The Plan A – Thesis Writing Process

Make a Decision Early

  • There are many practical and logistical issues that require your independent initiative in a Plan A. If you want to do a Plan A very early on and desire to complete the program with your cohort, carefully read through all the requirements and assess your ability to meet them or will need to adjust your timeline.
  • In your first summer, decide on possible topics in consultation with faculty, identify the feasibility of a Plan A and faculty that might be willing to supervise in your area of interest.
  • Assess your resources (time, finances, support) and whether it will be feasible to pursue a Plan A option.

Work With Your Advisor to Select a General Topic

  • Select your thesis advisor and plan your course of study to support thesis work.
  • Select your general topic and work with advisor to refine research question, review relevant literature, and develop research design.
  • You may at this point approach 2 other faculty to serve on your thesis committee.
  • Submit Student Progress Form I (Advancement to Candidacy)

Plan Your Thesis and Get the Plan Approved

  • Plan your thesis proposal.
  • Submit approval of research plan to the UH Committee on Human Studies [approval must be obtained before any data are collected and before you can submit Form II].
  • Select thesis committee [3 people required, usually on the graduate faculty of the ECE program. You can have a UHM grad faculty member from outside the program. You can also petition to have a non-UHM member.]
  • Submit proposal to committee at least 2 weeks before proposal meeting.
  • Hold proposal meeting and revise as needed, based on faculty feedback.
  • Submit Student Progress Form II (Advancement to Thesis).

Do the Study

  • Register for 700 Thesis Research; 6-12 credits required. [With faculty approval, you can petition to substitute 699 credits for some of the 700].
  • Work with your advisor on an ongoing basis, with committee members as needed
  • Just do it! (a) Recruit participants, (b) Collect data, (c) Analyze data, (d) Decide what it all means.
  • Write thesis (usually sections are done in stages, with lit review and methods done prior to data collection) and revise with advisor’s input.

Defend Your Thesis Work

  • Early in the semester you expect to defend, apply for graduation. You must also be registered for a minimum of 1 credit of 700.
  • Write thesis final draft and submit to committee members at least 1 month before defense.
  • Schedule defense by the Office of Graduate Education deadline (early Nov for Dec graduation).
  • Hold oral defense.
  • Revisions and edits as required by committee.
  • Submit Student Progress Form III by deadline (Final Exam and Approval of Thesis).
  • Submit final, signed copies of thesis to the Office of Graduate Education by deadline.
  • Graduate and bask in the glory.
  • Publish your thesis with advisor as second author.

Tips on Selecting a Thesis Topic

  • Do something that excites you!
  • Sources of good general ideas include your work experience, issues from your courses, current readings, and ideas from your professors.
  • Good research is theory-based and addresses real-world issues. You probably have a good gut feeling on what issues are important in your line of work. Draw from this and develop a deep understanding of the research base.
  • Expect to go through several ideas before you narrow in on the right one.
  • Talk a lot with your likely advisor, the ECE faculty, and colleagues you respect.
  • Do double duty—use your course assignments to feed into your thesis work.
  • If possible, tie your thesis research into your work responsibilities (e.g. evaluate the effectiveness of your program, do an action research project in your classroom, study barriers and facilitators to program compliance, study a developmental issue using children from your worksite).
  • Follow up a general idea by searching for and reading current literature (journals and policy/agency reports) on the topic. This way, you know what the hot issues are, what has already been done, what measures are commonly used, and most important, what had not already been done.
  • Your final research question should be original, that we don’t know the answer to.
  • This is only a thesis! Your research question does not have to be of Nobel Prize significance and scope. Remember, you are doing 6-12 credits worth of work.
  • Work with your advisor and your committee members on a continuing basis. They will help you define your research question, select suitable research methods, and give feedback on your writing. They want you to succeed and know what kind of project is the “right size” for a thesis.
  • Don’t necessarily select a topic too early in the program, but also don’t wait too long. (e.g., identify your general topic and advisor by spring semester of your first year in the program).
  • Consult the Graduate Studies website for the appropriate Plan A processes and forms.