How to compile your thesis work


Please read the following carefully if you intend to select Prof. Hejj as your thesis supervisor. Contact him in his office hours when you are able to formulate your research hypothesis and how you would operationalize your idependent and dependent variables!


In the following you will find a checklist for the compilation of an empirical study. It is provided to raise your attention not to omit any substantial part. As the following is of general validity, in your particular case not all sections will be of equal importance.

Let us start with a few general remarks:

It is the aim of an empirical study report to precisely describe why a research was conducted (hipothesis-es), what investigation was conducted (treatment, independent and dependent variables, IV, DV), who was the experimenter (Exp), who were the experimental subjects (Ss), what instruments were used. It is by no means sufficient just to describe what happend during the experiment.

The most vital part is your research hipothesis. This is to be the central theme of all research conducted. The research must attempt to falsify your null hypothesis [postulating 0 difference between two groups or 0 change from before to after an intervention]. Falsifying the 0-Hypothesis will automatically lead to support for your working ("alternative") hypothesis. The working hypothesis must pose a clear expected change or difference between at least two groups (independent variable) with regard to at least one dependent variable. Both IV and DV must be clearly operationalized, i.e. clearcut instructions must be provided, how you will measure (quantify) both the IV and the DV. It is important to explain why you conducted your reseach with the given design and what considerations led you to the evaluation method and the statistical tests you actually selected.

The supposed reader of your publication is someone well versed in methods of empirical research but who knows nothing about your particular investigation and whom you have to inform thoroughly. Do not give your reader the burden of explaining terminology or methods generally used in the field (e.g. what a correlation coefficient is, what double-blind means or what a follow-up signifies.


•1 Hypothesis

•1.1 Provide a sketch of the theory your investigation is based on. Cite relevant sources of authors having conducted similar investigations (cf. Web of Science (WOS): Psychlit, Psyndex, www etc.). Give definitions and introduce basic concepts (if necessary).

•1.2 Point out what is specific in your research question as compared with the general theory - what questions could not be answered by the research literature in the field that motivated your own investigation. Name results you would expect (prior to collecting the data), Highlight your hypothesis, explain how you operationalize the independent and the dependent variable(s).


2.  Methods

•2.1 Materials

•2.1.1 Type and description of the sample („random“, „stratified“, „cluster“)
relevant characteristics of the subjects (sex, age, level of education, attitudes, etc.)

•2.1.2 Materials and instruments necessary (paper & pencil, questionaire, test, machines and apparatuses, etc.)

•2.2 Experimental design

•2.2.1 Methodological classification of the investigation (survey, ex-post-facto examination, one or two sided testing of a hypothesis)

•2.2.2 Experimental design including description and operalization of IV and DV

2.3. How the experiment was conducted
Circumstances of the experiment (place, time, word by word instructions, facilitating or disturbing factors if any, etc.)

•2.4. Planned evaluation

•2.4.1 Qualitative results

• Behavioural findings (e.g. regarding facial expression of Ss)

• Findings of self-observation (of the Ss!, cf. „inquiry“ - asking the Ss for more detailed explanations of what they did or wrote, or experienced during the experiment)

•2.4.2 Quantitative results

• Group results

• Individual results (The table of primary data must contain all Ss (raws) and all items (columns) meausured. This table must contain all data that we analyze and that our final interpretation is based on).

•2.4.3 Planned statistical analysis
Description of the statistical tests applied. Reason why you selected a particular test (scale level of the data, number of samples and wether they are dependent or independent samples, assumed distribution), what alternative method could have been chosen. Reasoning for the choice of the level of significance (Alpha and Beta error, test power).


•3 Results

•3.1 Qualitative results (descriptions, drawings, fotos, videos)

•3.2 Quantitative results
A transparent presentation using diagrams and tables, including the results of statistical tests (make use of desktop publishing)


•4 Interpretation / Discussion

•4.1 Interpretation of the results in view of the aim of the investigation and in view of the hypothsis (-es) tested. What is the answer to the original resarch question?

•4.2 Reference to problems as yet unsolved, shortcomings of the planning and realization of the experiment, possible (ex-post-facto) hipotheses regarding effective factors

•4.3 Reference to further scientific research and possible hypotheses

•4.4 Reference to the practical significance of the study (What applications can be thought of?)


•5 Summary
(Varies in length depending on journal publication, thesis work, doctoral dissertation. Summary/Abstracts)

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6 Sources Cited
(According to APA standards)