How to prepare an Honours thesis in psychology
This is a manual of useful information (FAQ, tips, advice) about how to prepare an Honours thesis in psychology at the University of Canberra. Staff and students are welcome to improve this page (click edit, make changes, and save).
Finding a supervisor
- Once you have an offer you may approach potential supervisors to discuss supervision possibilities.
- However, please be aware that final allocations of students to supervisors will not be confirmed until after Honours Thesis Workshop 1, at the end of Week 1, Semester 1.
- Students may not get your preferred supervisor/topic due to the need to equitably balance staff workloads.
- Have an initial discussion with your supervisor about how you will work together, including what you expect of each other, when and how often you are going to meet, contact details, etc.
Developing a topic
- Generate (brainstorm) and discuss possible topics
- Try to phrase your topics as research questions
- Consider the pros and cons of each question, including conceptual and methodological issues
- Narrow selection down (e.g., by merging or grouping some questions, dropping questions, or writing new, improved questions)
- Do some background reading, e.g., identify ~4-10 key articles
- Decide on final topic - express the topic as clear research question(s)
- Define key (independent and dependent) variables
- Draft hypotheses
- Developing a research proposal and getting peer review is a critical step in a scientific research project.
- It is better to find out about potential research design flaws early on, while they can still be addressed, than to find out later (e.g., from examiners).
- Research proposals are not assessed, but they are a requirement for completion of the unit.
- The proposal should be presented as a poster:
- Electronically (create a new discussion thread post with an attached file via Moodle: research proposal submissions) (by Thu 31st March, 2011 9.30am)
- Hard copy poster: Provide easy to read, key details about about the proposed study to help reviewers understand the study and provide critique. Keep it simple. There is no need for glossy printing, lamination etc. For example, 9 A4 sheets (in a 3 x 3 layout) consisting of large font (min. 18 pt) bullet-points prepared as a word-processing document could be very effective.
- 5 minute verbal précis of the proposal to reviewers and interested fellow students (the poster session will be during the mid-semester Semester 1 teaching break - Thu 31st March, 2011 9.30am – 12.30pm in 6C34 - set-up is from 9am).
- Have copies of relevant additional information available to reviewers (e.g., draft survey)
- Reviewers will discuss your proposal with you and provide some written comments for further discussion with your supervisor. Obtain at least two reviews from academic staff. Fellow students may provide additional feedback. If appropriate, make adjustments to the study's focus and design.
These sections are recommended for thesis proposals (check with your supervisor for further advice):
- Title page
- Working title
- Student name
- Supervisor name
- Introduction: A brief review of the literature and justification for why the topic is important.
- Aims & Hypotheses: Concise statement of research question(s) (aims) and briefly how these aims fit into the literature area (justification of your aims). Clearly state the study’s hypotheses (Note: Hypotheses need to be testable – see also Analyses).
- Design: Describe the research design (e.g., experimental, quasi-experimental, or non-experimental, between-subjects or within-subjects, etc.). Consider potential confounds and how they will be dealt with (internal validity).
- Participants: Consider the target population, sampling frame, sampling technique, anticipated return rate, sample size and power (demonstrate how the sample size is adequate for your design). Note whether you or your supervisor have a dependent relationship with this target population. Describe how participants will be recruited.
- Materials/Measures: Describe how the independent and dependent measures are to be operationalised and the psychometric properties of proposed measures.
- Procedure: How will the study be carried out? How will the data be collected? What steps will be followed with participants? What will be done with the data?
- Ethical issues: Summarise potential ethical issues and explain how they will be dealt with. Consider whether approval is required from the University’s Committee for Ethics in Human Research or any other organisation.
- Costs: Provide details of any project costs, such as equipment, and how these will be paid. Where possible, students are encouraged to use free materials.
- Analyses: Summarise the planned data analytical techniques for addressing the hypotheses.
- Timeline: Outline key project milestones and their due dates, including ethical clearances. See timeline for more information.
- Appendices: e.g., a copy of the instrumentation to be used, informed consent statement
|Acknowledgments||1 page max.|
|Table of contents|
|Lists of tables and/or figures and/or appendices|
|Appendices (if required, e.g., copy of questionnaire/materials)|
|Analyse data and draft results|
|Abstract, table of contents, tables, figures, appendices|
|Print and submit|
Submitting a human ethics research application
How do to this will be covered by:
- Honours Thesis Workshop 2
- Your supervisor
Style and format
- Present the thesis in APA style (6th ed.), including being double-spaced, one side of the page only, with appropriate margins
- Word count: 10,000 to 12,000 words
- Binding can be plastic or metal comb, heat sealed, or hard cover
How can I access past theses?
To access past theses, options include:
- Ask your supervisor - s/he may have spare copies of past theses that you can borrow
- Ask your supervisor - s/he can arrange access to the hard copy library of past theses - 2008-2009 thesis titles and supervisors
- James Neill has placed some past 4th year theses he has supervised online with student permission.
Submitting your thesis
- Submit three hard copies of the thesis to the Psychology Administrative Assistant (3B25) together with a completed Thesis Cover Sheet by 3pm, Wednesday 26 October, 2011. A copy goes to each of two examiners for marking, and one remains in the Centre for Applied Psychology Thesis Collection.
- You will also need to provide a fourth hard copy to your supervisor along with an electronic copy of your thesis and the final dataset used.
- It is recommended that you make at least one additional hard copy of the thesis to keep yourself.
- Post on the Moodle discussion forum
- Ask your supervisor
- Guidelines for a 4th Year Honours Thesis in Psychology (available to UC enrolled students)
- Marking criteria guidelines
- Word processing for a thesis
- How do I get my thesis published?