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?

    1. Motivation, Use, or Application

      • Why should we care?

      • How can the claim be used? Are there other applications?

    2. 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?

    3. Data

      • Is there enough data in the study?

      • Is it representative? trustworthy? applicable?

    4. 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?

    5. History

      • Is prior work recognized? used?

    6. 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?