7 Steps Towards a Thesis

By Eduard Hovy
USC Information Sciences Institute

  1. The idea
    • Is there a claim?
    • Is the claim clear?
    • Is the idea large or small?
    • Is the idea as large as it can be? Can you generalize it, or apply it elsewhere?
  2. Motivation, Use, or Application
    • Why should we care?
    • How can the claim be used? Are there other applications?
  3. Details of the Idea
    • What are the basic items/elements /representation units of the idea?
    • What are the rules or types of interrelationships between them?
    • How elaborated are these items and rules/relationships?
    • How much of the phenomena do they cover?
  4. Data
    • Is there enough data in the study?
    • Is it representative? trustworthy? applicable?
  5. Discovery Methodology
    • Is the method of investigation clear?
    • Is it appropriate? Does it ignore phenomena that look relevant?
    • Is it well-reasoned? no biases or mistakes?
  6. History
    • Is prior work recognized? used?
  7. Proof
    • Is there an evaluation?
      • If so, is it adequate? Complete enough?
        • Does it speak to the claim?
        • Does it actually prove the claim?
      • If not, why not?
        • Is there a discussion of how one might try to test or prove the claim?
        • Can one make predictions and (easily) test them?