Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR): Guide 2.0

Year of publication 2020

STRUCTURE AND CONTENT OF THE THESIS REPORT

 

 

A thesis can focus on either research or development. Writing a report is an integral part of a thesis. The report should include:

  • what has been researched, observed, developed, or conducted
  • why the thesis has been conducted, and based on what
  • how the research, development or actions have been conducted
  • what are the results, and;
  • what is the significance of the results or outcomes, and how these aspects can be utilised.

The report of a thesis in a university of applied sciences follows the structure of general academic final projects, such as a master’s thesis or a dissertation. These written pieces have a certain presentation structure. One characteristic is to present the results towards the end of the report, after describing the starting points and process, and how the results have been reached.   

The following sections describe the structural parts of the report, starting with the name and providing instructions related to the contents of the structural parts. There are some differences between research and development oriented thesis reports. These differences have been acknowledged in this guide. The headings used in this guide are describing the structural parts – these headings should only be used in some cases in thesis reports.

Name of the Thesis

The cover page must include the main heading, which describes the entire thesis. The heading must describe the topic of the thesis in a clear manner. Attractivity should not be sought after at the cost of clarity, because the reader benefits more from a heading that clearly presents the topic and perspective.

The thesis template enables two-part headings. However, two-part headings are not ideal: in fact, they can even make the name too long and difficult to understand if the heading is used in another text. Headings starting with a citation can be intriguing, and the citation can be used to describe the objective of the thesis. Citation, however, requires an explanatory subheading. Please confirm if the subheading on its own is enough to describe your thesis.    

Abstract

Abstract summarises the central content and results of the thesis. Abstract is its own genre, and it is written in a certain way.

⇒ Familiarise yourself with the abstract guide before writing.

Table of Contents

The content and structure of your thesis should be clearly presented in main headings and subheadings presented in the table of contents. This portrays the general overview of the report and the logic behind it. The reader should understand what has been researched or developed by reading through the table of contents.

The table of contents also visualises the length and amount of text in the sections. Try to write sections that are comprehensive enough.

Text with short chapters and sections can create an incoherent unit, in which aspects are separated and not interconnected. The chapters should create a unit, in which each chapter promotes the information flow. The aspects discussed in the chapters should be deliberately interconnected.

All chapters must be numbered. This means that there should not be any unnumbered sections. Main chapters can be divided into sections. In some cases, sections can also have sections. However, in general, second-levelled heading structure is sufficient. All main chapters do not need to have sections. For example, introduction and discussion chapters do not require sections.

Note that if you use sections, a single section or subheading should not be placed under any chapter. If this happens, it is a signal of logic errors in text structure. In these cases, the headings should be edited to include the content of a single section. This way, the short section can be removed.

An example on chapter structure:

1 INTRODUCTION
2 FIRST MAIN CHAPTER
3 SECOND MAIN CHAPTER
3.1 The first section of the second main chapter
3.2 The second section of the second main chapter
3.3 The third section of the second main chapter
4 THIRD MAIN CHAPTER

Introduction

Introduction

The heading for introduction can simply be ’Introduction’. In this chapter, the reader is introduced to the topic, the topic is justified, and the content of the thesis is revealed.

Start the introduction by writing two to three paragraphs on the phenomenon, aspect or need in the background of your topic. In this way, you provide natural arguments for your own topic. After this, tell about the topic of your thesis. What are you researching, developing, testing, conducting (the purpose of the thesis), and what are the benefits: to who and to what extent (the objective)?  

Thus, it is not beneficial to start right off with your topic (‘In this thesis…’, ‘The topic of this thesis is…’) or with yourself (‘I have been fascinated about…’ ‘For quite a while now, I have been involved with work related to…’).   

At this stage, the research or development project is not defined, but rather the research or development subject is introduced in a general manner.

Introduction does not include an overview of the upcoming chapters.

The introduction should be about 1–1,5 pages long.

Theoretical Background

Theoretical Background

The thesis report should include 1–3 main chapters on theoretical background, depending on the topic. In these chapters, the theoretical background related to the topic and to the discussion is introduced. Do not use the term ’theory’ unless the starting point or the background of your thesis is genuinely based on a theory. Theory refers to a justified system of ideas on a certain phenomenon.

Theoretical background in a thesis for university of applied sciences is generally focused on defining the central key concepts. The definition process requires several sources, primarily from the research field. Definitions from different sources should be introduced and compared. Then, the meaning of the central key concepts for the thesis is explained and discussed.

If legislation has a central part in your topic, you can discuss it in this chapter.

The heading for the chapter can reflect the content of the chapter, or, if the content is divided into several sections that discuss terminology, the main heading can be, for example, ‘Theoretical Framework and Central Terminology’. Ensure that the heading clearly encompasses the limits of the discussion. Headings with a single word or a concept are usually too broad.

The Purpose and Objective of the Thesis

The Purpose and Objective of the Thesis

The chapter on the purpose and objective of the thesis is an exception to the length rule. While in general, longer chapters are preferred, this chapter can be kept short. However, it is important that the contents of this chapter are clearly differentiated from the other chapters.

In a research-oriented thesis, the research problem, that is, the research subject, is defined. The research problem is summarised into a research question that portrays what is being researched and clarified. A research-oriented thesis, then, provides an answer to these questions.  

Note that a research question is different from an interview question used to gather research material. Interview questions are formed through the research questions.

Adequate research questions are representatives of ’open-ended questions’ that yield a more comprehensive answer than just ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Therefore, it is encouraged to employ WH question words (how, what, what kind, in what way).

In a development-oriented thesis, the subject of the development process, that is, the purpose of the thesis, is defined. The starting point and objectives are explained and introduced to the reader, and the development need is justified.  

Background and Partners

Background and Partners

In some theses, the presentation of partners or research and development context in their own chapters might be necessary to clarify the context of research or development process to the reader. In some cases, it might be more appropriate to describe the development or research environment as a part of another section.

Research-oriented Thesis: Data collection, Data, and Analysis

Research-oriented Thesis: Data collection, Data, and Analysis

This chapter describes

  • the research environment and target group. Explain the size of the target group, and how you chose this group for your research.
  • execution of data collection. Explain how you organised the data collection and the method or methods you applied. You can use sources to support your text, for example by comparing the sources to your own methods. Do not, however, provide a general overview of different methods through sources, but rather focus on your own methods and use the sources to support your text, if necessary.
  • the quality and extent of the collected data. Describe the data and the extent of it (for example the recorded interviews in hours and minutes, the transcribed recordings in pages or characters, or the number of surveys, response rate and completion level of the survey)
  • method or methods used to analyse the data. Describe how you analysed the data and refer to sources when necessary. Make sure you describe all data analysing stages.

This chapter is strongly connected to reliable and ethical research. Therefore, describe the aforementioned aspects in a clear manner, so that the reader can evaluate the appropriateness, ethics and applicability of the research results.

Development-oriented Thesis: The Development Process and Methods

Development-oriented Thesis: The Development Process and Methods

Use this chapter to describe the planning, implementation, and feedback on the different stages of a development project, an event or a production, as well as the results. Proceed in a logical order. Explain what kinds of methods you used and how you applied them in practice. What choices did you make? Why?  

Do not go into too much detail or describe secondary objectives. Choose the relevant description units based on the results.

You can visualise the process through figures or diagrams.

Choose the heading for the chapter in a way that describes the subject of the development process. 

Results

Results

In a research-oriented thesis, the research results are presented in different sections based on the contents.

In a development-oriented thesis, a separate result chapter is not mandatory. Instead, the achieved result is described, if it was not already described and introduced in a previous chapter. For example, if the thesis resulted in a written material or something similar, this chapter is used to describe the material and its structure. You can choose a heading that describes the contents of this chapter.   

Ethical Perspectives and Reliability

Ethical Perspectives and Reliability

Ethical discussion and aspects related to the reliability of the research results can be included in a discussion chapter, or they can form their own chapter. In this case, the most natural position would be after the result chapter. In this chapter, the ethical questions and choices related to the execution of the thesis are described and discussed. The emphasised ethical perspectives and their significance is dictated by the topic of the thesis. The text should be introductory, descriptive, and reflective, not justification or declaration of your own ethical choices.

In a research-oriented thesis, the potential aspects that could have impacted the research results during the process are also discussed in this chapter.  

⇒ Research Integrity in Diak

Conclusion and Discussion

Conclusion and Discussion

The heading for this chapter can simply be ’Discussion’ since conclusions are not necessary in all topics.

This chapter focuses on the conclusions and discussions that can be drawn from the subject of the research or development based on the aspects mentioned and executed in the previous chapters. Therefore, return to your research questions or development process. How were the objectives realised? What are the justifications for your evaluation? Did any unrelated observations or ideas surface? In addition, look at your theoretical framework. What could you mention about the framework with regards to the results or implementation?

Evaluate the significance of your thesis with regards to the development of your professional competences. What kinds of professional competences does this kind of a thesis develop and enhance?

Finally, introduce and discuss suggestions for additional research, development projects, new products, services, or business ideas.

The heading for this chapter can simply be ’Discussion’ since conclusions are not necessary in all topics.
This chapter focuses on the conclusions and discussions that can be drawn from the subject of the research or development based on the aspects mentioned and executed in the previous chapters. Therefore, return to your research questions or development process. How were the objectives realised? What are the justifications for your evaluation? Did any unrelated observations or ideas surface? In addition, look at your theoretical framework. What could you mention about the framework with regards to the results or implementation?

Evaluate the significance of your thesis with regards to the development of your professional competences. What kinds of professional competences does this kind of a thesis develop and enhance?

Finally, introduce and discuss suggestions for additional research, development projects, new products, services, or business ideas.

List of References and Appendices

The heading for list of references should be ‘List of References’. Only the references and sources referred to in the text should be included in the list of references.

References and List of References

Only the documents referred in the text should be included as an appendix. The appendices must be numbered and provided names (for example Appendix 1, Survey).

Authors

Anna Liisa Karjalainen, Titta Riihimäki, Minna Valtonen and Marianne Nylund (2020)

Saavutettavuusseloste