Thesis

Contents

1 Introduction
2 Thesis Objective and Purpose
3 Thesis Process

4  Research Ethics and Copyrights
 

1 Introduction

The thesis is an independent study performance which is a part of the studies. Its scope within the bachelor's degree is 15 credits (cr) (20 cr in the midwifery and public health nursing degree) and in the master's degree 30 cr. In specialisation studies students make a development task, the extent of which varies depending on the programme. In these guidelines the term thesis also means the development task in future reference. The thesis will be graded separately on the degree certificate. The thesis process includes, as relevant to the specific degree programme, contact teaching, seminars, work-related supervision, and independent work. The content requirements are further specified within each degree programme.

The bachelor's degree objectives can be found in the 4 § and master's degree objectives in the 5 § of the Government Decree on Polytechnics. The objective of the bachelor's degree is to develop and demonstrate the student's capabilities in applying his or her knowledge and skills in practical expert tasks pertaining to the professional studies. The objective of the master's degree is to develop the student's professional skills and ability to apply research information in demanding specialist and management assignments. According to the Government Decree on Polytechnics, the objective of specialisation studies is that the student can evaluate and develop professional practices of his/her special field based on research or artistic methods. The thesis or development task thus represents the know-how of each student graduating from the university of applied sciences.

At universities of applied sciences thesis topics are usually working-life related. The objective is that each student learns to independently gather information, critically analyse data, solve problems, reason and debate, study and develop work practices, and communicate in writing as well as orally in an articulate manner. The thesis requirement levels have been stipulated within the European Qualifications Framework (EQF, levels 6 and 7). Guidance for writing a thesis is also available in the Degree Regulations of TAMK.

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2 Thesis objective and purpose

A thesis always has a researching, developing or clarifying objective. The objective can be e.g. to develop the workplace orientation practices for new staff. The practical preliminaries to reach the above-mentioned objective, still at the abstract stage, are called the purpose of the thesis. Examples of measures that develop orientation practices, i.e. the purpose of the thesis, are compiling an orientation folder or examining different orientation practices. Further field-specific examples of the thesis objective and purpose may be given within the guidelines of each degree programme.

Questions for structuring, framing and directing the implementation of the thesis are to be posed. In the context of quantitative research these questions are generally called research problems. In the context of qualitative research they are called research tasks.

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3 Thesis process

The thesis process advances by stages from topic selection to assessment and publication of the finished thesis. The main features of the process are described in the chart below (chart 1). Reaching each stage makes it possible to pass through the following gate and to proceed to the next stage. Details associated with the thesis process will be itemized in the following subchapters and in the implementation plans of each degree programme.

Thesis Gate Model
 

Chart 1. Gate model for the thesis

 

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3.1 Topic selection

The student chooses the topic of the thesis. A suggestion may be presented through TAMK projects, an external client or the student may make a suggestion herself or himself. The thesis may be written by one individual student or in cooperation with another student as relevant. When written by two students the independent share of each student must be reported if necessary in the field or thesis. In this case assessments will also be made separately. Multidisciplinary theses covering two or more degree programmes are also possible.

There are various types of theses, including research, functional theses, projects, theoretical theses, art project theses or case-like theses. Theses may consist of various analysing, planning, manufacturing and development tasks performed for the needs of society and practical working life. A thesis may consist of research. It may include measuring, interviews or surveys and their analyses and interpretations. It can also consist of planning, implemention and organisation of an event, marketing campaign, software application, product development plan, new product, work of art, learning material or portfolio. The topic is good when it arouses interest in the student, answers practical needs, is relevant to the professional field and its potential development, takes into account the student's capabilities, is financially interesting and of current interest. Courage, creativity and originality are assets when choosing a thesis topic. In some cases, the student can have credit transfer for his/her thesis either fully or partly. The detailed guidelines on credit transfer for theses can be found in the RPL manual.

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3.2 Working life cooperation and RDI objectives

It is possible to make the thesis as a part of a development project for a region, field of study, or TAMK. The same development project may offer thesis topics for several students with different points of view. A project-related thesis allows the student to plan and implement the work together with working-life representatives as well as a supervisor from TAMK. A project-related thesis thus means a thesis commissioned by a third party or TAMK. In this case the results of the thesis are distributable for the benefit of TAMK and the professional field. A project-related thesis always involves a contract (NB! Change the language at the bottom of the page) and terms stipulated for the contract. The thesis contract is concluded between the working life party, university of applied sciences and student regarding a joint project or product manufacture. The degree programmes specify how the thesis contract forms are used. It is essential to agree in writing on matters pertaining to cooperation, including publicity and confidentiality, prior to commencing cooperation. The contract  stipulates the thesis objectives, research, development and innovation objectives (RDI objectives) and the timetable of the thesis. It determines how the working life representative participates in supervising the thesis process and in potential expenses etc. All parties' contact information is included in the form, which is then furnished with the signatures of all parties involved.

The working-life representative commits himself or herself to furnishing the student with information necessary for the successful completion of the thesis as well as feedback on the thesis and its usability to his or her operational activities as mentioned in the permission or agreement concerning the thesis. The student reports to the working-life representative on the results of the thesis in a manner to be agreed separately.

In case the thesis includes classified information, the report has to be written in a way which preserves the confidentiality. Any classified information must not be included in the thesis to be published but all such information should be detached and reported as a separate background material. TAMK staff have the legal obligation of secrecy. If the thesis includes confidential information removed from the public report, it also has to be stated in the thesis abstract.

Issues concerning thesis-related insurance cover are discussed at TAMK Study Guide.

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3.3 Topic approval, thesis plan and supervision

The topic of the thesis is approved as stipulated by the degree programme. The approval is made by the head of degree programme or someone appointed by him or her. The topic must be approved before the commencement of the thesis. A supervisor is always appointed for the thesis. The supervisor is always consulted on the personal supervision process. The supervision is especially important at the initial stage as the objective, purpose and structure are to be considered and specified, when the author is in need of advice on e.g. acquiring relevant literature, and when a proper approach, working procedures and potential methods for acquiring necessary material are pondered and selected.

A thesis plan is drawn up for each thesis. The thesis plan details e.g. the topic of the thesis and the literary background, the objective and purpose of the thesis as well as its scheduling. It also includes its implementation plan. The detailed thesis plan will be treated as agreed in the degree programme. The objective of processing the plan is to specifically assist in setting a proper framework for the thesis as well as in methodological solutions. The plan is also enclosed to the thesis agreement form.

With regard to commissioned theses the client appoints a contact person to represent her or him. The company, organisation or community representative together with the student and thesis supervisor participate in defining the thesis objectives and planning the implemention. The representative is responsible for the potential cooperation associated with making the thesis within the business or institution. If possible he or she will offer content supervision; information needed for writing the thesis and will be responsible for other matters stipulated in the thesis agreement. A written contract with the client is always prepared. The client will also provide a written statement on the thesis.

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3.4 Methodology studies and thesis progress

The thesis process includes methodology studies, orientation studies and seminars. If needed, a student may also conduct methodology studies as elective studies. The student may update and deepen her or his information search skills in courses arranged by the library.

To back up the thesis process, seminars and negotiations are organised with the thesis supervisor and the client, as agreed within each degree programme. At these meetings students present their work and receive feedback and development suggestions from both supervisors and other students. In the time periods between these discussions the students work on their theses. The student is responsible for staying in touch with the supervisor and the client and, if necessary, receives individual, group or network supervision.

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3.5 Peer review

Peer review, offered by other students, serves to support the author by offering constructive feedback and development suggestions with relation to the thesis. Peer review takes place, e.g., through mutual meetings, seminars or over a network. Each degree programme offers further instructions on peer review.

Working as a peer reviewer trains the student to listen critically to presentations, to discern the essential matter in the text and to analyse it as well as comment. It also helps to develop the capability to accept criticism and respond to work-related questions in an argumentative manner. Peer review during seminars often produces ideas and perspectives useful for all team members.

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3.6 Thesis reporting

A written report is always written on each TAMK thesis. In the Finnish-language degree programmes, the thesis may be written in another language. In a foreign-language degree programme the language of instruction must be used when writing the thesis (see Degree Regulations). The report consists of the matters essential to the choice of topic, theoretical bases, method or implementation, results and conclusions. The contents emphases of the report may vary within each degree programme.

The thesis report is compiled in a uniform manner. Its wording must be explicit and in accordance with good matter-of-fact style. The instructions for writing are available in a separate document Thesis Report Guide. The cover page of the thesis must also have specific settings. You can use TAMK's thesis template as the basis.

A thesis report is a public document (Constitution of Finland 731/1999, Act on the Openness of Government Activities 621/1999) and it should not contain any classified information. At Tampere University of Applied Sciences students' thesis reports are in general fully public. It has to be possible to evaluate theses openly. The publicity guarantees objective and equal thesis assessment.

At Tampere University of Applied Sciences, a student is not allowed to write an entirely classified thesis (AOA 2457/4/13, 14.4.2014). In case there is a need to include classified information in the thesis, it must be carefully considered. The classified information may not be included into the thesis report to be assessed (see thesis writing options). The thesis supervisor is bound by professional secrecy and prohibition of use regarding the student's thesis idea drafts, thesis plans, research data and all classified information during and after the thesis process (621/§1999: 23-24§).

The student always has the right to determine the means of publication for his/her thesis (Copyright Act 404/1961, 2§). The thesis report has to be available either at the Theseus network library or as a printed version in TAMK library. By the decision of the National Archives Service, theses are permanently archieved documents (AL/2897/07.01.01.03.01.2014, 18.9.2014).

Before submitting the thesis, students have to check that the thesis name is faultless as regards its language and exactly the same on the cover page and in the abstract. The foreign-language abstract also has to be checked as determined by the degree programme. The thesis name given on the abstract page will be entered to the degree certificate.

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3.7 Thesis delivery for assessment and presentation

The author and the thesis supervisor estimate at which time the thesis is ready for assessment. The finished thesis is delivered to the supervisor and client to be examined as per the guidelines of the degree programme.

The thesis is presented at a public presentation seminar or another agreed event. It can be also presented at an event agreed on with the working-life representative. The praxes for presenting vary within the various degree programmes. Virtual presentation is also possible. You may also use a poster to present your thesis. A poster is a wall board or placard consisting of text and graphic presentations which depict the key points of the thesis.

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3.8 Thesis publication

Primarily the thesis is saved electronically into the electronic library Theseus. Theseus is a joint open internet-based network library for the theses of all universities of applied sciences, created to allow easier access to theses. The student is responsible for saving his or her thesis into Theseus. If there are several authors, one saves the thesis on behalf of the others. The student(s) have all copyrights to all parts of the saved thesis. If the thesis includes parts that cannot be saved to the network (e.g. a CD), they are delivered to the library. Saving and publishing a thesis in the Theseus network library requires that the thesis is approved and the student allows the work to be published. More information on submitting the thesis to the library can be found at TAMK library's www pages.

Students who refuse permission to publish on Theseus must supply a bound thesis to the library and fill in the publication agreement. The description information of the bound theses is saved to the TAMK library collection database.

Agreement on Thesis Submission to Library (publication agreement)

Thesis Writing Options

Thesis Publicity at TAMK

3.9 Submission of archive copy

In addition to the library copy, students have to submit an electronic archive copy of the thesis to TAMK library. Permanent archiving of theses is based on law and thus TAMK has the obligation to archive theses (see National Archives Service's decision on 16.9.2014 below). Universities of applied sciences have to take care of thesis storage in accordance with good data management practice and ensure their usability in future, too. Students will not obtain their degree certificate before they have submitted the thesis and its electronic archive copy to the library.

No separate archive copy needs to to be submitted if the thesis is published on Theseus.

The electronic archive copy is entered to TAMK's document management system Tweb. The guidelines on submitting the archive copy can be found at TAMK library's www pages.The library will make an entry in the Student Administration System after having obtained the thesis report.

National Archives Service's decision on permanent storage of theses (in Finnish only)

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3.10 Thesis binding

If the student does not save the thesis to the Theseus network library, one hardcover copy of the thesis must be bound for the library. The thesis is printed as a set of one-sided pages. The hard cover is dark grey with the print "Thesis". It also shows the official logo of Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The bindings may be purchased at the Kuntokatu campus bookshop. The student binds a sufficient number of thesis reports. The copies may be made for e.g. the client, supervising teacher and the student him/herself. Students pay the costs for binding their theses.

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3.11 Thesis grade and assessment criteria

The written assessment is issued within the period stipulated in the Degree Regulations. It is issued by the supervisor and, if required by the degree programme, a second evaluator. An approved thesis is graded on a scale from 1 to 5 by using TAMK's assessment criteria and assessment form. Emphases on the assessment criteria may vary between different degree programmes.

The student does well to become familiar with assessment criteria well in advance in order to take them into account from the very beginning. In order for the work to be approved the minimum grade for all the assessed sectors must be 1. When two authors are involved, the contribution of each must be discernible, if they are to receive different grades. If a student is dissatisfied with his or her grade, he or she may request an amendment as stipulated in the Degree Regulations. In accordance with the TAMK Degree Regulations (21 §) the teacher should store the assessment criteria and study performances for a year at the minimum after the results have been published.

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3.12 Maturity test

According to the Government Decree on Polytechnics (8 § 18.12.2014/1129), a student must, in order to graduate, write a maturity test on the field of the thesis. The thesis is to demonstrate their language and text skills needed in expert work and communication.

The maturity test can be taken in English if the student has received his/her school education in some language other than Finnish or Swedish or completed his/her school education abroad. As regards Finns, the language of school education is the language in which the person has completed the comprehensive school or the general upper secondary school, if the person has completed the general upper secondary school. If the person has completed a vocational upper secondary qualification, the language of school education is however determined based on the comprehensive school leaving certificate. (TAMK Degree Regulations)

The maturity test is completed in written. Bachelor's degree students write the maturity test independently in a supervised session after the thesis has been submitted to the supervisor for assessment. The maturity test can also be completed in the exam room in accordance with the degree programme guidelines. In the exam room, students have 2h 55 min maximum to complete the maturity test. Master's degree students take the maturity test as agreed on in each degree.

The supervisor draws up 1-2 questions or topics for the maturity test, as determined by the degree programme. The topic must be such as to allow an independent text to be written, by which the student can demonstrate how familiar he or she is with the field of the thesis. At least three hours must be allowed for the maturity test. A student with dyslexia may use more time and a computer, provided he or she can supply an expert (specialist or special needs teacher) statement concerning her or his condition. If necessary, an oral supplement may be allowed.

In bachelor's degrees, the thesis supervisor assesses the factual content of the maturity test. The language is assessed by the teacher of the language in question. In master's degrees, the maturity test is assessed by the thesis supervisor. The test is graded either approved or failed. The assessment of the thesis is entered into the study register after the maturity test has been approved.

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4  Research ethics and copyrights

Universities of applied sciences are committed to the guidelines for research ethics, issued by the National Advisory Board on Research Ethics. They apply to all theses made at the university of applied sciences. A prerequisite for the ethical acceptability, reliability and findings' credibility is that the thesis has been conducted in accordance with good praxis. Each author is personally responsible for following these instructions in her or his work.

Urkund plagiarism prevention software program is used for all theses at TAMK.

The aim of copyright legislation is to protect creative work and investments made therein. There is an understanding that, were it not for the exclusive rights guaranteed for the author by copyright legislation, making, producing and distributing various types of content in a manner motivating copyright owners and financially rewarding would hardly be feasible.

In the thesis process, copyright issues are relevant primo while using existing material (source material) and while evaluating the conditions for using the material and secundo while estimating what rights are generated for the author(s) of the thesis and the potential need for transfer of these rights. In addition to or instead of copyright the use of material may also be restricted by, among other things, regulations concerning protection of privacy, business or professional secrecy, trademarks, contractual encumbrances or activity which is in conflict with good scientific procedure.

Although theses made at universities of applied sciences are often commissioned from the outside, the copyright of a thesis mainly remains with the author, and in a regular situation it is not necessary to transfer it to the client in writing. Naturally the client may utilise the data and development suggestions included in the thesis without committing copyright infringement. In case the very thesis, its addenda or the actual thesis report include e.g. a separate manual, educational material, software or programming work, visual material, drawings, audio or video data or other equivalent material that the client needs to utilise in his or her operations in a copyright-wise relevant manner an arrangement regarding transfer of rights should be agreed on separately. Then the parties (i.e. the student and the client) must, case by case, take into account, among other things, the wording of the agreement, the extent of the transfer and an eventual compensation.

TAMK has been granted a collective license by Kopiosto (national copyright organization) for the use of digital material for educational purposes (teachers and students), e.g. in theses.

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