The challenges of writing a Master Thesis

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1 The challenges of writing a Master Thesis Maria João Couto Universidade de Vigo Karl-Heinz Pogner Copenhagen Business School

2 Introduction The study of scientific writing processes is part of the promotion of European literacy dynamics, especially in the digital age. The quality of educational processes is important in higher education for achieving academic success. Results allow one to define the next strategies based on the promotion of educational innovation and the use of digital and interactive resources in the Master s thesis supervision.

3 CONTEXTUALIZATION This investigation aimed to determine how improvements in educational quality in higher education could be made, from the study of the Master s thesis writing process at a Danish university.

4 General objective Understand and analyse the process of writing academic papers and the use of digital interactive tools in the supervisory process Methodology Qualitative methodology approach

5 Specific objectives To understand the perspective of students regarding the scientific writing process. To understand the perspective of supervisors regarding the students scientific writing process. To identify the digital and interactive tools used in the supervisory process. To analyse the strengths, weaknesses, potentials and obstacles in the use of digital and interactive oversight tools To describe the successful experiences that promote more meaningful learning in the process of academic writing using digital and interactive tools (in mixed learning)

6 Participants Students Supervisors Coordinators The final number of participants was defined depending on the saturation of the data, the availability of participants and time constraints, resulting in 6 students and 4 supervisors/ coordinators being involved.

7 Collecting data tools and analysis Data was analysed Participant observation in Master s thesis tutorial sessions Open, structured interview model using content analysis, establishing a category system.

8 OUTCOMES Main challenges of writing the Master Thesis

9 The student s perspective Definition of the Master s thesis theme and research question clarification Data analysis Bibliographic searches and selection Doubts about the amount of work to be presented Specificities of each Master's program Supervisor availability Connection between the data and theoretical framework Students operational difficulties are related to access to good data Type of communication and relationship established with supervisor

10 Supervisor s* and coordinator s perspective * Only full time staff interviewed, many supervisors are part time. Some students are not yet able to distinguish between primary (=self generated) and To defining the research question and understanding the research process. Students personal lives: -available time management - a sense of insecurity - relationship with the supervisor - physical distance between student and supervisor - personality characteristics - health problems, external requests - inability to establish collaborative work Nonexistence of a writing centre Lack of commitment of some supervisors to their work and/ or academic qualifications (if part time secondary staff). data

11 Digital and interactive tools portable and fixed computers, tablets word processing software Teachers and students use multiple digital and interactive resources Databases (library) & tools (e.g.nvivo; survey exact) image and sound software to prepare academic paper mobile phones or smartphones for internal communication or QR Code applications Multiple digital screens for the presentation of relevant information to members of the academic community are also scattered throughout the campus.

12 The challenges of writing a Master Thesis

13 Digital and interactive tools portable or desktop computer Students involved in the Master s thesis writing process and supervisors use: text editor electronic mail primarily quantitative data analysis software e-calendar skype university web page library databases and tools (Refwork, survey exact, Nvivo /Ncapture)) e-books audio recorders presentation software e-learning platform; Cloud, collaborative writing tools

14 Digital and interactive tool use Strengths to establish face-to-face contact, overcoming the physical limitation of location Weakness writing a Master s thesis depends on good ideas and the thinking process rather than good software Opportunities Threats promotion of future Methodology Seminars / workshops promotion of qualitative data analysis software seminars Promotion of supervisor seminars data analysis software registration price (free for CBS students:. Survey exact, SPSS, Nvivo) Shortage of Master s thesis supervisors Lack of updated catalogues of supervisors creation of a useful digital platform (intranet / portal) adapted to university needs and student flow management

15 Successful experiences Presenting the references in the course of the thesis drafting process Changing the order or the focus of the work when the data was not consistent with the theoretical framework Reading scientific books and articles in the field Keeping in touch with the student Master's thesis must be based on a good descriptive text, good structure, uniform and consistent data analysis, a good theoretical foundation

16 Recommendations To provide detailed digital guides for students about the research process and scientific writing To provide supervisors and teachers with guidance on how to use digital and interactive tools for good practice in supervision; To display online lists to students of possible research topics and examples of research questions in each subject area; To increase the frequency of (virtual) courses in data analysis To increase the frequency of (virtual) courses in bibliographic searches To ask teachers to participate in Master's thesis seminars or workshops in order to share experiences, especially in the use of digital and interactive tools To provide time management courses for students (and supervisors ;-))

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