The Thesis Plan
The thesis plan is the most important part of the whole process during which students go through the details of the whole thesis process in advance. The plan covers the whole description of the thesis plan. It can be compared to a path that is followed throughout the process. It contains the concrete actions or solutions with explanations and a resource plan for the thesis. Students have to justify their choices, organise theoretical knowledge and apply it to a development project in the work place. Drawing up a thesis plan is a necessary and normal part of completing a thesis.
A plan helps to commit oneself to the chosen research project and it governs how resources should be used and managed. The plan has to be approved before material can be collected and products can be produced. The aim of the plan is to prevent a lack of direction and endless deliberation: it helps you to get started in a process that continually develops. A well-planned piece of work is more or less done.
During thesis planning
- students must draw up a well-justified and user friendly plan
- the work must be organised to form one logical whole
- you should understand the long-term nature of the thesis process
- you will develop your communication and peer partner supervision skills in collaboration with different parties involved
- you will act as agreed with the commissioning party and supervisors
- you will take into account the ethical questions concerning the process
- your work will advance with the aid of your own learning, peer partner supervision and received feedback (supervision)
- you will make use of supervision and be committed to working on your thesis
The thesis plan demonstrates that the student is familiar with the topic under discussion and is in the process of developing expertise. This means that you must be familiar with a variety of material concerning your topic and the proposed work place development project. The plan should also demonstrate a research-based attitude that includes critique, justification and explanation of choices, logic and in depth knowledge of the thesis topic contents. During the planning state, students, peer partners, supervisors, small groups and the commissioning party work together.
You will also need your thesis plan in the following situations:
The aim of the plan is to show what the thesis will look like when it is ready. It is also used to acquire resources. It can be used when looking for premises, facilities, equipment, guinea pigs, material and funding. The plan is also required if you need to apply for permission from the council of ethics due to the nature of your thesis. In order to receive authorisation you must stick to your plan word for word.
The plan must include the background to the thesis and why it is important. Nobody wants to support a study of something that is already obvious! You must consider this if you need to apply for funding. When applying for funding you must enclose a detailed plan, as this is a prerequisite for the receipt of funding.
All theses start with careful planning though as processes they may differ from each other. The aim is that students carry out their thesis according to the original plan. However, problems or issues may arise during the process that could force you to deviate form the original plan. It is therefore necessary to monitor the plan and to assess and adjust it, if necessary.
So the thesis plan
- is better than nothing even if incomplete
- helps to outline the whole
- helps scheduling
- helps to foresee problems, pitfalls etc.
The Content of the Thesis Plan
After the thesis topic analysis students must draw up a thesis plan that differs or emphasises different content depending on whether the thesis comprises a piece of research, specific actions or a project. The plan describes what, why, where and how the topic will be examined or developed and it guides the practical implementation of the thesis using well thought out and justified solutions. Planning helps to clarify ideas and thoughts about how the thesis will be completed.
The appearance and language used in the thesis plan are regulated by common Kajaani University of Applied Sciences instructions for written work and the plan must be provided in writing using the model template. The recommended length of the plan is, ten pages.
The thesis plan contains the following parts
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- awakens the interest of the reader and describes how the thesis started off
- justifies the choice of topic with reference to a work perspective
- description of the commissioning party’s/organisation’s practical problem in the context of the organisation etc. in question and explanation of how the commissioning party intends to use the thesis (similarly for a project)
- describes the main idea of the thesis, what, how and which sort of knowledge will be acquired
- describes how the topic is related to the principles of the student’s own professional field – starting points, perspective
- describes the initial assumptions and defines the topic with explanation
- describes the general background to the topic and its aims and indicates how the topic perspective and research tasks are part of the general starting point – the objectives and aims of the thesis (concrete aims and significance particularly precisely in the case of a product or development)
- describe as intelligently as possible what is known about the topic based on previous research and why and how you wish to continue with the topic in question
- you can use literature in your introduction when providing explanation or justifying an issue
2 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS/CONCEPTUAL PREMISES
- this describes the issue that is the focus of the thesis topic, theoretically and conceptually
- describes the issue that is the focus of the thesis topic from a practical perspective
- define the concepts central to the topic in detail – organise the theoretical background into parts that you wish to deal with/describe (remember source references in the text) in the thesis itself
- brief yet detailed description of previous research linked to the issue in question (what knowledge is the topic and the topic definition based on?)
- illustrate the referential framework with a figure
- explain the research perspective of the thesis (this provides guidance on how your work will be carried out)
- (NB differentiate between qualitative and quantitative research in the description of the theoretical background)
- name headings according to the textual content
3 RESEARCH PROBLEMS/- TASKS
- specify the aims and research problems of the thesis (to which questions are you looking for an answer?)
- justify or explain the research problems/tasks so that it is easy to see the link between them and the previously described theoretical background
- (NB in the qualitative research process the research tasks arising from certain premises are described and justified).
4 RESEARCH PROCESS/PRODUCTION PROCESS
- describe and explain how you acquired material and any related issues
- describe and explain indicator(s) used when acquiring material and how it/they were implemented
- describe and justify the choice of focus group and the challenges that this posed
- describe how reliability will be improved
- describe the ethical issues (commissioning, copyright, permits etc.) linked to the topic and how it was attempted to overcome them
- introduce a preliminary plan in how observation material will be dealt with
- explain which statistical and/or qualitative analysis techniques and interpretation models will be used to analyse your material
- when the outcome will be a (different)product, describe product planning by drawing up (using relevant literature)
- a manuscript plan (content, what the product contains, what is in it)
- a production plan (implementation process, how it will be produced)
- a product evaluation plan
- use relevant literature when explaining/justifying
5 CONCLUSION/ASSESSMENT (unless elsewhere)
- reliability (describe how the success of the thesis is ensured, take into account the different criteria for reliability in the process)
- ethical research issues, permits etc.
- mention matters in which the commissioning party can be involved in the requested topic process
- use relevant literature in your explanations/justifications
6 RESOURCES, MARKETING (USES) AND REPORTING
- indicates the preparation schedule to the nearest week
- possible division of tasks and need for special resource
- costs estimate, itemized (specifically for projects and products)
- explain how the thesis will be marketed and used during and after the process (appendix writing plan)
- indicates sources used in a bibliography
- initial table of contents
- draft of indicator(s) used during material acquisition
- draft application for permission (if required)
The written thesis plan is submitted (not by email) in person to the teacher supervisor and teacher co-ordinator, the peer partner (opponent), the commissioning party and your seminar group by an agreed date.
The thesis plan is discussed during the planning seminar on a given date and you will be informed if your plan has been passed/is incomplete/failed. If you need to make some changes or additions to your plan in order to pass a new thesis plan return date will be agreed at the latest by the end of the seminars to ensure that your thesis will be completed according to schedule.
Evaluation of the thesis plan
The thesis plan will be approved if the following issues have been resolved:
- the objective of the thesis (student’s, thesis, project/work place) and the aim is clear to the student and commissioning party
- the topic has been briefly, clearly and concisely defined
- the objective, research task and theoretical points of departure are logical and cohesive
- a. earlier research and literature on the topic has been sufficiently examined
b. the commissioning party’s organisation, the background to the organisation and the issue under development in the organisation have been sufficiently covered
c. earlier projects that are relevant to the topic have been examined and described, in the case of a project based thesis
- the acquisition of material, the focus group and an analysis plan have been described and explained or in an action-based thesis the content (what), production plan (how) and relevant explanation must be included
- the resource plan is realistic and practical
The student must provide or carry out the following in order to ensure that his/her thesis plan will be approved:
- an approved written thesis plan (approved by teacher supervisor and commissioning party)
- present the plan orally at a seminar
- must assess orally and in writing one thesis plan in the capacity of peer partner
- must attend planning seminar
- must attend one presentation of a completed thesis and participate in its (self)assessment
- must attend meetings and supervision discussions with work place representatives concerning the topic and/or project
After the plan has been approved you can then make a written commissioning agreement with the commissioning party, apply for permission to collect material from the focus organisation if necessary. The permit must be approved in advance by the teacher supervisor.
NB The commissioning agreement also ensures that the thesis will be used for specific purposes in a place of work. The criteria for the use of your thesis for specific purposes are from the Ministry of Education.