Though every part of an undergraduate or graduate-level thesis is important, there are a few that receive more attention than others during a defense. These are the areas where the committee members can easily determine if the student has set up a firm foundation for their research and understood the implications of their study and findings. Knowing which parts are likely to stand out and receive more of your committee’s attention can be key to helping you get in the mindset of the professors who will be evaluating your work.
One of the main sections your committee pays close attention to is, of course, the description of your objectives and hypothesis. This is a given considering that your objectives define the goals of your thesis, what you’re trying to establish and compare with your hypothesis, and the problem you’ve set out to solve. In this article, we’ll look at the most useful tips for writing both sections.
How to write your objectives
Now, how can we make sure we create focused and significant objectives? As we’ve just said, the objectives are the goals you hope to reach through your work and will help you measure the results obtained. This is why it’s important to first have a clear idea of the research question or problem. Start by asking yourself what your end goal is for your thesis. Try to honestly consider what kinds of goals are within vs. out of reach. (You’re not going to achieve world peace). Keep in mind that whatever it is you’d like to demonstrate should align with the methodology you choose to use.
“Objectives are the goals you hope to reach through your work and will help you measure the results obtained.”
Many authors recommend starting your Objectives section with a verb that focuses on your actions such as identify, determine, analyze, describe, carry out or elaborate. This will help you specify a clear goal. Remember that you’ll reach your objectives by working through your thesis step by step.
Types of Objectives: General & specific
There are two types of categories: general and specific. Though there’s no hard and fast rule that says you can’t have more than one main objective, most theses have a single main objective and various specific objectives. The specific objectives point the way towards your final goal and break it into parts. The general objective is essentially the primary purpose for conducting the thesis research to begin with. Let’s look at some examples:
- Develop a tool that predicts export propensity to Asian countries by companies in the Spanish agri-food sector
- Use ICT to promote easy access to free online education among adults at risk of social exclusion.
- Develop a system to manage the assets and upkeep of medical teams in private hospitals.
- Identify the current diagnostic and therapeutic options in the treatment of undifferentiated sarcomas in the nasal cavity in dogs.
Specific objectives outline the strategy for achieving our main objective. As the steps we’ll need to take before reaching our final goal, they guide us in the process, and they may have a clear chronological order. These objectives should be achievable with the scientific and technical resources we have available to us. As an example, we’re going to outline specific objectives for the first two general objectives seen above:
Develop a tool that predicts export propensity to Asian countries by companies in the Spanish agri-food sector
- Determine the main variables indicating that the companies in the agri-food sector should invest in international growth
- Analyze the current situation of the international growth of the sector in Asian countries
- Study weak points and areas for improvement in order to later reach general conclusions. With this research, we’ll use benchmarking to see what leading companies do and identify best practices
- Identify the competitive advantages our companies could utilize in their process of international growth in order to differentiate themselves from their competitors
Use ICT to promote easy access to free online education among adults at risk of social exclusion.
- Diagnose potential users’ initial ICT skills.
- Analyze different channels for collaborating with the Public Administration and the feasibility of working with its politics.
- Design a strategy for selecting participants and the system for evaluating skills in different fields of knowledge needed for the training process.
Choosing the best hypotheses
The best way to present your hypotheses is one which acts to represent your research process, setting you up to disprove or accept them in order to reach final conclusions. Your hypotheses are clear, focused statements that describe the characteristics and results that may emerge from your research. These statements, written as affirmations or negations, are what will be tested as your research develops. Remember that the research hypotheses may not be confirmed. Some hypotheses may be confirmed while others may not. The lack of confirmation does not mean you haven’t done high-quality work.
It’s likely that before you start carrying out your research, predictions about what the results might look like will have crossed your mind more than once. This is the first step to establishing a hypothesis. Start by considering what you think will happen or what you’ll find, take a few minutes to analyze your assumptions and turn that thought into a question. Next, make sure your constructs (variables, scales, etc. that you plan to use or look at) are included in the way you word and construct your hypothesis. Some people may try to structure their hypothesis as possible solutions to a given problem that are later tested through the research process. This is another valid way of structuring your hypotheses.
Characteristics and examples of hypotheses
Your hypotheses should be clear and as easy to follow as possible. They should relate to your variables and the relationship between them, looking for cause-effect or problem-solution relationships. They should be objective, easy to measure and coherent with the theoretical framework you use in your thesis.
Here are some examples from different fields of study:
- The adoption of practices aligned with Corporate Social Responsibility has a positive direct impact on employee satisfaction. In this example, we’re analyzing if there’s a relationship between employee satisfaction and the fact that a company practices Corporate Social Responsibility.
- Attitudes towards sustainable tourism have an influence on how likely people are to choose a sustainable tourist destination. In this example, we’re looking at the relationship between the attitude a tourist has towards the environment and their willingness to choose a sustainable tourist destination for their vacation.
- Ingesting large amounts of processed food affects professional athletes’ performance. In this example, we consider the influence eating this kind of food can have on athletic performance.
The whole process seems clearer now, doesn’t it? At Genially, we know how important a good presentation and defense is and how difficult it can be to work without a good guide to take you through the steps. This is why we’ve created templates that make your job easier. You’ll find several templates that include the most important sections of a thesis for your defense.
If you’d prefer to use a different design and simply use the thesis-specific templates as a reference when organizing your presentation, feel free to do so, and remember that you can edit all parts of your template of choice: texts, colors and images.
We encourage you to set and write out your objectives. In our thesis templates, we’ve included a page that outlines the standard format for a thesis, so you don’t leave anything out. And now… carpe diem! Your presentation is sure to impress!