U N I V E R S I T Y O F C O P E N H A G E N THESIS GUIDELINES MASTER OF INTERNATIONAL HEALTH MASTER OF DISASTER MANGEMENT

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1 U N I V E R S I T Y O F C O P E N H A G E N THESIS GUIDELINES MASTER OF INTERNATIONAL HEALTH MASTER OF DISASTER MANGEMENT U N I V E R S I T Y O F C O P E N H A G E N ACADEMIC YEAR 2015/2016

2 Table of contents 1. GENERAL INFORMATION Background Thesis objectives Deadlines Identification of supervisors Roles and responsibilities SYNOPSIS Formal requirements Suggested structure THESIS PROPOSAL Formal requirements Suggested structure THESIS Formal requirements Suggested structure FIELDWORK Formal requirements Ethical clearance THESIS SEMINAR Formal requirements ASSESSMENT Grading Scales Plagiarism

3 1. GENERAL INFORMATION 1.1 Background As a student of the Master of International Health (MIH) or the Master of Disaster Management (MDMa) programmes, you are required to submit a final thesis in order to be awarded a Masters degree. The thesis will be graded by your supervisor and an external examiner. As set out below, the thesis process consists of the following components: 1. Draft Thesis Proposal (submitted before the programme starts) 2. Synopsis 3. Research Proposal 4. Data Collection 5. Thesis 1.2. Thesis objectives Your Masters thesis should demonstrate that you are able to address complex problems/issues, which demand the integration of empirical data, theory and rigorous methods. The thesis may be based on primary or secondary data and material. The thesis must: be based on a thorough problem and stakeholder analysis and literature review be based on a clearly formulated research question/s; have a general and specific objectives; be based on relevant and clearly-described materials and methods; present clear results present a balanced and critical discussion of materials, methods and findings, relating these to other relevant literature within the field; fulfill the formal requirements for scientific presentations and include a front page, an abstract, a table of contents, references, etc. On completion of the thesis, the student should be able to: Knowledge demonstrate insights into the research process from identifying the nature of a research problem, formulating research questions and translating these into research objectives understand the value of the choice of appropriate research methods Skills Collect necessary data/information and critically analyse, review and interpret own research in the context of existing literature. 3

4 As part of the thesis writing process give a short thesis presentation, highlighting research problems and questions, research objectives, methods and main findings, conclusion and possible recommendations - as well as discussing critical questions and remarks regarding the findings and conclusions. Competences Develop and present well-argued and referenced recommendations as to future practice(s) in a given field. Where relevant, include proper communication with and feedback to study objects and local authorities on research results including practical policy implications (if research is based on local data) with a view to contribute to improvements at the local level. Provide critical and constructive feedback to fellow students on their theses Deadlines Synopsis: Full thesis proposal: 27 January 2016 at 12:00 pm 20 April 2016 at 12:00 noon Thesis seminar: 14 & 15 June 2016 Thesis submission: 11 July 2016 at 12:00 noon 1.4. Withdrawal from the exam Students may withdraw from the master thesis. Notice of withdrawal must be submitted in writing to the study administration and the supervisor one month prior to the submission date. Please note that there are only two official dates a year for submission of thesis (December and July). 4

5 2. SUPERVISION 2.1. Identification of supervisors According to university regulations, the Master s thesis is carried out under the supervision of an assistant professor, associate professor, a professor, or an external lecturer, employed at the University of Copenhagen. The Board of Studies may decide to have PhD candidates in their final year act as co-supervisors. External supervisors may be appointed if additional expertise is needed (external supervisors are specialists working in other parts of the university or at other universities /research institutions). An external supervisor can only undertake supervision in cooperation with university staff. An academic panel assigns supervisors to students in consultation with the Directors of Studies. This process takes place in mid-february. The choice of supervisor is based on: a) the individual student s choice of thesis topic; and b) the supervisor s availability. Thirty hours are allocated for thesis supervision. This includes all tasks carried out by the supervisor in relation to the thesis: reading of drafts, preparation for meetings, examination, etc. If you have more than one supervisor, the 30 hours will be divided, normally 20 hours for the faculty advisor (who takes part in the examination) and 10 for the external supervisor Roles and responsibilities To ensure that the working relationship between you and your supervisor is as productive and rewarding as possible, we have set down guiding principles for your respective roles and responsibilities. The supervisor(s) will: guide the student in formulating clear, relevant and achievable research objectives; supervise the student s preparation of the research proposal (see section 4); guide the student in using relevant and up-to-date academic/other literature within the chosen field of study; advise the student in the choice of research methods, ethical clearance and data size etc.; advise the student in making a realistic fieldwork budget, if relevant. The supervisor will NOT: proofread your thesis be responsible for exceeded budgets in relation to fieldwork approve postponement of submission (contact the study administration) read the entire thesis in its final version prior to submission 5

6 The student will: decide on a proposed area of study in consultation with his/her assigned supervisor(s); participate in the course on Research Methodology & Ethics; prepare and submit a thesis synopsis as part of the assignment for the Research Methodology & Ethics course; if undertaking primary research, identify and discuss with the supervisor(s) any ethical issues and secure ethical approval; produce work in accordance with a schedule agreed upon with the supervisor(s) at the start of the process; ensure that material is presented in sufficient time to allow the supervisor s comments, discussion and alterations, before proceeding to the next stage. Written agreement on supervision Before supervision starts, you should meet with your supervisor and complete the Thesis Contract (template is available on Absalon). On the basis of the thesis contract your supervisor and yourself will draft a written agreement outlining the terms and conditions for supervision, defining the different phases and deadlines in your thesis process. This should be signed by both of you and submitted to the MIH/MDMa Secretariat via Absalon. 6

7 3. SYNOPSIS 3.1. Formal requirements A synopsis is a brief outline of your proposed thesis. As a first draft, the synopsis will help you clarify and structure your ideas, and it will help the course secretariat assign you a supervisor whose expertise lies within your proposed field of study. Students are required to submit their synopsis at the end of the Research Methodology & Ethics module. The synopsis will be marked pass/fail. Deadline for submission of the synopsis is 27 January 2016 at p.m. The required length of the synopsis is 4-5 pages (1 page = approximately 2400 characters including spaces, font size 12 pt. line space 1.5, margins 2.5 on all sides, A4 paper) Suggested structure Your synopsis should include: 1. Preliminary thesis title; 2. Introduction (i.e. the context of the project, including problem statement, rationale, research question(s) to be explored, relevant literature on which your study will be based, theory and concepts that may be explored in the thesis); 3. Objectives (clearly formulated general and specific objectives); 4. Methodology (outline of study area, study population, research methods to be used, related to the stated objectives); 5. Ethical considerations; 6. Limitations of the study; 7. Reference list (key literature - a full literature search is not required for the synopsis). 7

8 4. THESIS PROPOSAL 4.1. Formal requirements A thesis proposal is a further development of your synopsis, providing a more detailed outline of your thesis. You will develop your proposal in collaboration with your supervisor(s). Deadline for submission of the Thesis Proposal is 20 April 2016 at 12:00 noon. The required length of the research proposal is 10 pages (1 page = approximately 2400 characters including spaces, font size 12 pt. line space 1.5) Suggested structure Your Research Proposal should include: 1. Title of the thesis; 2. Abstract/summary (max 300 words); 3. Introduction (context for your thesis, including a brief literature review, conceptual or theoretical framework, rationale, and problem formulation/statement); 4. Objectives (general/specific); 5. Methododology (including study area, study population, methods for data collection and analyses); 6. Limitations of the study; 7. Ethical considerations; 8. Discussion (expected key points); 9. Time frame and Budget (if fieldwork is included); 10. Reference list (list of primary and secondary literature); 11. Annexes (draft questionnaires, question guides or other data collection tools). 8

9 5. THESIS 5.1. Formal requirements Your Masters thesis should demonstrate that you are able to deal with complex problems, which demand the integration of empirical data, theory and methods. Your thesis may be based on available literature, secondary data (e.g. records from institutions/organizations) or primary data collected, either before the start of the Masters programme or as a mini fieldwork during the course of the programme (max. 4 weeks). Your thesis should conform to current guidelines for scientific literature, and the text should be clear, concise and easy to read. The deadline for submission of the thesis is 11 July 2016 at 12:00 noon You must submit your thesis in three soft-bound, hard copies (including annexes) to the Department of Public health, Global Health Section. In addition, an electronic version must be uploaded as a Word file (.doc/.docx) or as a pdf file to the University of Copenhagen s intranet, called Absalon. When all four versions of your thesis have been handed in (three hard copies submitted to the Department + one version uploaded) by the deadline, the thesis qualifies as being submitted on time and will be sent on to your supervisor(s) and external examiner for assessment Suggested structure The required length of a Masters thesis is max pages (1 page = approximately 2400 characters including spaces, font size 12 pt. line space 1.5) excluding the cover page, abstract, table of contents, acknowledgements, list of figures, references and annexes. This is the standard structure of an MIH/MDMa thesis: 1. Cover page (see the format below) 2. Abstract (electronic version should be sent to the Department of International Health. 3. See the format below) 4. Acknowledgements (optional) 5. Dedication (optional) 6. Table of contents 7. List of figures 8. List of tables 9. List of annexes 10. List of abbreviations and acronyms 11. Introduction 12. Objectives 9

10 13. Methodology 14. Results 15. Discussion and recommendations 16. Conclusion 17. References 18. Annexes Keep in mind, however, that there may be other ways of structuring your thesis that are more conducive to your particular study. If you prefer a different sequence of sections and/or distribution of content you should discuss this with your supervisor first, and get his/her approval. Also please remember to proofread your thesis. The level of the written language in the thesis is included in the assessment. What to include in the different sections The cover page (1 page) Your cover page must include: Your full name; the title of your thesis (including country/region of research, where appropriate); year of submission; name of university and the degree; supervisor(s) with affiliation. You are welcome to add image(s) to the cover page and choose the font style and size you prefer. You can find templates for the MIH and MDMa thesis cover page on Absalon. Abstract (300 words 1 page) Your abstract should be structured and concise reflecting the structure and content of the thesis and be no longer than 300 words. It must include: an Introduction (brief restatement of the problem studied) and the objectives of the thesis a summary of the methodology used and the results s and conclusion of the thesis. In addition to being included in the thesis, you also need to submit a separate, electronic version of the abstract to the Department of Public Health, Global Health Section using the following format: Author and profession Year Thesis title (including country/region of research, where appropriate) Key words (max. 5) Research institutions and supervisors (their institutional affiliation) Abstract (see above) Introduction (5 8 pages) The introduction section of the thesis should contextualise your project for the reader. 10

11 Present a short review of the key literature you have used (only key literature related to your topic), and summarise for your reader existing evidence in the field. This will provide the scientific context for your research question and your objectives. The introduction should also include a justification for conducting the study i.e. why did you choose your topic? The introduction may also include a review/discussion of relevant conceptual or theoretical framework and definitions of central concepts. However, there are different traditions in different types of studies as to where in the thesis the theoretical perspectives should be introduced and discussed. Clarify with your supervisor: a) the theoretical framework that is appropriate to your particular study; and b) in which section of the thesis it would be best to present and discuss theoretical perspectives. Objectives (½ page) Objectives include one general and a maximum of two to three specific objectives. The objectives should be presented clearly and concisely. The general objective states the main PURPOSE of your thesis. The general objective will typically be introduced by an infinitive sentence, e.g. to determine the. ; to examine the etc. The specific objectives include the sub-set of issues you will study in order to fulfil the general objective. Methodology (4 6 pages) This section should present, in detail, your stady area, study population and the methods you have chosen for your study with respect to material and data collection as well as analysis. This part of the thesis retraces your research process and is used to assess whether the study is based on a valid scientific approach and whether the method(s) chosen were appropriately employed. Results (4 8 pages) The presentation of your findings should be clear and concise, avoiding repetition. Present an overall description of what you have found, organised in main sections, stating what material you obtained from different methods, if relevant. Describe contradictions and limitations in relation to the methods used. You may wish to illustrate the main components of your findings with quotes from e.g. interviews, examples from your own field notes/observations, etc. Tables and figures should be added, if relevant, to provide your reader with an overview of your findings. Make sure your graphics are easy to understand and that they are numbered and referred to in the text. The results should talk to the individual specific objectives. Discussion (6 8 pages) Situate your results in relation to the existing knowledge in your field and to the local, national and international context. Critically compare and contrast your findings in the light of existing theory, evidence and literature. Focus on the central findings presented in your result section. Discuss why your results may be different or similar to other evidence. Consider how your conceptual and methodological approach may have influenced your particular findings. Discuss the limitations of the study. 11

12 State what follow-up or additional research is needed based on your findings and discussion. Present recommendations here, using literature to reference why you have selected them and to illustrate if they have been tried in other contexts. Conclusion and recommendations (2 pages) The conclusion includes a brief summary of main aspects of the entire thesis (introduction, objectives, methods, findings and discussion). Highlight the main points of your discussion and recommendations and how these points relate to the existing data and theory. Finally, put your thesis work into perspective: In what way does your study contributed to further knowledge in the field? What could have been done better? What would you do if you were to do the study over again? Discuss other central points that relate to your study, placing your work in a larger context. Include recommendations in your conclusion that are based on your results: i.e. suggestions for further studies in your field or implementation of specific interventions and/or policies. References To ensure proper acknowledgement of sources (see 8.3), you need to use a recognised academic style for the indication of quotes and the literature/data used in your study. At Copenhagen School of Global Health, we recommend using the Vancouver Style. The way you indicate references in your text and the organisation of your references depends on which style you choose. To familiarise yourself with the Vancouver and Harvard Style Style, review the link below: Download: Vancouver Style (Pdf file) Harvard Style (Pdf) Annexes Annexes may be included, but only if you refer to them in the thesis. 12

13 6. FIELDWORK 6.1. Formal requirements You may choose to base your Masters thesis on primary data collected as part of a small-scale field study. For your data to be reliable, we require you to spend a minimum of four weeks doing your fieldwork. Please note that the cost of field-work is not included in the course fee for the MIH and MDMa programmes. Fieldwork expenses range between DKK 10,000 and DKK 20,000, covering e.g. travel, local transport, field assistants and equipment. Students are strongly advised to prepare a budget for their proposed field-work. 1 The choice of research methods for a field study depends on the identified study objectives. Research methods might include quantitative data collection tools (e.g. surveys or trials), qualitative methods (e.g. interviews or focus group discussions), or a combination of the two. Due to time and financial constraints, it will usually not be possible to conduct a large-scale quantitative survey or a long-term in-depth study for your Masters thesis. However, a limited field study may serve as a pilot study where new issues are explored or where the study takes place in a limited geographical setting. Drafting a Field Study Protocol Conducting a field study in the context of the MIH/MDMa programme will require careful planning and practical preparation (e.g. research/study permissions from relevant authorities, transport, translation requirements and ethical clearance). If you choose to do your own field study, it is critical that you have all necessary documents, research instruments, checklist, or forms translated into local languages, if relevant. Remember, you are responsible for the collection and quality/validity of primary data. 1 For students who are sponsored by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the cost of fieldwork is usually covered by the relevant Danish embassy and/or sector programme. The DANIDA Fellowship Centre (DFC) usually covers travel expenses. 13

14 6.2. Ethical clearance If you wish to conduct a field study, you need to determine whether your proposed study will require ethical clearance in the country/institution(s) where your field study will take place. Ethical clearance is normally issued by the local government agency/ministry. As ethical clearance requirements vary from country to country, you need to find out in good time: a) whether ethical clearance is needed; and b) what you need to do to obtain permission for your fieldwork. Remember that the need for ethical clearance may influence the timeframe of your study (in some cases, the process can be lengthy and cumbersome and ultimately you may not receive the clearance). The WHO website on research ethics provides further useful information on ethical clearance: 14

15 7. THESIS SEMINAR 7.1. Formal requirements The thesis seminar is the last step in the thesis process before final submission of your thesis. The aim of the thesis seminar is to provide you with an opportunity to share and discuss your findings and receive feedback and suggestions. You will be placed in groups and present your thesis to your peers and a panel of academic staff. Students will be divided into groups according to their thesis topic(s) and/or methodology. Each student will be allocated 40 minutes as follows: Student presentations: 15 minutes Questions and feedback: 25 minutes Please note that the longer you talk the less time for feedback and questions from the panel The seminar requires 1. A brief power point or a poster presentation. (Download KU powerpoint presentation template OR KU scientific poster template). Your presentation could be structured like this: Slide 1 Title and supervisor Slide 2 Research problem and questions, conceptual or theoretical framework general and specific objectives Slide 3-4 Methodology (study area, population, data collection methods, field work (if any)) Slide 5 Preliminary results Slide 6 Obstacles and limitations Slide 7 Questions to the panel 2. A brief power point or a poster presentation. (Download KU powerpoint presentation template OR KU scientific poster template). Your presentation could be structured like this: Slide 1 Title and supervisor Slide 2 Research Question, Aim and Objectives Slide 3 Methodology, data collection methods and theoretical framework 15

16 Slide 4 Field work (if any) Slide 5 Preliminary results, findings or data Slide 6 Obstacles and limitations Slide 7 Questions to the panel 3. Abstract Your abstract should be structured and concise reflecting the structure and content of the thesis and be no longer than 300 words. It must include: an Introduction (brief restatement of the problem studied) and the objectives of the thesis a summary of the methodology used and the findings and conclusion of the thesis. 4. That all students contribute with feedback to other students thesis presentation N.B. Poster presentation or power point and abstract should be uploaded to the relevant folder on Absalon no later than 10 June at 12 pm. The schedule of presentations will be announced by mail and on Absalon by June 6 th ASSESSMENT 8.1. Examination The MIH/MDMa Master s thesis Examination is based on an assessment of the Master s thesis by two examiners - the Supervisor/Examiner and an External Examiner. Examiners are expected to be active in the field of research and/or practice to ensure that their knowledge of the field is current, and should be familiar with the supervision and examination process for the MIH/MDMa programme. The Master s thesis will be assessed using the Danish 7-point grading scale. Note that the thesis is solely assessed on the basis of the written thesis. An External Examiner for each Master s thesis is appointed among the accredited MIH and MDMa External Examiners. The appointment of an External Examiner is conducted in consultation with the relevant Director of Studies and approved by the Head of External Examiners. The examiners will have at least four weeks to complete the assessment and grading of the Master s thesis. Each examiner will individually and independently read and assess the written thesis, prepare comments and feedback based on the set criteria for MIH/MDMa thesis assessment. 16

17 8.2 Grading Scales Below, you will find a description of the grading scale used at Danish educational institutions, (including the ECTS grade equivalent). Grade Designation Description ECTS 12 Outstanding performance The grade of 12 is given for an excellent performance A displaying a high level of command of all aspects of the relevant material, with no or only a few minor weaknesses. 10 Excellent performance The grade of 10 is given for a very good performance B displaying a high level of command of most aspects of the relevant material, with only minor weaknesses. 7 Good performance The grade of 7 is given for a good performance C displaying good command of the relevant material but also some weaknesses. 4 Average performance The grade of 4 is given for a fair performance displaying D some command of the relevant material but also some major weaknesses. 02 Passable performance The grade of 02 is given for a performance meeting E only the minimum requirements for acceptance. 00 Inadequate performance The grade of 00 is given for a performance which Fx does not meet the minimum requirements for acceptance. -3 Unacceptable performance The grade of -3 is given for a performance which is unacceptable in all respects. F 02 is the minimum grade for passing an exam. 17

18 8.3 Plagiarism Plagiarism is the presentation of another person s work as your own. Plagiarism can occur at all academic levels, ranging from students who copy a short passage from another source and paste it into their own essay without indicating its source, to senior academics failing to acknowledge the real source of an idea or insight in their own work. Plagiarism is a serious academic offence. If detected in the Masters thesis, it typically results in disqualification. In other words, your thesis will fail and you will not be awarded the Masters degree! An academic learning process requires you to work with other people s ideas. However, your use of these ideas must be properly acknowledged. It is your responsibility to ensure that the work you submit does not involve a deliberate attempt to deceive the reader into believing that a borrowed or copied idea or passage is your own. All quotations from other sources, whether published or unpublished, must be properly acknowledged. This includes academic sources as well as non-published work obtained from other students. Students are advised that plagiarism software detection programmes will be used to check all theses submitted and no exceptions will be made for students caught plagiarising. 18

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