MSBS Thesis

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. The thesis should be in the best traditions of scholarship, e.g., identify sources and balance presentation by including conflicting data and counterarguments.

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.

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. A student should not present tables or figures that are not entirely his/her/their 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 as sources.

  • 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.

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