What Is a Thesis?
Simply defined, a thesis is an extended argument. To pass, a thesis must demonstrate logical, structured, and defensible reasoning based on credible and verifiable evidence presented in such a way that it makes an original contribution to knowledge, as judged by experts in the field. Among the many types of scholarly productions, theses are an oddity: each one is different, and there are no standard or generic constructions. Most of those who supervise theses have written just one, and, despite the effort they take to produce, the only people who carefully read a given thesis are the project supervisors, the examiners, and an otherwise rather select audience of specialized academics
Criteria for Examination
When universities send out a thesis for examination, they include their suggested guidelines for the examiners. I recommend that you get a copy of these guidelines from your own university (they are almost certainly available online) and look them over carefully. Make an effort, too, to understand the process of submission and examination. At my university, the University of Melbourne < unimelb.edu.au >, the guidelines begin by listing key attributes of a successful thesis (quoted from the university’s School of Graduate Research website, as of November 2010)
Types of Thesis
This book focuses on PhD study, but there are several other forms of research work that are understood to be theses. In the Australian context, the word ‘thesis’ is used to refer to the document that a student creates to earn a degree at the Honours, Masters, or doctoral level. (In other countries, such as the United States or Canada, the word thesis is commonly used to signify work at the Honours or Masters degree level and ‘dissertation’ is generally used to refer to doctoral work.) What is the difference between the different understandings of a thesis? At Honours level, a thesis strictly, a ‘minor thesis is a work of original research of approximately 10,000 words in length. For many students undertaking a 4 1 What Is a Thesis? minor thesis, it is the first time that they have conducted original research.
From my experience, one of the main struggles occurs in making the transition from ‘research consumption’ to ‘research production’. Minor theses are closely supervised and, very often, stem from research that is of direct interest to the supervisor. An Honours thesis is typically produced within a year alongside the demands of coursework. For the most part, they are assessed within the students’ department; note, therefore, that the readership is well-known and thus the writing can be tailored to fit the audience
Look at Other Theses
It’s now time to look at some other theses. Most supervisors have a few on their shelves that they may be willing to lend you. Reading these works will be a good start, but don’t stop there. Probably they follow a pattern set by your supervisor’s own ideas of a good thesis, and almost certainly they will be typical of what your own department thinks is acceptable.
So go out and look at theses from across a range of disciplines, and even theses from other countries. As presentation and style change relatively rapidly, look at theses that are no more than 3 years old. If applicable, examine a mix of kinds of studies, both qualitative and quantitative (see Chap. 8). Try and find work that is outside your field, but makes use of a similar methodology. After you have skimmed several, select some that are coherent, and some that are not so clear, and go through a few of them with your supervisor. If anyone need help editing, proofreading, or writing term papers, theses, dissertations, and other research papers, then feel free to visit and hire a thesis statement writer.
Students are sometimes advised to track down examiners’ reports on submitted theses. For the most part, the examination process is confidential, but make an effort to ask a completed student for a report or see if a supervisor is willing to share an examination that is anonymous. As you read examiners’ reports or the associated studies on them, get in the frame of mind of these expert assessors. What do they look for, and what do they ignore? Do they directly answer the suggested questions put forward by the university? These reports will be highly variable in detail and approach; What can you learn from these differences? Additionally, seek out academic studies that concern thesis examination (search for the keywords: thesis quality, doctoral assessment, research training, PhD examination) with a view to developing a better understanding of the assessment process. Feedback from examiners is summarized in the Appendix, which is a digest of observations from examiners’ reports