Thesis Writing: The T, H, E, S, I, S Approach – Review of the Book : International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research

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Book Review

Thesis Writing

The T, H, E, S, I, S Approach – Review of the Book

Chauhan, Vijendra Devisingh1,2,

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International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research 12(3):p 220-222, Jul–Sep 2022. | DOI: 10.4103/ijabmr.ijabmr_248_22
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Editors: Dr. Rajiv Mahajan and Dr. Tejinder Singh

Author: Multi-authored

Publishers: Jaypee Brothers, Medical Publishers (P) Ltd.

Published: 2022 (1st ed)

ISBN: 978-93-5465-131-1

Price: Rs. 795/-

Pages: 354

First Edition: 2022

After a long time, I am seeing a book on thesis writing which would be of a great use for the medical fraternity and especially, the postgraduates (PGs).

I recapitulate my residency days when I did my thesis project. I had no clue from where to begin; I was fortunate to have a good mentor who mentored me but every PG resident is not so lucky. This book will definitely supplement the efforts being made by PG thesis supervisors in guiding the PGs.

After going through the book, it inspired me to write a review. The title of the book is so catchy “THESIS WRITING [FIGURE DASH] the T, H, E, S, I, S. Approach.” It compelled me to peep into the book and explore the acronym [FIGURE DASH] T: Tickling, H: Hologram, E: Expansion, S: Scenarios, I: Improvisation, and S: Summary. I found that every chapter is crafted using this philosophy. The second reason which stimulated me to go through this book is that it has been authored by well-known medical educationists who could appreciate the real need of the PGs of this country.

I have no hesitation in saying that not only fresh PGs but even many of their guides may be ignorant of what constitutes writing/guiding a quality thesis. J. Frank Dobi once said “The average PhD thesis is nothing but transference of bones from one graveyard to another.” Moreover, this is true even for PG medical thesis produced in this country every year. I quote Prof. Vivek A Saoji, Vice-Chancellor, KLE Academy of Higher Education of Research, Belgaum, Karnataka, who has appropriately mentioned in his foreword of this book, “Proper guidance and training will go a long way in improving the quality of research the postgraduates do and in turn the quality of thesis.”

Usually, in a multiauthored book, style changes with every chapter. Credit goes to the editors, Dr. Rajiv Mahajan and Dr. Tejinder Singh for keeping the uniform language, writing style, and format for each chapter. Hence, one finds continuity and connectivity between the chapters. The editors have ensured that the reader remains hooked to the book till the end. The flowcharts and boxes have been provided for easy remembrance and recapitulation of the salient features of the chapters. I personally feel that these tables, boxes, and flowcharts must be printed and hanged in the seminar room of the departments. I would suggest authors to prepare a small booklet so that these flowcharts are available to the students in their pockets when they are embarking on their thesis.

The book begins with a chapter on “Role and importance of thesis in PG training.” It talks about the statutory and mandatory requirements of the training and how research and publication can open new vistas and opportunities for a PG student. The author has supplemented the list of funding agencies and the nature of support extended for research. The chapter ends with a beautiful inspiring story of Dr. Althesis, tips for conducting a research – a self-checklist to facilitate writing a PG thesis and tips for writing a high-quality thesis.

Chapter 2 deals with the basic concepts of research. It describes lucidly what makes good research and different types of research, i.e., quantitative, qualitative, basic and applied research, and prominent features of each. The author has nicely depicted commonly employed sampling strategies. Stress has been laid on collecting tools for data collection and establishing ethical considerations. Simple examples of quantitative and qualitative research make things simplified for readers.

Chapter 3 is on research design. I need to congratulate the editors for providing a separate chapter on research design. Yes, this is a big confusion for the teacher as well as for the students. A nice pictorial classification has been provided and each design has been explained in a Lucid language with examples so that the PGs can choose the right design for the thesis. I liked the flowcharts and boxes provided, particularly [FIGURE DASH] criteria to choose research design and [FIGURE DASH] choosing study design. The author has used an analogy to explain certain difficult terminology. It made things so simple, both for teachers as well as students.

Chapter 4 [FIGURE DASH] how to start a research describes the importance of the research problem, how to identify the broad problem, and develop a research question. It reflects on types of research questions and explains beautifully what constitutes a good research question using PICO-T and C-Re FINERS criteria. The author has done a creditable job of explaining the concept of hypothesis and various steps involved in writing a good hypothesis; and has rightly cautioned the readers about the errors in hypothesis testing.

Chapter 5 deals with aims and objectives. I am sure after reading this chapter, the students would be able to frame the aim and objectives for their research with great ease. Every chapter provides you with the scenario for easy and better understanding, followed by tips.

Chapter 6 deals with a review of the literature. This is the most difficult and tedious part of a thesis, but one of the most important parts. The author has demonstrated how to use various commonly used search engines, how to develop strategies for literature search, identify the keywords, and the use of Boolean operators. Emphasis is on how to critically analyze the searched material and write the literature review.

A full chapter has been devoted to writing a synopsis which every PG has to submit within the 1st semester of the PG program. The chapter on materials and methods (M&M) has been prepared like a recipe in a cookbook. A lot of stress is on how to write M&M. The tips provided are worth remembering.

I have seen students and their mentors frequently rushing to the statistician for the calculation of the sample size. Chapter 9 has touched this subject beautifully. It starts with why we need an adequate sample size for any research. It then goes on to ingrain the recipe of sample size, calculation, effect size, standard deviation, type 1 error, power, direction of the effect, expected attrition, and statistical test and each is explained with examples.

Chapter 10 is on results and inferences; the authors have given very practical tips for the presentation of the results. There are general tips on preparing tables, graphs, pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs, and scatter plots. The authors have nicely described P value and its utility in deriving scientific inferences.

Managing the timeline is a very important aspect in the life of the resident. The resident is busy in clinics, patient care, operation theaters, and teaching and at the same time, he has to conduct a research. Managing time is an art. The editors have devoted a separate chapter on this subject. Concepts of the time management matrix, the Gantt chart, and the backward planning have been adequately explained in this chapter.

Ethics and plagiarism are a buzz word now. A separate chapter has been devoted to cover various ethical aspects involved in thesis writing and publications. The authors have discussed in detail about autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, justice, informed consent, the consent process and plagiarism, and how to avoid plagiarism. I am happy to note the topic of plagiarism has been touched and the penalties described by University Grant Commission have been included. Tools to be used for detection have been mentioned. In fact, without a plagiarism check, thesis should not be submitted. A small mention about the availability of various platforms for uploading thesis could have been added. A checklist to avoid plagiarism is appreciated.

A student of medicine is afraid of “biostatistics” and always confused which test needs to be used for his thesis. The authors have provided a nice table on how to choose the appropriate statistical tests. The authors have nicely defined various variables, data collection, data entry and cleaning, assessing the distribution of data, approach to data analysis, and application of posthoc tests. A separate chapter has been devoted to IBM Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS, IBM Corp. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp) for data validation and analysis and how to make good use of this tool.

Compilation of thesis is very important. Majority of the universities provide templates of the title page and the certificates to be annexed. The authors have lucidly and in a systematic manner described what needs to be done under each heading. They also discussed about research and ethics committee approval letters, pro forma of study, consent forms, master charts, photos, permission letter from other institution if applicable, conflict of interest form (for funded projects), disclosure of the source of funding (if applicable), Gantt chart, certificate of clinical trials registry-India registration (if applicable), and above all are very useful tips for writing the thesis draft and binding of thesis document.

Handling revision is a big issue. The movement the student hears this, he becomes disturbed. The authors have nicely discussed about the reasons for thesis revisions in a tabular form. I liked the tables [FIGURE DASH] how to communicate to the examiners after making revisions. The authors also provided useful tips for preventing rejection and revisions.

Chapters 18 and 19 talk about disseminating thesis research through quality poster and publication of the paper. These two chapters are very practical chapters and I am sure the students would definitely be benefited. I am sure if these practical tips are followed, we would see quality posters and publications from our PGs. A separate chapter devoted to a manuscript-based thesis introduces the readers to a different approach of thesis writing – like a manuscript.

The book ends with chapters on translation education research. It talks about how a student can place his research into “a knowledge to action cycle” and how can PG students strive to achieve translation of their research to standard practice.

All good medical institutions in the country are running 2–3 days’ workshop on research methodology. I think if we can design these workshops based on the basic principles illustrated in this book, it would ensure consistency in the research component in the PG curriculum and second, things would become easy for students to comprehend.

I would like to end with the quote of Mortimer J. Adler: “In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” Yes, “Thesis Writing: The T, H, E, S, I, S Approach” gets through to you and I am sure it would inspire you to revisit it again and again.

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