Scientific Method and Research

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Minor thesis & research report structure

What is it? Your minor thesis (sometimes called research report) is a description of your research project based on: • research question(s) and/or • problem(s). Your thesis tells the story of your research questions/ problems and how you found answers to them. Purpose: Although it may make a contribution to your broader academic field, the main purposes of a minor thesis or research report are to demonstrate: • a critical awareness of the previous work in your field exploring some additional questions (a minor thesis may reproduce a previous study in a new context or with modifications) • an understanding of basic research theory and techniques Start writing Begin the writing early; just making a start is a big hurdle. The more work you've done at proposal stage the easier it will be. Set up a folder which will contain separate documents for each chapter (or section). Here are some questions to help you think about some sections you might need. Audience and voice You need to know whether it is common to use the first person (I) in your writing or you need to be more objective (third person – the writer). This varies according to different discipline areas. You need to image someone who is well-educated in your broad area but does not know about your SPECIFIC research. You will need to define and clarify some terminology and examples. Questions That Relate to Thesis Structure

What is the research about? What is already known in this area? What do I expect to find? How you went about your research? What you found? What do the results/findings mean? So what? What contributions? What recommendations?

Introduction Lit. Review Research question Methodology Results/Findings Discussion Research significance Recommendations

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Major Parts to your thesis or report Not all of the above sections need to be written as discrete sections. In some areas, where the review of the literature is short, this section might be embedded in the Introduction. Conversely, there may be two or more separate Literature Review chapters dealing with different aspects of the research project. Also, in many (probably most) theses, it is appropriate to combine Results/Findings and Discussions sections. It is also possible, particularly in some types of qualitative research, to merge sections. However, in all theses you need to introduce the thesis, identify what is already known about your topic in the literature, let the reader know what methodology you used, state the results and discuss them, identify the conclusions. The main sections in more detail The following order of sections is used for most science-based discipline areas as well as arts-based areas. Abstract (also called Synopsis or Summary) approx 300 words. This should be a very brief overview of the WHOLE report covering 4 main areas: What you did (the topic) How you did it (methodology) What you found out (results – major only) What was the significance (conclusion/recommendations) Introduction: Provide contextual information to the problem/questions, identifying the gap of research in this area Introduce the objectives Identify the specific research questions The following are optional (check what is generally done in your discipline area): Introduce how the objectives will be achieved (methodology, briefly) Introduce the main findings and conclusions. Indicate the structure of the rest of the report Literature Review: (see literature review resource for more detail) Review previous work relating to research problem/questions (to define, explain, justify), and show (in greater detail than the introduction) the gap that the present research will be filling. o Should be structured thematically o May have a number of sub-sections to identify themes o Research should be integrated and combined highlighting areas of similarity and difference Review previous work relating to methodology (to define, explain, justify) NOTE: It may be more...
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