M.A. Thesis in Communication
Step by Step Guide
DRAFT: August 27, 2002
Part I: Committee Proposal
1. Get a copy of the UNC Thesis Manual from the graduate school. 2. Select an area of study within the communication discipline. 3. Read the literature in the area you have chosen. Focus your reading on communication journals. 4. Develop a thesis statement or research purpose statement. 5. Schedule an appointment during with faculty who have expertise in your chosen area (during office hours please). 6. After speaking to members of the faculty, select a thesis advisor who: (1) is a current member of graduate faculty, (2) has expertise in the area you have selected, and (3) agrees to serve as your thesis advisor. 7. With the guidance of your proposed thesis advisor, assemble your thesis committee. Thesis committees consist of at least three people, two of which must be current members of the graduate faculty (Note: Please check with the graduate school for policies regarding M.A. Thesis committees). At least one member of your committee needs to be proficient in the method you will use to investigate your thesis (e.g., critical, ethnographic, experimental, interaction analysis, rhetorical criticism, survey-interview, survey-questionnaire, textual analysis, etc.). 8. Write a Committee Proposal and submit eight (8) copies to the Chair of the Speech Communication department. The proposal will be discussed and voted on by the faculty. The proposal consists of the following areas: • Thesis Statement, Purpose Statement, Research Question or Research Hypothesis. • Justification for the Thesis
• Choice of Research Method
• Committee Members and Rationale for Selecting Each Committee Member • Proposed Time-Line for Thesis Completion
• Bibliography of seminal works in your area of study (see step 2).
Part II: Thesis Proposal
9. Upon acceptance of the Committee Proposal begin writing the Introduction (Chapter 1) of the thesis. Although the specific contents of Chapter 1 will change from thesis to thesis, most contain the following four areas: (1) General background, (2) research purpose statement, (3) justification for research, and (4) definitions of key concepts. 10. Once you have written Chapter 1 and gone through at least three revisions, send Chapter 1 to your thesis advisor. 11. Revise Chapter 1 according to the council of your thesis advisor. 12. Write the Literature Review chapter. The objective of this chapter is to justify your research questions or hypotheses by reviewing relevant literature (see step 2). The literature review should be structured as a formal argument that culminates in the advancement of your questions or hypotheses. At a minimum, Chapter 2 should answer the following questions: a. What do we know from prior studies about your topic? b. How have past researchers studied your topic?
c. What are the limitations of past research?
d. How do the answers to questions a-c lead logically to your research? 13. Once you have written Chapter 2 and gone through at least three revisions, send Chapter 2 to your thesis advisor. 14. Revise Chapter 2 according to the council of your thesis advisor. 15. Write the Method Chapter. The content this chapter will differ depending on the method you have selected. To develop an outline of the Method chapter, review seminal research that employed your choice of method. Regardless of method, your third chapter should have the following three areas: (a) description of the population (people) or universe (texts), (b) procedures, and (c) proposed data analysis procedure. 16. Once you have written Chapter 3 and gone through at least three revisions, send Chapter 3 to your thesis advisor. 17. Revise Chapter 3 according to the council of your thesis advisor. 18. When your thesis advisor is satisfied with the first three chapters of the thesis (i.e.,...
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