THESIS GUIDELINES. Master in International Health

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1 THESIS GUIDELINES Master in International Health International Maternal and Child Health Department of Women s and Children s Health Uppsala University

2 Introduction The Uppsala University Master s programme in International Health is a two-year full-time postgraduate degree (corresponding to 120 ECTS). At the end of the program the students should be able to: 1. identify and analyse interrelated determinants of health and major health problems of populations in an international and cross-disciplinary perspective 2. plan sustainable improvements of health systems considering the diverse intercultural settings as well as social and ethical responsibilities 3. clearly communicate and work professionally in a multi-disciplinary team 4. critically collect, analyse and appraise qualitative and quantitative data relevant for the improvement of health and health care in an international perspective 5. identify and analyse determinants of health and health problems in an area of special interest on an advanced level of understanding, e.g. with a focus on international child health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, public health in humanitarian assistance, or public health nutrition, and be able to plan and communicate interventions within that area 6. plan, perform, analyse and report a research project within the field of international health According to the regulation for Masters programs the students should submit and defend a thesis corresponding to 30 ECTS. Students should preferably identify a thesis topic at an early stage of the Master programme. Discussions within the different courses aim at stimulating that process. Thesis requirements/objectives The thesis work refers primarily to the 4 th and 6 th study objectives listed above. The 30-credit thesis is usually based on secondary analysis of an available data set. In some cases the analysis is based on primary data collection, or on a systematic review of published scientific reports. The thesis must: Be concerned with a global/international health research problem. Have clear aims Be based on relevant and well described materials and methods Present its results in a clear and balanced way Present a balanced and critical discussion of materials, methods and results and relate this to other relevant literature within the field Include a short abstract Fulfil the usual formal demands for scientific presentations and include a front page/page of title, an abstract, a table of contents, list of references/literature list, and correct use of language and good structure or layout. The thesis development process The theses/thesis work is a substantial part of the Masters program and is usually made up of the following steps: 1. Thesis topic/idea 2. Review of literature 3. Synopsis/brief outline incl. aims 4. Getting access to data 5. Analysis of data according to aims 6. Writing up the thesis 2

3 Thesis outline/synopsis The outline starts with a summary of your area/subject of interest that is the problem that you want to address in your thesis. Briefly, you analyse this problem with its contributing factors: a clear problem statement should be presented. The problem statement leads to a few aims for your thesis. Sometimes, you may have identified several questions on different aspects of the problem of your interest: in that case, you may decide to concentrate on one or a few of these, which you will explore in more detail for your thesis. Next you will indicate how you will be able to address these aims. Describe the material/subjects and methods you will use. Remember that this outline will be a first draft: it will help you to clarify and streamline your ideas upon your thesis, and it will help the members in your thesis group to give suggestions to you. Thesis writing remains a circular process, so most probably you may want to change, revise and detail part of your outline later on, in the process of thesis writing. Note that a well structured, logical flow of paragraphs dealing with problem statement, aims and methodology, even if it is only one page, is far more important in this stage than writing 10 pages of background on your country etc.! In summary, your thesis outline will state: 1. Title 2. Problem you address, major factors influencing the problem: Problem statement (Intro/Background) 3. Aims of the thesis 4. Subjects/material and methods 5. Discussion (expected key points) 6. Key literature. A thesis outline may be 3 pages. Data for 30 credit thesis Most Masters students perform secondary analysis of already collected data (e.g. Demographic Health Survey data or available datasets at IMCH). Due to time constraints and limited financial resources, it might be difficult to plan a qualitative or quantitative study and collect new data for analysis. If you plan to do a field study to collect new data it is essential that you discuss this with one of the teachers. A proposal for a field study may need to get approval from a Research Ethics Committee. Writing up the thesis; Format Details regarding format requirements are available from the course secretariat. The total length of the thesis usually comprises no more than words, excluding tables and annexes. This is approximately 35 pages in font size 12, depending on letter type. Use of English is compulsory. 3

4 Your thesis should usually include: 1. Title of project 2. Abstract (max 250 words) 3. Introduction/Background 4. Aims 5. Subjects/material and methods 6. Results 7. Discussion (including limitations of the study) 8. Conclusion 9. Reference list 10. Annexes (if appropriate) Note on plagiarism You are reminded that your thesis must be your own work. Plagiarism is the presentation of another persons work as though it were the writers own. Examples of plagiarism occur at all academic levels and range from the students who copy a short passage from another source into an essay without indicating that it is a quotation from someone else to senior academics failing to acknowledge the real source of an idea or insight in their own work. It is a serious academic offence. We realise that learning during the course requires you to work with other s ideas but these must be acknowledged. It is your responsibility to ensure that there is no danger that your work could be thought to involve a deliberate attempt to deceive the reader into believing a borrowed or copied idea or passage is your original work. This includes academic sources and any use of work obtained from other students. All quotations from other sources, whether published or unpublished, must be properly acknowledged. Do not copy even a single sentence from another source/author without proper recognition; use citation marks ( ) and reference to the relevant publication. Plagiarism is considered very important at all institutions. All theses will be checked by URKUND plagiarism software system. Please note that plagiarism is a serious offence and will be reported to the University Vice Chancellor and can have serious consequences for your studies. Thesis pitfalls Here are some of the common causes of problems: Failing to communicate with your thesis group regularly. Use the opportunity of seminars and discussions in the thesis course. Failing to make clear and substantive changes before the next meeting of the thesis group. It is very advisable to add a small note to the next draft you hand in, stating where you have changed the content or outline, so the fellow students and teacher in the thesis course don t need to read meticulously through your draft. Allowing too little time for writing the thesis. You should try to produce as much of it as you can as you go along, even though you don't know in advance its exact structure. The last few weeks of the thesis should be dedicated to pulling together the material you have accumulated and producing a polished final product. Make sure that you spend sufficient time working on the planning of your thesis. The plan should leave enough room for making last minute revisions. Over/Under ambition. Try to be realistic about what you can achieve in the time available. A good thesis requires a lot of input from you and should prove to be technically and intellectually 4

5 challenging throughout. In the thesis group you can get advise on realistic expectations of the thesis and this will help you set your sights accordingly. Always do spell and grammar checks of the draft, which you hand in. For fellow students and teachers reading is very difficult if the grammar and spelling contain too many mistakes. Plagiarism! Be reminded that both examiners and course management will take this very seriously. Not taking enough time for writing correctly the references- it is tedious work, but it needs to be done. Supervision The Master thesis is carried out with group supervision from one of your teachers of the Masters programme and comments from your fellow students. In case of a field study it might be necessary to have a local supervisor. Roles and responsibilities Course participants will be required to: Decide on your proposed area of study in consultations with a teacher of the master programme; Participate in the research methods course(s). Prepare and submit a draft of your thesis synopsis to the group tutorials Discuss the synopsis in the group meeting If undertaking primary data collection discuss any ethical issues with a teacher and secure ethical approval if needed Produce work in accordance with the schedule agreed upon Ensure that material is presented in sufficient time to allow for comment, discussion and alterations before proceeding to the next stage Keep record of meetings and agreed action points Be familiar with: Research ethics guidelines Referencing guidelines Rules about plagiarism Meet the submission deadline. Academic Tutors/Course Leader will be responsible for: Assisting the student in choosing a relevant study subject. Advise the student on the plan for his/her work within the group tutorials. Provide guidance on the chosen field of study, including considerations of ethical approval Advising on data and literature sources Provide the supervisory group sessions Reading through drafts and give feedback Judging the quality of the thesis and giving credits 5

6 Assessment A thesis is approved by both supervisor and examiner of the course. An oral presentation of the thesis in a seminar is required. It is also required that the student has read and commented upon a fellow student s oral presentation. Examiner s evaluation of 30 credit master thesis Currently the grades Insufficient (U) or Sufficient (G) are used Criteria for assessing oral presentation of the master degree project Evaluate the students ability to: Adapt the level of the presentation to the target group. Present relevant data in a clear, correct and concise manner Maintain contact with the audience Use pedagogic aids in an adequate way Respond to questions from the audience Keep the allotted time Criteria for the student s opposition of another student's thesis Evaluate the students ability to: Ability to make a summary assessment of the performed project Enter into dialogue with the defender Present relevant, critical views Keep the allotted time Criteria for evaluation of the student's written master degree project report Evaluate the written report according to: Comprehensive background, including relevant theories Clear and concise formulation of the aim of the study Description of materials and methods, including motivation of selection Presentation of relevant results, in text and with figures, tables etc. Critical evaluation of the obtained results in relation to current research, well as conclusions and relevance for further studies. Identification of problems, weaknesses and possible reasons for lack of results Handling of references Overall readability, coherence and language according to given instructions 6

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