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Instructions for Bachelor's Thesis: Practice in the thesis process

Thesis Process

The thesis is the student’s own and independent problem-solving-oriented process, in support of which the student is entitled to receive supervision. The supervisor’s duty is to support and encourage this process and the learning taking place in it.

It is recommendable that the thesis writer and the supervising teacher agree, at the initial stage of the thesis process, on the goals of supervision, the methods of supervision, the division of duties, the time available for supervision, and the seminar practice. In the case of a projectized thesis, a working life representative can also participate in supervision.

In most cases, the teachers of the Faculty act as supervisors. A thesis can also be supervised by more than one teacher. Sometimes, the second supervisor may be a visiting lecturer or, in commissions, a working-life representative. Even if the thesis is supervised by a working-life representative, the final grade is given by the supervising teachers. 

The primary responsibility for the content and language of the thesis lies with the student. Help with the language check and assessment is available from the Finnish or communication teacher of the respective Faculty. The language of the abstract in another language, which usually is English, is usually checked by the language teacher of the Faculty.

Theses written at the Universities of Applied Sciences are an important part of regional and national development of economic life. It is advisable to agree on whether the company or organization will share the cost of the thesis writing process. The student makes a budget as early as the project plan, and the representative of working life is able to assess if it is possible for them to compensate the student for the expenses.  

In connection with traineeship periods or project assignments prior to the thesis process, the student may also concentrate on applying for larger funding with the company or organization the student is working for. In such a case, preparation for project funding may be set as the task of some applicable course preceding the thesis process. Furthermore, the student agrees with the company or organization on how the thesis would relate to the project in preparation. The student also has the opportunity to be employed by the project during or after the thesis process.

It is possible to apply for external funding for theses from different foundations and funds. The opportunities can be discussed with the student while making the thesis plan and also on other courses related to the thesis process, if funding options have not been dealt with in other studies, such as project studies. Moreover, it is advisable to follow advertisements about funding in newspapers and on the Internet (see e.g.  Suomen ylioppilaskuntien liitto, [ref. 9 Feb 2017]; Aurora-tietokanta, [ref. 9 Feb 2017]).

The creator of a literary or artistic work has the exclusive right to decide on the use of their work, or they have copyright to their work. Copyright can also arise in theses written jointly, as group work between several students. Through copyright, the author of a literary or artistic work gets protection against the misuse of their work. Copyright is also of economic importance, because, through it, the author can also exploit their work commercially and can prevent other people from using the work without permission.  

Copyright covers, among others, scientific texts, computer software, artistic work, and design work. To get copyright, it is required that the work be independent and original. A mere idea or theme cannot be copyrighted. Copyright always emerges when the threshold of originality is crossed, and it does not require, in addition to creation, any registration or other action. The prerequisite for copyright is the original manifestation of the work. Information, ideas, theories and scientific results are not protected by copyright as such, but the form into which they have been brought. Technological inventions are not covered by actual copyright, but they can be protected through patenting.

The holder of copyright has moral an economic rights to their work. The thesis writer has always, despite possible transfer of rights, a moral right to their work, which means the right to be mentioned as the author of the thesis and to oversee how an outside person uses their rights. The economic rights include the manufacture of items, the publication of the work, and resale compensation.

It is always recommendable to discuss access rights issues with the supervisor before starting the thesis project. It is particularly important if the thesis is implemented as a commission. The copyright to a commissioned thesis must defined in the agreement between the commissioner, author, and the Faculty. When agreeing on the transfer of copyright, the target of transfer must be specified carefully.  If it is a joint project involving various theses, transfer must be made separately for each thesis. The form aimed at making the thesis agreement is in Appendix 1. Furthermore, it is advisable to agree in writing on copyright and other specific conditions (such as updates of the output). 

Theses are uploaded on the Theseus virtual library. When uploading their thesis in Theseus, the student must accept the conditions of use of Theseus. When doing that, the student assures all the copyright matters have been agreed on and gives their institution of higher education a gratuitous permission to publish the thesis online. In online publishing, the Creative Commons license system is used, allowing the regulation of the conditions of use of online publications. Creative Commons licensing can be used if the copyright of the thesis lies exclusively with the author. 

The digital copying and reuse of both printed and online material is restricted by regulations related to the law of copyright. Drawings and photographs may be used in online documents, if their author has given their permission for that or if you have copyright to the material used (e.g., your own photos and drawings). SeAMK Intra provides information about the current conditions of the Extended Collective License of Kopiosto, related to the scanning and use of online material.

Yet, the Extended Collective License of Kopiosto does not authorize the copying of such material the copying and use of which has been prohibited by the holder of the copyright.  Material can be freely retrieved from sources which clearly state that it is free of copyright.  However, the source must always be mentioned. If the material includes the mention that it was published with the Creative Commons license, it can usually be used. The bibliography of the present Instructions includes some exhaustive online sources e.g. about the copyrights of figures, pictures, and collages (Operight, [ref. 30 Jun 2015]; Taideyliopistojen tekijänoikeuspalvelu 2012; Toikkanen 2012).

More detailed instructions for uploads on Theseus and the Instruction Digitaalisen kopioinnin rajoitukset (Restrictions of Digital Copying) can be found on SeAMK Intra.

The results of the thesis are meant to be utilised by all. When submitted to the University of Applied Sciences, a thesis is interpreted as an authoritative document, which, based on the Act on the Publicity of Actions Taken by Authorities (L 21.5.1999/621), is public, unless otherwise stipulated by the law. The publicity principle does not apply to cover business and professional secrets, the thesis plan, the basic data, technological or other development work, and the assessment of the thesis.

In its instructions, the Ministry of Education (2004) has emphasised that theses defined as confidential based on the law should not be written at all. Alternatively, a thesis should be written in such a way that the confidential information is only included in a separate appendix.

In some situations, it is necessary to leave out some portion of the thesis or, exceptionally, the entire thesis as confidential.  In case it is necessary to leave part of the thesis unpublished, this can be done in the following way:

  • The things kept confidential are left as the background data of the thesis and the thesis is written in such a way that it can be published in its entirety.
  • The confidential information is included in an appendix, which is left unpublished.
  • The student makes two different versions of the thesis, a public and a confidential one. The public version is published as a whole, and the confidential one is delivered to the commissioner of the thesis and the supervisor. In such a case, the public version is submitted as an archive copy to the Student Services.
  • Some of the chapters or subchapters of the thesis are left unpublished. In that case, these sections shall include the mention “Includes business and professional secrets”.

The confidential information, sections, chapters or appendices are mentioned in the introduction of the public version of the thesis and in the abstract.

Through the thesis agreement, it is made sure that all the parties have accepted the principle of publicity of the thesis (Appendix 1).

The data of the thesis refers to the data collected to reach the goals of the thesis and to solve the problems. Data can be collected, for example, with interviews, inquiries, measurement, or observation.

The planning of data management is an important part of the thesis process. Planning helps determine how the data will be collected, how it will be kept systematically and safely, how research ethics will be taken care of, and what will happen to the data after the study. Consequently, in the planning, all the data-related things must be taken into account, from the beginning of the thesis process until its end. The key principles of data management need to be thought about before the collection of the data, but details can also be specified during the process.

The planning of data management is needed especially if the thesis requires a research permission or an ethical preliminary assessment. The importance of planning is also emphasised when personal data are collected. Moreover, the participants of the study must be informed beforehand, among others, of how the data are processed, how privacy protection is guaranteed, and what will be done to the data after the research process. Careful data management also serves the later use of the data and enables the data to be saved and opened for use by other people after the thesis process. For more detailed instructions on data management, see Appendix 4.

Honesty and transparency are required from all scientific research, including the theses of the Universities of Applied Sciences. Anyone must be able to check the methods used in the collection and analysis of data as well as the use of sources. Healthy criticism of sources and checking the reliability of the knowledge is the researcher’s moral responsibility.

The Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences have common recommendations for a thesis process which is ethical and corresponding to good scientific practice.  Students are required to become familiar with the instructions Ethical recommendations for thesis writing at Universities of Applied Sciences and Ethical guidelines for thesis work – Student's checklist and Supervisor's checklist (2018) in the studies preparing for the thesis. The recommendations are based on the legislation and the scientific community’s international and national, research-ethical principles, definitions of policy, and recommendations. The instructions also include clear rules of conduct for dealing with suspected plagiarism.  

The Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences have agreed to observe the instruction Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland (2012) by the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (TENK), nominated by the Ministry of Education and Culture. This instruction defines, what good scientific practice is, how suspected breach of it is dealt with, as well as the Universities of Applied Sciences are obliged to provide training in research ethics for its students, teachers, and other experts used by them. The Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences have also agreed to observe the ethical instructions for research in humanistic, social and behavioural sciences by TENK and to arrange the ethical preliminary assessment of research in accordance with the recommendations (Eettinen, [ref. 7 May 2018]). The aim of the instructions is to promote good scientific practice and to prevent scientific fraudulence at all organisations conducting research, including the Universities of Applied Sciences.

SeAMK has an Ethical Committee tasked with the ethical preliminary assessment of humanistic non-medical research and with guiding the ethical development of this research. The ethical committee convenes whenever necessary. (Seinäjoen Ammattikorkeakoulu Oy Managing Director’s/President’s decision 44/2018.) In matters to be submitted to the Ethical Committee, contact Research Manager Seliina Päällysaho, the secretary of the committee.  

The thesis is also checked with the Urkund anti-plagiarism software. Urkund conducts a textual comparison and produces a report, based on which the teacher recognises the possible illegal quotation of sources. For the procedure of the Urkund check and the instruction for the student, visit SeAMK Intra.

For a study related to an external organisation or company, a research permission is needed. The research permission is applied for with a free-form letter and/or the practice of the organisation or company in question is observed. It is advisable to define in the research permission the consent to the use of the data and the storage of the data. In addition, the participants in the study are asked their consent to the study, and the maintenance of the anonymity of the research subjects is specified.

If the research subjects are students or staff of Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, the research permission procedure of SeAMK is observed. A research permission, applied for with an e-form is needed for all studies related to Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences.

Research-ethical questions are also widely addressed in the research literature (See, e.g., Kuula 2011; Mäkinen 2006).

The implementation of the thesis as a process

The process description includes different stages and responsibilities the student should be aware of as early as the planning stage of the thesis.

Process of  teaching and learning: Thesis

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