This is how you do your thesis
The thesis instructions contain a compilation of both general instructions as well as instructions applicable to Bachelor’s and Master’s degree theses. The instructions can also be applied to other reports written during studies at SAMK
As a thesis is usually made for a professional organization, it is important to be aware right from the start that an approved thesis of a higher education institution is always a public document, which is kept in permanent archives. If the client considers that some part of the thesis project is confidential and should be kept secret, this part cannot be included in the thesis report. The extent of a Bachelor’s thesis is 15 ECTS credits and that of a Master’s thesis 30 ECTS credits, which implies a workload of approximately 400 or 800 hours respectively – more or less than this depending on how familiar one is with the topic, how much new substance matter one needs to learn, how experienced one is in writing, etc.
The thesis process is described in the procedural instruction for a thesis ME1206 (requires logging in SAMK ARC). Your thesis supervisor will provide you more information on how the process proceeds in your own degree programme. Different universities of applied sciences and fields of education can be looked at in www.theseus.fi. The Rector’s Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences Arene has agreed with Teosto on Minor Media Licence regarding the using of the music recorded in Theseus. Minor Media Licence agreed contains also Minor Synchorisation licence which gives the permission to use music attached to AV productions. The permit is related with the streaming of audio-visual material in Theseus. This kind of material can be included in theses and other types of publications in Theseus. The Minor Media Licence concerns only the right to supply music via Theseus. It does not concern other possible Teosto or Gramex licences, that the organizations have to attend to themselves.
More information on Minor Media Licence and Minor Synchorisation Licence from
When making a thesis, copyrights must be taken into consideration. The right to quote is outlined in the Copyright Act (Act 404 of 8 July 1961) as a right to quote parts of a published work following generally good practice in the extent required by the purpose. The quoted text can be used to justify one’s own ideas, to demonstrate something or to evaluate quoted ideas. You can also use pictures, provided that the connection between the original work and your thesis exists and you use proper rerefencing. When you describe the starting points of the work and the theoretical framework of the topic, use books, articles, research reports and other material written by other people. When writing your own thesis, you must mention from who or from where the information was obtained, i.e. you must refer to the sources. The readers of the thesis must be able to understand without difficulty what the the author has written himself or herself and what has been quoted from elsewhere – and from where exactly. The author, i.e. the writer of a thesis as well, has the copyright for his or her work defined in the Copyright Act (Act 404 of 8 July 1961). Optimally, the theoretical part of the thesis or any other text with references to literature is not just a collection of references, i.e. a series on consecutive references to a single source. For example, if several authors share an opinion, state it once and include all these authors in the reference. A good text combines information from various sources. Writing a comparative and analytical text is challenging: first you have to read and think (and understand) so that you can combine ideas when you write. (Söderqvist 2009.)
The ethical ground rules based on good scientific practice apply to a thesis as well. This means using honest, responsible and correct measures when doing research: the agreement on the preparation of a thesis has been signed, research permit and privacy statement exist in the theses requiring them, the sources are reliable and quoted appropriately, the research material and process have been well documented and the conclusion of the work is reliable. In addition, in interviews and similar researches where people, or what they say or produce, compose the research material, it is obligatory to exercise particular caution related to privacy and data protection when writing the thesis report. The objective and competent interpretation of the research material is part of being ethical. The outcome and conclusions of the work must be reliable.
Before the evaluation of the thesis it undergoes checking plagiarism with the program Urkund (sThesis ME1206 This is to ensure that the sources have been used appropriately and all quotations - direct and indirect – have appropriate in-text references and entries in the list of references.
The instructions for a thesis, the support from the supervising teacher, the studies guiding the writing, Infotelakka in the library, the research ethical instructions SAMKin tutkimuseettiset ohjeet by SAMK and finally Urkund check are there to support the thesis writer’s work to avoid unnecessary suspicions of fraud. If an evaluated report is suspected of a fraud, the suspicion shall be investigated following the process instructions in the procedure in Cases of Fraud ME1216 (requires logging in SAMK, ARC)
For more information:
The Copyright Act (in Finnish) (L 8.7.1961/404)
Choice and approval of the topic
The student starting his or her thesis should have adequate abilities, as regards content and methodology, to complete the work, i.e. a sufficient amount of studies and knowledge of the field in question as well as methods to get started. Students also learn during the process of writing a thesis, making learning an important aspect of the thesis process. To support the student in all this, the curriculum offers courses including guidance in writing, e.g. research methodology or research communication. On this course it is possible to starting planning your own thesis.
The topic of the thesis shall support the development of professional skills, one’s own career or the field, or the general objectives of a university of applied sciences. Often it is also a stepping stone to working life, i.e. it is important to consider the topic selection also from this point of view. From the viewpoint of the actual progress of the thesis, it is important that your topic means something to you and the results are needed?/ desired for? achievable/desirable? (toivottava?)
The topic and implementation methods shall be discussed with the teacher coordinating the theses and with the possible working life contact person. After the topic has been approved, the supervisor(s) and the contact person of the company shall be appointed and the thesis agreement (OP078) shall be written (https://into.samk.fi/materiaalit/lomakkeet/, in Finnish.) A thesis agreement is signed of all the theses written in SAMK.
The supervising teacher takes care that the student services save the contact information from the agreement to the SAMK client management system Yrinet and the agreement is saved to SAMK document management system Tweb (Thesis ME1206).
During the planning phase, the student charts the essential literature and other source material relevant to the thesis topic. By getting acquainted with the topic the theoretical basis of the work is strengthened. At the same time, the topic becomes more specified, the thesis structure with headings clearer, objectives are set and methods to analyze the topic chosen.
It is good to deepen the thesis plan into an implementation plan describing
- the topic and its background
- the importance of the topic
- what aspects of the topic are going to be researched (research problem, research questions)
- the type of the thesis (e.g. a review or a development task ), the objectives and the schedule of the work
The plan can be written on the thesis template (in Intra). During the planning phase, one can already start to think about the headings of the report and thus specify the whole thesis. It is good to formulate the headings as questions in the start, as questions direct to look for precice answers and consequently help to avoid getting sidetracked and slow the progress. The headings in the forms of questions will be changed into statements following the content before the report is finished.
An example of a basic frame of an implementation plan:
- Preliminary name of the thesis
- Arguments for the choice of the topic
- the perspective of the student’s own professional development
- professional perspective and the significance for the employment
- why is this particular topic important and how is the problem under study or development manifested at the moment; Why is the exploration or development important?
- Description of the setting for the thesis
- identification of the organization or co-operation agency
- description of the task of the organization or co-operation agency
- contact person in the organization or co-operation agency
- Purpose and aims of the thesis
- what is developed, described, compared, explained, etc. in the thesis?
- what is the aim of the thesis, e.g. development of a method or a process, creation of a quality handbook or client satisfaction survey, producing documentation, new knowledge, etc.
- how will the organization or co-operation agency use the knowledge acquired in the thesis process
- Definition of the topic
- clear definition of the topic, why has the topic been defined in this way
- preliminary research problem and its parts (research problems are questions set for the thesis, which are answered in the thesis process)
- Theoretical frame, connection with other studies
- earlier studies related to the topic
- essential literature related to the topic
- professional discussion related to the topic
- Expected results
A research permit must always be applied for a study concerning SAMK students, personnel or operations and producing public information about SAMK and people at SAMK. The research permit is applied with the form OP21A/B. The application is addressed to the Quality Manager who decides on the research permits for theses concerning SAMK. The student should add a premilinary project/research plan approved by the supervisor to the application. The Quality Manager informs both the leader of the faculty where the student writing the thesis studies and that of the unit on which the study is concerned about the permits granted.
If the research is concerning some other organization, the research permit procedure follows the procedures of the organization in question. The practices vary in different fields and the student should always clarify with the client the type of a research permit required for his or her study.
Procedural instrution for thesis agreement ME1206 Thesis Research Permit
Opinnäytetyösopimukseen liittyvä menettelyohje ME1206 Opinnäytetyö, tutkimuslupa.
EU Data Protection Regulation entails that a research collecting personal data takes care of the writing of a privacy statement. The statement shall be understandable and easily accessible. The purpose of the privacy statement is that that person whose data is being processed receives a comprehensive and clear picture of the processing of his or her personal data.
A thesis agreement is signed of all theses written in SAMK by filling in the form OPO7A/B which you can find from Intra – Forms (requires signing in with SAMK username). The agreement on the preparation of a thesis is a written agreement between the student, the client (e.g. company, society) and SAMK to write a thesis. If the thesis is done for SAMK, the client signing the agreement is the head of the unit for which the work is done. On behalf of SAMK the agreement is signed by the head of faculty and the supervising teacher. The person responsible for writing the agreement is the student. When signing the agreement it is important to make sure that all the parties involved understand that the thesis report is always a public document. The possible confidential part can be located in a document separate of the actual report, delivered to the client.
(Note: Please, (load first) fill this OP07B form and get signatures through SAMK's ServiceDesk service: "Get signatures to thesis agreement". ServiceDesk serves at: servicedesk.samk.fi)
The procedural instruction concerning the thesis agreement ME1206 Thesis (in ARC, requires logging in with the SAMK username and password) and Agreement on the preparation of a thesis (form in Intra, requires logging in with SAMK username and password).
A thesis can be either operational/project thesis, a research thesis, a product development, a project or a production. Often there is an employer or some other type of a client and then the client’s needs define the implementation method. However, common to all theses is, that they, as the name says, are demonstrations of the graduating student’s skills in his or her own field.
Examples of model structures for theses can be found in the file below:
Regardless of the type chosen, a good thesis:
- explains its topic and background sufficiently well: read, get acquainted with the topic
- is preferably limited and profound than extensive and superficial: define the topic clearly!
- is practical and connected with working life
- demonstrates the author’s expertise and independent thinking
- is preferably original and open-mided even though the topic may be ordinary – the focus is on solving a problem, which can be done in a number of ways
- progresses towards objectives according to a plan, is analytical and logical
- is exploitable and useful
- develops the author’s professional competence
- demonstrated information retrieval skills and a critical approach to sources
- is reflective, justifiable outspoken and well reported (Hakala 2004, 29-37).
You should discuss the methodological solutions for your thesis with your thesis supervisor. He or she can give you good advice on how best to arrive at a successful outcome.
The courses on research methods are good places for reflecting the methods, and there is also plenty of material available on the different methods, see appendix 1.
Template for a thesis
The thesis template guides you in the process of writing the written report for your thesis. The template can be used directly as the basis of a thesis, but you must remember to save it by the headline fo your own thesis, e.g. Surname_Name of the thesis.
The practical piece of work – a guidebook, device, event, training module, sculpture, work community development project, etc. – related to the thesis does not constitute the entire thesis, even if it meets the highest standards and comes in extremely useful. The client is usually more interested in the application, the finished product, but a report is always written to describe the process leading to the outcome. The report is the piece of work which shall be bound in covers and evaluated. Therefore, it is important that all the work you have done is documented in the report as well as possible – in the body of text or in the appendices. Reporting skills are essential in working life.
Two basic things about writing:
- your text communicates to others
- writing elaborates your thoughts; as you formulate the matter, your thinking also takes it forward.
From reading the introduction and the final paragraph, the reader should understand what the report deals with – although the text in between describes the process and how the results were achieved.
When revising the thesis report, pay attention to:
– readability: Is your text clear? Does it progress logically and without unnecessary repetitions? Does it convey the message you want?
– argumentativeness: Why was the text written and why is it worth reading?
– credibility: Are the conclusions valid? Was the method appropriate and reliable? What are the limitations?
– usability: How did this work? Can it be applied elsewhere? What could be done on the basis of this in the future?
In the thesis process the information retrieval and the sources as well as a critical approach to them are in a central role. During their earlier studies in the university of applied sciences, the students have prepared different kinds of review and research reports based on information retrieval. When preparing the thesis, students can look back at the materials of the courses on research communication or methods to revise the information retrieval modes and sources of their field. In SAMK library you can find quick instructions for finding information from FINNA. samk.finna.fi: https://samk.finna.fi/Content/help.
The use of sources reveals the higher education level of the student’s development and research skills. Signs of good source material are reliability, credibility, objectivity and topicality. The proper use of sources respects the original source, is objective and reliable, and bears ethical scrutiny.
The compilation of the list of references starts from the first source used in the thesis. One should take good care of marking carefully the references to the text and entries to the list of references, as it might be difficult later. A special attention should be paid to online sources. It is important to write down the date when the source was used to show that the source existed on that day, in case it disappears from the original site for some reason.
When writing the in-text references and the list of references it might help to use Word or Refworks reference management software. You can find instructions for them at the part More information of this chapter. If necessary, you can also take advantage of the guideline database of the Institute for the languages of Finland (available only in Finnish) or the large Citing and the Reference List guide provided by SAMK.
- This guide is for SAMK students whose studies have started in the autumn of 2020 or later.
- Those who have started their studies in the spring of 2020 or earlier can use the previous guide on the Writing instructions page on the Oiva intranet.
All theses go through plagiarism check before the final evaluation. SAMK uses Urkund text-recognition system to which the work is sent by either the students themselves or their thesis supervisors in SAMK. Whichever the case, the student, with exclusive copyright to his or her work, shall be aware of the use of Urkund. The student approves the use of Urkund plagiarism check procedure when submissing his or her work for evaluation. With the help of Urkund, the supervisor is able to check the electronic source and find out the validity of the references.
SAMK, Infotelakka. Referred 2.5.2019. https://www.samk.fi/kirjasto/infotelakka/
Jyväskylän yliopiston kirjasto (2016) Kirjastotuutori. Jyväskylä: Jyväskylän yliopiston kirjasto. Referred 2.5.2019. https://koppa.jyu.fi/avoimet/kirjasto/kirjastotuutori
Word -reference management instructions in Word:
Refworks – reference management instructions in Finna: https://samk.finna.fi/Content/refworks?lng=en-gb
Kielitoimiston ohjepankki. Lähdeluettelo. Referred 2.5.2019. http://www.kielitoimistonohjepankki.fi/ohje/13
SAMK Moodle - Opetusprosessin koulutukset (in Finnish) - Plagiointitunnistusohjelma Urkund.
In order to summarize and illustrate research results you can use tables, pictures, figures or direct quotations selected from empiral data. You can also use figures to illustrate e.g. the progress of work – especially of a product, work of art, etc.
The tables and figures must be clear, informative and appropriate. They must be understandable on the basis of content and heading, without additional text. However, the body of the text shall always refer to the table, figure or picture. The reference shall include the number, e.g. “Table 1” or “In Figure 2...” etc. instead of “the table below” or “the figure above”. Both tables and figures have to be numbered by consecutive numbering. Within the body of the text, they clarify things, illustrate and make understanding easier. A table or figure that is not essential for understanding the text can be place in the appendices. It provides reader with additional information. The reference is placed next to the cited table or figure and an entry to the list of references.
Pictures illustrate the thesis report. They must be closely connected to the subject matter of the thesis and referred to in the text. Pictures published by others can be cited in scientific presentations, such as a thesis or a study on art history, as well as in presentations of a reviewing nature, such as a theatre or art critique. Please note that the right to cite pictures is limited by copyright legislation: in practice, a picture can generally be used in a scientific publication (e.g. thesis) only when it has a clear illustrative connection to the text of the thesis.
If you want to use a picture published elsewhere in your thesis for other purposes – for example, to enliven a guide booklet created during the thesis process – the right to cite is not applicable. In such cses, you must either ask the creatore or the holde of the rights for permission, or use a picture permitted by its creator to be freely used. You can find such pictures to be freely used in photo management services on the internet, (e.g. Flickr) by limiting the Advanced search to Creative Commons, i.e. CC licences pictures. Similarly, you can limit the Google advanced search (video). Instructions for the use of Creative Commons licensed pictures are available at www.creativecommons.org.
You can use pictures taken or created by yourself freely as long as you pay attention to the right to privacy of the persons appearing them. If there are clearly recognisable persons in a picture, ask them for permission to use it. Please not that theses with their pictures are generally available in the Theseus online archive for anyone to view.
If you use a picture taken or created by someone else, e.g. an acquaintance of yours, that has not yet been publishes elsewhere, you must as for permission to use it. The creator’s name must be mentioned in connection with the picture, and it must be stated that the use of the picture is authorised. Furthermore, the author of the thesis must ask the persons appearing in the picture for their consent before he or she can use it.
You must make a reference in connection with the picture, and make it in the text of references. Below each picture, you should indicate its number (Picture 1, Picture 2, etc.) and provide a caption with information about the picture.
The pictures are referred to by using their number (e.g. “Picture 1 defines...”). In the middle of the text, you can refer to a picture usig brackets (Picture 1). A separate list of pictures needs not to be attached to the list of references. Photographs of works of art can be used in a thesis. Remember to provide information on the object of the picture (name of work of art, artist and year, if known) in addition to the information on the creator or photographer.
Kielitoimiston ohjepankki. Sähköiset lähteet ja viitemerkinnät. Referred 2.5.2019. http://www.kielitoimistonohjepankki.fi/ohje/702 (only in Finnish)
www.kopiraittila.fi (only in Finnish)
Open science and use of images: ImagOA guide. Referred 2.5.2019. http://libguides.aalto.fi/imagoa_eng
Using Creative Commons licensed pictures www.creativecommons.org.
You can see the evaluation criteria for theses in student intra Oiva: https://oiva.samk.fi/en/thesis/completion-of-the-thesis/
In the same place you can also find information on saving the thesis in Theseus and on how to get a bound copy of your thesis: https://oiva.samk.fi/en/thesis/completion-of-the-thesis/ (logging in with SAMK username and password)
Maturity exam is an exam based on the thesis and written in supervised conditions. It is an independent study performance, which does not affect the evaluation of the thesis. With the maturity exam the student demonstrates his or her familiarity with the field as well as Finnish or Swedish language skills. According to the procedural instruction this procedure concerns all theses written in SAMK (both Bachelor’s and Master’s theses) (A1129/2014, sections 7 and 8). The maturity exam is regulated by Act on the Knowledge of Languages Required of Personnel in Public Bodies 424/2003, The Government Decree on the Demonstration of Proficiency in the Finnish and Swedish Languages in the Civil Service 481/2003, the Law on Universities of Applied Sciences 932/2014, the Government’s Decree on Universities of Applied Sciences 1129/2014 and SAMK Degree regulation.
A graduating student can apply for a degree certificate when all the studies required for the degree have been entered in the study register.
The degree certificate is applied for on e-services. First the graduating student fills out the university of applied sciences feedback questionnaire for graduating students (AVOP survey) and after the degree certificate application form is filled and sent.
It is important that everyone graduating from SAMK joins SAMK alumni. It is done the easiest by registering yourself as SAMK alumni: https://www.samk.fi/en/alumniregister/
By being registered as alumni the graduated students receive information on SAMK happenings, alumni meetings and new learning opportunities. Alumni are also very welcome guests on courses as experts and mentors sharing their own experiences.
Alumni register also gives the university a possibility to do a career follow-up survey 5 years after the graduation. This gives valuable information on the efficiency of the education for its development. The first survey was perfomed in spring 2019.
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Literature in English in Finna:
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