Your guide to writing an IT (Information Technology) thesis

IT Thesis Writing Guide

Thesis Definition:

The first task of writing your IT thesis is deciding the topic. The topic should be some area of IT you have an interest in and/or already have some particular knowledge of. It should also be broad enough to be able to find related information, but not so expansive as to include too many issues to resolve and too much to learn within your time limitation.

You should consider the nature of your IT thesis as falling into one of three types of IT effort, identifying which is most suitable for you:

  • design-and-build; or
  • client-based; or
  • research based

If you decide on a thesis that involves a design-and-build effort, your thesis would take the role of reporting the design and implementation of a novel solution to a specific problem. This type of thesis should focus on justifying the problem to be solved, the novelty of the design/solution from what exists already and the process of undertaking the development.

If you decide on a thesis that involves a client-based effort, you would be undertaking tasks for an external client to deliver certain deliverables, which the client reviews. Your deliverables may involve the implementation of a system, the delivery of a specification and/or design, an evaluation they need, etc. This type of thesis should focus on reporting who the client(s) is (are), what problem they needed solving, what deliverables they required, how they verified your deliverables and their level of satisfaction.

If your thesis is research based, you would not produce an implementation, such as software. You would need to pinpoint a research question/hypothesis that you will be investigating and undertake primary and secondary data collection, with rigorous analysis of the data. Your results will have to be assessed objectively to weigh up if they answer/refute the research question/hypothesis.

You should undertake exploratory reading to narrow your chosen topic and verify the availability of related literature, while building an initial bibliography. This will enable you to identify the research question or problem to solve (where the nature of IT effort allows you to choose) and whether there are existing or related answers and solutions, all leading to your thesis statement.

Planning:

You should create a plan for completing your thesis, with the clear stages, milestones and estimations of the time and resources that you expect to need for research and undertaking other tasks. Your plan should include an assessment of the risks of not achieving a task (e.g. lack of environment to test/evaluate system, client loses interest or changes requirements) and how to mitigate their occurrence.

Consideration of your audience is important in any academic writing piece and that applies very much to your IT thesis. Consider who you are targeting to read it, their background and existing knowledge on your topic, as well as what you want them to gain from reading your thesis.

Research:

The research a large undertaking, so a helpful approach is to write down the ideas, knowledge and data revealed while you are researching, as a gradual drafting process rather than trying to write everything in one attempt at the end of your findings. Regarding the research, a good method for sufficient depth and structure is to follow references provided in each source. You should have an initial set of sources from your exploratory research.

You must be extremely rigorous with accrediting any sources using in-text citations, such as for literature and analogical IT systems you that supported your writing.

Structure:

To structure your thesis, you should write an outline of the ideas that you have yielded and that process itself will help you to begin finding relationships between the ideas and where they should fit together towards a clear destination. Ideally, your thesis should employ logical arguments throughout the main body to arrive at the conclusion, which should answer your question or proves your solution. It should be structured around your main points with more specific details, theories and examples that support the main points.

Drafting and Changes:

You should revise your plan as you undertake your research and other tasks whenever any task overruns the estimated time. This is to ensure that you can adjust the remaining tasks’ duration to keep within the final time limitation of delivering the thesis. Keep a record of the changes in your plan for reporting them in your thesis.

The presentation and comprehension of your thesis is important, so you should make use of a spell and grammar checker to eliminate simple errors and proofread your final draft. If you can, find a fellow IT student to read over your thesis and let you know of anything they struggle to understand. You can offer to do the same in exchange.

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