The thesis includes a written report consisting of the final research report and the compilation and presentation of the thesis.
Working methods are individual: some people organise and write (or imagine writing) the whole text in their head, others formulate their ideas with the aid of and during the actual writing process. Some write quickly and others more slowly, editing their texts as they go along. Writing is a complicated creative act of workmanship involving the organisation of ideas into an accurate form. It is difficult to change writing habits though it is recommended that you develop the contents before working on expression. Leave enough time for editing your text!
The thesis report is a sample of workmanship that demonstrates an important part of your professional skills: written presentation skills. The report covers your research topic, what was studied and how it was researched and the outcomes. The research report should not include any unnecessary details such as background problems and your own experiences. The size of your report is determined by its objectives and the nature of your work.
The aim of the written report is to inform the reader of the outcomes of your research. Reporting is carried out using general guidelines for academic publications. Finalising your report is the slowest part of your work even though your may have written your text with care. Writing always takes more time than estimated.
The Stages of Writing
You will start to write your research during the planning stage and some parts of the plan can be included directly or after editing in your final report. Please take into account that writing consists of many stages.
In the productive stage you should strive to write as accurately and well as possible, though without stopping to contemplate each tiny detail. It is necessary to get down your thought processes as a whole on paper.
The developmental and rewriting stage may be often repeated. It is productive in a different way to the idea production stage: chains of thought are organised and matured. This stage also produces more ideas and thoughts that you may have failed to notice and develop during the first stage of the process. Such repetition is beneficial to your work.
During the final version stage you must pay attention to smaller details and their accuracy, reliability and cohesiveness of thought and written expression. During this stage it is useful to have someone proof- read your text. Your supervisor is there to read your text though any reader with the competence to deal with a research text will be useful to you.
The stages of writing are actually intertwined though they are presented as consecutive stages here. Each stage of work takes time to mature so that issues become clear and fall into place. You must be able to work as intensively as possible and to concentrate on the problem area as widely as possible while simultaneously controlling all of its parts.
Since content and language are inseparable the writer must also ensure that he/she can cope with the required language and style of a research report. Supervisors should emphasise that clear, well-managed language use is the key to delivering the contents of the report.
Levels of Writing
Writing progresses at many different levels simultaneously. All the principles guiding the organisation of your text have long been in use before they finally make any sense. A writer must be able to imagine the issues in larger sections than clauses and sentences.
The key to such organisation is to divide your text into chapters/sections and paragraphs, a process that may cause creative angst. Please note the following instructions:
- Start writing from where your thoughts are easiest generated. It is not necessary to compile your report automatically from the first section and to follow your plan slavishly. It is important to bear in mind the whole, however.
- Write everything down that comes to mind during the productive stage. It is easier to cut out material than to think of new ideas.
- Organise your text throughout the writing process. When you write the first version start a new chapter as often as it seems necessary. During the second writing organise your text into a more accurate form.
- Last minute changes should be made with care. Large deletions and additions can easily cause extra problems.
It is reasonable to expect that knowledge from a piece of research that has been ordered externally from the University of Applied Sciences will be disseminated to a comparatively large amount of people. Therefore your research report should contain generally accepted good expression and an effective structure. In terms of sentence and clause structure it is recommended that you obey the following principles:
- Use general English language, using the appropriate terminology while avoiding incomprehensible language and jargon. Professional, shop floor slang must not be used if there is a word in common English usage to replace it.
- Avoid long, multi-clausal sentences. To avoid long, complicated sentences make good use of full stops!
- Avoid the use of exclamation and quotation marks. Quotation marks are only used for certain types of direct quotation and sometimes for strange, unusual or descriptive expressions. A scientific text should contain normal, everyday terms that have been clearly and simply defined.
- Pay attention to the style of your writing. The passive is often used in academic texts. It is used because it is assumed that the observations and outcomes presented are not dependent on the observer but in principle they could be observed and reached by anyone with sufficient knowledge and skill.
When writing your research report you are permitted to make use of language and grammar guides. There are also guidelines concerning academic writing and the appearance of your research report for your use.
Word Processing and Printing Your Texts
Writing requires discipline. Planning how to best use the time available and organising a suitable working environment often requires special arrangements. It is best to produce longer pieces of text e.g. whole chapters when actually writing your report to ensure cohesiveness. Many researchers point out that you should write every day.
Word processing programmes are effective though with limitations. Working is often productive and active at your computer but accuracy and managing your material is difficult. It is difficult to follow how the whole work develops on the computer screen. It is also difficult to manage tiny details. In order to make your task easier it is a good idea to print out certain parts or stages of texts when they are ready, for proofreading. Many word processing programmes include a proof reading package. These should be used with caution and final checks should always be carried out using your own thoughts and eyes.
The Reader – the Writer’s Customer
You should always bear in mind the reader while writing. Although it is not necessary to explain the obvious you should provide the reader with general facts and sufficient concrete details to help him/her gain an overview of the whole topic. Define used terms and concepts unless they are obvious and in constant use within the field of your research. Readers, who are not familiar with your topic area, could also check your text nor should you forget counter-researchers.
Readers and their expectations can be described as follows:
- It is not necessary to describe the background to issues widely for experts and colleagues because they work on the same problems and use the same research methods. They will be expecting a clear presentation and explanation of results and methods. Such readers are interested in how the outcomes can be theoretically generalised and new knowledge.
- Working professionals, who possess basic knowledge of the field, will be expecting concrete, applicable information that is well organised and critically presented. The report should use predominantly professional language.
- Decision-makers in Society are not usually experts in any given field. They require reader-friendly, simple and brief texts. They are looking for the results presented in the topic, the significance of the outcomes and whether such outcomes can be applied. They are also interested in proposals based on the outcomes of your research presented from a financial point of view.
- Laymen interested in the topic are not usually familiar with the terminology presented in the field nor do they have sufficient background knowledge. Such readers require outcomes expressed in general terms and concrete examples of how the outcomes could be applied.