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The following document is provided for the preparation of the graduation thesis for the Master Course in Natural Resources Management for Tropical Rural Development. The procedure for the registration for the graduation session is indicated on the UNIFI App (if necessary, students may refer to Segreteria Studenti).
Please keep in mind that:
The thesis preparation may take months to be completed since the topic may be related to biological cycles which requires long data collection, repetitions of experiments, etc.
The calendar of the Graduation Sessions of the Course is reported on the Scuola di Agraria website – Calendario tesi (in Italian; ask your supervisor for clarifications).
The Master thesis is a complex task requiring relevant working and time efforts, since it can be considered as an authentic research project. Hence, the preparation of the thesis needs a strict interaction with the supervisor and/or co-supervisors. The final product is characterized by a high level of originality and advanced scientific knowledge.
On the other side, the thesis should demonstrate a student’s ability to make a significant scientific contribution to a topic studied during the degree coursework. Through the preparation of the thesis, the student must show his/her ability to analyse at an independent and advanced level a topic that could be linked to his/her future professional activities.
The thesis is a written project generally based on own ideas addressed during student’s coursework. The choice of the topic should be based on student’s professional and academic goals and interests, and can be defined with the help of the Professors (e.g., discussing it during lessons and/or during other meetings).
Once the topic has been chosen, students must address to the Professors potentially suitable for supervising the project in order to fix the supervisor. This step has to be done before starting to prepare the thesis.
The student, in collaboration with the supervisor, will identify the specific topic, the appropriate methodology to be applied and the specific goals of the research. A conceptual plan detailing the specific ideas that will be addressed in the thesis should be prepared and described by the student, always considering general and specific aspects of the topic according to the geographic, climatic, social, rural, scientific and technological scenarios of activity. Once agreed the topic and timing will be shared and agreed with the supervisor, the candidate has to fill a pre-registration form (Link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc0JGY4OZWP8n0Lx7YGaOu2Kv1s3OgsbcoSK_hb6-QBGpwoiQ/viewform).
Before start writing the thesis, students should concentrate on making the state of art on the chosen topic by reviewing the available literature (textbooks, scientific articles, other projects, etc.). For the literature review, students will be driven by the supervisor and he/she can consult articles and other digital resources available on line (e.g. Google Scholar, Web of Science, Scopus). When using Scopus, students are invited to access it through the UNIFI proxy system (check in UNIFI Web site) to be able to search and fully download articles. Many scientific papers indexed by online repositories (e.g. Scopus) are subject to copyright, hence students should refer to the supervisor to obtain them for free.
A concise title of the thesis should express the theme and perspective of the research project. The definition of a provisional title can be a good way to start; a final title may be decided once the thesis is fully written. In order to plan the research structure and verify the coherence of the concept, a provisional index should be shared/agreed with the supervisor. The provisional index represents a nice guide (e.g., for planning the research and establishing the relevance of sections and chapters); it can be modified as the project takes shape. The final index must appear at the beginning of the thesis and must be formatted as follows:
Chapter 1. Chapter Title
1.1. Title of sub-chapter pag. xx
1.1.1. Title of paragraph (if present) pag. xx
1.1.2. Title of paragraph (if present) pag. xx
1.2. Title of sub-chapter pag. xx
It is important to keep in mind that each chapter starts with a sub-chapter, and also that chapter should not be excessively fragmented in sub-chapters.
Use short and linear sentences; try to minimize the use of adverbs. Verb tenses should be decided from the early beginning and must be consistent along the manuscript. It is often best to write the introduction and conclusion after writing the other chapters (methodology, results, discussion) including the research project description. Abbreviations (e.g., acronyms) can be used, but their explanations must be written out the first time the abbreviation is used. Exclamatory sentences should be avoided.
Words that are not commonly used in English should be written in italics. Remember that you can quote part of texts citing the source, but be aware that plagiarism is a criminal act. Plagiarism is defined as the total or partial attribution of another person’s ideas, research, or discoveries to one’s self or to another author, or omitting a citation either intentionally or by accident.
A research project should use impersonal pronouns rather than the first person, but this is not compulsory (check with the supervisor).
A thesis should include the following chapters. See the Template for graduation theses - NRMTRD .
Title page (use the standard format –Scuola di Agraria website - Fac-simili frontespizio tesi)
The thesis, which is comparable to a scientific paper, must provide precise documentation for every assertion. “Citing” means giving credit to another person for their thoughts, words, and data.
No thoughts or expressions should appear in the thesis without a proper citation. When sentences or paragraphs are inserted without a citation, it will be treated as plagiarism.
In-text citations can appear in different ways. It is suggested to adopt the Anglo-Saxon tradition (Harvard style). The citation in this case must appear in parentheses and mention only the authors’ last names and the year of publication. In the text, references to paper by one or two authors should give their surnames (e.g. Brown, 2010; Brown and Rogers, 2011); papers with more than two authors are referred by the first author followed by “et al.” in italics (e.g. Moore et al., 2012). When there are two or more references by the same senior authors (for papers by one or more than two authors) with the same year of publications, references must be designed by letters (e.g. Moore et al., 2012 a, b).
The citations in the text must be listed in its entireness in the reference list. Different citation norms exist. Below is given one example of literature citations:
FERREE D.C., ELLIS M.A., BISHOOP B.L., 1984 - Scarf skin on ‘Rome Beauty’. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci., 109(3): 422-427.
FERGUSON A.R., BOLLARD E.G., 1990 - Domestication of the kiwifruit, pp. 165-246. In: WARRINGTON I.J., and G.C. WESTON (eds.) Kiwifruit: Science and Management. Ray Richards Publisher in assoc. with the N.Z. Soc. Hort. Sci., Auckland, New Zealand, pp. 576.
NICKELL L.G., 1983 - Plant growth regulating chemicals. Vol. I. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, pp. 280.
Thesis and Dissertations
SHERMAN W.B., 1963 - A morphological study of fruit abscission of the Muscadine grape, Vitis rotundifolia. M.S. Thesis, Mississippi State University, USA, pp. 156.
ROBERTS A.N., 1969 - Timing in cutting preparation as related to developmental physiology. Comb. Proc. Int. Pl. Prop. Soc. for 1968, 19: 77-82.
Beside literary references, sometimes it is necessary to cite websites: even these sources must be mentioned in the thesis (sitography).
The bibliography (List of references) should contain the list of references in alphabetical order based on the surname of the main author, and under an increasing order of date of publication and inserted at the end of the document.
General format and layout
Paper format. Use the standard A4 format and set the same margins (2.5 cm, top/bottom, right/left).
Size & line spacing. The text should be in 12 point character and 1.5 spaced lines.
Font. Choose a commonly used font that provides a full character set, for example Times.
Tables and pictures. Insert tables, graphs and images directly where they belong in the text. Tables must be on one page, not divided across different pages. Each table, figure and picture must have a caption describing what it displays and must be reported along the text. Tables and figures (with their captions) must be placed in the text after they have been quoted. Captions of tables (follow this format: Table 1 – Here the caption content) are placed above the tables; captions of figures (follow this format: Figure 1 – Here the caption of the figure) are placed below them. Captions of photos/pictures are also placed below and can be numbered if considered relevant.
Pagination: Pages must be numbered since the first draft of the manuscript . The final copy will be double-sided so you must ensure that blank pages are inserted where necessary in order that new chapters, sections, bibliography etc. fall on the right-hand side, on an odd-numbered page.
Language correction: Before sharing the thesis (in parts or completed) to the supervisor, be sure that the text has been revised both for spelling and grammar. The supervisor can reject at once the manuscript if the text is poor in terms of language and logical sequence.
Remember that some theses affording specific topics may require special formats; in these cases define the necessary aspects with the supervisor.
Once agreed with the supervisor, the complete written thesis must be converted into a PDF file following the indications reported in the UNIFI platform. An Abstract of the thesis must be also prepared. It will be uploaded separately from the full text, as indicated in the UNIFI App. This operation will be done once agreed with the supervisor.
This step regards the oral presentation of thesis work to a Commission where the supervisor (and possible co-supervisors) are usually official members. It is requested to present the thesis in 15 minutes at once, after the invitation from the President of the Commission. After the presentations, all the members of the Commission are free to ask questions about the oral presentation and the previous research work.
Slides (made in Power Point) could be also presented in PDF format.
Some tips for the preparation of the slides:
The Commission for the graduation will take into account several aspects (e.g., being pro-active, autonomous, committed, etc.) in order to score your written thesis and its defence starting from the quality of your study career. The final score will be the result of the following items:
The graduation with “Honours” can be obtained only if 110 points are gathered. The final score from the Commission is not questionable.
Procedural guide for degree completion at