2019.03.28: WIP >>

 

ASSOCIATE'S THESIS
BACHELOR'S THESIS

I know a lot of students are, just like me, actually dealing with abusive households and long-term unemployment (both that would be resolved if they could just graduate and get a job with their finished degree!) throughout their university years, so that's part of why I've written so much on my website about the degree and what it's like / how to pass it.

To help you pass the theses classes I've gathered up info from Högskolan Dalarna's Associate's thesis writing class, which is all also true for the Bachelor's, and even if you're not from my school you can help prepare yourself for writing academic papers in general by studying what I've been told below.

Backstory:

I went to write my Bachelor's thesis proposal in the subject of Japanese at Högskolan Dalarna and the class that was supposed to teach us how to do it didn't teach anything at all except how to cite sources. The person who taught most of it, which was the head of the Japanese department, didn't give any helpful feedback on any assignments so everyone who had them as their supervisor that semester was constantly lost and confused, and outside of class we were constantly asking each other what the hell they wanted us to do and if anyone had gotten any "extra, secret info" (which was a "no"). In my case, since we hadn't received any ourselves, I frantically scoured the internet for instructions for how to write BA theses proposals from other universities and compiled the info and shared it with all the classmates I talked to. But since Högskolan Dalarna is apparently "different", following the advice of other universities didn't enable me to pass.

At any rate due to 1. the lack of useful feedback on assignments, 2. the lack of instructions, most people seem to have failed the class their first time around. In my case I was banned from talking to my supervisor for a total of 3 months during the course after I tried to ask for clarifications, and my classmate was similarly banned. A couple semesters later a lowerclassman (still in their first year) reported to me that basically things haven't changed since then.

Anyway, in the end I had to take different classes to make me eligible to have a different supervisor than the head of the department for the BA paper, and I instruct any lowerclassmen I happen to meet to do the same.

BASICS

First off:
1. Finished BA papers from Swedish universities can be read here as an example of what other people from your same school have done.

2. Find "academic articles" for your paper's sources via Google Scholar.

3. As a Högskolan Dalarna student you can access the online journals that the university subscribes to.

An AA thesis is 5-6 pages long, a BA thesis is around 20(?) pages, but the structure and method of writing is the same for both. A BA thesis proposal is just your BA thesis but without the "discussion", "conclusion" or full "data" parts (you're just supposed to have a sample of the data and a sample analysis as far as I know).

• You're not allowed to use random websites, BA papers, enciklopedias or Wikipedia as sources, instead you grab the sources THEY used and cite from those directly.

• At Högskolan Dalarna both the AA and BA're written in English, you're not allowed to write in Swedish or Japanese.

• Page 1 (as in, the first page that has page numbers) starts on the first page of the introduction section and continues until the references/bibliography/works cited/appendix, which don't have page numbers.

• When you peer edit for someone else's thesis draft, always say "on page x (where you wrote y)" in the comment; meaning, always refer to their page numbers.

• Don't use words like "first, secondly, then" etc because it risks that you end up writing a sort of "story about yourself" instead of "an academic paper that solves a problem".

• When you make a new paragraph there's two ways to do it, one is just to indent each new paragraph. The other is to have no indents but to have a line space in-between each paragraph. You can do either one (but don't mix them). The same is true for punctuation, you can use American or British style but don't mix them.

• Foreign languages written in English / Latin letters need to be written in italics. If you want to type a term actually in Japanese you first write the term in Roman letters in italics, then the Japanese in parentheses, then translate the term to English, exactly like this:
hikikomori (ひきこもり) "a shut-in"

OUTLINE / 
STRUCTURE

Overall your essay's structured like this:

old / familiar / short / simple / contested ideas
—> new / unfamiliar / long / complex / uncontested ideas

claims and objections to ideas —> ones that you can disprove —> your evidence that lets you disprove

Sample outline for an AA or BA thesis (or thesis proposal):

Title
I. Introduction

What's your topic? Define any terms necessary to understand said topic, and explain about the history of the topic. In American/British style, the last sentence of the introduction has the "point" of your essay (=thesis statement). In Japanese style the "point" isn't stated until the end of the essay, but at Högskolan Dalarna we're not allowed to write our AA or BA theses in Japanese (or Swedish).

Write:
1: Context/background knowledge needed to understand your "problem". This includes historical events ("kanji came from China") and special terms ("the word kanji means x").

2: State if someone else's research motivated your own research.

3: State your research question that your thesis is going to solve, and state it as a "problem".

4: State the "solution" to the problem if we already know from someone else's research; If your thesis is supposed to find the solution instead, then state your hypothesis for what the solution is.

II. Background
Why are you writing about this topic? What made you interested in it?

Depending on your supervisor, at least as was the case with my first supervisor, they'll tell you that this section essentially isn't allowed and that you can't claim you have personal motivations for wanting to write the paper. You'll instead have to find some researcher out there who claimed there's a "need" for this kind of study to be done, and quote/paraphrase them to show there's a "demand" for this research/topic.

III. Previous studies
What others have found out about the same topic. You normally get this section by finding someone ELSE'S research, academic paper, BA or Master's paper etc on the same subject and grabbing the info about "which researchers did what" from them and just rewording it. If you can't grab your previous research section from someone else because not enough people've written about the topic, or if you do and the section's extremely short (for a BA thesis), it means you need to pick a new topic.

In a BA thesis, this "previous studies" section is 2-3 pages.

— Example:
• prof A found in 1999 that 35 Japanese kanji have changed sounds compared to their chinese counterparts, but he only looked at standard chinese.

• prof B found in 2010 that there are standard patterns between sound changes from chinese to japanese in general, which are A, B, C.

IV. Method / "Methodology"

For an AA or BA paper you're not allowed to come up with your own way of analyzing or collecting data, you HAVE to copy some other researcher's method exactly. This means you literally have to find another person who did more or less the exact same topic as you and copy exactly how they did it but simply apply it to a different material. If you're doing something like categorizing vocabulary, you have to use the same categories and vocabulary words as outlined in some random guy's book, you can't decide your own categories. Etc.

The "Method" section is split into 3 sections, or at least contains these 3 notions:

1: Materials used
(which manga volumes, vocabulary lists etc)

2: How materials were gathered
(where you bought the manga or found the vocabulary list?)

3: How materials were analyzed
(whose method from a previous study you borrowed)

You might be told to add this 4th section as well:

4: Why did you choose these materials and this amount of materials?
(depending on your supervisor you'll need to show "academic proof" that this amount of materials is a useful amount to use and analyze. as i never saw any examples of this kind of "proof", i never figured out how to prove it to that supervisor.)

— Example 1: Prof C took list Z and used it on manga A, then analyzed it with method M. I'm taking that same list Z and analyzation method M, but using it on manga B to see if Prof C's findings hold true.

— Example 2:
• i'm using prof A's list of 35 kanji obtained from x book, and matching them with taiwanese chinese from y dictionary to see if the sounds match the japanese sounds or not

• i'm using prof B's sound change formulas from book z to analyze kanji to see if the sounds match between chinese and japanese

V. Findings
The results of your analysis.

VI. Discussion / "Argument"
Compare your findings against the findings from the "Previous Studies" section.

This is supposed to be the most important part of your thesis. "All other sections are supposed to lead up to the discussion section; any info given in the essay in general is supposed to be like background explanation that helps you create your discussion section."

When arguing a point for the "argument / discussion" part of your thesis:
1. claim: explain the specific claim / point you're contesting.
2. data: offer counterevidence to the claim, point out why the claim has flaws due to how they collected the data, show your own evidence (=the data you collected).
3. warrant / bridge: explain why/how your data supports your point.
4. backing / foundation: any additional logic needed to support your claim.
5: counterclaim: a claim that negates the claim you're fighting to prove.
6: counterclaim rebuttal: the claim you're trying to prove.
7: own flaws: explain the restrictions in your own evidence (the flaws in your own data collection).
8. own limitations: explain how certain you can be in your own evidence ("my data's reliable for ages 12-20 but not any other ages")

VII. Conclusion
Restate the "point" (=thesis statement) of your essay in your conclusion.

Appendix:
The list of data you collected. This doesn't count in the wordcount of your essay. Don't use charts, instead just list out data.

———

Useful screenshots from the AA thesis writing class: