How to start writing your Master's Thesis

how to write a good conclusion master thesis How to write a master's thesis proposal and thesis outline and how to write a master's thesis introduction
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Published Date:01-07-2017
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Best Practices for Writing Your Master’s Thesis October 17, 2012 Dr. Kate Drowne Office of Graduate Studies Missouri S&T Goals for today: • Offer some strategies for preparing to write your master’s thesis; • Briefly discuss the basic components of a master’s thesis; • Explain common writing problems and how to prevent them; • Offer some suggestions about time management; • Take any questions you might have about the writing process. The best thesis is a finished thesis. Why is it so hard to write a thesis? • Writing a thesis is a completely new experience. • Writing a thesis marks a major transition in your professional life and thus can cause significant stress. • Writing a thesis is a very large, independent project. Also…many graduate students have never actually read a thesis. Check out; talk to your advisor, other faculty members, and colleagues in your department to find good examples. About your thesis advisor… 1. If you are given the opportunity to select your thesis advisor or advisory committee, do it wisely. Don’t focus only on content experts. Make sure you have selected committee members who are supportive of you and are willing to assist you in successfully completing your research. 2. Your thesis/dissertation advisor is your ally. Your thesis advisor wants you to succeed, so be sure to think of this person as something of a “teammate.” Spend time talking with your advisor so that he or she really understands your goals. Don’t be afraid to talk with your advisor; it is part of this person’s job to help you, and most faculty members take this responsibility very seriously. 3. Your thesis advisor cannot read your mind. If you have questions or concerns about your project, or if you are struggling for any reason at all, you cannot expect your advisor to know this automatically. One of your primary responsibilities is to keep the lines of communication open, so don’t wait for your advisor to come to you. Talk to your advisor when things are going well and when things are not. Master’s theses have many parts: Abstract Introduction Literature Review Methodology Results Discussion References Appendices Abstract An abstract is a short paragraph that summarizes your entire project. It is NOT just the first paragraph of your introduction. Most abstracts contain four common elements: Problem. Describe the major topic or problem addressed in the document. Method. Describe the specific approach or method used to address the problem. Results. Describe one or two of the most important results. Conclusion. Describe the conclusion drawn from the result(s). It’s often helpful to write your abstract last, when you already know how your research has turned out. Introduction • State the subject of your document as clearly as possible. • Define the problem you are addressing, your approach to the problem, and why this problem is important. • Define the scope of your research. Include descriptions of who or what your research applies to, what its goals are, and why this research is necessary or useful. • Provide necessary and relevant background information. Because the introduction leads your reader into your document, try to begin with a general statement about the topic before moving on to specific issues. Literature Review Q: What’s the point of a literature review? A: A literature review demonstrates that the work you’re doing contributes to a much larger effort that has begun among your professional colleagues. A literature review shows the reader what relevant work has already been conducted on your chosen topic, and how your work fits in to this established body of work. Literature Review Literature Reviews are not merely summaries of existing research. Although you do need to summarize relevant research, you must also: • evaluate the existing research; • explain the relationships between different research projects; • demonstrate how this body of research relates to your own individual work. Example of a bad literature review: Many researchers have shown interest in the field of coastal erosion and the resulting beach profiles. They have carried out numerous laboratory experiments and field observations to explore this field. Their findings and suggestions are reviewed here. JACHOWSKI (1964) developed a model investigation conducted on the interlocking precast concrete block seawall. After surveying damages caused by the severe storm on the coast of the USA, a new and especially shaped concrete block was developed for use in shore protection. This block was designed to be used in a revetment type seawall that would be both durable and economical as well as reduce wave run-up and overtopping, and scour at its base or toe. It was proved that effective shore protection could be designed utilizing these units. HOM-MA and HORIKAWA (1964) studied wave forces acting on the seawall which was located inside the surf zone. On the basis of the experimental results conducted to measure waves forces against a vertical wall, the authors proposed an empirical formula of wave pressure distribution on a seawall. The computed results obtained by using the above formula were compared well with the field data of wave pressure on a vertical wall. SELEZOV and ZHELEZNYAK (1965) conducted experiments on scour of sea bottom in front of harbor seawalls, basing on the theoretical investigation of solitary wave interaction with a vertical wall using a Boussinesque type equation. It showed that the numerical results were in reasonable agreement with laboratory experimental data. and so on. WHY was this a bad literature review? • Summarizes previous research but does not use the literature to explain more about the writer's own research problem. • Not critical: does not emphasize which theories or findings are important, which are inconclusive, what the shortcomings are, etc. • Does not show the relationship between different research projects already carried out. • The writer organized this literature review chronologically, based on the researchers themselves. By organizing the review around the researchers and not around the research (e.g. around key concepts) the writer emphasizes the people and not their work. How do you write a good literature review? Read with a purpose. You need to summarize the work you read, but you must also decide which ideas or information are important to your research (so you can emphasize them), and which are less important (so you can cover them briefly or leave them out altogether). You should also look for the major concepts, conclusions, theories, and arguments that underlie the work, and look for similarities and differences with closely related work. This is difficult when you first start reading, but will become easier the more you read in your area. How do you write a good literature review? Write with a purpose. Your goal is to evaluate and show relationships between the work already done and your own research project. (Is Researcher Y's theory more convincing than Researcher X's? Did Researcher X build on the work of Researcher Y?) To achieve this goal, you must carefully plan how you are going to organize your review. Example of a better literature review Roll, Y., M.J. Rosenblatt and D. Kadosh. “On the optimal container size in automated warehouses”, Proceedings of the Ninth ICPR. Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are being introduced into the industry and warehousing at an increasing rate. Forecasts indicate that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future (see 1). Research in the area of AS/RS has followed several avenues. Early work by Hausman, Schwarz and Graves 6, 7 was concerned with storage assignment and interleaving policies, based on turnover rates of the various items. Elsayed 3 and Elsayed and Stern 4 compared algorithms for handling orders in AR/RS. Additional work by Karasawa et al. 9, Azadivar 2 and Parry et al. 11 dealt with the design of an AS/RS and the determination of its throughput by simulation and optimization techniques. Several researchers addressed the problem of the optimal handling unit (pallet or container) size, to be used in material handling and warehousing systems. Steudell 13, Tanchoco and Agee14, Tanchoco et al. 15 and Grasso and Tanchoco 5 studied various aspects of this subject. The last two references incorporate the size of the pallet, or unit load, in evaluation of the optimal lot sizes for multi-inventory systems with limited storage space. In a report on a specific case, Normandin 10 has demonstrated that using the 'best-size' container can result in considerable savings. A simulation model combining container size and warehouse capacity considerations, in an AS/RS environment, was developed by Kadosh 8. The general results, reflecting the stochastic nature of the flow of goods, are similar to those reported by Rosenblatt and Roll 12. Nevertheless, container size was found to affect strongly overall warehousing costs. In this paper, we present an analytical framework for approximating the optimal size of a warehouse container. The approximation is based on series of generalizations and specific assumptions. However, these are valid for a wide range of real life situations. The underlying assumptions of the model are presented in the following section. Why is this example better than the first one? The writer did several things to make this literature review more effective than the earlier example: • The writer grouped similar information: "Steudell 13, Tanchoco and Agee14, Tanchoco et al. 15 and Grasso and Tanchoco 5 studied various aspects of this subject." • The writer showed the relationship between the work of different researchers, including similarities/differences: "The general results, reflecting the stochastic nature of the flow of goods, are similar to those reported by Rosenblatt and Roll 12." • The writer indicated the position of the work in the research area history: "Early work by Hausman, Schwarz and Graves 6, 7 . . . " • The writer moved from a general discussion of the research in AS/RS to the more specific area (optimal container size) that the writer intends to research. Methodology The goal of this section is to explain two important things about your project: What you did How you did it You should also justify your choices, explaining why your plan was appropriate for this project. Results • Include summaries of your findings and what is significant about them. Do not include every single data point in your text (that’s what figures and appendices are for). • Organize your information based on its importance to your study and to your audience. • Often, the Results section will include extensive graphs, figures, and tables of data. Only include what is relevant to your audience. • Refer to every figure that you include before the figure actually appears in the document. • Caption your figures carefully. Make sure your captions make sense and describe what the figure really illustrates. Discussion Relate your findings to the general problem you’re working on and any specific objectives posed in your introduction. • What have you learned? Summarize clearly what your results do and do not demonstrate. • What kinds of questions might other researchers study in order to expand our knowledge about this topic? Note: This section combines references to your own work (described in the past tense) with general conclusions about the state of this field (described in the present tense). You will also speculate about the work still to be done (future tense). References Figure out what citation style you’re going to use in your thesis. If you’re not sure what citation style to use, you can check the national websites for your discipline’s major organization (IEEE, ASCE, ASME, ASEM, STC, AIP, AMS, etc.) to see what citation style they require in their major publications. Or…better yet…ASK YOUR ADVISOR. Include a References page at the end of your document. Your References page includes all the citations for the research you included in your report. Appropriately format all entries according to the citation style used by professionals in your discipline.