700 - Writing the Thesis Report
700.1 - Components of the Project
The Introduction, Literature Review and Methodology chapters are described in detail under section 400.5 — Empirical Thesis Proposal. These chapters should be expanded and/or revised based on feedback from your research advisor.
Findings chapter. The Findings or Results section of your thesis will ordinarily be much longer than the preceding chapter. Unlike other writing forms, where it may be customary to move from a description of certain evidence or behavior to a diagnostic statement or a conclusion, research writing usually reverses that procedure. It often begins with a statement "The major findings were . . . ." followed by an explanation of the evidence obtained from the analysis of the data which allowed the writer to draw that conclusion. It may also begin with a restatement of the hypotheses, questions, or with a description of the particular area of inquiry. This method of presentation assists the reader to focus on the study issue and to locate, at a glance, the major consequences of the investigation. It also is efficient to discuss the relationship of findings to the particular study issue(s) at the point at which they are first introduced.
Issues of who was studied (and who was not studied) should be clarified and located in relation to prior conceptual and empirical work. How the findings of the present study may be generalized beyond the actual sample should be detailed, and any limits to generalization (such as no information on women, specific racial/cultural groups, etc.) should be noted. Sometimes there are two types of findings obtained, descriptive, in terms of single variables, and relational, in terms of correlations among two or more variables. It is customary to present descriptive findings first, followed by relational findings. For the latter, statistics of relationship (e.g., Pearson’s r) and levels of significance are noted.
In addition, there may be different sets of findings based on the research plan. The first are those findings obtained from analysis or data related to the questions that were originally stated in the research plan. The second are those findings which result from questions generated by the researcher in the course of the data analysis process but which were not explicitly set forth at the inception of the study. Findings of the second type should be stated in the same form but should be treated separately in the chapter. The logical connections between these two sets of hypotheses should be made explicit.
Discussion chapter. In general, this final chapter should consider the implications of the study's findings in relation to the central issue(s), to previous work in this subject area, and to clinical social work practice. This chapter should tie together the "Review of the Literature" and "Results" chapters in such a way that it is possible to see clearly the implications of this study in relation to other research or scholarly work. Attention must be given to the meaning of this work for clinical social work.
If, in the course of this discussion, the present research stimulates new questions, it is customary to state these questions and to indicate possible new and fruitful directions for research. (Unless such questions have been generated and delineated, it is equally appropriate to omit such stereotypic statements as "further research should be done in this area.") This chapter should help the reader gain a sense of continuity between the study being reported and other work that has been completed. It should also make connections between the various parts of this particular study and from this study to the development of knowledge for the profession.
700.2 - Preface and Appendix Sections
Usually the preparation of preface and appendix sections is deferred until the body of the project report is written. The exception to this is in the preparation of the reference list. The first draft of this reference list should be assembled when the literature review chapter is drafted. This list will grow with subsequent chapters, but the majority of entries will remain the same. Citations should be complete. It is exceedingly time-consuming and frustrating to retrieve and complete citations later in the year.
Title page. The title page should conform in content and style to the "Sample Title Page" shown as Appendix A of the Thesis Guidelines.
Abstract. The Abstract is a brief summary of the thesis, not to exceed 250 words. This summary should be headed by: (1) the student's name; (2) the name of the fieldwork agency only if the project is related to the agency; and (3) the project title in full. The Abstract should be inserted in front of the thesis before the title page, even though it usually is the last piece written. This information should be arranged in order, placed in the upper right corner and single spaced. The Abstract must be included in each copy of your thesis. Also, please submit one (1) additional copy on regular paper for listing in the Smith Studies.
The text of the Abstract should contain: (1) a brief statement of hypotheses, questions, and reasons why the project was undertaken; (2) a brief statement about the general methodological approach, sample size, and sample characteristics; (3) a statement of the major findings or positions achieved; and (4) a statement of conclusions or implications of the study. (See Appendix B for an example.)
Acknowledgements. The optional acknowledgment sub-section should be confined to a brief statement the writer wishes to make in recognition of those institutions, organizations, or people who made a significant contribution to the research effort. (See Appendix C for an example.)
Table of contents. The table of contents should list the titles of the major sections and sub-sections of the project report, from the Preface through the Reference section. (See Appendix D for an example.)
List of Tables. This section should list the numbers and titles of the tables used in the body of the report. The only tables to appear in this list are those that carry numbers and titles in the text. If no more than four tables appear in the report, this sub-section is usually omitted. (See Appendix E for an example.)
List of Figures. This section should list the numbers and titles of the illustrations used in the body of the report. If no more than four illustrations appear in the report, this sub-section is usually omitted. (See Appendix F for an example.)
References. All sources of information used in your thesis report must be properly acknowledged. These sources may include published and unpublished materials. The reference style to be used is described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed., 2010). Extensive illustration of formats for the reference list is given in the manual. (See Appendix G for a Sample Reference List in APA Manual format and Appendix I regarding citation of online sources.) Students should check the body of the text and the reference list to ensure that all works cited in the text appear on the reference list and that the list contains only works actually cited in text.
Appendices. The number and type of appendix sections included in the thesis varies. Tables or figures may be placed in the text of the Findings chapter or may be included as Appendices. This placement is a matter of preference, although lengthy tables of more than one page should be placed in the Appendices. Copies of cover letters, the HSR approval letter, consent forms, data collection instruments and all other sample recruitment materials (i.e. flyers, posters, etc.), are also included in the appendix.