RESEARCH TRAINING AND MASTER THESIS
- General description of the Master Thesis process
The general aim of Block 12: Research training and Master Thesis of the study programmeis to develop research competencies. These competencies are the following:
Designing a research study,
Gathering research data,
Analysing research data,
Writing a research report, and
Providing feedback from research.
It is also expected that a number of basic competences are developed (self-management, information handling, communication, teamwork, and academic competences).
The general principle implemented in the Master for the development of competencies is “learning by doing”. Within the framework of Block 12, the research competencies are developed by conducting a research study under the supervision of experienced researchers.
Generally, the model implemented in the five universities that made up the consortium is the au-pair model. Therefore, this model will be briefly described next.au-pair model
Main University / The university where the student is registered (Home University)
General Roles / The Home University takes the lead in the research process, and the Host University provides assistance and support
Research topic / Corresponds to one of the research lines of the Home University
Data base / Under the responsibility of the student and the Home University
In order to develop their research study, students will join one of the research lines of the University in which they are registered and where they are going to develop their research project (Home University). They will be assigned a research director called Home Tutor, and where appropriate, an advisor in methodology.
Considering that during the mobility period students will stay at another University of the consortium (Host University), and that they will have to develop part of their research project at the Host University, students will be assigned an experienced researcher of the Host University called Host Tutor.
Both Home and Host tutors will co-ordinately help students to develop their research project. In the case that the research is developed under the adoption model, the Home and Host tutors will exchange the tasks and responsibilities that made up their roles. The three roles involved in the Master Thesis process configure a triangle in which all the vertices must interact and behave co-ordinately.
The final outcome of Block 12 expected from students is a Master Thesis, in which the research carried out and the results obtained are presented. To achieve this final outcome, Block 12 is generally structured in three phases. Each one of them has a separate outcome and an independent mark:
- The Position Paper
This phase has a workload of 6 ECTS. The expected outcome is a “position paper”. The position paper is a 24-to-30.000 characters (spaces included),in which students present the research project they are going to develop. The position paper must contain the following elements:
-Title, author, home and host tutors, and home university.
-Introduction: justification of the research question’s importance, definition of involved constructs, literature review about the main constructs investigated, and theoretical justification of the hypotheses.
-Research objectives and expected contributions.
-Methods: expected sample, procedures, measures, and analysis.
-A figure detailing the different research tasks that will be implemented.
The mark obtained for this phase will be agreed by both the Home and Host Tutors, with the Home Tutor taking the lead. Both will provide feedback to the involved student about the position paper.
- The Research Paper
This phase has a workload of 14 ECTS. The expected outcome is a version of the master thesis. This version of the master thesis is a 50-to-60.000 characters document (spaces included),in which students present the research study carried out. It normally has the structure of a research article. Thus, regarding the position paper, this version of the master thesis must also include a Results and a Discussion section.
The mark obtained for this phase will be agreed by both the Home and Host Tutors, with the Home Tutor taking the lead. Both will provide feedback to the involved student about this version of the master thesis.
- Final version of the Master Thesis
This phase has a workload of 4 ECTS. The expected outcome is the last version of the master thesis.
After considering the feedback provided by the Home and Host tutors about the first version of the Master Thesis, students will yield a revised version of the master thesis, and will send it to a committee of three experts named by the coordinator of the corresponding Home University two months before the public defence of the paper. The examiner committee will be composed of three experts and, in principle, the tutors will not be part of them.
The committee members will have 15 days to make a written report with suggestions, comments and an assessment of the research, pointing out improvable aspects. This report will be similar to those produced by referees in journals with a peer review system.
The report will be sent to the student who, in 45 days, will have to make a revised version of the Master Thesis implementing the suggestions provided by the committee. This revised version will be the final version of the Master Thesis, and, in form and content, will be prepared for its publication in a scientific journal. The student will send the final version of the Master Thesis and a letter to the committee explaining how the suggestions and comments were dealt with. Finally, the student will do a public defence of the final version of the Master Thesis and will respond to the comments and questions made by the committee.
The mark obtained for this phase will be agreed by the members of the committee.
- General description of the role of the student
According to the description of this curricular unit – Research and Master Thesis – and to the top quality standards of this Master, the final output should be similar to a research paper to submit to a scientific journal.
For achieve this standard, it is expected from you commitment, effort, hardworking, an ethical behaviour, compliance of deadlines and willingness to learn and to develop your research competences.
During the process of research and elaboration of Master Thesis you will live a double role: in the 1st semester you will be at your Home University, so you will be a home student. In the 2nd semester you will go for the mobility period at your Host University and you will become a host tutor. Facing this double role, you will have guidance and support from one tutor in each University: the home and the host tutor, respectively. So,it is also expected that you fulfil some tasks in order to facilitate the development of an efficiently communication between your tutors (home and host) and to facilitate your own research work.
- General tasks and responsibilities of the student
First of all, it is general responsibility of student:
- Be constantly aware of the calendar of Research and Master Thesis
- Meet the deadlines proposed for each task or assignment
- Keep informed the Host/Home tutor about work developments
- Make use of tutorial hours – don’t waste them!
During the process of Research and Master Thesis, you will be requested to do mandatory tasks (assignments) and not mandatory tasks (e.g., public presentations of the development of your work, the pre-position paper, etc.)
Besides the Consortium effort in standardizing all the process, there are some specificities relating schedule of mandatory tasks, type of non-mandatory tasks requested and tutors supervision mode between Universities.
In the following section, you find a description of your main tasks and responsibilities as Erasmus Mundus student concerning this Unit.
- The selection of research topic and home tutor
The process of Research and Master Thesis starts at the beginning of your first academic year in the Master with the selection of the research topic.
Since the four Universities of the Consortium differ in some aspects related to it
- you must know in depth the process and criteria of topics selection and tutors adopted by your Home University and,
- to perform the expected tasks related to it (e.g., read the research proposals, etc.).
- Planning the research
After the selection of home tutor and research topic, your home tutor will plan with you the development of your work and will give you support to start working. Supervisory model will also be established. However, you should be aware of the predicted tasks demanded by your Home University for accomplish the deadlines proposed with the expected quality. So:
Check if your Home University demands for a PPP (Pre Position Paper), and if so, collect information about its structure, deadline and delivery method.
- Check with your home tutor the guidelines and deadline for the PP (Position Paper), the first assigned task (6 ECTS) of this process.
Past experience tells that it’s better to start working right away after the first meeting with home tutor, and never (but never) wait for the period after the assignment period to start working in your research. So, the workload related to Research and Master Thesis should be distributed in a consistent and continuous way since then. Otherwise, the quality and the deadlines would be compromised!
- Planning the research work in the Host University
In the second semester you will go to the Host University. There, you have to finish your Position Paper and, afterwards, develop the research in order to finish the first version of the thesis (which can be delivered in July).
So, besides your home tutor, who continues to its role of principal tutor, you will have another tutor in your host university – the host tutor, who will help and support you in issues related to your research during the mobility period. Between November and December, you will be informed about who will be your host tutor. By this time, your home tutor have already contacted your host tutor to coordinate tutorials activities.
Before mobility, you must contact your host tutor by email to inform about main aspects of research and, eventually, specific aspects you need his/her intervention (e.g., if you need to collect data in host country).
- The mobility period – you as host student
In order to assure that everything will go well:
- check how the research and master thesis unit is implemented in Host University (e.g., what tasks will be requested, deadlines, if the frequency of meetings with host tutor is established, etc.), and
- contact your host tutor for arrange a first meeting, after you have arrived to Host University.
In this first meeting, you will clarify the supervisory mode and some doubts about the research and Master Thesis process in Host University and you will have also the opportunity to explain better what you are doing in your research as well as the degree of development of your work.
As you already know, it is your responsibility to facilitate the communication process between the triangle “you, home and host tutor”. So,each time you meet host tutor you must write a short summary of the meeting and send it by email to both tutor. Don’t forget your home tutor still continue to be your home tutor. You should contact with him/her periodically, keep him/her informed about work development and ask for support and guidance.
During the mobility period, the large number of credits you have to achieve is related to your Research and Master Thesis. Accordingly, you have less quantity of others courses. This is the period previewed in the Master programme for developing in depth your research.
- Returning to home University
At 3rd semester, you will return to your Home University. For this time and during the second year of the Master, you have to accomplish one more assigned task respecting the research work and Master thesis - Phase 3 (Block 12c).
- Continue to make good use of time, make good use of tutorials and make good use of comments and suggestions concerning your research and
- Don’t forget that your host tutor still exists. Continue to inform him/her about work developments