The Thesis Writing Process - Trinity College, Dublin
The Writing Process Masters Thesis/Dissertation Dr. Tamara OConnor Student Learning Development Student Counselling Service Trinity College Dublin Learning Objectives Focus on writing process Explore strategies for starting and maintaining writing Identify self-management strategies to aid
process Consider structure and outlining Share strategies and experiences Murrays Model (2002) Social Interactions, discussion Support Psychological
Motivation, goal setting, self-monitoring Rhetorical = Writing Regular writing Snack writing + binge writing How to write a lot (Silvia 2007)
Barriers: I cant find time to write I need to do some more analyses first aka I need to read a few more articles To write a lot I need a new computer... Im waiting until I feel like it Self-management & Planning Desires & Wants v.s Goals & Tasks SMART goals SMART Goal Setting
S = Specific M = Measurable A = Action R = Realistic T = Time-based Self-management & Planning Desires & Wants v.s Goals & Tasks SMART goals Planning tools Timeline
Deadlines Writing routine Writing Strategies Notebook/journal Write to prompts
Freewriting Generative writing Writing Sandwich Writing to prompts What writing have I done and what would I like to do? Where do my ideas come from? How does what I read compare with my own views? What I want to write about next is What do I want to write about next?
Freewriting Writing for 5 minutes Without stopping
In sentences Private no external reader No structure needed Topic related to your research Like brainstorming in sentences Generative writing
Writing for 5 minutes Without stopping In sentences Focusing on one topic (maybe from your freewriting To be read by someone else Writing Sandwich Writing 10 minutes Talking 10 minutes Writing 10 minutes
Interactive reading & note taking Collect notes not articles or books How do you make notes? Make use of bibliographic programme your thoughts about others work (Single 2010, p. 79) Pre-Writing
What to make notes on Big Picture Big Point Premise or Hypothesis Data, sources, arguments Theories or conceptual Analytical or research methods Results or analysis Quotations How it influences your research Structure & Outlining
Mapping Structure & Outlining Mapping One page outline Generic thesis structure Use table of contents feature Allocate word count for each section Design sub-sections Write in layers
Writing in layers Write a list of chapter headings Write a sentence or two on contents of each chapter Write lists of headings for each section in each chapter Make notes for each heading on how you will develop the section Write an introductory paragraph for each chapter Write the word count, draft number and date at top of first page
Structure & Outlining Mapping One page outline Generic thesis structure Use table of contents feature Allocate word count for each section
Design sub-sections Write in layers Focus statement Focus Statements A 1-4 sentence statement of your research in the first person, active voice Must be concise, clear, compelling Can help you decide a topic, not permanent! It will be re-worked and it will evolve Its a tool!!
Example Focus Statement Im interested in how teachers in HE can develop their students learning skills within the context of the subject. I will use a mixed methods approach based on a constructivist approach. I want to interview both firstyear students and their teachers to get their view on what they did, how it was perceived, it they thought it was effective. Ill also measure learning and study strategies before and after the teachers learning skills interventions. I hope the research will lead to recommendations on how teachers can help their students improve their learning and performance.
What is an argument? Main claim or conclusion What follows from other statements Reasons or evidence Statements that support conclusion Building up your argument An alternative feminist approach suggests that women may stay in violent relationships even when they are not weak. [Claim/thesis] For these women a constituent of being a woman involves being there
for their men and being able to maintain a relationship despite obstacles. [Evidence/explanation] These women tried to understand their violent partners and felt duty bound to cope the best way they could, for walking out would have been an admission of failure. [Further evidence/elaboration] Model to generate critical thinking Description When? What?
Who? Where? Topic / Issue Why? What next? So What? Evaluation
Analysis What if? How? Example Sample: Smith (1970) reported that bilbies come out at night and eat chocolates. Jones (1972) described the variety of beetles eaten by bilbies on their daytime trips. Wheeler (1974) reported that bilbies eat only apples. The writer asks questions of the text: What is the conclusion about bilbies that can be drawn from these facts?
What is the common denominator? To rewrite, find the important point in the information and place it in a theme sentence in the beginning of the paragraph. What thoughts / new research / speculations do the data suggest? To rewrite, think of the implications of the literature and develop these ideas at the end of the paragraph. Signposting your line of reasoning Indicator words for claims Therefore, thus, hence, so, as a result Indicator words for reasons Because, since, on account of, for, in view of,
for the reason that Tentative or hedging Bodo Slotta, T.A. (2000) Phylogenetic analysis of Iliamna (Malvaceae) using the internal transcribed spacer region. Unpublished masters thesis. Retrieved from http://www.uwc.ucf.edu on 8 Jun 2007. In large gene families with tandem repeats, as is the case for nrDNA, unequal crossing-over may be more important than gene conversion in the concerted evolution process (Li, 1997). For example, the number of repeats can fluctuate without
having any adverse effects. With a larger number of repeats being exchanged, the rate of concerted evolution increases as well. Correspondingly, homogeneity increases as the number of repeats increases. Rate then increases as homogeneity among the copies increases, leading to a self-feeding repetition. As a result of this process, it is believed that nrDNA is found in up to thousands of copies in the nuclear genome (Baldwin et al., 1995). Revision At organisational level Based on table of contents
Chapters and sections At content level Preview, smooth, review Section by section Targeted revision Grammatical errors Idiosyncrasies Overcoming blocks?
Visualise completed thesis Combine strategies Tips for successful writing Plan to write regularly Make a time plan and stick to it Write up section as soon as its ready Stop writing at a point where you could go on
makes it easier to start next time! Decide where and when best for you Dont write when exhausted Seek support REFERENCES Cresswell, J.W. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publishers. Easterbrook, S. (2004). How theses get written: Some cool tips. [PDF Document] Retrieved from http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~sme/presentations /thesiswriting.pdf] Hart, C. (2005) Doing your masters dissertation. London: Sage. Murray, R. (2002). How to write a thesis. Philadelphia: Open University
Press. Silvia, P.J. (2007). How to write a lot. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association. Single, P.B.. (2010). Demystifying dissertation writing: A streamlined proce from choice of topic to final text. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC. Our details Website: http://student-learning.tcd.ie Email: [email protected] Facebook: facebook.com/sldtcd Twitter: twitter.com/StudentLearnin1 Phone: 01-8961407
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