Guide provides aid to students writing thesis proposals

How to write a good master’s thesis proposal
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  mortgages, land values, downpayments, sale price, monthlypayments and plat maps.After this introduction, studentsare better prepared for assignmentsin which documentary sources areused. Best of all, they initiate asearch for documentary sources morefrequently when pursuing their ownstories. Guide provides aidto students writingthesis proposals By Jean Folkerts andPamela J. Shoemaker The key to a successful thesis ordissertation is a comprehensiveproposal. Too often, students wanderthrough the thesis without a clearidea of their guiding principles andthen wonder why a professor chidesthem about lack of organization orfuzzy thinking.A clear guide to writing a thesisproposal .is not only an aid tostudents, but a time-saver forinstructors as well. After explainingto student after student howimportant a proposal is, we decidedto write a guide that wouldincorporate quantitative andqualitative procedures for writing atiiesis or dissertation proposal.The value of the proposal has been1) to encourage students to thinkclearly about their projects beforeengaging in extensive work that mayhave to be seriously revised and 2) tomake a clear statement thatquantitative and qualitative researchrequire conceptual clarity. We reliedheavily on  Techniqiies and Problemsof Theory onstruction in Sociology FuUarrtt mid ShoemaJar are asgistarU prufesaars in theDepartment of Journalism at the Vnivenity of Texas atAu*tin. by Jerald  Hage^ in writing  the guideto be given to master's and Ph.D.candidates.The guide advises students tofollow six major steps: 1) Write a brief introduction.2) Develop a theoretical approach.3) Explain the significance of the expectedresults.4) Describe the method.5) Discuss expected results.6) Explain the significance of the expectedresults. Operating from the princip^le that  i you can't say what you're going to doin a few sentences, you don't knowwhat you're doing, we tell students towrite a brief summary of what theirdissertation or thesis will be about,not to exceed one page. Theory The second step involvesdeveloping theory. Hage's two kindsof theoretical statements arepresented: 1) either-or and 2)continuous.Simple quantitative examples areprovided: People who have a higheducational level also have a highlevel of media use, and The moreeducation a person has, the more hewill use the mass media. The hand-out explains the relative value of thedifferent kinds of statements.Qualitative examples take the formof research questions or thesisstatements: Did the agrarianreform press of the 1890s provideinformation that mainstreamnewspapers did not include? or Asfarmers in the 1890s began tochallenge the economic and politicalstructure of the community,mainstream newspapers changedtheir description of farmers frommen who were thoughtful membersof the community to grangey fanners with leopardian politics. The guide delineates the  Plea8e turn to page 44.) 30 Journalism Educator Autumn 1984  for thesis proposals  Continued from page 30.) importance  of  theoretical linkages,concepts, theoretical  and  operationaldefinitions.Students then write  a  brief reviewof  the  literature. This step forcesthem  to be  familiar with  the literature  in the  area  and  also leadsthem  to the  first step  of  actualdissertation writing. Method Students  are  advised  to  approachmethod carefully.  The  proposaloutlines operational definitions  or indicators that indicate  how a concept will  be  measured.  The quantitative example  for  operationalindicators looks  at the  usefulness  of various indicators media use, such  as the number  of  newspapers  an individual reads each  day;  hours  an individual spends watching localtelevision,  and so on.  Students  are advised that many possible indicatorsexist  and the  selection  of  these willinfiuence later ability  to  generalizethe results  of  the study.The qualitative example indicatesthe need  for  defining terms such  as limited expression  or  freedom  of expression. Does  one  outspokenpublisher constitute freedom  of expression? Even  if he is  thereafterjailed?  Or do  three  out of  fourdissenting publishers constitutefreedom? Students  are  advised thateven  if  they do not intend  to  quantifyresults, they must define theirapproach  to  gathering evidence.A second part  of the  MethodsSection contained  in the  proposalemphasizes operational linkages  and the importance  of  specifying how thestudent will decide whether his or herresults support  the  theoreticalstatement. Statistical tests  are  usedas quantitative examples.  The qualitative example discussesproblems  of  generalizing from  a few sources and the extreme caution thatshould  be  exercised  in  leaping fromevidence  to  conclusions.The concluding portion  of the proposal should include expectedresults  and a  description  of how results will affect  the  field. Studentsare asked,  How  will positivefindings support, challenge,  or change  the  existing literature? Whatdo  the  findings mean  to  the workingjournalist? What additional studiesare necessary  to  answer  any questions which would  be  raised  by positive findings  in  this study? This six-page guide  to  proposalwriting  is  extremely useful  to us in advising graduate students.  It eliminates repetitive initialconversations with beginningstudents,  it  forces students  to  thinkcarefully about  his or her  projectbefore plimging in, and  it  provides  a framework for the actual writing of athesis  or  dissertation.   YoHi:  John Wiley and Sons,  197t Manuscripts sought  for  special topic issue.  The Autumn1985 issue (published Oct. 1) will feature  a  special section  of articles dealing with Journalism and Mass CommunicationsEducation  for the 21st  Century. Interested authors  are invited  to  contribute manuscripts by April  1,  1985.   Journalism Educator Autumn 1984
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