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The Body of the ThesisYou are required to write up your research as a thesis in APA style, loosely modelled after ajournal article manuscript. Again, in writing your thesis, you should consult the sixth edition of the APA Publication Manual, which contains explicit instructions for preparing theses.
The particular style that your thesis will take will depend on the type of research youundertake. Use recent papers from journals in your area as a guide for your own thesis. Onepotential differing factor between a journal article and your thesis, however, is that yourthesis must be between ,-1, words, excluding the reference section. That is,the word count begins at the Introduction and goes through to the end of the GeneralDiscussion (including in-text citations, because they are part of the text body). The abstract is not included, nor is the reference section, nor are tables and figures/graphs (nor theircaptions), nor footnotes, nor appendices. The minimum report length of , words is anAPAC requirement (.1.15); theses significantly outside the length restriction will be subjectto considerable mark penalty.
You should include tables and figures in the body of the thesis (not at the end as you wouldin a manuscript for publication). The following is an outline of the structure that your thesisbody might take.
1. Introduction: You must show that you are aware of, have read, and understand therelevant literature. You need to provide a sense of the current state of the literature in away that clearly shows the contribution that your study will make. It is very important tokeep this section tightly focused on just the material needed to provide a rationale forthe study you have designed. You should define the terms against which the reader willevaluate all that is to follow. Toward the end of your introduction you need to shift thefocus onto your study. Here you justify your project, develop and state yourhypotheses. You may also wish to briefly describe and defend your choices of design,but this information is typically more suitable in the Method section.
. Method: This section is usually divided into sub-sections such as participants,materials, and procedure. Describe the method in sufficient detail so that anyonewishing to replicate your study is able to do so by following what you have written(including the material in your appendices). This does not mean you should list allpossible details, but only the methodologically important ones. For example, if you areusing a survey, it does not matter whether the pages were printed double-sided or not– unless, of course, you have a reasonable expectation as to why this detail wouldaffect the results. In contrast, a methodologically important detail might be whether theparticipants were allowed to complete the questions in any order, or had to progressfrom start to finish without going back, as having answered one question may affect theanswer on another. In sum, include all the details that matter, but not the superfluousones.
3. Results: This contains descriptive information and tests of the hypotheses laid out in the Introduction. Tables and figures may be formatted into the text as appropriate. Large tables are often better included as an appendix. Remember to include the output from your statistical analysis in your submission (see Assignment Submission), and written appendices as are appropriate for your project. The most important goal of your Results section is to clearly describe what you found. Tables and figures can be helpful, but only if they are done with sufficient care so as to be readable, logical, and easy to understand. This task is not easy – a good table/figure takes a great deal of thought on how best to present the information. Alternatively, this is the section in which you would report the data used to explore a problem using qualitative methods. Theses that rely primarily on qualitative data may not have separate results and discussion sections, preferring perhaps to have a combined analysis section, followed by a conclusion.
. Discussion: In this section you interpret your findings, state whether the data support the hypotheses, and what it all means. Start with a brief summary of the most important results. Then outline the implications of your findings in light of the theory and literature reviewed in the Introduction. The Discussion section is where you tell the reader what your results mean. It is not simply a listing of the hypotheses and whether or not your data support them. Examiners are looking for insight – demonstrate that you understand the findings, what they mean, and how they relate to the existing literature. Thus you must relate your findings back to the questions and concepts you raised in the Introduction. In this sense the Introduction and Discussion are mirror-images. Include a section evaluating your study. In doing so, be aware that no one expects you to design and execute a perfect study at fourth-year level – after all, this is more a training project than anything else. But you are expected to be aware of, and to assess the importance of, the flaws and limitations of your study. Suggest areas for further research and end with a conclusion.
There is a well known “publication bias” in psychology (and other disciplines) that means that most of the reports that are eventually published in journals are accounts of studies that obtained the expected results. Thus, most of the papers that you read in journals concentrate on explaining the theoretical and/or practical implications of the results, and generally putting the best possible spin on the study and its findings. Studies that did not produce the expected results are often not published. However, you must write a thesis regardless of the results you find. You will not be penalised for finding unexpected or null results – such circumstances are more common than you might think, and many students find themselves in the position of having to discuss/explain findings that are very different from what they expected. This may involve challenging and/or changing existing theories to explain your findings, and maybe pointing out weaknesses and/or confounds in the design of your study – something you almost never see in journals. Again, while you should aim to design your study as carefully as you can, and attempt to foresee problems that might occur during your study, you are in no way disadvantaged if your study produces nonsignificant or otherwise unexpected results. The important thing is that your discussion shows that you clearly understand what you can and cannot claim on the basis of your findings, and that you discuss possible explanations for your findings sensibly and thoroughly.
5. References: Include references to all sources you cited in the text of your thesis. UseAPA style, as indicated in the APA style manual 6th edition. Note that this editionrequires the inclusion of the doi (digital object identifier) for each cited journal referenceif one exists or the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of the journal homepage if not.
6. Appendices: Include the following information as appendices:– Ethics outright approval letter (1 page). This is the “outright approval” letter you getfrom HREC when your project is approved– Information letter to participants (1- pages). This is the letter you provide toparticipants prior to participation (from your Ethics application).– Consent form (1 page). This is the form participants complete to consent toparticipation (from your Ethics application)– Participant instructions (if applicable, 1 page). Some experiments have detailedinstructions to participants not typically included in the Method section.– Survey instruments (if applicable, max 1 pages). Some experiments use surveyquestions/instruments. Include them here, to a maximum of 1 pages.– Supplementary tables and/or figures (if applicable). Most tables and figures belong inthe text body, but occasionally there is reason to have a supplementary one.– Relevant statistical output (max 1 pages). Typically this is the SPSS output file, butonly include the relevant parts (showing all statistical tests that you refer to in thethesis). Ask your supervisor if you are having trouble with the 1-page limit. Donot include the raw data
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