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Students undertaking the writing of a Masters thesis (Plan A) should try to allocate their SLS 700 work among the semesters during which it is anticipated that the thesis will be completed.
Candidates who accumulate the maximum number of thesis research credits (SLS 700), but fail to complete all degree requirements (e.g. the final thesis defense and approved copy of the document) in a given semester, MUST be registered for a minimum of one credit of thesis research during the semester in which the degree is awarded. (This means that a student can go over the 6 credits of SLS 700, if necessary.)
Students may enroll for SLS 700 only after the thesis topic has been approved and the Graduate Division notified by submission of the Graduate Student Progress Form II.
The grade of S (Satisfactory) is used for SLS 700. The grade is given after the thesis has been accepted.
General information about the preparation and writing of MA theses may be found at http://manoa.hawaii.edu/graduate/content/thesis-dissertation
After being advanced to candidacy, a Plan A MA candidate develops a thesis proposal, obtains formal approval, obtains exemption or approval from the UH Committee on Human Studies (only if human subjects are involved; see VII below), completes the thesis under the guidance of a thesis committee, and defends it at an oral examination. Plan A candidates should make use of the Plan A (Thesis) Checklist to help them organize and plan the process. Except for Items I and II below, the following actions may not be undertaken prior to admission to candidacy.
What is a thesis? The thesis is a major scholarly undertaking whereby the MA candidate demonstrates competence in the field of SLS and the ability to prepare an effectively written professional report. The thesis may involve the application of a method of scholarly, scientific or professional analysis, research or experimentation; it may be the preparation of materials of significance to English language teaching, or the design and application of a policy or program in an English language teaching situation, usually with some component of evaluation included in the study. The above only suggest some possibilities. Others do exist and should be discussed with the candidate’s academic advisor or some other member of the Graduate Faculty.
The Department, wishing to maintain consistently high quality research that leads to new knowledge in the field of applied linguistics as it relates to SLS, proposes that theses demonstrate original and relevant conceptualization of issues, and applications of those concepts to specific problems. Theses can be regarded as falling in one of three major categories: hypothesis-generating, hypothesis-testing, or qualitative.
- Hypothesis-generating theses propose to make a significant contribution to knowledge in the field in areas that have yet to be investigated fully, where exploratory research is appropriate. A proposal to review the current research in an area is not sufficient; the candidate should already have done such a review and be able to propose and implement the exploration of further problems, with strong justification for the value of that research.
- Hypothesis-testing theses propose to test well-motivated hypotheses, such as whether a particular testing or teaching method is effective, whether the course of language acquisition would follow path x or y, whether conditions A favor language comprehension over conditions B, etc.
- Qualitative research begins with a conceptual framework and involves the cyclical process of data collection, data analyses including the formation of hypotheses, and further more focused data collection intended to test hypotheses.
Steps to follow:
- The student declares at entry to the program which Plan (“A” in the case of a thesis) she/he will follow. This decision can be modified at a later time.
- A candidate should consult with his/her academic advisor on the choice of the type of thesis most appropriate for the individual’s expressed professional goals and preparation. The early choice of topic is encouraged and permits the student time to obtain any preparation needed in a particular method of investigation such as qualitative research or statistical analysis.
- Thesis committee. Each thesis is guided and supervised by a committee of three faculty members, one of whom serves as chair. This person may be the candidate’s academic advisor or some other professor. All members of the thesis committee must be members of the Graduate Faculty, with a majority from SLS. Other members of the faculty may serve as consultants and may be asked to attend the thesis conference (V. below) even though they are not members of the thesis committee. Under the academic advisor’s guidance, the candidate asks each professor if s/he is willing to serve as a committee member or consultant. The thesis committee is officially constituted when Student Progress Form II is filed in the Graduate Division. It is the candidate’s responsibility to keep the committee informed of progress made and to consult them on problems as they arise.
Following the agreement of the committee members, the student drafts a proposal for the thesis. The proposal would consist of the following parts.
- Context of the problem, culminating in a clear statement of the problem or conceptual framework, culminating in research questionsStatement of the specific research questions. Quantitative studies should include a clear rationale for each question. It is assumed that the rationale for qualitative research questions will be included in the conceptual framework
- Methods for investigating the problem/research questions
- Outline of the thesis chapters (for quantitative studies)
- Timetable for completion of the thesis (including submission of drafts)
- Relevant course work taken
- Annotated bibliography of relevant background research (Optional)
- The proposal must be approved by the committee chair prior to its presentation to the thesis committee.
- Thesis Conference. The candidate’s proposal must be presented and approved by the thesis committee at a formal proposal conference. When the committee and other Graduate Faculty members present at the thesis conference agree that the candidate has proposed an acceptable thesis and has the necessary qualifications to carry it through successfully, they indicate their approval. A report of this action and a copy of the candidate’s thesis outline are filed in the Department Office. The office in turn will file Student Progress Form II with the Graduate Division. The candidate may register for SLS 700 only after the proposal for the thesis has been approved. The candidate must be registered for a minimum of one credit of SLS 700 during the term in which the degree will be awarded.
- Revision of the proposal. The thesis committee may recommend revisions of the proposal which the candidate would incorporate before final approval.
- Committee on Human Studies. If human subjects are involved in the thesis research, exemption or approval must be obtained from the UH Committee on Human Subjects. Note: CHS exemption or approval must be obtained before data collection begins. See detailed guidelines at http://www.hawaii.edu/irb/. Students preparing declarations of exemptions or applications for approval may consult with the DSLS faculty member who is our Human Studies Coordinator (this position rotates over time), or of course their own advisor.
- After approval of the thesis plan (and approval from the Committee on Human Studies, when applicable), the candidate carries out the procedures specified in the proposal under the guidance of the thesis committee. When the procedures are completed, drafts of the thesis chapters are prepared and presented to the committee chair for critique and recommendations. In writing these initial drafts, the candidate should refer to the guidelines on the Graduate Division website. Drafts, as well as the final submission, are to be written in accurate, academic English. Native and non-native speakers alike should have all drafts proofread. After the candidate has made one or more revisions of the drafts, the committee chair will advise the student when it is ready to be read by other members of the thesis committee.
- Preparation for the Oral Examination. The purpose of the oral examination is to determine the acceptability of the thesis and to assess the need for revisions prior to preparation of the final copy. When the committee chair determines that the thesis is complete and in final draft, the candidate may request an oral examination. This examination must occur no later than three weeks before the final examination period of any semester, if graduation is expected in that semester. (See current Catalog for exact dates.)
- Not less than two weeks before the examination date, the candidate will submit a copy of the draft of the thesis to each member of the thesis committee. After the committee chair has approved the request, the candidate is responsible for arranging a date, hour and room convenient to the examiners.
- At the oral examination, the committee chair generally, but not always, asks the candidate to make a brief summary of the thesis for the audience. Oral examinations are open events. The presentation is followed by questions to the candidate from the committee chair, other members of the thesis committee, members of the Graduate Faculty present, and other members of the audience. When the committee chair determines that the examination is sufficient and complete, the audience is dismissed and the committee determines whether to accept the thesis. Oral examinations will generally not be held during Summer Session.
- Thesis committee acceptance of the thesis. If the thesis committee agrees by majority vote that the thesis is acceptable or can be made acceptable with minor changes approved by the committee chair, the candidate may proceed with the preparation of the final copy. If the thesis committee by majority vote accepts the examination but requires substantial changes in the thesis, the revised thesis must be approved, prior to the preparation of the final copy, by the chair and one other member of the thesis committee designated by the examiners at the time of the oral examination. If the oral examination is judged unsatisfactory, the candidate may have the privilege of another examination only by permission of the thesis committee. No more than two oral examinations are allowed. Upon satisfactory completion of the oral examination, Student Progress Form III will be submitted to the Graduate Division.
- Preparation of final copies of the thesis. When a revised draft of the thesis, incorporating any changes required at the oral examination, has been completed, a candidate arranges to have it produced in final form and submitted to Graduate Division. In this regard, continued reference should be made to the above-mentioned Graduate Division guidelines, as well as relevant regulations set by the Graduate Division and available in the Graduate Division Office and on their website. The dates that theses are due in Graduate Division each semester will be found in the current Catalog. An electronic copy of the thesis should be submitted to the Graduate Chair (or any appropriate assistant or office staff), Department of SLS.
- Policy statement on assignment of authorship. At its meeting on October 18, 1990, the Graduate Council approved the following statement for inclusion in the Catalog, GA Handbook, and Graduate Division’s Thesis/Dissertation Guidelines.
“It is the joint responsibility of the graduate student and the faculty they work with to discuss their expectations concerning assignment of authorship of publications resulting from theses, dissertations, or other collaborative research projects.”