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How to write a Thesis proposal outline

how to write your dissertation in 15 minutes a day and how to write dissertation & project reports and how long should a master's thesis proposal be
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Dr.JohnParker,Singapore,Researcher
Published Date:01-07-2017
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Thesis, Dissertation & Project Paper Guidelines For 1 Postgraduate Candidates 2015 1 Adapted from Selvaraj, A., Master Dissertation Guidelines. Faculty of Applied Sciences, UCSI University Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates PART 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 DEFINITIONS At UCSI University, a major assessment requirement leading to the award of a postgraduate qualification is the submission of a thesis/dissertation/project paper which are classified as follows: • Doctoral programmes (PhD, DBA, etc.): Thesis • Master’s programmes (Structures A & B): Dissertation • Master’s programmes (Structure C): Project Paper The following guidelines apply to all the above. PART 2 GENERAL REQUIREMENTS 2.1 INTRODUCTION The following section will outline the general requirements of a thesis/dissertation/project paper including language, the type of paper to be used, font style, paragraphing, pagination, layout for tables and figures, and the number of bound copies that a candidate should make for submission. 2.2 LANGUAGE All theses/dissertations/project papers should be written in standard UK English. As a rule of thumb, terms in languages other than English should be italicised and accompanied by an English translation in brackets. Generally accepted foreign terms––those which are already listed in major English dictionaries (such as the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate 2 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates Dictionary), and those that are commonly used within a specific field of study––are exempted from this rule. 2.3 PAPER SPECIFICATIONS The paper used for the final submission should conform to the following specifications: • Size: A4 (21 cm x 29.7 cm) • Quality: Acid-free simili paper of at least 80gsm in weight • Colour: White 2.4 SOFTWARE & PRINTER Candidates may use any word processor (e.g. Microsoft Word) to write their thesis/dissertation/project paper. A printer of good quality (clean and clear print) is to be used to print the thesis/dissertation/project paper for final submission. 2.5 TYPEFACE & FONT SIZE Candidates are to use Times New Roman throughout the entire thesis/dissertation/project paper (except those sections requiring the use of foreign language or symbols). The required font size is 12 points. However, a 10-point font size may be used for items like labels, figures, and tables. 2.6 LINE SPACING & PARAGRAPHING The line spacing of the general manuscript should be set at 1.5. However, single spacing should be used for the following cases: • Acknowledgements • Abstract 3 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates • Table of Contents (Note: 1.5 spacing between entries of consecutive chapters and other major sections such as the Reference List and Appendices) • Quotations of more than 40 words (set off from the text and indented 0.125 cm from the left and right margins) • List of Tables, Figures, Equations and Abbreviations • List of References (Note: 1.5 spacing between entries) • Legends/Labels of Tables and Figures • Glossary (Note: 1.5 spacing between entries) • Appendices The first line of each new paragraph should be 2 spaces (1.5 spacing x 2) after the last line of the preceding paragraph (Refer to APPENDICES 1a & 1b). The first line of the first and subsequent paragraphs should be indented 0.125 cm or 0.5 inch from the left margin. The alignment of the text should be justified (Refer to APPENDICES 1a & 1b). 2.7 HEADINGS All headings (except subheadings) must be in bold CAPITALS. Candidates are advised to refer to the margin specifications to facilitate binding (Refer to APPENDICES 1a & 1b). It should be noted that long headings may occupy multiple lines. However, the space between lines of such headings should be single. Such long headings may be shortened in the table of contents to fit the requirements of the margins. 2.8 BULLETED OR NUMBERED TEXTS For bulleted material, candidates should place the bullets/numbers indented 0.125 cm from the left margin. The space between the bullet/number should also be adjusted to 0.08 cm. This standard should be kept throughout the thesis/dissertation/project paper and in sub- bullets/subnumbers and the proceeding texts. A 1.5 space is still maintained between lines and text- to-numbered/bulleted list. 4 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates 2.9 MARGINS The following margins should be observed: • Top edge: 2.5 cm • Right side: 2.5 cm • Left side: 3.5 cm • Bottom edge: 2.5 cm Aside from page numbers, all other material must fit within these margin requirements (including tables, figures, graphs etc.). When oversize pages are used, the same margins must be maintained. As a general rule, the last paragraph on a page should contain at least two full lines of text, otherwise, it should begin on the next page, and each page must contain at least one line of text. 2.10 PAGE NUMBERING 2.10.1 Position of Page Numbers Page numbers should appear 15 cm from the right hand corner and the bottom edge. This is applicable for both vertical (portrait) and horizontal (landscape) printing. Use the same font as the rest of the text, without adornments. 2.10.2 Numbering System Introductory pages (beginning with the Acknowledgement page until the List of Abbreviations and Symbols page) should be numbered consecutively in lower case Roman numerals: i, ii, iii, and so on. The pages for the main manuscript should be numbered using consecutive Arabic numerals: 1, 2, 3 and so on. 2.10.3 Number of Pages Required • Coursework-based (Structures B & C): 50 - 80 pages 5 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates • Research-based (Structure A): 80 -120 pages • Doctoral Theses 200-220 pages The above mentioned pages are not inclusive of introductory pages, references, and appendices. The above serves as general guidelines only. Please refer to the respective Faculties/Programme Handbooks for specific requirements. 2.11 TABLES Tables must be accurate and easy to read, and care is required in spacing, ruling, arrangement of headings, and placement with respect to the text. They are used to supplement the text, and therefore should be within the text or continue on the following page. 2.11.1 Numbering Tables should be numbered with an Arabic numeral and given titles, even though there may be very few tables in the thesis/dissertation/project paper. The chapter and order in which the tables are mentioned in the text determine the numbering. For instance, if Chapter 5 has four tables, the tables should be labeled as Table 5.1, Table 5.2 and so on. All references to a table in the text should be by number. 2.11.2 Position Ideally, each table should come immediately after the first reference to it. However, it is best to finish the paragraph of the text in which the reference occurs before inserting the table. If a table cannot be accommodated in the space remaining on a given page, continue the text to make a full page and place the table at the top of the next page if it is still within the same subtopic. If a table appears in the middle of a text page, two spaces (1.5 spacing x 2) should be left above the table number and below the table/notes. 6 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates 2.11.3 Size and Shape A table may occupy the full width of the page or less than the full width. In either case, each table must be centred horizontally on the page, and within the four margins stipulated in Section 2.9. 2.11.4 Width If a table is too wide for the page, it should be turned length-wise (i.e. use the landscape format), and placed horizontally in the centre of the page within the prescribed margins in Section 2.9. No text should be placed on a page containing such a table, also known as a broadside table. The page number appears in its usual place, at the bottom of the page, not the table. 2.11.5 Font Size Ideally the 12-point font size is to be used. However, the 10-point font size may be used for the contents within the tables, if necessary. For any text outside the table, like table numbers, labels, titles and notes, the 12-point font size should be used. 2.11.6 Continued Tables Long tables may be continued from page to page. The table number and title are to be placed at the beginning of the table; only the table number is given in the succeeding pages, for example, "Table 2 - Continued." Ordinarily, the column headings are repeated on every page including in a broadside table. 2.11.7 Title Each table must have a title. Place the table number above the table, and centre both; place the title below the table number, centred and single-spaced, spanning the width of the 7 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates table. Leave one single line space between the title and the table, and between table and notes. 2.11.8 Notes There are three kinds of notes that are placed below the table: • A general note which qualifies, explains or provides information relating to the table as a whole and ends with an explanation of abbreviations, symbols and the like, designated by the word Note., italicized and followed by a period, for example: Note. All significant three-way interactions were omitted. M=match process; N= non-match process. • A specific note which refers to a particular column, row or individual entry. Specific notes are indicated by superscript lowercase letters (a, b, c) and should begin with superscript a; the superscripts should be ordered from left to right across the table by rows, starting at the top left; different tables require their own specific notes (whenever needed). For example: a n = 25 b This participant did not complete trials. • A probability note which indicates the results of tests of significance. Asterisks are usually used to identify probability values such as: p .05 p .05 two-tailed Notes to a table should use the 12-point font size and should be ordered in the following sequence: general notes, specific notes and probability notes. Each type of note 8 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates should begin from the same margin with the table on a new line and possibly justified. For example: Note. The participants’ responses were: a b n = 25. n = 42. p .05. p .01. 2.12 FIGURES Figures are illustrative materials, which include drawings, paintings, photographs, charts, graphs and maps. The numbering, position, size, shape and width of figures are similar to those specified for tables. A legend follows the number of the figure and may be a title or a caption. The legend should be single-spaced and span the width of the figure. Short legends are centred and long descriptions, legends or other explanatory matters can be placed as a footnote to the figure. A key or scale (if included) should be placed beside or within the figure. 2.13 GRAPHS Graphs should be clear and easy for the reader to understand and interpret the information they seek to convey. Each axis should be clearly labeled and marked at significant intervals. Labels on the axes and curves should be oriented to be read from the bottom upwards (x-axis) or from the left to the right (y-axis). The title of the graph should be descriptive but concise and should appear as a caption rather than on the graph itself. 9 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates 2.14 PICTURES 2.14.1 Photographs / Newspaper Cuttings Photographs, newspaper cuttings and the like must be scanned or digitally embedded in the text with the sources duly quoted. 2.15 USE OF COLOURS Colours may be used only for graphs, charts, pictures and photographs. If colour is used in the thesis/dissertation/project paper, all copies of thesis/dissertation/project paper for submission must be identical. 2.16 PRINTING Only one side of a sheet should be printed. After binding, the printed page should face up (right hand side of an open manuscript). Photocopied material on any page should be numbered as part of the thesis/dissertation/project paper, and should be within the margins stipulated in Section 2.9. Candidates should be mindful that photocopying reproduces colour as black, white and shades of grey. Consequently, illustrations and photographs should not depend on colour alone for interpretation. Similarly, labels or symbols rather than only colours should be used to identify lines on a graph. Shaded areas such as countries on a map should be represented by cross-hatching. 2.17 PHOTOCOPYING / DUPLICATION All photocopied sets of the final thesis/dissertation/project paper should be clear and sharp. Carbon copies will not be accepted. 10 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates 2.18 BINDING 2.18.1 Before Viva: First Submission for Examiners Three (3) copies of ring bound thesis/dissertation/project paper should be submitted to the Faculty for the following parties: • Internal and/or external examiners; and • The supervisor(s) 2.18.2 After Viva: Final Copies for Submission After final acceptance of the thesis/dissertation/project paper for submission by the examiners, candidates are required to submit four (4) printed copies of the said thesis/dissertation/project paper and a CD containing the softcopy (in .pdf or .doc or .docx format) to Library Services for binding and distribution to the following parties: • Library archives • Library red spot • The supervisor • The co-supervisor (if any) - Optional • The candidate The cost of the binding will be borne by the candidate. IMPORTANT: Students should submit the thesis/dissertation/project paper according to the date set by the respective Faculty. 11 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates PART 3 FORMAT 3.1 INTRODUCTION This part of the guidelines describes the layout and arrangement of the different parts of the thesis/dissertation/project paper. 3.2 LAYOUT AND ARRANGEMENT OF CONTENT The thesis/dissertation/project paper should be organised in the following order: TITLE PAGE (Same as front cover page) ACKNOWLEDGEMENT APPROVAL BY SUPERVISOR & EXAMINERS DECLARATION OF ORIGINALITY & EXCLUSIVENESS ABSTRACT TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES LIST OF FIGURES LIST OF EQUATIONS (Optional) LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS & SYMBOLS TEXT / CONTENT REFERENCES APPENDICES 3.2.1 Title Page Details on the title page should be in CAPITAL LETTERS (scientific names should be in italics), font size 18 points, single spacing with center alignment and should be in the following order: 12 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates • Title of Dissertation (Arranged in inverted pyramid) • Full Name of Candidate (Name as it appears in NRIC/passport) • Programme, Faculty, UCSI University and Year Year of Submission (should be according to the year the Viva is conducted) 3.2.2 Acknowledgement It is a standard practice to acknowledge any individual or organisation that has contributed in one way or another towards the preparation of the dissertation/thesis/project paper. The word ACKNOWLEDGEMENT should be placed in the centre of the page. Candidates should write their acknowledgement within 1 page only (Refer to APPENDIX 2). 3.2.3 Approval by Supervisors & Examiners The page lists the names of the supervisor(s) and examiner(s). The student’s name should be the same as that on the Title Page, Copyright Page and Declaration Page. The signatures of the supervisor(s) and examiner(s) must be original: a photocopy of the approval page is not acceptable. The name of each supervisor and examiner should be typed under the appropriate signature. No titles, degrees or designations (e.g., Dr., Prof., PhD, and Datuk etc.) should be used on this page. Please note that if two supervisors are listed, the first one naturally refers to the main supervisor. If external examiners are from abroad, students need not obtain their signatures or approval. A letter of assessment/evaluation may be appended, instead, if available. Note also that this approval page in the thesis/dissertation/project paper must be numbered. Small Roman numerals (i, ii, iii …) are used for the preliminary pages (all pages before the introductory chapter). 13 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates 3.2.4 Declaration Declaration must be made by candidates in order to affirm the originality of their work. It must stand on a page by itself under the heading DECLARATION of ORIGINALITY AND EXCLUSIVENESS The names of student, supervisor(s), examiner 1 & 2 and Dean of the respective Faculty must be typed and not handwritten (Refer to APPENDIX 3). 3.2.5 Abstract The abstract must be on separate pages, after the page of declaration. The word ABSTRACT must be typed 2.5cm from the top edge of the page, and centred between the right and left margins. The length of the abstract should be between 300 to 400 words. Generally, the abstract should provide a concise description of the study and should not be a critique. Normally, an abstract should include the following information: i. A short introduction 1 ii. Objective and aim of the study 2 iii. Research design and methodology 3 iv. Brief summary of research findings such as a new theory, terminology, assessment or evaluation 4 v. Concluding remarks 5 (Refer to APPENDIX 4) 3.2.6 Table of Contents The table of contents must begin on a fresh page with the word ‘TABLE OF CONTENTS’ centred between the left and right margins. It must contain the full list of contents found on the dissertation, that is, the title of each chapter and section. They should be worded exactly as they appear in the body of the text (Refer to APPENDIX 5). 14 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates 3.2.7 List of Tables This appears on a fresh page with the heading LIST OF TABLES centred between the left and right margins. The list should contain all the captions (titles) of the tables that appear in the text and worded exactly as they appear in the text (Refer to APPENDIX 6). 3.2.8 List of Figures This appears on a fresh page with the heading LIST OF FIGURES centred between the left and right margins. The list should contain all the captions of the charts, diagrams, photographs, maps, graphs and any other kind of illustrations. The titles must be worded exactly as they appear in the text of the thesis/dissertation/project paper (Refer to APPENDIX 7). 3.2.9 List of Equations The list of equations should contain all formulae involved in the thesis/dissertation/project paper (Refer to APPENDIX 8). 3.2.10 List of Abbreviations & Symbols The list of abbreviations and symbols appears on a fresh page after the LIST OF EQUATIONS, and is arranged in alphabetical order (Refer to APPENDIX 9). 3.2.11 Text / Content The content of the text includes all relevant information about the research and can be organised into chapters and sections. The insertion of tables and illustrations must be according to the guidelines given in this guide. 15 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates • Chapters Each chapter in the thesis/dissertation/project paper is numbered with Roman numerals (e.g. I, II, III, IV & V). The heading of the chapter (e.g. CHAPTER I) should be 2.5 cm from the top edge of the page, followed by, the title of the chapter rd (e.g. INTRODUCTION) be placed at the 3 line below this heading. Both of them should be centred horizontally between the margins (Refer to APPENDIX 1a). All theses/dissertations would have the following chapters while project papers may share similar components: a. Introduction b. Literature Review c. Methodology d. Results / Discussion – This may be a combined chapter or separated into 2 chapters e. Conclusion • Sections and Subsections Text in each chapter can be written into major sections and subsections. For major sections, it is numbered as first level (e.g. 1.1., 1.2, 1.3, …...) while subsections are numbered as second level (e.g. 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.3,…...). The next level should be represented by alphabets e.g. (a), (b), (c) …… (Refer to APPENDIX 1b). • Tables (Refer to Section 2.11 & APPENDIX 10). 16 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates • Figures (Refer to Section 2.12 & APPENDIX 11). No titles or legends are to be placed in the figures. 3.2.12 References The list of references should begin on a fresh page with the heading REFERENCES situated 2.5 cm from the top edge of the page and centred horizontally between the margins. This section should contain all the sources referred to in the text. Sources not referred to in the text should not be listed. The recording of references should follow the Harvard system. All references should be listed in the alphabetical order. For further details, please refer to PARTS 4 & 5. 3.2.13 Appendices Appendices should be numbered 1, 2, 3... as they appear in the main text. The heading should be 2.5 cm from the top edge of the page and centered horizontally between the margins. Each appendix should have its own title. If Appendices are included, they should be listed according to their titles in the Table of Contents (Refer to APPENDIX 5). 17 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates PART 4 REFERENCES WITHIN THE TEXT / IN-TEXT CITATION 4.1 INTRODUCTION References in the body of text are made to acknowledge the source of anything which is taken from other books, articles or papers. The complete bibliographical details are recorded in the list of references at the end of the thesis/dissertation/project paper. The candidate should follow the AUTHOR-DATE SYSTEM consistently throughout the thesis/dissertation/project paper. 4.2 AUTHOR-DATE SYSTEM In this system, references within the text must include only the author and date of publication as in the following examples: Mohd Azman (2001) Chomsky (1981) i. If the name of the author has a surname, only the surname is written, without any initials. ii. The names of Malay and Indian authors may be shortened to the respective author’s given name. As for Chinese authors, the family name may be used. Examples: 1. Mohd Azman Abu Bakar. 1990 …referred to as Mohd Azman (1990) 2. Koh Aik Khoon. 2005 …referred to as Koh (2005) 3. Vigneswaran Ramalingam. 1999 ...referred to as Vigneswaran (1999) 4.2.1 Sole Author The surname of the author followed by the year of publication is written in a relevant place in the text: 18 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates i. Brown (2003) has proven that ….. ii. In a study on the lipid oxidation (Ang 2002)… If the author’s name is used as part of the sentence, as in examples (i), only the year of publication is within brackets. If it is not, both the name of the author and the date of publication, without a comma, are placed within brackets. In cases where both the author’s name and the date of publication are part of the sentence, brackets are not necessary. For instance: i. In 2002, Wong examined….. 4.2.2 Co-Authors a. Where the work of two co-authors is referred to, then both names must be mentioned each time it is referred to: i. As James and Bonds (2006) both point out… ii. As has been proven (Abdul Rahman and Asma 2001) b. Where reference is made to a work authored by three or more people, the name of the first author is given followed by “et al.” and the year of publication. The word “et al.” must be written in Italic: i. Brown et al. (2005) has shown that…. ii. …has been studied (Mohd Abdullah et al. 2006) 4.2.3 Corporate Author Reference to works not by an individual author but by an organisation is written thus: a. (Ministry of Health, Malaysia 2005) 19 P a g e Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines for Postgraduate Candidates b. The name of the institution (organisations, government agencies etc) can be abbreviated. 4.2.4 Authors with the Same Name If the list of references includes works by two or more authors with the same name, to avoid confusion, the full name or initials of each author must be used each time one of these works is cited. Khalid B.A.K. (2000) and Khalid Yusof (2000) 4.2.5 Multiple References Two or more references made in the same place should be separated by semicolons. The references should be arranged in yearly order in which the latest year should come last. If the references are of the same year, alphabetical order should be followed. (Steven 1999; James 2000; Robert 2000; Oliver 2001) Where more than one reference is made to the same author or authors of different publications, the year of publication of each is separated by a comma. (Peter et al. 1999a, 1999b, 2000) 20 P a g e