Guidelines for Preparation of the Master’s Thesis in Biomedical Sciences
The Master’s Thesis should be based on the student’s own work and should provide a critical review of the relevant literature and describe the student’s research project in detail. The description of the research should be organized in sections similar to those in a journal article.
1. The Written Document
The following structure and guidelines are suggested.
Abstract: Should be 150 words or less
Introduction: Provide a critical review of the literature that is most pertinent to the work performed. It is important in this section to develop the rationale for the work performed. It should make obvious the basis of the questions addressed by the work. It should describe the basis for the approach taken to answer these questions. It should also provide insight into the relation of the thesis to the current state of knowledge in the field. Critical evaluation of the literature is a necessity. Finally, the introduction should clearly state a hypothesis that will be tested by the studies.
Methods: Describe the primary techniques you have used. Do not repeat details of published methods. This is not intended to be a recipe book of the methods used. Instead it is a general overview of the procedures used and details of elements that are specific to the work Detailed methods should not be presented for work not actually conducted by the student, including work done by the Core Facilities or other colleagues; such presentations convey the impression that the student actually carried out the procedures.
Results: Describe what you have accomplished, accompanied by appropriate figures and tables.
Discussion: Examine the results, explain their significance and answer the question posed in the Introduction. Place the findings in the context of what is currently known in the field, demonstrating how the understanding of the field is extended by the work.
Conclusion/Summary: Summarize and state the significance of the results.
References: In the text, cite all references in the name-and-year system (e.g. Strong and Jones, 1991). The reference list should be arranged alphabetically by the last name of the first author in a standard format with titles. The student should consult standard reference publications for appropriate citation styles.
NB: The thesis should be written by the student, not by the thesis advisor. It is the role of the thesis advisor to guide the student in preparing a coherent, intelligible document to be distributed to the members of the Committee. However, the thesis advisor should also ensure, to the best of her/his ability, that the proposal is an original document and that the language of the proposal is that of the student. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the student to provide an acceptable document.
The thesis should be in the best traditions of scholarship, e.g., identify sources, balance presentation by including conflicting data and counter arguments, etc.
A student should not present tables or figures that are not entirely his/her own work, unless this is unavoidable because the data are necessary to develop the story. In that case, the precise contribution of the student must be made clear.
Students who wish to use published manuscripts as the backbone of their thesis text may do so under the following circumstances:
- A general introduction, literature review, and summary are written for the thesis.
- Permission to use the published paper as part of the thesis is obtained from the relevant publisher A note should be made in the thesis indicating that copyright approval was granted
- The publication represents both the scientific work and writing of the student.
- The student must be the first author on papers used.
- Multi-author publications must be accompanied by a precise list of all work not actually performed by the student. Even better, those experiments not conducted by the student should be edited out of the thesis and just cited.
- The student must have had a major role in writing the manuscripts (this should be certified by the thesis advisor). If the student did not do the earlier writing, the work should be rewritten by the student for the thesis.
- A paper that has been submitted, but not yet accepted, can be used. But a note should be made on the paper that it was used in a Master’s thesis as partial requirement for the fulfillment of the MS degree.
2. Thesis Formatting –
Because your thesis will be deposited and copyrighted through UMI Dissertation Publishing, please refer to detailed formatting instructions in “Depositing Your Master’s Thesis” which is part of the Master’s Thesis Deposit packet, available from the Registrar. You are required to purchase one hardcover copy of your thesis for the Levy Library.
3. Depositing One’s Thesis –
Instructions for preparing the MS thesis deposit can be found in MS Thesis Deposit Instructions on the Graduate School Forms website. When the student is ready to deposit the Master’s Thesis, s/he should deposit the thesis electronically according to the instructions in the Deposit Instructions document within three calendar years of the date of initial matriculation in the Graduate School. After depositing the thesis, the student can request an interim confirmation testifying to the completion of the degree requirements.
4. The Oral Presentation/Defense –
When the student is ready to defend his/her thesis, the MS Thesis Defense Registration form must be filled out and returned to the Graduate School Office. The student should bring the MS Thesis Approval form to the oral presentation/defense.
Since the Master’s Thesis Review Committee members will have read the written document before this presentation, the student should use this opportunity to give a summary of the particulars of the research and the proposal. This should be in the form of a well-rounded seminar-style talk, but does not need to be a full 50-minute seminar. Summary lengths are typically no less than 15 minute. Power point slides are encouraged.
Prior to the presentation, the student should decide with the Chair of the Committee whether or not the questions will be asked throughout the presentation or if they will be held until the end. This decision is fully at the discretion of the student and Committee Chair.
In preparing for the defense, the student should plan to:
- Defend the rationale for the approach(es) used;
- Explain how this will answer the questions being asked.
- Describe potential problems associated with the methodology and should also consider alternative approaches that could be used.
- Describe in detail every figure presented.
- Detail the strengths and weaknesses of the data.
- Defend your interpretation(s) of each figure and be able to discuss alternative interpretations.
- Coherently describe the integration of all studies described into an overall set of conclusions. This description should include placing the work into the conceptual framework of the field.
- Rigorously defend the conclusions drawn
5. The Master’s Thesis Review Committee –
The Master’s Thesis Review Committee is composed of at least 3 members. The student’s thesis advisor will chair the committee. Other members of the Committee should include faculty knowledgeable in the field of the thesis research. One member should have an appointment outside the thesis advisor’s Department and the other member may be from the thesis advisor’s Department. These three members, as well as any additional members the student and his/her thesis advisor may want to add, will be appointed by the Program Director. At its discretion alone, the Graduate School may choose to have a representative present for the defense. This representative would be in addition to the three appointed committee members, but would not vote on the outcome of the defense.
The Master’s Thesis should be submitted to each member of the Committee at least ten days before the scheduled oral presentation.
The Committee should evaluate the student’s ability to:
- evaluate and synthesize relevant literature
- defend the methods used
- articulate and elaborate on the experiments described
- discuss the significance of the work and potential future research directions
- justify conclusions
Revisions recommended by the Committee must be completed in a timely fashion. The student’s thesis advisor should approve the revised thesis before it is deposited. The student should make note of the deadlines described below for final deposit of the thesis and dates that the MS degree will be awarded. The thesis must be deposited by the end of the semester in which the thesis defense takes place. The student will maintain student status until the thesis is deposited.
6. Deadlines –
A. Thesis deposit – The thesis may be deposited at any time during the year, but the following deposit deadlines determine the date of the degree.
|For the degree to be awarded:||You must deposit by:|
|September 30||September 15|
|January 31||January 15|
|May (ISMMS graduation date)||April 15|
The degree is awarded on September 30, January 31, or the date of ISMMS’s annual Commencement in May. Students depositing by the January or April deadline will receive their diploma at Commencement
B. Notification of Registrar – By March 1, students must notify the Registrar of their intent to deposit their thesis on or before the April deposit deadlines in order to be included in the Commencement exercises of that year. Commencement information will be sent during the spring semester to the student’s last email address recorded with the Graduate School Office.
C. Special consideration – Those students who have a dissertation or thesis defense scheduled between April 16th and June 15th MAY, at the discretion of the Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, be eligible to participate in the spring Commencement ceremony even though they have not met the April 15th thesis/dissertation deposit deadline. In cases where a student is allowed to participate, he/she will not receive a diploma at graduation. After a successful defense, a diploma will be awarded on the next date that degrees are conferred (September 30th). Only students in good academic standing will be offered this courtesy. In this case, good academic standing means that all coursework has been completed with passing grades and the student’s mentor/committee fully expect the student will successfully defend his/her thesis/dissertation prior to June 15th. If either of these criteria is not met, the student will not be allowed to participate in the spring graduation ceremony. Additionally, any student whose defense was not acceptable to their committee will not be allowed to participate in Commencement until after successfully defending and depositing.
7. Publications –
Publications stemming from an MSBS student’s thesis research should include the following acknowledgement –
“This work represents the Master’s thesis of (students name) as partial requirement for the fulfillment of the MS degree in Biomedical Sciences offered by the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Mount Sinai.”