thesis or dissertation
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This article explores the extent to which published advice on the organisation and structure of theses and dissertations concurs with what happens in actual practice. The study examines guides and handbooks which focus on thesis and dissertation writing and postgraduate research. The sample texts examined were master’s and doctoral theses written in a number of different study areas at a major research university. The study found that only a few of the books examined devoted a substantial amount of space to this topic. It also found a wider range of thesis types than the guides and handbooks would suggest occurs. The study identified four main kinds of thesis: ‘traditional: simple’, ‘traditional: complex’, ‘topic-based’ and ‘compilations of research articles’. The article argues for teaching materials which show students the range of thesis options they might have, highlight the kind of variation that occurs in actual texts, and consider the rationale for the various choices they might make.
The masters thesis and doctoral dissertation are written documents that describe the graduate student’s research. The subject of the thesis/dissertation is chosen by mutual agreement between the student and major adviser, and must be approved by the student’s Supervisory Committee. There is no fixed length for the thesis/dissertation, although the Supervisory Committee should provide guidance on format and content.
Masters theses should reveal a capacity to carry on independent study or research and should demonstrate the student’s ability to use the techniques employed in their field of investigation. Doctoral dissertations should demonstrate technical mastery of the student’s field and advance or modify current knowledge. Dissertations should treat new material, find new results, or draw new conclusions; or it should interpret old material in a new light. It is expected that the research contained in the thesis/dissertation will be worthy of publication in appropriate peer-reviewed journals. Students are expected to prepare the manuscript(s) for publication prior to, or soon after, completion of their graduate program.
The Northern Arizona University Graduate College has partnered with Cline Library, and all NAU theses and dissertations are also available in our Institutional Repository.
All NAU theses and dissertations are published electronically through ProQuest. Through active partnerships with more than 700 universities, ProQuest disseminates and archives more than 90,000 new graduate works each year. These works are available through library subscription databases and for easy and convenient ordering.