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M.Sc. Thesis


An M.Sc. thesis becomes the defining document of one's master's degree. Unlike M.A. theses, which usually serve as projects in their own right, M.Sc. theses often report on a separate project; in this case, the writing is secondary to the project. For example, whereas the goal of an M.A. thesis may be to argue convincingly an original interpretation of a piece of literature, the goal of an M.Sc. thesis may be to report on a set of data gathered through an original experiment. The M.A. thesis is self-contained; the M.Sc. thesis is inseparable from an additional original project.

The student who writes an M.Sc. thesis must choose an interesting or uncharted niche of the chosen academic discipline, and he or she must figure out a way to add an original piece of information to that niche. For example, one who is studying meteorology may create a computer module that will subject a given geographical location, such a large Midwestern city, to a series of hypothetical weather events, and the student may write an M.Sc. thesis that reports on the disaster patterns that the computer module has predicted.

The major task for M.Sc. theses, then, generally falls not within the writing itself but within the primary research. Flashy, compelling, or aesthetically pleasant writing is not going to impress the readers of M.Sc. theses; rather, readers of M.Sc. theses crave hard facts and data that have come from the writer's original project and that others can reproduce using the same research methods. The student should spend an appropriately lengthy amount of time on the research, writing the thesis only after all the data have proven to be sound and reproducible. Although the student may exercise a certain amount of authority over the interpretation of the data gathered during the course of the project, he or she should not attempt to make grandiose or bizarre arguments about the data; instead, all interpretations should stick closely to what an objective reader of the data can at least respect, even if that reader may not entirely agree.


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