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source, and recentness of the citation. Always try to avoid the use of old citations that might have been superseded by more recent work.

    • Incomplete and/or inappropriate references – Each reference you provide should be as complete as possible. This means that it should include such things as page numbers, and date of publication, etc. Sometimes it requires a little extra work to get this information (especially if you found the paper online) but this information should be included so that it is easy for the reader to locate the reference if they need to. (Note also that this will be even more important for your thesis document itself since a larger audience will likely read it.) It is also increasingly common to see references to web-based documents. In many cases, such documents are completely un-refereed just like technical reports and are thus of dubious quality and value. Such references should be used extremely sparingly in your proposal and certainly should not be used alone to argue for any key point that your work depends on. Always try to find references in recognized journals and top-tier conferences whenever possible. A proposal that obviously makes little or no attempt to provide complete and consistent bibliographic entries may be returned for improvement prior to review.

  • 8.

    Timing of MSc thesis proposals

Regulations state that your thesis proposal must be approved at least three months prior to your thesis defense. This delay will be determined using the date of final acceptance of your proposal. This will be the date on the letter sent by the GSC either indicating that your proposal has been placed in category 1 or on the letter sent by the GSC indicating that your revised (category 2) proposal has now been accepted. You should not leave your proposal to the last possible minute to submit. There are several reasons for this. First, and foremost, is the fact that when you submit a “proposal” after the bulk of the work has been done then it is not really a proposal but is, instead, a summary of what you have done. This is not the intent! If you submit at this late stage you are running the risk of having done your MSc work on a topic that is not acceptable to the GSC. In this case, you might have to select an entirely new topic and start all over again. While this is a worst-case scenario, it is not impossible and it is certainly within the rights of the GSC to reject a proposal entirely. In general, you should prepare the thesis proposal and have it accepted before undertaking the majority of your MSc thesis work. Preparing your proposal at this stage helps you to decide what specifically needs to be done to successfully complete your thesis and is therefore advantageous to you. Further, if there are issues with your proposal that the GSC will require to be resolved before approving the thesis, then, if you have waited till near the end of your program to submit the proposal, you will be delayed in graduating. In such situations, the delay in graduation is your fault not the GSC’s! Finally, an early submission of your proposal allows you to receive potentially valuable feedback from the members of the GSC. In the review process, the GSC commonly makes suggestions and poses questions related to your proposed work as well as critically reviewing your proposal. By doing so, the committee is, again, acting in a fashion similar to the PhD advisory committee. Often their suggestions are valuable in helping you produce a better MSc thesis more expediently. In practice, submitting your proposal so that it can be approved at least six months prior to your defense is strongly recommended.

Last modified: 27/02/2007

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