Dissertation: Writing and Formatting

When drafting your thesis:

 

Step 1 is to implement your advisors’ initial recommendations. After doing so, you should

  • Meet with your advisor again and present the changes.
  • Get your advisor’s permission to start collecting data.
  • And, if necessary, deal with the topic change form.

 

Step 2 is to collect the data.

  • You are discouraged to skip directly from proposal to data collection, as your advisor may make improvement suggestions that could invalidate your collected data.
  • It is also probable that recommended literature by your advisor could lead to changes in your method.
  • Once you have implemented the suggestions of your advisor and with his approval, you can now start collecting and coding your data.

 

Step 3 focuses on data cleaning and analysis. Depending on your data, this involves:

  • Evaluate your data for issues such as validity, outliers, and ensuring a normal curve. (You will learn more about this in the Market Research, Quantitative Research Methods for Thesis Research class, and Statistics classes.)
  • For qualitative interview data, this involves cleaning up and coding responses.
  • Then comes analyses. Conduct relevant statistical tests and put the results in a table, chart, or another relevant format.
  • Finally, interpret the results. What does it mean? During this phase, it is important to link the results back to the research questions/hypotheses and explain how it links to the literature. Did the findings support what others have argued, found, or proposed? Or does it differ? What does this mean? What are the theoretical and practical implications?

 

Step 4 after completing the data analysis and reporting the results, provide the completed work to your advisor and:

  • Provide your advisor with a copy of your completed project.
  • Allow your advisor about 2 weeks to digest the information. *This depends on the advisor’s availability.
  • When meeting, be prepared to introduce your findings and interpretations and to answer any questions the advisor may have.

 

Step 5 is all about implementing final suggestions and editing your thesis for quality and academic appropriateness. In line with NTU library requirements, a completed thesis should be arranged thus:

  1. Title Page
  2. Thesis Oral Defense Committee Certification
  3. Acknowledgment and/or Dedication (optional)
  4. Abstract
  5. Table of Contents
  6. List of Illustrations
  7. List of Figures, Tables
  8. Main Text*
  9. References
  10. Appendices

 

*It is important to be aware that the exact headings and subheadings under the main text section depend in large part upon the kind of project that you are writing and the suggestions made by your advisor. The following table gives some guidance on potential headings:

Academic Thesis

Quantitative

Business Plan

Cover Page

Acknowledgments

Abstract

TOC

Introduction

Literature Review

Method

Results

Discussion

Conclusion

References

Appendixes

 

Cover Page

Acknowledgments

Abstract

TOC

Introduction

Literature Review

Method

Case Analysis

Conclusion

References

Appendixes

 

Cover Page

Acknowledgments

Executive Summary

TOC

Business Description

Business Objectives Description of Products & Services

Market Research

Organization & Management

Marketing & Sales Strategy

Financial Management

Uncertainty Risks and Future Plans

Appendixes

 

Academic Formatting
Aside from the included library pages, GMBA also requires that Dissertations follow a consistent Academic Formatting. There are several different styles commonly employed by education institutions, two such systems are APA 7 and MLA. See here:
Regardless of what style you apply, you must remain consistent throughout your document. GMBA provides an APA 7 Template for reference.
English Proficiency

In addition to Academic formatting, the Dissertation should also display English proficiency. GMBA recommends using one of the following tools:
 

Microsoft Editor
Microsoft has a built-in grammar checking and style checking tool in Microsoft Office. However, many of the style checking features are turned off by default. Follow these instructions to turn them back on:

    1. Ensure that you have the English version of Microsoft Office Installed
      1. You can also download English support for Office from here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/download-office-language-interface-packs-lip-5ca3dbbe-9294-0757-1c65-b7f9f99b4da5
      2. However, there is no guarantee this will activate the right settings. It is instead strongly recommended you install the English version of MS Office.
    2. Go to File -- Options -- Proofing Options. Under Grammar and Refinements, you will see a list of grammar and spelling refinement options, most of which are turned off by default.
    1. Select all the checkboxes except for Oxford Comma (which is optional).

If you have Office 365, you will see significantly more options including options on tone formality and advanced quality, grammar, and academic editing tools.
 

Grammarly.com
Grammarly.com is another recommended tool. The free version offers basic grammar and spelling suggestions, which are especially useful to deal with repetitive, common grammar issues. The paid version is much like Microsoft Office 365 Editor and offers advanced stylistic options that improve vocabulary use and academic tone.

 

To explore the free version,

  • Go to www.grammarly.com;
  • Create an account and login;
  • Create a new file and paste your content;
  • You will see recommended changes on the right and also a score. In general, any score below 85 suggests there is a significant opportunity for grammar and stylistic improvements


 

Peer Review and Class Resources
No tool, however, is more powerful than a trained human proofreader with a good command of Academic English. You are strongly recommended to approach your classmates, friends, or trained proofreaders with good English ability to help peer-review your submission.


You may also find it useful to join a writing-focused course or Thesis Writing workshop. The Business Communication class, while focused on Business English, discusses several language principles equally relevant to Academic English. Similarly, the Quantitative Research Methods for Thesis Research class covers common formatting issues. The planned Thesis Workshop also offers a brief discussion on formatting and editing issues.