A graduate research is distinct in that it has an original impact to knowledge; hence, the purpose of a master's thesis is to prove that the study actually made an original contribution or impact to knowledge; this is what the examiners will use to assess your master’s thesis. When writing the thesis, therefore, seek to prove the uniqueness of your work and its contribution to knowledge!
Length of the Master’s Thesis
The length of your thesis will depend on your topic and analytical methods used in the research. However, the average length of a Master’s thesis should be 40 to 80 pages, exclusive of the references.
The topic of your research is key to the attainment of the objective of a master’s thesis; proving both originality and contribution of your work to knowledge. Below are the characteristics of a good research topic.
- It should be from a subject of your personal interest. This will keep you motivated to give the best to your research and thesis.
- The topic should be researchable. Consider the cost and time implications of handling the topic.
- It should also be related to the problem you want to resolve in your research. It should be aimed at contributing to knowledge!
- The theme of your topic should have social significance.
The research or thesis question you choose, and the expected answer, should be original and unique. You should be able to prove that no previous research has been done on the question and that the question is worth answering. This means that you need to review the available literature exhaustively before you settle on your thesis problem.
A thesis advisor should be a member of your faculty, and whose academic field of specialization is, or is related to your field of research. Students are at liberty to choose their thesis advisors; hence, choose a professor you get along well and who will be ready to dedicate time to your project.
Literature Review: This is your initial research. Do a comprehensive literature review on your thesis question. Study on earlier researches on the topic.
Main Research: This is research aimed at answering the thesis question. This is the primary objective of your study. You will be required to read the available literature, perform experiments, fill questionnaires, and any other activity that will help you answer the thesis question.
Your thesis should be free of plagiarism; hence, you should add in-text citations for any text that is not your original work. Besides citing, this text should also be paraphrased in your own words and not direct as it is from the source.
Any person interested in your research topic will read the abstract to know the overall content of the thesis in a summarized form. The abstract should contain the most important parts of your thesis; the objective, methodology, results and conclusion. The abstract should not exceed 250 words. Below the abstract should be the keywords in capital and bold letters.
Note: Consider writing the abstract after completing your thesis; as highlighted above, an abstract is a summary of the thesis!
Format of a Master's Thesis
The following are the principal subdivisions of a thesis in the order they should flow.
- Title Page
- Author’s Declaration
- Table of Contents
- Main Text
Your document should be formatted according to your university's directions. Some of the formats you should consider doing as per the instructions are Font, Paragraph Formatting, Page Layout, Page numbers, Numbering and Referencing style.
Writing the Main Text
It involves a summary of the research problem and the justification. The particular objectives of the research should also be stated in the introduction.
All the available literature, which is relevant to the topic of study, should be included in this section. Other studies done previously in this field should also be included. The literature review will help you justify your thesis question. Note to include all the in-text citations of the literature reviewed. Also, make sure that most of the citations are current. However, historical and original references should not be omitted.
Techniques used in data collection and analysis should be well described. For science researches, a description of experiments and instrumentation should be given. Geographical field site characteristics such as climate should also be stated where necessary.
Analytical methods used should also be clearly described. They help the reader to understand the results.
State the results of your research. Clear and well-labeled tables and figures may be used to present your results. However, the tables and figures should not be a replication of the theoretical results. Interpretation of the results should not be done under this section.
Before writing your discussion, revisit the thesis question. Can an explanation of the results you got answer the research question? Your interpretation of the results in the discussion section should concur with your research objectives. The research methodology should also be discussed in this section. Revisit also your hypotheses and explain how the prediction compares with your findings.
Restate your findings, but more precisely. How do the findings contribute to knowledge? What are your recommendations for future research? Note that the evaluators of your thesis will be very keen on how your work Contributes to Knowledge. Your conclusion should give a summary of this contribution. Note that any claims made in the conclusion should have their proof in the thesis.
- A list of references used in-text should be added after the conclusion, and in a new page.
- You should sign the declaration before you hand in your thesis for evaluation.