Sunday, April 14, 2013

Social Work Masters Thesis Guideline

Master of Social Work

Thesis/Project Guidelines

Be mindful that depending on your research topic, the actual contents required in fulfilling the final product of your thesis may be more or less of what is specified under this guideline.  Also, one must conduct the research study by abiding to the higher research ethical standards. 

Chapter 1.  Problem Statement/Introduction

              Some crucial elements, which normally refer to as headings and sub-headings in the first chapter of a thesis shall include most if not all of the following items:

·       A brief discussion on the research concept (specify the researchable social problem).  Where do your ideas come from?  Why are you interested in conducting your research on this topic?

·       Specify the research questions or hypothesis for your study.

·       How do you conceptualize the concept or the chosen topic? Your operational definition of the concept.  If applicable, clearly identify the cause (independent variables) and effect (dependent variable) of interest.

·       Provide a theoretical framework to support your concept.  Briefly explain the relevancy/applicability of this theory to your research topic.  Perhaps the better approach is to use a single theoretical framework rather than trying to combine two or three theories to fit with your topic.

·       Give your rationale/purpose or research aims for the study.  Identify possible micro and macro levels implementation of the research outcomes. Be cautious! Do not offer premature conclusion to your study. 

Chapter 2.  Review of Relevant Literature

              Empirical and non-empirical literature pertaining to your research topic must be organized in the following manner.

·       Relevant literature pertaining to the research concept should not be more than 20 years old.

·       Must use current APA formats and styles to cite your literature wherever applicable.  Keep in mind that when one speaks or writes using statistical figures to support a line of thought, the person is in fact describing or making an inference to an existing source (whether the source is empirically or non-empirically based).  For example, one may write, “female adolescents are twice more likely to have bulimic disorders than adults female.” In this example, the words “twice more likely” must be referenced.   The truth is that ONE DOES NOT KNOW THAT FACT UNLESS HE/SHE HAD HEARD OR SEEN THE EVIDENCE FROM A SOURCE.

·       In each journal article or book you reviewed, briefly state who conducted the research, when was the research completed, what was found on the study that relevant to your research aims and variables of interest.  You may also include recommendations made by the author(s) that might be helpful to you in your conclusion chapter here.  For examples, Smith (2000) states that female adolescents are twice more likely to have bulimic disorders than adults female; or, Smith (2000), in a comparative study to examine bulimic disorders between young and older adult females found that younger females are twice likely to have the disorders than older females.

·       Similar to the criteria stated under Chapter 1, do not prematurely offer personal opinions or plausible solutions to your research concept based on the literature review.  You will have plenty of opportunity reacting to any usual or unusual observations, including conflicting literature on the Conclusion/Summary Chapter.  Most thesis advisors follow this pattern.   

Chapter 3. Methodology

Broadly, your methodology chapter must include the followings: 

·       Sampling Design.  Explain the sample of your study.  State your sample selection technique for inclusion and exclusion of subjects.

·       Study Design.   Explain your study design.  Is your study qualitative or quantitative?   If it is quantitative, explain the type of study.  Is it exploratory study, descriptive study, or explanatory?  For example, the design of this study is a cross-sectional one utilizing the Likert-type scaling format.

·       Measurement Scales.  This also known as measurement tools or measure indices.  Explain the development of this scale.  Did you develop the scale? Was the scale modified from an existing one? Was the instrument based wholly on a standardized on?  Make sure to explain the reliability and validity of the scale(s).

·       If the research hypotheses were not stated earlier in Chapter 1, you need to state them here.

·       Explain your data collection procedures including the process in obtaining the approval for your human subjects protection.

·       Explain your statistical analysis plan.  This part, mainly you just need to explain how you will tabulate your raw data.  Most students stated that they would be using SPSS to create the data file.  Explain the detail process in your data analysis.  Start with how you coded the research instruments. Explain the process of data entry. If you recoded some of the variables, explain them here.  Explain how you intend to display the results of your study.

Chapter 4.              Outcomes/Results     

              The goal of this chapter is to display the results of your study depending on your research aims.  Most researchers structured the results of a study based on the research hypotheses.  Here are some general suggestions.

·       Begin your data display with a description of the sociodemographic characteristics of the participants.

·       Display your descriptive statistics of the chosen variables that were not part of the sociodemographic characteristics. These variables normally are other variables that are relevant to your hypotheses. Keep in mind that people normally do not analyze everything they asked in the questionnaire, but only those variables that specifically answer their research questions/hypotheses. 

·       Display your inferential statistics (if there is any) here.

·       Be cautious!  Whenever you report the mean of a variable, you must always also show the standard deviation.

·       Display your qualitative date here.  Normally qualitative data is the written feedback(s) you get from your subjects.

·       Again, do not prematurely provide conclusions to any specific variable. 

Chapter 5.              Summary/Conclusion/Discussion/Recommendation

              You may title this chapter in anyway you want.  Some people like to separate this part into two different chapters. I prefer that you display your final chapter in the following order. 

·       If your research project consists of both qualitative and quantitative data, summarize the quantitative information first; then, follow by the qualitative information.

·       Provide a summary of major findings that describe critical influences to your variables of interest.  Can you confirm or disconfirm your hypotheses?  Indicate the one that you were able to confirm and those that you were not able to confirm.

·       Provide a summary of major findings that consistent with the substantive area (literature review).

·       Discuss any usual/unusual observations, including contradictory findings.

·       Discuss the limitations of the study and include the concept of generalizability of this/these findings (sample) to the general population (parameter).

·       Practice implications.  Provide your recommendations regarding effective social work practice here.  Make sure to separate your discussion into micro and macro social work implications.

·       Provide suggestions for future research.

·       Anything else that you would like to say about your research study of this particular social problem.


              Make sure your attachments are clearly labeled into appendices.  

No comments:

Post a Comment