Guidelines for Undergraduate Thesis-Writing

Guidelines for Undergraduate Thesis-Writing
Development Studies Program
Ateneo de Manila University

v. February 4, 2021
The undergraduate thesis is the culmination of the AB-Development Studies curriculum. Whether empirical or project-based, the thesis is an opportunity for students to specialize in a development-related topic or issue by conducting original research or designing an intervention.
Writing the thesis will span two semesters. The first semester is dedicated to the proposal (DEV 198.1). The second semester is for completing the fieldwork and thesis (DEV 198.2). Both the proposal and the final thesis must be defended before a panel of examiners.
The following are the Program’s general guidelines for thesis-writing:
1.  Choosing your adviser. Students are encouraged to communicate with a potential adviser in the Development Studies Program before the final year commences.
a. The ideal adviser is one with whom students can work comfortably. It is also ideal to approach a potential adviser whose field of work could inform their preferred topics.
b. In the course of the final year, students are also encouraged to reach out to subject-matter experts for additional input to their projects. These might be practitioners outside the Ateneo or professors in other departments who are doing research in the area.
c. Based on needs, the department will make the final decision on the assignment of thesis advisers.

2.  Individual or in pairs. In principle, the Development Studies Program prefers that students pursue their respective projects individually. This is because finishing a thesis is a process in which independent research competencies are honed.

a. Starting AY 2021-2022, however, students will have the option to co-write their thesis with a partner.
b. Students need to propose these partnerships to their respective advisers and Program Director, who will make the final decision. The proposal needs to contain the justification for the partnership and planned division of responsibilities.
c. Projects done in pairs may be permitted under certain conditions, including but not limited to the following:

    1. That the scale of the project demands the work of two researchers, and cannot be scaled down without sacrificing its significance;
    2. That the students understand and agree that their project and assessments are dependent on each other's performance; and
    3. That the project is defended to and approved by an ad hoc committee formed by the Development Studies Program.

3Empirical or project-based. As in the past, students have the leeway to pursue topics that are either empirical or project-based.

a. Conventionally, an empirical thesis addresses a research question developed by the student based on existing gaps in the literature. A project-based thesis, by contrast, addresses a development issue or concern by designing and implementing an intervention.
b. Fieldwork is expected in either type.
c. Note: Given that physical fieldwork is not allowed because of COVID-19, other modes of data-gathering must be explored. Any changes in the physical fieldwork guidelines will follow the national government’s and the University’s protocols.

4Communication. Students and their advisers are to maintain regular communication with each other concerning the progress of the thesis.

a. Official correspondence is to be done by email or via Canvas.
Advisers are expected to provide timely, relevant, and concrete feedback.
In the event that feedback is not provided, students are encouraged to follow-up their advisers first. If feedback remains warranted, they may alert the Program Secretary and the Program Director for necessary intervention.

5.  Examination. Students are to defend their proposals and theses to a panel of experts.

a. The minimum number of examiner is 1.
Students might be asked to seek their project partners as potential examiners.
The selection of examiners will be decided collaboratively between adviser and student.

6Technical guidelines

aThe overall design and flow of the thesis will be determined throughout the supervision process. These include the research question, framework, and appropriate methods.
Length: Parsimony is to be practiced. Ideally, the entire thesis should not exceed 20,000 words. The proposal should be less than that.
Preferred citation style: Harvard, APA, or Chicago
Students should be responsible for copy-editing the thesis.
After the final defense, hardbound copies of the revised thesis are to be submitted to the Program Secretary.

6.  Ethics. Following the submission of thesis proposals, the program director shall assign ethics reviewers.

a. Students have to fill out the ethics clearance form set by the University Research Ethics Office.
b. The Program Secretary shall handle all communication between reviewers and students and their advisers.
The reviewers shall remain anonymous.
d. Revisions are to be made to the proposal based on the ethics review.