The MLS Student Handbook

IDS 899 Thesis in Liberal Studies

If you write a thesis, you first identify an issue or topic and make sure that you have the approval of your faculty advisor and your MLS faculty committee to begin research on that topic. The next step is to work with your faculty advisor to develop a research strategy that will help you locate material related to your topic. Two books that you may find useful are
James E. Mauch and Namgi Park. 2003. Guide to the Successful Thesis and Dissertation A Handbook for Students and Faculty, Fifth Edition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN: 0-82474-288-5. $64.95
Kate L. Turabian, revised by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. colomb, Joseph Williams and University of Chicago Press Staff. 2008. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th Edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 0-226-82337-7. $17.00

You should also familiarize yourself with Thesis Guidelines - Guidelines for Thesis and Field Study. If your proposed research will involve human subjects, please see Research Involving Human Subjects. If your proposed research will involve animal subjects, please see Research Involving Animal Subjects. You should expect to take more than one semester to complete a thesis.

Here is one idea for a research strategy. Create three folders.

  1. One folder would be your 'subjects' folder. In this folder you create a list of subjects (related to your topic) that you will research. As you do research, you can and should add to this list.
  2. The second folder would be your 'resources' list. In this folder you create a list of where you would look for articles, books, etc. related to each item listed in your 'subjects' folder. Resources would include (continue to add to this list as well)
    6. Index of Congressional Hearings
    7. Index of government publications
    8. NEW YORK TIMES index and the index of other major newspapers
    9. Trade, professional, and academic journals
    10. Online sources available through FHSU library's website
    11. Internet search engines
    12. Dialog (this costs money)
  3. The third folder would be your 'results' list. Here you could keep the notes from articles, books, etc. that you found in your research process. Make sure that your notes fully document their sources so that you won't have to go back and dig them up again when you get ready to write your "Works Cited" page.

Your research will help you understand how well your topic has already been studied, and you and your faculty advisor should talk about whether you will need to modify the topic that you had originally chosen. You and your faculty advisor should also discuss methodological issues: what primary sources do you want to gather, how do you want to gather them, and what analytical tools will you use to interpret them. Your thesis could have five major parts: an introduction, a review of the literature, stating and testing your hypothesis, an analysis of your results, and a conclusion. Make sure that the format of your thesis comports with the Graduate School requirements!

See also the section titled "Writing and Style Guide."

(Revised 8/29/2007; 1/23/2008; 3/28/2008)


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