Four key elements are briefly described in this section.
This is a concise statement of the research question or issue that the thesis addresses.
What is the main work that has been done that gives rise to the question and what is its significance?
The approach to solving the problem (experimental, practice based, analytic etc) is described in this part, leaving the justification to chapter three.
Here the key contribution(s) to knowledge are concisely described. They are the things that arise from the work that are new and shown to advance understanding or practice internationally. The value of these outcomes will be to one or more community (computer scientists, artists, theoreticians etc) and it is important to be clear who they are.
2. State of the Art Review
This chapter presents the results of a literature survey of the area(s) of study. It should be a critical review in the context of the stated research question and related issues. This chapter answers questions such as: Who is doing what? Who has done what? Who first did it or published it? The survey is taken from published papers, research monographs, catalogues etc. It must be based on and refer to primary sources, not textbooks or other such reports on the work of others. It is to be expected that this chapter provides a new structured view of the field of study.
This is a key chapter that provides a description and justification of the research methods used. Normally, the methods will be selected from known and proven examples. In special cases the development of a method may be a key part of the research, but then this will have been described in section one and reviewed in two.
4. Foundation Work
This, optional, chapter is a chance to describe earlier work done by the author/candidate (possibly with others) that provides a foundation or significant background. It may be helpful to revisit and reassess earlier work in the light of the research focus of the PhD. This chapter will not be needed in some PhDs where the work is from a fresh start.
5. New Studies
The core of the thesis is a description of the new studies/software/artwork and the process of production. It answers the questions: What has been done, how was it achieved and what was the rationale? This can be, for example, a report on the design and execution of a set of experiments or the development of an innovative software system or the making of innovative art works. In a practice based PhD an artwork, for example, can be presented for examination. If this is the case, this chapter will explain what is important and novel about the new work.
The evaluation of the new software/artwork or analysis of the results or processes of the new studies will have led to certain results or conclusions. Placing the new results in the context of Chapter 4 is important. The outcomes, as promised in chapter 1, are shown to have been achieved in this section.
A discussion can now be provided that puts a wider perspective on the results and discusses the implications of them for other broader areas and domains. Future work and outstanding questions are normally also discussed.
Use a standard reference format, such as Harvard, and be careful to check each entry. It is temping to presume that software such as End-Notes will ensure a perfect reference list, but that all depends on exactly how each entry was stored. There is no substitute for a line-by-line check.Include your published papers.
All research that involves people in the collection and analysis of data is subject to ethical considerations. The first stage in designing a research project is to prepare a research proposal which outlines the proposed methodology and any ethical issues. Researchers must obtain the informed consent of persons participating in research before the research begins.