Thesis Supervisor Manual

Shared guidance

Support for the degree student: Open Science Centre as a collaborator

Open Science Centre, the library, supports thesis students during several steps of the writing process as a partner of a thesis supervisor. This means that the supervisor can share teaching and supervision responsibilities with the Open Science Centre.

The most common areas of cooperation during a thesis writing process:

  • Planning e.g., topic consideration
    • Plan for data acquisition, Data Management Plan (DMP), publishing strategy
  • Research data: collecting
    • LIB1DATA, supervision and guidance
  • Sources, data acquisition: searching and choosing
    • Teaching data acquisition: seminars, LIB1THP, supervision and guidance
  • Research data: analysis
    • LIB1DATA, supervision and guidance
  • Writing
    • Templates: Word reference management: Refworks
  • Publishing
    • Theses: JYX
  • Sources: searching, assessing, choosing: data acquisition and management
    • Discipline-specific features
    • Search statement design
    • Use of databases
    • Using reference management systems, e.g., Zotero
    • Referencing, research ethics
    • Planning of data acquisition
    • Assessing and choosing sources
    • Reference management
  • Research material
    • Identification of special features, e.g., personal information
    • Planning research material handling
    • Gathering research
  • Writing
  • Publishing thesis in Digital Repository JYX

The supervisor can request a custom training to their seminar from their discipline’s Information Specialist. Individual issues with a degree student can also be assessed during personal supervision, as mentioned above.

 

Support for the supervisor

Since all postgraduate training programs are open to the university staff, the Open Science Centre supports not only the degree student’s, but also the supervisor’s expertise. Enrolling in postgraduate training programs takes place in Congress and enrolling in the online course (LIBJ1001) on Open Science happens in Sisu. Even if you are not taking part in the online course on Open Science, you can still self-study and go through the materials of the course.

Open Science postgraduate programs aim to update supervisors’ knowledge regarding the process of writing a thesis from a research perspective:

  • Planning e.g., topic consideration
    • Plan for data acquisition, Data Management Plan (DMP), publishing strategy
      • Dissertation Start-up
      • Consultation
  • Research data: collecting
    • LIB1DATA, supervision and guidance
      • Data management
      • Consultation
      • Tailored training
  • Sources, data acquisition: searching and choosing
    • Teaching data acquisition: seminars, LIB1THP, supervision and guidance
    • Dissertation Start-up
    • Consultation
    • Tailored training
  • Research data: analysis
    • LIB1DATA, supervision and guidance
    • Data management
    • Consultation
    • Tailored training
  • Writing
  • Templates: Word
  • Reference management: Zotero
    • Templates: Word reference management
  • Publishing
    • Open publishing
    • Choosing the publication channel
    • Tailored training
    • Theses: JYX
  • Profiling
    • Research merits
    • Tailored training
  • Open Science
    • LIBJ1001 Open Science Resource
    • Tailored training
    • o Consultation: open learning materials

Subject and faculty guides are also there to help a degree supervisor. For example, doctoral studies’ guides are available for dissertation supervisors. The instructions on this page are directed mainly for Bachelor’s and Master’s thesis supervisors, but they can be modified to work for dissertation supervisors as well. However, there are separate postgraduate programs for dissertations, and tailored training can be requested for doctoral seminars.

 

 

Information seeking

What is information seeking?

Information seeking often consists of defining the need for data and material, the concrete process of information seeking, and using this acquired data. Each thesis writer has individual needs for specific types of information, so depending on the thesis topic and discipline, each thesis contains its own information seeking process.

The process of information seeking: collaboration

Information seeking is suggested to start by making a information seeking plan while forming the structure of the thesis. The plan can start - depending on the discipline - with e.g., a mind map outlining the thesis topic and possible viewpoints. The supervisor is encouraged to work on the mind map together with the degree student writing the thesis.

Mind map: search terms

An example of a mind map. (Source: Jyväskylä University Library (2016) Library tutorial. Jyväskylä: Jyväskylä University Library. URL: https://koppa.jyu.fi/avoimet/kirjasto/en/library-tutorial/topic-and-search-terms/identify-key-concepts/mind-map-1 (Updated: 9.12.2021. Link verified: 25.3.2022.))

Based on a mind map it is easy to define which things need to be looked more into, or which things are targeted in data acquisition and information seeking. For this, it is beneficial to think about specific industry and discipline terms and synonyms for different subject areas already in the mind map.

Training on data acquisition is recommended to be requested from your own discipline's information specialist. The training usually consists of further practical exercises on the same topic the mind map is based on. This means that - based on viewpoints already presented - you can start thinking about search terms and statements suitable for your own discipline’s databases. Instead of a mind map, you can use your own discipline and subject’s preferred methods to think about a thesis topic or possible search statements. For example, PICO can be used with topics related to health sciences. Information about different options is available from the information specialist of your own discipline. You can also negotiate the contents of teaching and supervision with the discipline’s information specialist.

Information seeking in thesis seminars

The idea of scientific information and the principles of information seeking are assessed during information seeking training in thesis seminars.

  • What is scientific information?
  • What makes a good scientific source of information?
    • How to assess information and publishing channels?
  • What is systematic information seeking?
  • How can you approach your own topic from the viewpoint of information seeking?
  • What are tags? What are index term lists?
    • How are they used in information seeking?
  • How do databases work?
    • The most common and multidisciplinary databases
    • Discipline-specific databases
    • Multidisciplinary topics: possible databases of close sciences
  • Reference control
    • Saving referencing on a reference management system
    • Referencing, research ethics
  • Where to find more information on information seeking?

Teaching about information seeking usually acts as a great kickstarter in the process of information seeking. The students writing a thesis usually need the supervisor’s help with information seeking, as the thesis topic and assessment of sources may change, especially in cases of undergraduate degrees. If the student is still struggling with using databases, they can request a personal tutoring meeting with the discipline’s information specialist or through a separate booking form. However, during undergraduate degrees and writing a Bachelor’s thesis, group meetings in seminars are a place where students can ask questions and go through problems, they might have in terms of information seeking. This means that the personal tutoring or supervision meetings mentioned before are mostly aimed at Master’s thesis or postgraduate students.

Referencing and forming a table of contents is also something that should be practiced during thesis seminars. This is e.g., to make sure the students are aware of the basics of research ethics. The Open Science Centre can also help with handling references, as it arranges monthly training regarding reference management during semesters.

Tips on source groups

Data management

What is data management?

Data management is responsible handling or research data, which takes proper scientific practices into account. Typical data can consist of e.g., interviews, questionnaires or surveys, measurement results, material from archives, or code

The key starting point in data management is planning. For example, you cannot conduct interviews without planning the handling of personal information. A person’s speaking voice is personal information, so every interview consists of personal information.

Forming a plan about data management helps take the following factors into account:

  • Systematicity, organization, and prediction
  • Ethical issues
  • Practicalities
  • Matters defined by law

Proper data management helps conduct better research.

Quick tips for data management

  • The student forms a plan for data management in addition to their research plan. Check the template for a data management plan
    • The plan needs to be updated as the research progresses!
  • Keep the coherence and wholeness of the data in mind. A great practice is to take a copy of your raw data and the setting you’re starting with and make changes to that copy, if possible
  • If the thesis is made together with a research group or an outside source or party
    • Come to an agreement on what kinds of responsibilities and rights the student has. What is done to the data once the thesis is finished? Will the data or pieces of it be published? Is the thesis itself published first, followed with the study of the research group?
    • If the student is gathering data for the uses of the research group, how is the student supposed to document the data so that it is easy to understand and systematically portrayed (metadata)?
  • Does the data include things protected by copyrights?
  • If personal information is involved,
    • If delivering the privacy statement to the study participants is impossible, the statement is aimed to be made public
    • You must make a privacy statement, which is delivered to those taking part in the study, as well as the university’s registry
    • The student is the registrar, and the thesis supervisor is named in the privacy statement
    • Public interest is usually the basis of processing personal information (academic research)
    • Consent is still a condition of participation in the study. In the case of The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a separate consent form is not needed
    • Data is stored in the U-drive, which can be accessed with VPN
    • Personal information or other confidential information is not stored in Cloud, not even the university’s O365-storages
    • When handling data, it is suggested to use the programs and environments provided or supported by the university. Commercial environments usually have more security and data protection risks
    • Interviews are not recorded on a personal phone or other device. Instead, use the university’s own recorder the interviewer can borrow. An interview always includes personal information, as video, pictures, and spoken voice are considered as such
    • When conducting an interview remotely: use the Zoom-program that has been acquired for the university. This version of Zoom is different from its general and public version. Instructions for remote interviews and their security can be found on the university’s website.
    • Surveys and questionnaires are done with Webropol. It is good to remember to add a notice to the respondent and a link to the privacy statement in the survey’s introduction
    • Forms and detailed instructions (notice to the respondent and a privacy statement): university’s instructions about handling personal information (https://www.jyu.fi/en/university/data-privacy)
  • If there is some other type of confidential information involved, it is also handled securely. Confidential information is excluded from the thesis file that is published by placing them in a separate attachment (if they are a part of the thesis itself)
  • Metadata and documentation
    • Metadata: Information about the data is recorded in a separate document. For example, when the data was collected; software or devices used to collect the data or required to view the data etc.
    • Folders and files are named systematically. The process of foldering the data should be included in the metadata
    • Keep a record of data processing (e.g., Excel-sheet or a research diary)
  • Saving: U-drive (remote connection through VPN)
    • Memory sticks and hard drives are not recommended
    • Unfortunately, the students do not have a location where a pair working on the same thesis can work together securely
  • Backups
    • U-drive forms a backup automatically
    • In addition, previous backup versions of a project or a thesis should be kept on the U-drive in case the writer needs to correct something
  • Disposing of data, publishing, and archiving
    • If the data includes personal or otherwise confidential information, it must be disposed of securely
    • Data on recorders and files on a computer are overwritten
    • Papers are placed in containers for confidential material (e.g., inside the university) or burned
    • For now, there is no set process of student data publishing or archiving
    • You should discuss with your students, how long they should store their data so that the thesis process is not compromised

The teaching team at the Open Science Centre is happy to help undergraduate students with questions regarding data management. Contact form (through which you can send your questions)

Contact us:

Publishing

Theses are usually publicly available. In the University of Jyväskylä, this is often conducted on JYX-repository, and opening up a thesis on JYX to the public is easy:

  • The thesis file is delivered through an online form to save it on JYX
  • Fill in the requested additional information about the thesis and give JYX permission to save it

You can contact the Open Science Centre about issues about saving your thesis to JYX, using pre-existing thesis templates and styles on Word etc.

The file usually has a few initial defaults regarding copyright issues, accessibility etc.

  • The supposition is, that the thesis student has been able to use their research data according to copyright regulations, e.g., reference policies, so that other people’s rights have not been violated
  • The file should also be produced following the Accessibility Directive, meaning that reading the file is as easy as possible for all readers
    • Some text and image production basics are involved, e.g., using the style tools in Word, color choices in images, alternative texts in images and charts, and the choice of file format

In addition to the thesis itself, the process of publishing can include other texts etc. that are considered publications. An article is a publication when talking about an article-based Master’s thesis. However, when practicing research skills, the student might also publish their research data and other material. This was mentioned in the previous section.

A student can also take part in developing learning materials during the Master’s thesis seminar. In a case like this, should those educational materials also be opened? This means that the student would be a co-creator with their supervisor. If the supervisor has developed the materials mostly independently, they should consider opening the materials, which is one possible characteristic of a good supervisor.

Openness

Openness is a normal part of publishing in the research world, and a thesis is a public document by default. The benefits of openness are easy to list, for example:

  • The visibility of the work and competence of the student
    • Working life
    • Possibilities for research in the future
    • Accumulating research skills
  • Reliability of study results
  • Reusability
    • Anyone can use it anywhere
  • Societal interaction and communication
  • Even the visibility of the supervisor’s expertise

Saving a thesis on JYX usually opens the document for everyone to read. This means that it appears well in web searches and it is added to Finna’s national database. You can ask more about saving a thesis to JYX from the Open Science Centre.

In special cases, the thesis cannot be opened to the public. This can happen because of the topic of data in the thesis. The thesis can be about e.g., a criminal case, in which case file confidentiality is required. However, you should still investigate somehow displaying the metadata of the thesis.

Openness has many forms, of which you should discuss with the writer of a thesis. The Open Science Centre also provides help with the various forms of openness. You can ask specific questions or order a separate training for your seminar group. Examples of the forms of openness are

  • Golden Open Access
    • Publishing channel that is closed (requires a subscription fee) but also where the writer can buy openness for a specific article
    • An open publishing channel
    • Hybrid
  • Green Open Access
    • Green Open Access
  • Black Open Access
    • The seamy side of openness, should be avoided.

Confidentiality and privacy issues

Privacy issues concerning a thesis often arise from the topic at hand. For example, topics about business cooperation and child protection can set boundaries on openness, so that companies or individuals in real life targeted for research can receive the protection needed.

As mentioned before, a Master’s thesis is a public document by default. The writer of the thesis can choose how openly the thesis is shown online when downloading and saving it to JYX. For example, a thesis can be available only on a limited access computer at JYX, if the student wishes to choose so. If the thesis includes private information or other things that are confidential, they can be placed in a separate background document, which is not published on JYX. If the thesis was ordered by a company, the student can also construct a free form document or a presentation that handles the company’s internal affairs and information that would not be handled in a public thesis.

The various forms of a Master’s Thesis: tips on article-based theses

You can open your thesis through University of Jyväskylä’s JYX-publication channel, or in other forms through external publishers. The university and its faculties have their own guidelines on defining a thesis and its contents, and these guidelines can also contain categories for possible publication channels. These kinds of categorizations are also available for article-based Master’s theses. Here are some tips on how to consider different publishing channel for an article-based thesis:

  • The focus of the publishing channel
    • Getting familiar with the author’s guide
  • The readership of the publishing channel: information reaches its potential audience
  • The possibility of openness?
    • Closed publishing channel → permission to insert an article to a Master’s thesis and open it on JYX?
  • Several official – even e.g., numeral – ways of reviewing publishing channels. The channels should be compares and the writer should get familiar with their contexts of use, e.g. 
    • Publication Forum (JUFO)
    • Several indices and impact factors
    • Additional help from altmetrics? E.g., downloads.

Preplanning is important when choosing the right publishing channel as well as while conducting research. This means that publication strategies should be considered during the process of writing a thesis. This kind of planning is also important in terms of acquiring a useful working life skill, and if the degree student is aiming towards doctoral studies in the future. The supervisor can raise discussion about doctoral studies during a Master’s thesis writing process. For example:

  • Principles of publishing an academic article: how to bring up a possible career as a researcher?
  • Funding: JYU’s open access agreements by publishers are also available in article-based theses
  • If you are interested in a career as a researcher, it is useful to start the process of profiling. For example, ORCID (international) is commonly used. When becoming a doctoral student, you can combine ORCID and JYU Converis -profiles together, which makes profiling through release notes easier.

Links for accessibility

  • Accessibility in theses on JYX
  • General accessibility guidelines (Celia)
  • Theseus guide (Universities of Applied Sciences)
  • Pay particular attention to e.g.:
    • Planning of thesis as a whole: Clear division of paragraphs and chapters. Using style designs in writing programs
    • Alternative texts for non-textual sections
    • Clear language and expressions
    • Creating a PDF-file so that features enhancing accessibility are saved to the file.

Copyright issues

Copyrights are often handled during data acquisition training by reminding about referencing and practicing the use of reference management programs. These are tightly connected to research ethics, which is a topic that should be dealt with in detail during thesis seminars. Copyrights are linked to the thesis writer themself, papers and other productions made by others, text, images, audiovisual material and so on. More information about thesis copyright issues at JYU.

Copyright issues come with several related terms and concepts, from which the following are often encountered when writing a thesis: threshold of originality, related rights, and paternity laws. When it comes to co-writing, coming to a pre-agreement is important. When publishing the thesis, you can think about different kinds of licenses, for example, Creative Commons licenses are often used in a variety of theses and papers regarding their openness.

More information on copyright issues and licenses is available at the Open Science Centre. For example, information sessions on licenses are held as well. Additional information is also available online:

Information seeking in short:

Data management in short: