TIES501 Seminar


30.1.2017 Group session 1: research plan

In the first group session you will present your research plan for other students and give feedback for each others. The pre-tasks need to be done before the actual group session.

Pre-task 1: illustrate your topic

If you did not attend to the first seminar class, make first the freewriting task from the slides.

A thesis statement is a statement that tells you and your reader what you plan to write about. It is usually one sentence in the introduction to your paper. It tells the main idea of your paper. It might also give the reader an idea of the type of organization and the tone that you plan to use in your paper. Often a thesis statement is an answer to a question. Often it is a statement that you set out to prove.

Based on freewriting exercise, try to illustrate your thesis statement (main claim of your work) as a figure or diagram. Some examples here from the book Better Writing Right Now (Galko 2001, pp. 39-41):

Some examples about different diagrams: HierarchicalSpider | Venn diagram | Series | Timeline

Finally, save the image in the folder 'img' and update the link in text (body.md)

Pre-task 2: explain your topic

Explain your research topic with your own words (should be about 2-4 A4 pages of text). We are going to address research literature in depth later, so in this stage, it is more important to write down your own ideas and knowledge about the topic. Remember that your opponent might come from different discipline, be sure to explain things that might not be self-evident for master level student. You can get ideas from following questions:

  • Explain your topic in general
    • What is the context (discipline, research area etc.)
    • What is the background, in your own words, what do you already know
    • What in particular are you going to study
    • Define the key terms (e.g. words that others may not know)
  • What is the purpose of your study
    • explore new theoretical knowledge, method, application
    • describe characteristics, patterns, application ...
    • explain why ...
    • evaluate if X when Y ...
  • What is the significance of the topic
    • Explain why are you interested in the topic
    • Why might others be interested
    • Will your study revise, extend, or create knowledge
    • Does your study have theoretical or practical application
  • Limitations and assumptions
    • Is there something that may prevent your research
    • Is it possible to get knowledge about your topic
    • Is it possible to get data, where and how

Pre-task 3: Research questions

Make four (4) research questions about your topic. It does not matter if you will not use the questions in your actual Thesis. The idea is to try to examine your own topic from different point of views and think, how the question would guide the research process.

For every research question, write about:

  • What kind of assumptions the question has?
  • Are there any concepts that might be misunderstood (and should be explained carefully)?
  • What kind of results/outcomes the question would produce?
  • Consider the "so what" of your question, so. why does the answer matter?

Distant students' task

Make a written feedback about your partners tasks. The length of the document is at least two pages. The feedback is uploaded as PDF file to Slack #distant channel by Monday 6.2.2017 at 16:15.

After you have received your feedback, you can discuss, ask questions, and react to the feedback.

In the feedback, you can use the following ideas to consider:

  • Title
    • Can you understand what the student is doing by the title?
    • Can you understand the used concepts in the title?
    • Is the title interesting?
  • Topic illustration
    • Can you get the idea of research from the picture?
    • Is there any suggestions how to improve the picture?
  • Research topic description
    • How do you perceive the significance of the proposal?
    • How does it suit to the discipline
    • What do you think about the scope of the study? Is it broad or narrow?
    • Is the topic in your opinion: exploratory, descriptive, explanatory, or evaluative?
    • Is it possible to get (empirical) knowledge about the topic?
    • Does the topic seem manageable (as a Master Thesis?) so that it can be done in about six months?
  • Research questions
    • Which research question seems the most interesting, why?
    • Does the question seem like that the answers are based on scientific research?
    • What kind of knowledge can be constructed using these research question?
    • What category does the question relate in your opinion?
    • Is the impression of the question more quantitative or qualitative?
    • Do you have any suggestions for other questions?

Group session 2

The deadline for pretasks is Wednesday 22.2.2017. This will give you some time to read other students' tasks and prepare for the session.

Pre-task 4: Literature search

Find at least 10 references that seem to be relevant to your research topic. You can just list the references in APA style. Example here:

  • Anthopoulos, L., & Tsoukalas, I. A. (2006). The implementation model of a digital city. The case study of the Digital City of Trikala, Greece: e-Trikala. Journal of E-Government, 2(2), 91–109. http://doi.org/10.1300/J399v02n02_06
  • Arsand, E., Demiris, G., Årsand, E., & Demiris, G. (2008). User-centered methods for designing patient-centric self-help tools. Informatics for Health and Social Care, 33(3), 158–169. http://doi.org/10.1080/17538150802457562
  • Avritzer, L. (2012). The different designs of public participation in Brazil: deliberation, power sharing and public ratification. Critical Policy Studies, 6(2), 113–127. http://doi.org/10.1080/19460171.2012.689732
  • Baek, J.-S., & Lee, K.-P. (2008). A participatory design approach to information architecture design for children. CoDesign, 4(3), 173–191. Retrieved from

Explicate your search procedure, for example:

  • Type of search: keyword / systematic / backward / forward
  • Used keywords / journals / conferences
  • Databases or search engines
  • Search parameters
  • Amount of results
  • Inclusion or exclusion criteria

Pre-task 5: Review your literature

Take at least 3 references from your list that you find most relevant to your Thesis. Make a table or summary list where you answer the following questions. You must answer every question with just a single sentence.

  • Introduction
    • What is the background of the study?
    • What is the purpose of the study? Or problem statement (= what problem the study adresses)?
    • How the significance of the study is justified?
  • Background
    • List the main concepts
    • What is the theoretical framework / are the theories behind the research?
    • What is the research domain?
  • Methodology
    • What is/are the research question(s)?
    • How the data were collected?
    • How the data were analysed?
  • Results
    • What are the main results? (sentence per result)
    • What is the "take home message" (= conclusion of the study in one word)
  • Discussion
    • What are the implications of research?
    • What was the suggested future research (if any)?
    • What were the limitations (if any)?

Pre-task 6: Write a background style text

Write a literature review text where you use at least 3 of the references in your list. You can think the text as one subchapter in your Thesis's theoretical background. Make a title for the text and make sure that the writing stays in the scope. You can, for example:

  • Explain a concept
  • Explain a theory
  • Synthesise previous research results
  • Point out a research gap
  • Describe a research domain
  • Present opposing arguments or findings

Literature review is a critical and organized assessment of existing studies. The aim is to evaluate, clarify and/or integrate the content of primary reports. Literature review is NOT a list of previous studies in chronological order.

Distant students' task

Make a written feedback about your partners tasks. The length of the document is at least two pages. The feedback is uploaded as PDF file to Slack #distant channel by Monday 6.3.2017 at 16:15.

You can see the topics that the feedback must consider from slides: Group session 2

After you have received your feedback, you can discuss, ask questions, and react to the feedback.

Group session 3

The deadline for pretasks is Wednesday 22.3.2017. This will give you some time to read other students' tasks and prepare for the session.

Pre-task 7: Research approach

Write 1-2 pages text where you justify your research approach (qualitative/quantitative/mixed). So. "why did I choose approach X".

Pre-task 8: Method description

Choose one research method and write 1-2 pages text where you

  • Describe the method
  • Who are the "founders" or what are the "classics" of the method
  • Provide at least 2 references which explain/descrive/concern the chosen method

Pre-task 9:Method implementation

Write a 1-2 pages fictional text where you describe how the chosen method could be utilised in your topic/area.

  • How the method was used?
  • So. how the data was collected?
  • So. how the data was analysed?
  • Provide at least 2 references which use the method in the study

Distant students' task

Make a written feedback about your partners tasks. The length of the document is at least two pages. The feedback is uploaded as PDF file to Slack #distant channel by Monday 3.4.2017 at 16:15.

The feedback should consider slides from Group session 3. Here are also some additional questions you can use:

  • Do you agree with the approach (quantitative/qualitative) person has for his thesis. If yes/no, please explain why?
  • How does the author argument his/her research approach?
  • Do you agree with the method person has for the thesis? If yes/no, please explain why
  • How does the author argument his/her method?
  • Do you have any suggestions related to the used method?
  • Does the author present enough literature supporting the method? Can you suggest more literature?
  • Is the the fictional method implementation understandable?

After you have received your feedback, you must discuss, ask questions, and react to the feedback.

Group session 4

Pre-task 10: Self evaluation

Read the evaluation criteria of Master's Thesis (in Finnish / in English). Write an evaluation of your seminar paper based on the same criteria as in Master's Thesis:

  • Level of ambition and originality of work
  • Literature: Selection and familiarity with topic
  • Clarity and linguistic form of presentation
  • Theoretical development and synthesis
  • (fictional) empirical work description, so. method and method description

You need to provide the grade (1-5) and write the arguments (at least two sentences per list item) why the grade was given. All together it should be 2-3 pages.

Pre-task 11: Seminar and feedback reflection

If you consider that this task has personal information, you can send the task as PDF to me in Slack with a private direct message.

First, write a self-reflection, how did you participate to the Master Thesis Seminar course? How was your activity? What did you learn? Was there something that you did not understand? What did you think about the seminar tasks? What did you think about the groupwork sessions?

Second, write a reflection about the feedback you got in the group seminar. Did your research plan change based on the feedback? Was there any new ideas? Did you get any hints about literature, methods, etc? How would you describe the feedback, was it useful to you?

All together, this task should be about 2-3 pages.

Final seminar report

The deadline for the seminar report is 10.5.2016 (also for distant students). The final report will consist of these 11 tasks you have done. So no more new tasks, but you need to revision your document and especially:

  • Check that content is decent, so that every task has been fully completed
  • The style and form follows the template provided in the course (so no weird looking stylings, fonts, etc., check especially pre-task 5)
  • Use browser's "print" function to check that your document looks OK
  • All the references must be in "references" section and properly cited
  • The reference list in pre-task 4 is presented as a list (does not have to be in the end of the document)
  • Make sure you have no serious language issues in text: proper paragraphs, headings, etc.
  • If your topic has changed during the seminar, you do not have to make the tasks again. Just make sure that every task is done

The credits will be updated to Korppi when all tasks are done and the seminar document is properly edited.