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Writing your thesis. Associate professor Harald M. Hjelle LOG904 Research Design September 11, 2006. Thesis assessment criteria. Relevance Is the thesis relevant to, and well focused on the topic selected? Understanding and analysis Is the essay analytical in style and approach?

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writing your thesis

Writing your thesis

Associate professor Harald M. Hjelle

LOG904 Research Design

September 11, 2006

LOG904 H Hjelle Writing your thesis.ppt

thesis assessment criteria
Thesis assessment criteria
  • Relevance
    • Is the thesis relevant to, and well focused on the topic selected?
  • Understanding and analysis
    • Is the essay analytical in style and approach?
    • Does it show critical understanding and interpretative skills?
  • Research and references
    • Does the thesis show good use of evidence and sources, with proper references taken from a wide enough range of sources?
  • Structure
    • Are details integrated into a coherent whole?
    • Does the thesis follow a clear line of argument?
    • Do claims and general conclusions appear to be well-supported?
    • Is the language appropriate and clear?
    • Tidy appearance?

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

creating a time table
Creating a time table
  • Using the allotted time efficiently is crucial to your success
  • Avoid writing most of your thesis the week before the deadline!
  • Searching for literature and data collection is time consuming!
  • Think through and identify:
    • The different jobs (and sub-jobs) that needs to be carried out during the process
    • Any absolute deadlines or timing for specific sub-jobs (periods for where data collection is possible, submission deadlines etc.)

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

time table example
Time table example

i.e. writing your proposal!

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

picking a topic
Picking a topic

The best ways to come up with a topic are:

  • To examine the topics proposed by a professor, or by a company. There are several benefits from choosing one of these.
  • To do a considerable amount of reading in your subject area. Check out previous research done, search literature databases, read relevant policy papers etc.
  • To consult the professors/your mentor in your department. You are more than welcome to knock on our doors, or discuss matters via e-mail.
  • To discuss your ideas with fellow students
  • Make your topic broad enough to address an important issue, yet narrow enough to address that issue thoroughly in the time allotted.

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

make sure your topic
Make sure your topic…
  • Reflects an arguable point. If your paper doesn't have controversy or novelty attached to it, then your project will not be very interesting.
  • Is well focused - not too big, and not too small.
  • Is relevant to what you actually plan to do
  • Points to what's original, interesting, or unusual about your particular argument or research. The reader should want to read your work.

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

individual brainstorming 5 mins
Individual brainstorming (5 mins)
  • Identify possible subjects (2-3) for a logistics thesis
  • If you have time, elaborate by adding a few key words to each subject.
  • Write your ideas on the blackboard!

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

examples of potential titles and topic formulations 1
Examples of potential titles and topic formulations (1)
  • “International Shipping and the Environment”
    • This title merely describes a subject area and not a problem or an analytical approach.
  • “A Survey of Shipowners' Attitude to Double-hulling of Crude Tankers”
    • This title gives a clear indication on both the subject area and the research method used.

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

examples of potential titles and topic formulations 2
Examples of potential titles and topic formulations (2)
  • Efficient Supply Chain Management in Retailing.
    • This title is closer to defining a proper title
    • But what kind of efficiency?
      • Managerial, technical, production, distribution?
    • What kind of study is this?
      • Is it a literature survey or some sort of an empirical analysis?
    • The notion ‘retailing’ is also very wide.
  • The Potential for Making the Supply Chain of Norwegian Building Materials More Efficient. A Benchmarking Approach.
    • This title is far more specific.
    • The title enables the reader to decide on how interesting this is to him or her.

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

examples of potential titles and topic formulations 3
Examples of potential titles and topic formulations (3)
  • The Success of Statoil
    • This sounds more like telling the success story of Statoil without the critical scrutiny that a proper research thesis should have.
  • Critical success factors behind the growth of Statoil
    • Compared to the suggestion above, this title formulation indicates an analysis of which factors that actually have triggered the success of Statoil.

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

examples of potential titles and topic formulations 4
Examples of potential titles and topic formulations (4)
  • Outsourcing External Transport Services.
    • This title sounds more like a comprehensive text-book
    • Does not indicate any specific problem areas that will be addressed
    • Does not indicate a specific angle or purpose behind the analysis
  • Experiences from Outsourcing External Transport Services in Mechanical Industries. Evidence from the Shanghai region.
    • Once again this title clearly indicates the research question to be answered in the analysis, it also indicates where the data comes from.

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

searching for literature 1 general sources
Searching for literature (1)General sources
  • Start the searching process by defining some key search terms!
  • Searching the Internet via standard search engines (Yahoo, Google, FastSearch etc.)
    • will generally give you too much irrelevant information
    • but it may be useful if you have good search strings!
    • It may also help you find valuable information providers, but remember…
  • Posting information on the Internet is open to anyone. Be sure that the information you use stems from a serious source that could be used as a reference and back up your work.
  • Keep a critical approach – always asking:
    • Who provides this information?
    • Is this source credible?
    • Is the information provided by stakeholders with a specific mission?

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

searching for literature 2 scientific sources
Searching for literature (2)Scientific sources
  • A good starting point in literature search for students in Norway is the BIBSYS database
    • Contains all publications present in Norwegian university and college libraries
    • Has an English user interface as well
    • The librarians at Molde University College will help you getting started
  • It is generally easier to find books, research reports etc. than papers from scientific journals.
  • If you find a book/a research report that is relevant to your topic, use the references there as a starting point!
    • Find interesting Journals and Authors
  • The HiMolde library webpages contains a list of literature databases available to HiMolde students
    • Transport, ArticleFirst etc. is recommended

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

reading the literature
Reading the literature
  • Some form of "speed reading" is absolutely necessary! Read abstracts and tables of contents, and even the list of references first
    • You will have to browse at least 10 times as many sources as you will use in the end
    • Make a shortlist for more proper reading
  • Write all through the research process. As you read, make notes, keep track of references, write summaries …
  • Don't consider the reading process as entirely separate from the writing process.

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

writing your paper
Writing your paper
  • Start with the structure
    • Make headlines (using Style: Heading)
    • Divide into main headings and sub-headings
    • Write a few words about what each section should comprise
  • Write the contents of each section
    • Your established structure will help you to keep the overview
    • Altering the structure as you go is also OK
  • Write a summary and introduction
    • Possibly the most important part!
    • Should clearly present your problem, line of argument and conclusion
    • If you are not able to write such a summary, than this is a clear indication that your paper and your research work is not very well designed (and need more work)

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

the structure the heart of a good thesis
The structure – the heart of a good thesis!
  • Introduction – Core – Conclusion
  • Introduction:
    • Choice of topic – why is this interesting – background
    • Formulation of a thesis, a research question that you intend to analyse or explore
    • How are you going about it – what sources of information will I use
    • The structure of my/our paper
  • Conclusion
    • Tight and powerful – which is the logical consequence of everything that has gone before
    • Tie together the different aspects of your analysis
  • But what happens in-between?

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

the core your line of argument
The core – your line of argument
  • You need to guide your reader from one element to another in a logical order – each part should bulid upon, or at least reasonably follow from, the previous parts
  • In other words: The core should constitute a clear line of argument
  • Start by brainstorming: Put down all your associations with the subject on a big sheet of paper (mindmapping!)
    • Initially, and
    • After you have browsed a lot of literature
  • Then draw lines and circles: Which of these elements fit together, and how could they enter into a logical structure?

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

balance descriptions and analysis
Balance descriptions and analysis
  • You will, inevitably, have to describe something before you are able to make an analysis, but…
  • The descriptive part is just a necessity and will contribute to a ”pass” – it is the good elements of analysis that will provide a better mark
  • Make sure you leave enough time/space for the analytical part
  • The marker will look for a clear, coherent and consistent analysis, supported by evidence

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

keep focused and keep it simple
Keep focused – and keep it simple!
  • A theisis is after all a limited project that needs to be relatively narrow and well focused
  • Make sure you stick to your subject and don’t wander off
  • If there is something interesting that you want to include, but which is of dubious relevance to the subject – use footnotes or appendices
  • Keep sentences short and drop all redundant words and paragraphs

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

slide20
Group brainstorming (20 mins)Groups of 1-4 students – preferably groups that want to write the essay together
  • The group may choose to focus on one, two or three potential subjects for a logistics thesis
  • Write down the idea(s) on a sheet of paper (in the middle)
  • Make 6 lines from the subject and label them:
    • ‘Which research questions could be asked under this subject?’
    • ‘Why is this subject interesting?’
    • ‘Which tasks will we have to carry out?’
    • What kind of literature will be relevant for this thesis?
    • Which sources of primary and secondary data will we need?
    • Which are the most critical factors for making this thesis a success?
  • Write key-words under each of these strands as far as you can in the time allotted

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

using references
Using references
  • Most submitted papers have shortcomings when it comes to using references
  • "It looks much better if I present the statements as being my own ideas". No!
  • Citing other researchers only serves to make your statements more reliable!
  • Presenting something as one's own idea when it's not, is cheating!
  • An active use of references in your text shows that you have been able to relate your own work to the existing body of knowledge in the subject area.
  • Thorough use of references will give you a big plus sign in the margin!

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

the harvard reference style 1
The Harvard reference style (1)

More about

this on the

library web-

pages!

Source:

David Gauntlett

University of Leeds

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

the hardvard reference style 2
The Hardvard reference style (2)
  • If you have references like this in your list of references, you may cite like this:

”The popularity of baked beans soared when Elvis Presley was seen to eat six whole tins on Entertainment Tonight in 1959 (Heinz, 2000: 34)”

Page number

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

quality control 1
Quality control (1)!
  • Review & proof read.
    • Spell-check-tool is available - Use it !
    • Reviewing the contents is not easy:
    • If possible have someone with a “fresh attitude” to have a look at your work
  • Focus of the review should be on clarity and structure: Is it clear, interesting and understandable to a new reader?
  • Control questions:
    • Are your points well supported by evidence?
    • Do you make clear transitions moving from one point to another?
    • Do your conclusions follow logically from your introduction and body?

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

quality control 2
Quality control (2)!
  • Write additional headings in the end!
    • “Newspaper style”:
      • Short, triggering curiosity
      • Highlighting the main statements in the following section
      • Use them diagnostically !
        • Hard to make these headings?
        • Uninteresting / redundant section?
        • Too many aspects?
        • Do the headings form a natural and logical line of argument?

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

quality control 3 control questions
Quality control (3): Control questions
  • Have you given your reader a sense of the current views on your topic so that he has a context in which to consider your argument?
  • Does your paper's introduction/summary
    • Clearly introduce your idea?
    • Explain its significance?
    • Provide background information?
    • Attract the interest of your audience?
    • Provide a clear plan for the paper?
    • Present your paper clearly?
  • Does the body of your paper cover your major points in a logical order?
  • Is each of your major points supported by the appropriate amount of evidence and analysis?
  • Do you make clear transitions as you move from point to point?
  • Does your conclusion follow logically from your introduction and body?

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

quality control 4 lay out check
Quality control (4): Lay-out check
  • Tidy appearance (not too fancy):
    • one or two fonts only
    • Use either bold or italics to emphasize, not both
  • A formal (“scientific”) look – check other research reports!
  • Proper margins
  • Proper pagination
  • Proper numbering (headings, figures, tables …)
  • Make graphs readable (also when greyscale)
  • Proper title page(s)
  • Tidy table of contents
  • Look over page-breaks and positioning of graphical objects etc.

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

the best part about writing an essay
The best part about writing an essay…
  • It's a very rewarding experience:
    • Firstly, it presents you the challenge and the opportunity of pursuing an intriguing intellectual question.
    • Secondly, this allows you to work in close proximity with an advisor (and other fellow students)
    • Thirdly, you learn a way of working that will be most relevant in most job situations.
  • And finally, there's that great feeling of satisfaction when the job is done!
  • Good Luck !

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

the complete short tips collection from university of leeds professors gauntlett 2001
The complete short tips collection…From University of Leeds professors (Gauntlett 2001)

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

your assignment this week
Your assignment this week
  • Finish your mind-map with keywords under all strands (for all subjects)
  • Write a 1000-2000 word paper covering the 6 items on your mind-map for one selected subject per group, now using full sentences. The front page of this paper should read the working title of the subject and the names and student numbers of the participants. It must also be signed by all participants on the front page.
  • Make a PowerPoint-presentation presenting your paper.
  • Create a Word-document that represents the outline of a thesis on the same subject. You should include the main headings, and write a few sentences about the planned contents of each section. All document outlines MUST at least comprise the following headings: ’Background’, ’Methodology and Litterature review’, ’Analysis’ and ’Conclusions’
  • All this must be finished by Friday Sep 15 at 10.15 am.
    • You will submit this to Buvik or Hjelle when work-shops start
    • All groups will make a presentation of the paper and the Word thesis outline
    • All group members must participate actively in the presentation
    • All students must be present for the whole work-shop, and are expected to challenge each other by asking questions under, or after the presentations
  • The submitted paper/outline and the presentation will be graded ’approved’ or ’not approved’ by Buvik or Hjelle

Harald M. Hjelle: Writing an essay.ppt

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