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?