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Thesis Writing (B35). Online Session September 20 th , 2013. Agenda. Introduction: Course Overview, Phase Model of Scientific Writing Getting Started: Finding the Right Topic and the Right Mentor Coming up to Speed: Defining your Goals, Research Questions and your Approach.

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thesis writing b35

Thesis Writing (B35)

Online Session

September 20th, 2013

agenda
Agenda
  • Introduction: Course Overview, Phase Model of Scientific Writing
  • Getting Started: Finding the Right Topic and the Right Mentor
  • Coming up to Speed: Defining your Goals, Research Questions and your Approach
johannes katsarov
Johannes Katsarov
  • Currently:
  • Coordinator of a European Research & Training Network and a European Doctoral Programme on Career Guidance & Counselling
  • Researcher at National Guidance Forum of Germany (Quality Standards for Career Guidance)
  • Lecturer on Scientific Writing at HTW
  • Previously:
  • Junior Researcher at Heidelberg University
  • Program Management for HR & Transformation of SAP for EMEA-Region
  • Education:
  • M.A. in Career Counseling and Organization Development at Heidelberg University
  • B.A. in International Studies of Global Management at Hochschule Bremen (similar to BIB)
seminar concept
Seminar Concept
  • The overall goal of the seminar is:
  • To provide support in dealing with general challenges of scientific writing
  • What is the offer?
  • A Moodle platform with supportive materials
  • 2 colloquia for clarifying open questions on research approaches and methodology, tackling procedural research problems etc.
    • September 13th and October 4th 2014 from 10:00-17:00
    • You only need to participate at one of the two colloquia
phases of scientific writing and research
Phases of Scientific Writing and Research

1. Defining the Research Topic + Gaining an Overview

4. Synthesizing, Integrating & Finalizing

2. Planning & Clarifying: Objectives, Approach & Strategy

3. Analyzing and Writing

phases of working with literature
Phases of Working with Literature

Galaxy of Data, Information and Literature

Reliable?

Helpful?

Useful?

Relevant?

Research Paper

Gaining an overview of the scientific discourse (topic)

Selecting central knowledge and theories for approach

Applying central theories in analysis

Connecting statements with findings and the scientific discourse

agenda1
Agenda
  • Introduction: Phase Model of Scientific Writing, Course Overview
  • Getting Started: Finding the Right Topic and the Right Mentor
  • Coming up to Speed: Defining your Goals, Research Questions and your Approach
many people don t really realize how important the decision of their thesis topic is
Many people don’t really realize how important the decision of their thesis’ topic is.

Why not?

Because they don’t think it matters.

To whom?

  • To themselves
  • To their mentors and supervisors
  • To their future employers
choosing the topic of your thesis matters
Choosing the topic of your thesis matters!

In the short term, your choice will impact:

  • Who your supervisors/mentors are and what kinds of working relationships you will have with them
  • Whether you spend the next 9 weeks reading and writing about something that reallyinterests you
  • Whether you manage to write a paper of goodquality

In the long term, your choice might impact:

  • What potential employers think you know
  • What you actuallyknow
  • Whether you can continue studying in your field of interest
the choice of your thesis topic lays the fundament for your success
The choice of your thesis’ topic lays the fundament for your success
  • Consider this choice a strategic question.
  • Seriously think about it.
  • Look at this question from different angles/ perspectives, before you make a decision.
  • Remember the logic of project management:

The later your recognize a mistake in your planning, the worse it can hit you.

By the way...

I know several people who got a bad grade on their final paper, because they changed their topic shortly in advance.

choosing your topic
Choosing your topic
  • Overall Goal: Set up the kind of structures that will support you best throughout the entire process of writing.
  • Rule 1: Make use of your resources.
  • Rule 2: Don‘t take too many risks at once.
  • Rule 3: Create a win-win-situation for yourself.
  • Rule 4: Get along with your supervisor.
  • Rule 5: Read, read, read!
rule 1 make use of your resources
Rule 1: Make use of your resources

Make use of your interests and motivation:

  • What topics do you like? What are you reading at the moment for fun? What do you want to get out of your studies? What do you want to learn more about?

Make use of your strengths:

  • What topics do you already know a lot about? Which research methods are you good at?

Make use of your connections:

  • What professors do you get along with well? Do you have access to interesting cases or data, e.g. from your internship organizations?
rule 2 don t take too many risks at once
Rule 2: Don‘t take too many risks at once
  • Yes, of course you want to learn something NEW while writing your thesis!
  • But no adventurer goes into the jungle without any preparation (...and returns alive).
  • Make sure that you don’t have too many variables in your plan:
  • It’s innovative enough to try out a NEW research method.
  • Don’t “kill yourself” by trying to combine it with a completely NEW topic, a NEW theoretical approach, and by conducting interviews in a FOREIGN language.
rule 3 create a win win situation for yourself
Rule 3: Create a win-win-situation for yourself

A lot of factors could count in the choice of your thesis’ topic. You need to decide what matters to you, set priorities and find creative synergies.

My favourite professor likes...

Something relevant to my employer...

I want to know more about...

Great Idea!

rule 4 get along with your supervisor
Rule 4: Get along with your supervisor
  • Your supervisor is a very busy person:
    • Don’t waste her/his time
  • Your supervisor doesn’t owe anything to you:
    • Treat everything she/he does for you as a present
  • Your supervisor can ruin it for you:
    • Find out what is important for your supervisor (approach, literature, preparation, language, formatting)
rule 5 read read read
Rule 5: Read, read, read!
  • Whatever you write in your thesis:
    • You need to know what you are talking about
  • There are always several ways of looking at something:
    • You will only know the different perspectives on your question, by actively searching for them
  • Science looks for generalinsights:
    • Don’t forget that you need to actively work with existing theories and concepts – you also need to read up on these things
    • Make sure that you work with scientific literature – particularly when you are defining and describing your topic

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Isaac Newton

agenda2
Agenda
  • Introduction: Phase Model of Scientific Writing, Course Overview
  • Getting Started: Finding the Right Topic and the Right Mentor
  • Coming up to Speed: Defining your Goals, Research Questions and your Approach
operationalization
Operationalization

What primarily* counts for the evaluation of your thesis will be:

  • The quality of your research approach
    • Are your central questions clear and reasonable?
    • Does the choice of your research methods make sense?
    • Is the structure of your thesis logical and transparent?
  • The scientific basis of your results
    • Are you really offering what you promise?
    • Would someone else come up with the same results, when using your method?
    • Have you considered the relevant scientific discourse enough?

* Of course, formal criteria also count a lot, e.g. the use of language, correct and consistent use of citation rules...

how do we operationalize our topic
How do we operationalize our topic?

Asking a question you can answer!

Finding an approach through which you can answer your question

S pecific

M easurable

A chievable

R ealistic

T erminated

Always: Discussing specific literature, e.g. existing research on the topic; relevant statistics etc.

Specific methods: e.g. interviews, calculations, conducting surveys, analyzing documents...

operationalizing your research project in five steps
Operationalizing Your Research Projectin Five Steps

1. Getting to your Research Questions

5. Project Schedule (Timeline)

2. Defining the Work Packages (Chapters) of your Thesis

4. Research Design (Phases)

3. Defining Work Packages Goals (specific objectives)

1 getting to your research questions
1. Getting to your Research Questions
  • Begin by defining your central research question:
    • What is it that you really want to find out through your paper?
    • Consider your own interests and those of potential stakeholders (e.g. your supervisor, the company you are working for...)
    • Try to get a rough idea for the beginning – you can always improve your question later on (and will need to!)
  • Brainstorm: What would you need to find out to answer your central research question?
    • Make a “question tree” or a “mind-map” to illustrate the different sub-questions you need to answer.
    • Try to systemize these sub-questions in a logical way.
    • Ask yourself for each sub-question whether it is really relevant for your leading question!
structured research question tree
Structured Research: Question Tree

Why are mentoring and coaching different concepts?

In what way is mentoring a new approach?

What differences and similarities are there?

How can mentoring be used effectively in firms?

What types of mentoring exist?

Which types of mentoring are really used in practice?

How can mentoring be integrated in strategic personnel development?

What are the goals of strategic PD?

1. Begin with your Leading Question

2. Define Relevant Sub-Questions

3. Define Analytical Sub-Questions

2 define the work packages of your thesis paper
2. Define the work packages of your thesis paper

A “work package” is a part of a project which forms a logical sub-division of the complete work. For a thesis or research paper, the sub-divisions you are looking for are typically called “chapters” and “sub-chapters”.

How do you recognize a work package?

The responsibility for a work package (WP) could be given to a competent person, who could complete it autonomously (with sufficient instructions, regular alignment with management and sufficient resources).

Remember:

  • As in every project, there are parts of a thesis that can be distinguished and can form chapters of their own.
  • On the other hand, there is a need for integration (“red line”). A good research paper always has an introduction and a conclusion chapter to serve this purpose.
structured research question tree1
Structured Research: Question Tree
  • Begin by identifying and formulating the leading question
  • Then ask more and more detailed questions

In what way is mentoring a new approach?

List

Explanation of different concepts

2

1

How can mentoring be used effectively in firms?

What types of mentoring exist?

Comparison:

What differences and similarities are there?

1

2

Discussion:

Which types of mentoring are really used in practice?

How can mentoring be integrated in strategic personnel development?

3

3

4. Define a logical Sequence of Sub-Questions

5. Define a logical sequence for concrete analysis

example work packages chapters
Example: Work Packages (Chapters)

Thesis on Mentoring in Firms

WP 4:

“Red Line” Central questions, introduction, conclusion etc.

Needs to be centralized

WP 1:

Types of mentoring and similar approaches

WP 2:

Mentoring in strategic personnel development

WP 3:

Interviews of mentors and mentees in three companies

Can be done somewhat separately, but may build on each other

3 define specific goals for each of your work packages chapters
3. Define specific goals for each of your “work packages” (chapters)
  • Results-oriented & Measurable: When will you know that you’re done with your chapter? What will the result look like? What will you be able to do with your result?
  • Attainable: Do you have all the time and other resources (e.g. data) you need to get these kinds of results? Do you have a clear idea how you will get to the data and information you need?
  • Reasonable: Do the results you seek actually fit in with the overall question of your research paper? Are they important enough to justify a chapter of their own, or could they be integrated in another chapter, e.g. as a sub-chapter?
4 determine the sequence of your work packages and their sub steps
4. Determine the sequence of your work packages and their sub-steps

The different work packages (WP) of a project can partially be worked on in parallel. Some of them can only begin, once other steps have been finalized. Visualize the connections along a time-line:

Read Literature

Finalize theoretical framework

Draw Final Conclusions

WP 1

Questionnaire Concept

Finalize Q.

Gather Info

Analyze

WP 2

Individual Research

Ind. Writing

Editing & Synthesis

WP 3

5 set up a project schedule using backward planning
5. Set up a project schedule using backward-planning

Set dates by when the different tasks need to be finished. Begin with the final tasks with your termination date in mind, then move backward (“backward-planning”). Test, how realistic your plans are this way, and use the information you win to optimize your schedule. Plan in time for unexpected challenges.

Read Literature

Finalize theoretical framework

Draw Final Conclusions

WP 1

Questionnaire Concept

Finalize Q.

Gather Info

Analyze

WP 2

Individual Research

Ind. Writing

Editing & Synthesis

WP 3

Now

Nov. 3

Nov. 20

Nov. 28

Dec.

15

Jan.

5

Jan.

20

Jan.

31

draw conclusions from your planning
Draw Conclusions from Your Planning

1. Getting to your Research Questions

5. Project Schedule (Timeline)

2. Defining the Work Packages (Chapters) of your Thesis

Need for Revision?!

4. Research Design (Phases)

3. Defining Work Packages Goals (specific objectives)