14.05.2009

Preparing to Submit an MA Thesis

Working on drafts
Final stages
The examination process

 

WORKING ON DRAFTS 

 

The purpose of the pro gradu seminar is to help you work on your thesis by working on draft chapters and getting feedback and advice from your supervisor and the seminar group. Your supervisor will help you draw up a workable plan and guide you through the process of preparing your manuscript. She or he will also give you detailed comments and feedback on your writing. In order to facilitate this, we would like you to consider the following when submitting your work:

  • All drafts and texts must be handed in hard copy, not as email attachments.
  • If you have questions or would like feedback on some specific parts of your text, please attach a cover sheet in which you ask for feedback and comments on these points.
  • We encourage you to hand in work at different stages of the process, right from the start. Do not hesitate to ask for feedback on the first drafts of chapters or even shorter pieces of writing. Feedback may be crucial to making progress with your work.
  • When you are ready to submit larger pieces (e.g. all background chapters or more than one chapter reporting findings), please include a table of contents that shows the organisation of the thesis. This helps your supervisor to see how the text is linked to other parts of your thesis.
  • When you return a second (or third or fourth…) draft of a chapter or section of text, write a separate note in which you tell your supervisor how you have revised the text on the basis of earlier feedback. This helps your supervisor to see how your work takes shape.
  • When you meet with your supervisor to get feedback and talk about how to proceed, make sure you ask all the questions that have been puzzling you. Your supervisor's main interest is in helping you to solve problems and make progress. Always make a clear agreement on what to do next and when to report on your work the next time.

 

FINAL STAGES 

 

After you have completed all the chapters and revised them on the basis of comments from your supervisor, your work is ready for a final check and revisions. Before you hand in the complete manuscript, do the following:

  • Carefully proofread the text from the point of view of content, argumentation and language. Correct all errors.
  • Check all the references in text and make sure they are included in the bibliography in the correct form. Do this page by page, cross-checking each reference with entries in the bibliography. 
  • Check chapter headings, the numbering of examples, tables and figures. Make sure they are in the form specified in the guidelines.
  • Check the bibliography carefully and make sure it follows the 'house style'.
  • Write the abstract: the abstract should give a clear and coherent summary of your research, with a brief description of the purpose and motivation of your research, the topic of your study, the theoretical framework, data, methodology and main findings. It should also include a list of keywords (see model for cover page and abstract). Make sure your abstract is in good, clear Finnish! 

 

After a final check, your thesis is ready for the examination process. This proceeds as follows:

 

THE EXAMINATION PROCESS

1. Submit the complete manuscript to your supervisor for the first reading (esitarkastus).

At this stage your manuscript should be complete with the cover page, table of contents, abstract and bibliography in place. Your supervisor will go over it in detail and make final comments on possible errors or problems. After the first reading, you will still have time to make final revisions, but you are not encouraged to make any major changes at this point.

2. Make the corrections required by your supervisor and check the manuscript.

3. Have the thesis printed and bound by a printing company. One bound copy is enough for the examination. You may want to order extra copies for yourself and family and friends.

4. Submit two copies of the manuscript, the bound copy of the thesis and an unbound paper copy to your supervisor for the second and final reading.   (For further instructions, please see http://www.jyu.fi/hum/opiskelu/perustutkinnot/tutkielma/tarkastus)

The thesis will be examined by two readers. Generally, one of them is your supervisor and the other will be another member of staff who supervises pro gradu theses. The second reader is usually chosen on the basis of his/her expertise on the topic and field of study that your work represents. Occasionally, none of the supervisors in English have enough expertise to examine a thesis on a specialised topic. In these cases, we consult colleagues in other departments (e.g. CALS). If you want to suggest a reader for your work, please discuss this with your supervisor.

The examiners for all theses are appointed by the professor in charge of academic matters (oppiaineen pääedustaja), in some cases the head of department or the Department Council. For more details, see http://www.jyu.fi/hum/tiedekunta/henkilosto/tentit/progradutarkastajat

The Faculty of Humanities specifies that the examination process must be completed within one month. In our case, the second reading normally takes no more than two weeks. If the examiners cannot complete the reading in this time, your supervisor will contact you to negotiate a schedule that you can accept.

5. The two examiners write a review of your thesis and suggest a grade for your work. For more information on the evaluation of pro gradu theses, see the Faculty website at http://www.jyu.fi/hum/opiskelu/perustutkinnot/tutkielma/arviointi

Your supervisor will let you know about the grade and send you a copy of the statement, if you so wish.  Now it is time to congratulate you on completing a major project successfully! But the process is not quite over yet…

6. After your thesis has been examined, it is your responsibility to make sure that it is made available to the research and student community via the University Library. In order to do this, follow the instructions found at
http://kirjasto.jyu.fi/showtext.php?lang=fin&keyword=kokoelmat-opinnaytteet-julkaisu

Other students and members of the academic community are interested in reading your work.
Please help future thesis writers by making your work public with the library's help.