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Formulating a Thesis Statement

Standard thesis staement for research is to formulate the 5 W's (who, what, when, where, why/how) into a PICO statement

P = Problem or major issue to be investigated

I = Intervention or the variables to be tested

C = Comparison

O = Outcome or results of the research

When we actually do the literature search, we focus on the Problem and Intervention/solution part of the hypothesis. The Comparison and Outcome/Results are omitted so both sides of the hypotheis can be found.


Literature Survey

Literature Surveys are started with very large searches to locate a topic that large enough to have material written on it, but not so new as to have nothing.  For a PhD, you will need to find an area with very little or nothing written on it, but to start with you aim for a larger topic that is interesting.

Search strategies are key to a successful search. The basic steps are as follows:

  1. Write a good thesis statement or a paragraph outlining the topic.

    Converting legacy systems to new software and hardware requires long range project management.

    (This is not particularly good since the terms are a bit fuzzy, but it illustrates the process and the diffiuclties.)

  2. Break the thesis statement into major concepts.

    Legacy systems
    Long range planning
    Project management

  3. Create a list of synonyms for each concept. Be sure to include both new & old buzzwords and technical terms.

    legacy systems or systems or conversion (specific systems?  8 bit, 16 bit)   AND
    long range planning or long term planning  AND
    project management

  4. Select the databases to search for articles.

    ABI/Inform, IEEE Xplore, Compendex, ACM Guide to Computing, ACM Digital Library, other databases

  5. Conduct the search based on the lists of keywords and phrases for each concept.

  6. Evaluate the results. Checking each relevant article for additional terms or descriptors to better describe your topic concepts.

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