ThesisWritingClinic

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Published on January 13, 2008

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Thesis Writing Clinic:  Thesis Writing Clinic Roles General Writing APA Format Empirical Thesis Non-Empirical Thesis Organization of the Thesis Supervisor’s Role:  Supervisor’s Role Hands-on involvement will vary somewhat depending on the individual supervisor. Guide & mentor Big picture issues Design issues Answering questions NOT an assistant, or a personal life-coach or a copy-editor Student’s Role:  Student’s Role This is YOUR project. It is YOUR responsibility. Keep yourself motivated Do your own research Write regularly Ask questions of your supervisor. They are a resource for you. General Writing:  General Writing Writing is a process. A GOOD thesis is NOT completed with 1 or 2 drafts!! Step 1: Planning, organizing information Step 2: Write, Read, Edit Step 3: Write, Read, Edit Step 4: Write, Read, Edit Step N: Write, Read, Edit Repeat these steps several times, then give it to your supervisor, and then repeat AGAIN. General Writing:  General Writing Write as though you are submitting it for publication (which may actually happen). Spelling and grammar are important. E.g., behaviour Use complete sentences. Make sure the verb agrees in number (i.e., singular or plural) with its subject, regardless of intervening phrases. E.g. The percentage of correct responses, as well as the speed of the responses, increases with practice. General Writing:  General Writing Do not use contractions. E.g., rather than don’t, can’t, or shouldn’t, use do not, can not, and should not. Use the possessive correctly. E.g., its, not it's; your, not you're. Use the past tense when discussing studies conducted in the past. E.g., First-year university students were recruited to participate in the study. General Writing:  General Writing Avoid the passive voice (‘to be’ versions of verbs). It is a wordy and weak style. Passive: Studies have been conducted to … Active: Smith (2006) conducted a study… Avoid wordiness in any form. Do not use 10 words, when 5 will suffice. E.g., drop the phrase "in order to" – it's just filler. Avoid using colloquialisms, and melodramatic, judgmental, or inflammatory language – this is science, not a soapbox. Slang is also not appropriate. General Writing:  General Writing Try to avoid using the first person, singular or plural. Occasional use is not prohibited if it avoids a stilted style. Do not try to sound smart by using big words or long complicated sentences. Keep your writing simple. Trying to write smart just reads stupid. General Writing:  General Writing Do not put information, other than citations, in parentheses. Brackets imply the information is not important – if it is worth saying at all, then work it into the text. Do not use "since" when you mean "because." They are not synonyms. “Since” requires the passage of time. General Writing:  General Writing Keep the use of direct quotations to a minimum. Paraphrase as much as you possibly can. Punctuation goes within the quotation marks. Page number must be included with the citation. General Writing:  General Writing Use punctuation marks correctly Periods and commas are the main forms of punctuation. Periods (full stops) are used to end sentences and as part of some abbreviations (et al.). Keep the use of exclamation (!) and question marks (?) to a minimum. General Writing:  General Writing The proper uses of a comma are: to indicate a slight pause in a sentence to mark off additional information which is not essential to the meaning, but adds something extra to mark off phrases beginning with, for example, 'when', 'if', 'after', 'unless', 'although' when there is an incomplete verb at the start of the sentence or phrase joining two independent clauses separated by a conjunction (such as "and" and "but") separating items in a list General Writing:  General Writing The proper uses of a colon are: following a grammatically complete introductory clause where the final phrase or clause emphasizes the preceding idea, or consists of a list. If the clause following the colon is a complete sentence, it begins with a capital letter. E.g., There are three countries I wish to visit: New Zealand, Australia, and Peru. My mother gave me one good piece of advice: It is a waste time and energy to worry about things that cannot be changed. in ratios and proportions. E.g., The probability of rolling snake-eyes is 1:36. in references, between the place of publication and the publisher. E.g., Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press Canada General Writing:  General Writing The proper uses of a semi-colons are: to link independent clauses not joined by a coordinating conjunction, and only if those independent clauses are closely related. Each clause must be a complete sentence (i.e. a period could replace the semi-colon and still make sense). to separate items in a list, but only if those items contain an internal comma (a semi-colon never precedes a list – that is the job of a colon). to join two independent clauses separated by a conjunctive adverb (accordingly, consequently, hence, however, moreover, otherwise, therefore, and thus). General Writing:  General Writing Commonly misused words ‘Affect’ as a verb, means to influence; as a noun, it refers to emotional state. E.g., The medications affect mood, thus allowing patients show appropriate affect. ‘Effect’ as a verb, means to bring about; as a noun, it refers to a result. E.g., One effect of elections is to effect a change in government. For more examples, see Northey and Timney (2005). General Writing:  General Writing Abbreviations Define any abbreviations you will be using. E.g., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is…. Other than et al., the use of abbreviations such as e.g., i.e., etc. should be limited to parentheses. In the text, write them out in full (e.g., for example). Use ‘&’ only in parenthetical citations (Smith & Jones, 2006); use ‘and’ for citations in the text, such as Smith and Jones (2006)…. General Writing:  General Writing Useful sources about writing: http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/apa4b.htm http://www.arts.uottawa.ca/writcent/hypergrammar American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Northey, M., & Timney, B. (2005). Making sense: A student’s guide to research and writing. Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press Canada. Truss, L. (2003). Eats, shoots and leaves. Toronto, ON: Penguin Books Canada, Ltd. APA Format:  APA Format General Format Use a 12 pt font (10 characters per inch). E.g., Times New Roman Margins should be 1 inch. Every page (including the Title and Reference pages) has a header consisting of the first 2 or 3 words of the title, and a page number next to the header. http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/apa4b.htm#A1 APA Format:  APA Format Title Page Running Head: TITLE Title, Student’s name, Nipissing University Example http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/apa4b.htm#A1 APA Format:  APA Format Abstract Check with your supervisor to find out if you should include an abstract with non-empirical theses. It should consist of a single (double-spaced) paragraph in block format (i.e., do not use indentation). Provide a brief, comprehensive summary of the study including a description of the problem being investigated, the methods used, the results, and their implications. Do not include information that is not in the body of the manuscript. Limit the abstract to a 120 word maximum. Avoid citing references in the abstract. APA Format:  APA Format Text pages The title of your paper should appear, centred, at top of the first page of text (p3 with an abstract; p2 if no abstract). Each page should be double-spaced and left-justified only. The first line of each paragraph should be indented. Do not put gaps between paragraphs. APA Format:  APA Format Subtitles are centred, in mixed-case (Abstract, Methods, Results, Discussion, References) Secondary titles (such as in Methods section) are left-justified, and in italics. Abstract and References are on separate pages from the main body of the paper, so the section titles are centred at the top of their respective pages. APA Format:  APA Format In-text citations take the following formats: Smith and Jones (2006)… … (Smith & Jones, 2006). … (Flynn, Saari, Stange, Weeks & Chow, 2006). … (Flynn, et al., 2006). … (Flynn, 2004; Saari, 2000; Weeks, 2006). Within a paragraph, you need only include the year with the 1st citation; with each new paragraph, include the year again. APA Format:  APA Format References Page The section title is centred at the top of the page, and is written in mixed case. The basic article format is: Lastname, S. H., Lastname, J. D., & Lastname, B. S. (2006). Article title in mixed case: Only first words are capitalized. Journal Title in Italics, 33 (2), 340-399. An example page can be found at: http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/apa4b.htm#A3 APA Format:  APA Format References Page List a maximum of 6 authors. The reference when more than 6 authors looks looks like: Flynn, D.  Saari, M., Stange, K., Weeks, A., Murphy, D., Curwen, T., et al.(2006). Article title. Journal Title, 3 (2), 23-32. The first & subsequent citations looks like this: Flynn et al. (2006)… …(Flynn et al., 2006). Empirical Thesis:  Empirical Thesis This projects involves conducting, analyzing, and writing up an experiment. The main sections are: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, References. The Methods section consists of the following subsections: Subjects/Participants, Apparatus, Design, and Procedure. Non-Empirical Thesis:  Non-Empirical Thesis This project is an exhaustive review of scientific literature. This type of thesis has a simple organization, consisting of an introduction, a body, a conclusion, and the References page. The expected length will depend on the topic, so speak with your supervisors about their expectations. Non-Empirical Thesis:  Non-Empirical Thesis Typically, you should expect to use about 1 reference per page, but again, this will depend on your topic. Speak with your supervisors about their expectations. Most sources should be primary sources, specifically, peer-reviewed journal articles. Keep the use of review articles and books to a minimum. Thesis Organization:  Thesis Organization Introduction Empirical This section defines the topic and terms used in the paper. It also provides a brief history of your project, discussing the scientific literature that led to your hypothesis. The hypothesis, or purpose, of your experiment is clearly stated. Thesis Organization:  Thesis Organization Introduction Non-Empirical This section defines the topic and terms used in the paper. It also outlines the main points presented in the paper. Thesis Organization:  Thesis Organization Body of the Paper Empirical Methods Subjects/Participants Describe the relevant information (species, age, gender, etc.). Apparatus Describe the equipment or tests employed during the study. Thesis Organization:  Thesis Organization Body of the Paper Empirical Methods Design Describe the independent and dependent variables, indicating the levels of the independent variables, and whether the factor(s) were repeated, matched, or independent. Discuss how the subjects were assigned to groups. Describe any control procedures used. Thesis Organization:  Thesis Organization Body of the Paper Empirical Method Procedure Summarize each step in the execution of the study, indicating what a typical test, trial, or session involved. Describe the various phases of the study, and any instructions given to the subjects. Results Describe the statistical tests used to analyze the data. Describe the results of those tests in mathematical terms. Some supervisors will also want to see some discussion as well. Thesis Organization:  Thesis Organization Body of the Paper Non-Empirical This is an organized summary of the studies described in your selected articles. It is not just a listing of “facts” taken from journal articles. You need to pick the main points about your topic, then describe the evidence that supports or refutes each. Basic format of each section or paragraph is “point-proof” A point is a general issue or fact about the topic. The proof is a description of the study that supports (or refutes) that point. Thesis Organization:  Thesis Organization Body of the Paper Non-Empirical The proof consists of empirical evidence. This can be experimental, correlational, or observational. This does not include anecdotal evidence. Describe what was done, to whom, and what was the general result. Then discuss how that evidence supports the point you were making. Provide some critical analysis of the studies: What are their strengths and weakness? What issues do they fail to address? Thesis Organization:  Thesis Organization Discussion/Conclusion Empirical Discussion Describe your findings in words rather than statistics. Discuss where your findings fit in the literature, including how your findings add to an understanding of the topic. Present the strengths and weaknesses of your study. Non-Empirical Conclusion Summarize the main points presented in the paper. Discusses the gaps in the literature. Thesis Organization:  Thesis Organization References page Begin this on a new page. All sources should be in APA format, and listed in alphabetical order by the first authors’ last names. Tables, Figure Captions, Figures and Appendices (Empirical thesis) Check with your supervisor about where to place these, as some may prefer you include tables and figures in the text. Formal APA format places these at the end of the paper, after the references. Regardless of where you are asked in to place these, make sure they are discussed in the text of your paper. Never have Tables and Figures anywhere in a paper without describing them in the Results section. That is all she wrote!:  That is all she wrote!

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