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How should the HDR Thesis Hang Together?

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Presentation on theme: "How should the HDR Thesis Hang Together?"— Presentation transcript:

1 How should the HDR Thesis Hang Together?
Forum for Research Students School of Education and Professional Studies Professor Richard G. Bagnall Dean (Research) Arts, Education and Law

2 Thesis Structure Varies somewhat with the methodology and the informing discipline. Advice from your research supervisors in that regard. The key to success is to meet your thesis examiners’ expectations. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

3 Thesis Examiners Will be senior scholars in the discipline(s) of your study. Not your research supervisor or anyone else who has had significant input to your research. Will standardly have definite views on the structure of an acceptable Thesis. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

4 Structural Expectations of the Thesis
May be understood with reference to a social sciences ideal-typical structure. With methodological variations on that ideal typical structure. ‘Ideal’ in an empirical, not a normative or an axiological sense. Chapter headings may vary, but should be as self-explanatory as possible. With rare exceptions, any type of thesis will be expected to be structured to form a coherent, interrelated whole. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

5 The Ideal Standard Thesis
Describes an empirical study. Seeks to contribute to a body of disciplinary knowledge (theory). If driven by a professional or practice-based interest or issue, will: Interpret and study that interest or issue through a selected disciplinary perspective. Will be judged on the extent of its contribution to the perspectival theory. The professional or practice-based interest or issue is thus a vehicle for the generation of disciplinary knowledge. Seeks to be as objective as is epistemologically practicable. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

6 Key Components of an Ideal Standard Thesis
Preliminary Pages. Introduction. Literature Review. The Conceptual/Theoretical Framework (if warranting a separate chapter; otherwise in 3 or 7). The Research Context (if needed). The Participants (if needed). Methodology. Results (one or more chapters). Discussion of Results (if not within 8). Conclusion and Recommendations. References. Appendices. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

7 Preliminary Pages With some variations on the order: Title Page
Abstract Table of Contents Declaration List of Tables (if pertinent) List of Figures (if pertinent) Acknowledgements Preface (if pertinent) Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

8 Introduction Background to the study
Professional or practice issue or problem (if pertinent). The disciplinary perspective taken to that issue or problem (if pertinent). OR The disciplinary problem or issue being addressed. The focus of the study or the research question(s). The particular focus or of the study. Flowing from the background. An overview of how that focus was addressed in the study. An outline of structure of the thesis (i.e., of how the study is reported in the thesis). Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

9 Literature Review Evidence for, dimensions of, and research on the issue or problem. (A full account of Section One in the introductory chapter.) A Review of Research to Date: Within the disciplinary perspective adopted. Structured to inform your study. Mining the literature for material pertinent to your study. Avoiding claims or attributions of personal belief. Explicitly drawing-out implications for your study. A Concluding Overview of Implications for Your Study: The focus and nature of your study. The Conceptual Framework for the study (possibly in a following dedicated chapter on the methodology). Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

10 The Conceptual/Theoretical Framework
If warranting a separate chapter. Otherwise at the end of Literature Review or the start of the Methodology. Grounded in the literature of your review. Key concepts and their meaning in your study, The interrelationships between the key concepts: Explained in the text. Illustrated in a Figure. How that framework was used to address the focus of your study. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

11 The Research Context A Chapter (if needed) describing key aspects of the study site (e.g. the structure of the educational system in the jurisdiction of your study). Writing (as always in the thesis for an international readership). May be included in the Methodology chapter if insubstantial. Fully documented. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

12 The Participants A chapter (if needed) introducing each participant.
May be a part of the initial results chapter, if very brief. To be included in studies focusing in great depth on the experiences or beliefs of a small number of participants. Features of each introduction: Ensure anonymity (unless otherwise approved). Use pseudonyms (and for the results reporting). Use pertinent and interesting features. Make them memorable. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

13 Methodology All grounded in appropriate literature.
The Conceptual/Theoretical Framework (if not already presented). The Research Context (if pertinent and not already presented). The Research epistemology. The nature of knowledge assumed in the study. The broad research approach flowing from that epistemology. With justification as appropriate. The Research Approach (if pertinent, e.g., when using a case study approach). contd. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

14 Methodology cont. Data Collection
Site and participant selection in your study. Data collection instruments and approaches used in your study (detailed as appropriate in appendices). Data Analysis Detailed description of how you analysed the data. Ethical Considerations Ethical issues pertinent to the study. How you addressed those issues. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

15 Results Reporting the findings of your data analysis.
But only those that are directly pertinent to your research topic. Fully evidencing the extent to which and the ways(s) in which your findings are grounded in your data. Structuring the chapter according to the dimensions of the topic (may be more than one chapter). Sectionally relating your findings to those of other pertinent research to date (if not in the next chapter). Using a chapter summary to draw your findings together. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

16 Discussion of the Results
Here, if not in the previous chapter(s). A structured relating of your findings to those of other published research to date. Comparing your findings with those of other studies. Interpreting differences to clarify the contribution to knowledge from your study. Articulating just what your study has contributed. Drawing out any qualifying methodologically-grounded limitations of your study. Concluding with a summary overview of the interpreted findings. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

17 Conclusion and Recommendations
The conclusion of your study in relation to the research topic or question. Grounded in the findings of your study (previous chapter). Presenting and explaining any interpretive models of your findings (grounded in the literature to date). Implications of those findings for professional practice (if pertinent). Recommendations for further research in the light of your study’s findings. (Optionally) a concluding overview of your study and its findings. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

18 References A list of the published sources referred to in your thesis.
All and only those referenced in the text. Stylistically uniform, accurate, and properly sequenced. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

19 Appendices Appendices of instruments, approvals and such like specifically identified in the text. Also explanatory elaborations not appropriate to the main text. Appendix A, etc., each with an explanatory title. Include only material that a reader may wish to read for further information. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

20 Variations on the Ideal-typical Thesis Structure
Historical. Philosophical. Biographical. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

21 1) Historical Studies Literature review commonly greatly reduced and included in the introductory chapter. Conceptual framework subsumed in the methodology. Substantive (historical) chapters ordered and structured chronologically and/or thematically. The final chapter (Conclusions and Recommendations) as before. An extended bibliography of works that importantly influenced the study may be included. As well as the sources cited. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

22 2) Philosophical Studies
Literature review and methodology commonly greatly reduced and included in the introductory chapter. Conceptual framework subsumed in the methodology. Remaining chapters: A logical sequence presenting the argument and evidence. The final chapter (Conclusions and Recommendations) as before. An extended bibliography of works that importantly influenced the study may be included. As well as the sources sited. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

23 3) Biographical Studies
Preface not pertinent In autobiographies, your story is part of the study. In biographies of others, each subject participant should be introduced. Use a separate chapter to introduce the subject participant(s). Substantive ((auto) biographical) chapters ordered and structured chronologically/developmentally and/or thematically. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

24 Overall Stay focused throughout the thesis on your research topic or question. Be firm with yourself in leaving out all extraneous material and findings. Make explicitly clear to the reader in each section how it contributes to and is a necessary part of your addressing the research topic or question. Construct the thesis as through you were creating a picture in words. Make sure that it forms a coherent whole, with its parts clearly interrelated. Dean (Research). Arts, Education & Law

25 Best Wishes. Richard G. Bagnall Dean (Research) Arts, Education & Law

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