachelor’s thesis – timetable (I)
          Exam registration by 1 October
          Form with choice of topic must be submitted to the
           department by 5 January
          A supervisor is appointed – announced on
           Campusnet 20 January
          The supervisor announces the first general
           meeting for his/her group on Campusnet.
           Preliminary project outline must be prepared and
           submitted by the students.
          This is followed by scheduled individual meetings
           with the supervisor.
Dias 7      Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




         Bachelor’s thesis – timetable (II)
          The BA Thesis must be submitted in 2 copies at the
           Student Administration Office in B4 AND uploaded to
           the ASB Library’s electronic theses database at
           THESES@asb.dk.
          The BA Thesis (submitted in B4) must be
           accompanied by the following:
          A copy of the front page of your BA Thesis with your
           name(s) and the title (for printing your diploma)
          A receipt stating that you have uploaded your thesis
           at THESES@asb.dk
          Oral examination based on the project report in May
           or June
Dias 8    Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




         What is a thesis
          A Bachelor’s thesis is a paper that sets out
           to answer a question or confirm a
           hypothesis, based on documented
           evidence, adequate methods, critical
           analysis of sources and reasoning
          It does not contain unfounded opinions but
           well-reasoned and documented
           assesments
          It generates new knowledge by answering
           new questions
Dias 9     Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




         Evaluation criteria (I)
           Focuses on aspects that are important to the
            subject area
           Chooses theories, methodology and source
            material appropriate for the topic
           Demonstrates critical sense in selecting and
            applying the source material
           Demonstrates independence in analysis and
            argumentation
Dias 10     Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




          Evaluation criteria (II)
            Writes a well-structured thesis observing the
             formal requirements (structure, layout, etc.)
             for academic reports
            Composes the thesis in a precise, varied,
             clear and correct language
            Demonstrates the ability to present and treat
             relevant issues within the subject area in
             English without any serious errors of
             proficiency.
Dias 11       Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




          Possible thesis topics
          Study guide:
          The student is free to choose the topic but it must be
          related to issues dealt with in one of the areas of study,
          and approved by the supervisor
          In practice the topic must be chosen within the area of
          communication
          For a list of previous projects see:
          http://www.sprog.asb.dk/sek/BA_rapp_6sem/results.asp
          (BAMMC thesis 2008.doc)
          Relevant projects are BAMMC projects and those written
          in English within the area of communication
Dias 12   Thesis Writing Methodology           BA thesis spring 2009       6/02/2009




          Relevant theoretical concepts (I)
           Inductive method
                  o Makes generalizations based on individual instances
                  o e.g. investigation of a number of websites in order to make
                    generalizations
           Deductive method
                  o Moves from general rule to particular example
                  o Predicts consequences on the basis of general rules
                  o e.g. all big companies have a CSR-policy. X is a big
                    company. X has a CSR-policy
           Hypothetical deductive method
                  o Hypothesis: all companies want to show CSR
                  o Deduction: if so, it will appear in their communication
                  o Investigation of communication to verify or falsify hypothesis
Dias 13     Thesis Writing Methodology      BA thesis spring 2009      6/02/2009




          Relevant theoretical concepts (II)
           Validity
             Do we analyze the right thing?
             e.g. a company website is not equal to the company’s total
             communication
             Are we using the right methods?
             e.g. semiotics can’t tell us about the actual effect of a campaign
           Reliability
             Are we analyzing it the right way?
             e.g. the size of a sample
           Quantitative and qualitative methods
             Content analysis vs discourse analysis
             Relate to positivism and hermeneutics
           Empirical data
Dias 14   Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




          Theory – definition
           Theory is a well-substantiated
            explanation of some aspect of the natural
            world; an organized system of accepted
            knowledge that applies in a variety of
            circumstances to explain a specific set of
            phenomena

           E.g. communication theory describes and
            explains the field of communication, may
            predict (posible) effects of a
            communicative effort and defines the
            field of communication
Dias 15      Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




          The role of theory in the project
              Defines the fundamental approach to
               the project
              Analytical models, and analyses are
               based on theory
              In theoretical projects theory is the
               object of analysis
              Serves as a tool for evaluating and
               systematizing results of empirical
               analyses
Dias 16     Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




          Definition of ”method”
           A scientific method is a systematic, accepted
            way of carrying out research in order to
            generate valid results
           It may be used in a general sense to denote the
            general approach to the investigation such as
            inductive og deductive method
           Or it may mean a concrete technique or a tool
            linked to certain areas of investigation. E.g.
            semiotics, argumentation analysis, interviews,…
           The method must be chosen to suit the
            objective of the project and its relevance must
            be shown
Dias 17    Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009



          Where to present and explain
          theory and method in the project
               Main theories and methods that define the
                project must be presented in the first part of the
                project and their relevance must be explained
               Secondary theory and methods which are used
                locally for specific purposes may be presented
                and explained where it is used – typically just
                before an analysis
               Example: In an analysis of x-company’s CSR
                communication the general theory about CSR and
                the general rhetorical method of analysis are
                presented and explained in the first part. The
                concrete method of analysis, e.g. argumentation
                analysis may be explained in further detail just
                before the corresponding analysis
Dias 18    Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




          Types of theses (I)
           Theoretical paper
           Theoretical paper with an illustrative case study,
            e.g. to evaluate the relevance of a general
            theory in a special case – the focus is on
            theory
           Empirical investigation – the focus is on reality,
            but includes theory to define the theoretical
            area in which the investigation takes place and
            as a basis for establishing a model for the
            analysis and the methods applied
Dias 19     Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009




          Types of theses (II)
           Comparative or non-comparative, e.g.
            communication in different sectors, companies…
           Production of specific communication material –
            the important part would be your analysis based
            on theory
           Solving a specific task in a company or
            organisation – the important part would be your
            analysis based on theory
Dias 20      Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009



          What is a good thesis
          - contents (I)
            Always keeps the objective of the thesis
             statement in mind in its argumentation
            Uses sources and data to solve a problem
             instead of just reproducing them
            Has a thesis design and objectives that imply
             independent work beyond what is done in the
             sources, e.g. comparative projects or analysis
             of new empirical material
Dias 21    Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009



          What is a good thesis
          - contents (II)
            Shows in-depth knowledge of the subject
             matter
            Gives reasons for all important choices
             made in the thesis
              − theory, method, structure, inclusions
                 and exclusions
            Uses the right methods and sources
            Maintain a critical attitude to sources
            Has adequate documentation
Dias 22   Thesis Writing Methodology       BA thesis spring 2009   6/02/2009



          What is a good thesis?
          – form and presentation
           Keeps in mind its target group
           Has a coherent structure suitable to the
            subject matter
                   •    chronological
                   •    thematic
                   •    structure in comparative projects
           Follows genre conventions
           Has good metacommunication – guides the
            reader through the thesis
           Is coherent and fluently written
           Uses the right terminology
Dias 23    Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          Thesis statement (I)
            Contains the objective(s) of the thesis
            Should have only one overall objective, or
             closely related objectives
            Is not just a topic
            Is a statement of the research problem in
             the thesis – a question or a hypothesis that
             can be answered in a conclusion
            Controls the entire thesis!!!
            Must be relevant, clear and unambiguous
            Should not be too broad
Dias 24     Thesis Writing Methodology       BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          Thesis statement (II)
            Often a general question with subordinated
            questions (hierarchical structure)
              − A company’s communication in general
                           • each individual communication channel
                 − A genre
                           • text, picture, argumentation…
                 − The policy of a political party
                           • each individual area of its policy
                 − One particular area of policy
                           • specific acts and statements…
Dias 25   Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          An example of a thesis statement
          Taking the apparent conflict between the
          general expectation that companies behave in
          a socially responsible manner and the criticism
          that is often levelled against big oil companies
          for destroying the environment as a starting
          point, the objective of the thesis is to
          investigate to what extent this conflict is
          reflected in X-company’s CSR policy and the
          way this policy is communicated.
Dias 26   Thesis Writing Methodology      BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          Typical thesis structure
                  1. Title
                  2. Table of contents
                  3. Introduction
                  4. Theory, method
                  5. The body of the thesis
                         Discussion of theory (”state of the art”)
                         (Model for the analysis)
                         (Analysis)
                  6. (Results)
                  7. (Discussion of method and results)
                  8. Conclusion (+ perspectives)
                  9. Literature
                  10.Appendices
                       Use the decimal system – correctly!
Dias 27     Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          Typical structure of the introduction
             1. Motivation
             2. General objective
             3. Thesis statement (question or hypothesis)
             4. Delimitations
             5. Explanation of structure
                - with arguments
             7. Explanation of choice of empirical
                material, if any – with arguments
             8. Source evaluation
Dias 28             Thesis Writing Methodology                BA thesis spring 2009          13/02/2009




            An argument
          Support                 -              Qualifier             -          Claim
          (John has never                        (probably)                       (John will not
          done his homework)                                                      pass his exam)
                                  l                  l
                          Warrant                Rebuttal
                         (A student              (Unless he has
                          who never              been studying
                         does his                on his own)
                         homework
                         will not pass)
                               l
                         Backing
                         (As we have seen
                         with so many students)
Dias 29              Thesis Writing Methodology                  BA thesis spring 2009         13/02/2009




          The thesis as an argument
          Support              --            Qualifier              --              Claim
          (Investigations)                   (Degree of certainty                    (Conclusion)
                                l             expressed in conclusion)
                                l                     l
                         Warrant                  Rebuttal
                        (Scientific               (Possible
                         methods)                 flaws in the
                             l                    method)
                         Backing
                         (Legitimation
                         of the method)
Dias 30   Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          How to analyze correctly
          Refer to theory
             Theory, often expressed in an analytical model,
               is the basis for the analysis and determines the
               parameters that must be analyzed
             The observations are interpreted with reference
               to the theory – observations in themselves
               don’t have any significance
          Refer to empirical data
             If there is no reference to empirical data, it is
               not an analysis but a description of theory
             The references to empirical data must be
               concrete
Dias 31     Thesis Writing Methodology        BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009



          Example of analysis technique:
          CSR on Shell Nigeria website
          Shell Nigeria - Welcome to Shell Companies in Nigeria.mht
          http://www.shell.com/home/content/nigeria
          It is obvious that Shell Nigeria wants to appear to be socially
          responsible.
          It is indicated by the overwhelming dominance of CSR
          themes on the front page of the website:
              “local resources, support to individuals and groups, youth
               empowerment, community development and social
               investment programmes sustainable development …”
          The prominence of links to more detailed descriptions of
          CSR themes on the front page indicates the same:
              “our involvement with the communities, scholarship
               scheme, social responsibility...”
Dias 32   Thesis Writing Methodology    BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          How to find sources
           Use references and bibliographies from new and
            recognized literature (e.g. books and articles from
            your lectures and classes)
           Database articles may be newer than books due to
            shorter production time and are therefore well suited
            to this method of finding new sources
           Systematic search in libraries and databases for
            sources on your subject
           General search on the Internet for articles other than
            research articles, e.g. descriptive texts
           Note that search on the Internet may give access to
            institutions, ministries, think tanks, universities etc.
            from where you may find further links
Dias 33       Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          Sources – databases
           Articles from research article databases are of the
            same scientific standard as books as regards
            documentation and scientific stringency and may be
            more useful
           They are often newer and easier to start out with than
            books
           Articles from research databases are often studies in
            themselves, so they may give you inspiration for your
            own work as regards structure and methods
           Useful ASB databases are e.g. ELIN and
            Communication and Mass Media Complete
           Google Scholar is also useful
Dias 34   Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          How to handle sources (I)
           Sources are part of the foundation of the
            thesis
           The conclusion cannot be reliable without
            reliable sources
           Therefore sources must be evaluated – in
            relation to their specific use
           Sources must be commented on in the thesis
            as to suitability, limitations, reliability –
            important information for the reader
           General evaluation of sources in introduction
           Specific evaluation in notes, where
            necessary
Dias 35   Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          How to handle sources (II)
            Analyse key information:
             • Who (is the writer reliable?)
             • What (the status of the text: newspaper
                 article, scientific article?)
             • Where (where was the article
                 published?)
             • Why (the purpose of the text)
             • When (obsolete source?)
             • How (oral or written)
             • The quality of the arguments in the
                 source
Dias 36   Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          How to handle sources (III)
          Internet - take care!
             − Who is the sender and is it clear who is
                responsible for the site (editorial, paper,
                company, organisation, public
                authority)?
             − Is there a contact address for comments
                and questions, name, address, e-mail
                address, and telephone number?
             − Have the contents also been published?
             − Is the information documented?
Dias 37   Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          How to make a summary
           It focuses on the thesis statement and the
            conclusion in order to inform the reader about
            the objectives of the thesis and the results
            that were obtained
           But it must also include a description of the
            method and the empirical data used in order
            to show how the results have been obtained
           “What did I want to find out?" “What did I find
            out?" “How did I find out?"
Dias 38   Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009



          Typical mistakes
          in Bachelor’s theses
           The thesis statement is not kept in focus
           Too little presentation of and argumentation for
            method and structure = lack of
            metacommunication
           ”Mechanical” analysis without evaluation
           Lack of source indications
           Using web addresses as source indications
           Unsubstantiated information / lack of premises
           Uncritical attitude to sources
           Personal opinions instead of reasoned argument
           Language errors
Dias 39    Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




          The writing process
             Choice of subject
             Brainstorming
             Mindmapping
             Broad search for literature – and reading
             First draft thesis statement
             Narrow search for literature – and reading
             Final thesis statement
             Structuring the thesis
             Writing the thesis
Dias 40           Thesis Writing Methodology   BA thesis spring 2009   13/02/2009




      Books and links on project writing
          Lennart Björk and Christina Räisänen (2003):
          Academic Writing. A University Writing Course
          Lund, Studentlitteratur

          Websites:
          http://www.uea.ac.uk/psi/teaching/studyskills05.pdf
          http://www.economics.strath.ac.uk/julia/sskills/essay.html
          http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/
          http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets.shtml

				
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