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The thesis and research

The University of Applied Sciences thesis is closely linked to the world of work. It forms a bridge between theory and practice and earlier studies towards the end of the degree programme. It also combines study and work to facilitate the transfer from study to the accomplishment of professional jobs requiring expertise. A successful thesis can provide a graduate with his/her first post.

The form of your thesis will depend on its contents and objectives. It can be completed in pairs or individually or as part of a wider group assignment. Specialisation options and inter-degree programme collaboration is also recommended.

There are many benefits to completing a wide-ranging thesis that will become obvious almost immediately and later on. Such benefits may purely be professional since the thesis provides new information concerning your chosen field or old knowledge can be re-arranged to create something new. Therefore, the thesis benefits the commissioning party, the environment and the educational and professional community. For students the benefits are individual and concrete. As an academic achievement the thesis provides credits and a well-carried out thesis also provides knowledge and skills for a career because students gain study and work experience while completing it.

While writing the thesis you learn to organise and test the validity of your own thoughts and to organise acquired knowledge. Like all demanding work the thesis also provides experience in goal-oriented, long-term and systematic work.

Choosing your topic

Selecting a topic is a process. The final research topic is the result of a process involving many stages of negotiation and consideration. The first topic that you think of is not necessarily ‘complete’ for studying. A suitable topic can be discovered, invented or born in many different ways. Information and imagination is required, as well as the ability to think of and observe problems while retaining a critical attitude and intuition – a kind of ‘feeling’ backed up by expertise that is beneficial particularly during the formation of ideas for research.

A university of applied sciences thesis topic is based on the requirements of working life. The topic should interest the student and it should also be useful, up-to-date, significant and engaging. The topic should contain sensible problems while being manageable and comprehensible.

Students select a topic, which is approved by the University of Applied Sciences. Choosing a topic independently is a good idea from a learning point of view: It is easier to feel that the topic is then your own and that you are responsible for the work involved. Searching for a topic on your own and considering different options also provides a good learning opportunity.

Scientific standards

The University of Applied Sciences emphasises the combination of scientific knowledge and practice. Although scientific knowledge may take on a large role during the completion of your thesis, the practical application of your research should remain the tangible goal of your thesis. The objective of the thesis is to help students learn how to think scientifically, not to make them into research scientists.

A distant aim of scientific thinking is considered to be the development and maintenance of the tools for thought and the development of individual information processing skills and knowledge of one’s own limits. The development of thinking processes means the ability to free your-self from the limitations of everyday thought and to create a more diverse image of matters and issues than everyday knowledge can provide. Scientific thought is also linked to an understanding of the nature of scientific research: Science is not to know the truth but to search for it. The outcome of scientific research is always conditional and later on it will be altered or corrected.

A closer objective of scientific thinking is considered to be the acquisition of knowledge on the research traditions of one’s own field of study by studying research and different lines of thought that your field involves and by reading scientific publications. Another important aim is to learn the typical research process of your field and its different stages. A practical objective is also to develop your communication skills: The ability to present your assumptions so that anyone with the appropriate education will understand them, the competence to use concepts and terms recognised by experts in that field and the capability to present your issues clearly and briefly.

The ethical principles of research

The general rules of research include honesty and the following of general ethical principles. The ethical principles of research concerning information retrieval and publication have been generally approved and widely agreed upon. Even the target of research can cause problems: on whose terms is the research based and what will be the outcome of these terms? Special attention must be paid to information retrieval methods and test arrangements. The subject(s) of the research must give their consent (to be questioned) based on their knowledge of the study. Consent must be voluntary and the subject has the right to withdraw his/her consent.

The principles concerning honesty in research must be adhered to during all stages of research work. You must remember the following generally accepted norms based on the ethical principles of research:

  1. Independence of the researcher: Each researcher has the ‘right to own’ the outcomes of his/her research. The results of other researchers must not be copied (plagiarised) nor must their participation and accomplishments be underrated. Your research must be able to stand on its own two feet.
  2. Accuracy of outcomes: Results and outcomes must not be invented nor embellished, even when they do not meet your expectations. Mistakes made during the research process that may influence the outcomes, must be reported. Results must be interpreted accurately. Written conclusions and generalisations must not mislead the reader.
  3. Use of resources: The researcher must ensure he/she does not mislead the commissioning party and financing body nor must research funds be used carelessly or abused.