Guidelines for the preparation of proposals, theses, projects and dissertations
Most graduate programs at the Mayaguez Campus require the preparation of a thesis or a project report, both preceded by a proposal. The purpose of this guide is to help you prepare these documents with a minimum of setbacks. The guide contains suggestions for standardizing the presentation of both documents, but is flexible to accommodate the styles of each discipline. The particular style and final structure of the thesis will be approved by the student’s graduate committee.
The Graduate Studies Office does not intervene with the format, content or writing of the theses, so it is up to you, your counselor and the rest of the graduate committee to ensure proper preparation and quality of the document. The thesis represents your maximum effort and is evidence of your commitment to academic excellence. The good name of the members of the graduate committee is also at stake because, through their signature, they certify that they read the document and approve its contents.
Before you continue, you should ask yourself the following question:
“My study is an investigation that includes development, testing or evaluation for the purpose of developing or contributing to knowledge, and to do so involves human beings from whom data or information will be obtained through intervention or interaction”? (This includes data obtained through surveys, questionnaires, interviews, cases, observation and any other method)
You must submit to OEG your proposal together with the authorization or relief document from the IRB.
The purpose of the proposal is to enable the student and his counselor to define in advance a research topic that can be completed in a reasonable time. The proposal is a compromise between the student and his committee regarding the content and extent of the research. The objectives and procedures described in the document may change during the course of research, but excessive modification should be avoided, particularly adding new goals and procedures that unnecessarily delay research and achievement.
· Cover – The cover of the proposal looks like the cover of the thesis (see examples at the end of this document) but only carries the signatures of the committee and the department director (it does not carry the signatures of the Graduate Studies representative or the director Of Graduate Studies). The title of the proposal is an accurate and concise description of the research topic.
· Justification – This section defends the importance of research and describes its possible original contribution.
· Previous publications- This section summarizes the content of the most important publications relevant to the research topic.
· Objectives- Here the main goals and purposes of the research are presented.
· Methods- This section describes the main materials and methods that will be used to achieve the research objectives. It can also inform the estimated cost of the project, the facilities available, the equipment to be obtained and the approximate duration of the research.
· Literature Cited- Here is a list of the references cited in the text, presented and organized according to the style accepted in the area of specialty.
THE THESIS AND THE PROJECT REPORT
Differences between thesis and project report
The thesis documents an investigation carried out to explore a theoretical theme or whose practical applications do not constitute the main purpose of the work. The final product demonstrates originality, creativity, individuality, organization and critical thinking ability. The project report demonstrates the same qualities but its goal is to solve a concrete problem related to industry or commerce. This guide uses theses indistinctly for both contributions.
The thesis has two main purposes. The first is to prove that the student knows how to work and research independently. The second is to confirm that the student can communicate effectively with the academic and scientific community. The doctoral dissertation also aims to make an original and significant contribution to the area of research.
Suggestions for preparing an excellent thesis
The thesis is the longest and most complex document you will produce as a graduate student. In addition, the thesis will probably be your first formal attempt to produce a document that demonstrates your ability to research, develop, and synthesize knowledge of a field of study. These recommendations will help you finish the thesis with a minimum of setbacks.
- Spend enough time preparing the document. Many students believe that preparing the thesis is a simple task that can be completed in a few weeks at the end of the semester. When they begin to work and face the magnitude of the project, these students become frustrated and give up the effort, or work hastily and produce a lower thesis that will surely face problems during the defense exam. Plans to dedicate to the preparation of the thesis one semester without commitments that occupy a long time. Include in your plans the time your counselor will need to correct drafts of the document. If you have difficulty with the language consider hiring a person to help you improve the document (for example, a teacher or a graduate student in the departments of English or Hispanic Studies).
- Plan and meet your goals. Prepare an outline of the thesis and discuss it with the members of the graduate committee. The thesis will be more manageable if you divide it into sections that you can complete in a relatively short time. Finishing the first section will stimulate you to reach the next goal and continue working until you finish the project. He works with the thesis every day, although initially for a short time. In a few days you will get used to the routine, you will dedicate more and more time to the project and you will see closer the goal to finish punctually and to perform a work of excellence.
- Communicate regularly with your counselor. When your counselor accepted you as a student, he also accepted the obligation to guide you and help you finish the degree. However, counselors have other commitments and often resent that the student appear at the last minute with urgent requests, consultations and demands. To avoid these setbacks, establish with your counselor a calendar of meetings to keep you informed, discussing doubts and solving problems. Also meet with the other committee members to discuss your latest developments and let them know in advance when you plan to submit material for review.
- Write for the audience. It is natural that you write the first version of the thesis for yourself because at that stage you are the only person in the audience. However, later versions have to be targeted at a broad audience. Some theses are written in such a way that only the author can understand them; In many of these theses the title does not faithfully reflect the content of the work, the abstract does not contain all the important information, the materials and methods do not have all the information necessary to repeat the research and the conclusions do not contain the salient points of the discussion.
- Adopt a style and follow it consistently. The thesis must have the same style, format and organization throughout the document. Study carefully this guide and the one suggested by your counselor, and apply accordingly. Following instructions is a prerequisite for the publication of any work that is submitted to public scrutiny, doing so will avoid problems now and when you face the even more stringent rules of professional journals.
- Carefully review the manuscript. The document you will submit to the Graduate Studies Office prior to the exam should be an almost final version of the thesis and not a preliminary draft that will undergo substantial modifications after the exam. The practice of submitting a draft to meet the deadline is undesirable because after the exam you will neither have the time nor the willingness to make major changes. Check each version of the document with the grammar checker of the word processor, but remember that this tool has limitations; For example, the corrector does not detect words that have been replaced by other correctly written words (e.g., spice by species).
You can write the thesis in Spanish or in English. Although it is recommended to write science and engineering theses in English, it is better to write the document in Spanish if you do not have a good command of the English language, if you do not have the resources to pay a professional proofreader, or if your committee can not dedicate additional time To correct the document. The final thesis must be well written regardless of the language used.
Length of thesis
There are no rules about how long a thesis should be. The length of the document depends on several factors, such as the area of concentration, the subject of the investigation, the number of tables and the size of the figures. The extension of the thesis is not necessarily proportional to its quality or to the importance of the contribution. The whole content of the thesis must have a defined function and contribute significantly to the value of the document.
Copyright law protects you against use, duplication and unauthorized distribution of the thesis. This means that no one can reproduce substantial parts of the document without your permission. The same right that you have over your work have the other authors over yours. Although the principle of fair use allows you to reproduce parts of other works for academic purposes without permission (although granting the corresponding credit), this principle has limits and its legal scope is ambiguous. It is recommended to request permission for the reproduction of poems, songs, questionnaires, interviews, letters, and substantial parts of other theses, books and articles published in magazines. Documents published on the Internet have the same legal protection as printed documents.
Obtaining permits can take a long time and copyright owners are not required to respond or give you permission. If you do not answer or refuse permission, you must remove the material from the thesis. If you change the material slightly to be able to use it without permission you will commit plagiarism (presentation of foreign material as if it were its own).
Experimentation with humans or animals
If your thesis includes experiments involving people or animals, include in the appendix a copy of the authorization issued by the institutional committee that reviewed and approved the experimentation.
Delivery of the document
You must submit an unbound copy of the thesis to the Graduate Studies Office 30 days before the date of the defense examination. This period is necessary to obtain a representative of graduate studies who can attend the examination on the day and time agreed by the graduate committee, give the representative time to carefully read the document, to obtain an appropriate place to take the exam and to prepare all the Documents related to the oral examination.
After the defense exam and make all necessary changes and adjustments to the document, you must submit the final version of the thesis in PDF format – no longer a hard copy is delivered. You can deliver the thesis on floppy disk, compact disc or bring it on a flash (USB) drive. The digital version will be sent electronically to the RUM library and Proquest Company.