4.2.2 Theoretical Basis

The theoretical basis of a bachelor’s or master’s thesis sets forth the aims of the project and defines its research and development tasks. The theoretical basis is rooted in the theory concerning the topic. If a theoretical basis for the topic cannot be found, the background of the topic should be described and a theory formulated. Its content and scope depend on the approach used and on the extent to which the phenomenon has been studied.

The theoretical basis is gleaned from extant data, and then undergoes synthesis as a result of the author’s analysis. The author constructs the theoretical background on the basis of former studies, literature, professional experience, and intuition. Earlier data and findings can be presented, along with an account of their reliability, general importance, and relevance to the author’s present work. Research data are dealt with critically through the drawing of comparisons and the summarising of findings. Concepts that are central to the topic are defined in the theoretical part of the report, while other concepts are defined in the context in which they appear.

In the summary of a source, the author states in his/her own words the essence of the source with regard to the phenomenon being studied. This is done by explaining the main ideas of the source in complete, coherent sentences. An author’s use of source material reveals signs of his/her ability to think independently as well as to operate proficiently in his/her field.

Quotations are direct, word-for-word citations from the original source. The use of direct quotations should be carefully considered, and the overabundant use of such avoided, as the overuse/misuse of direct quotations reveals weakness in the author’s approach to analytical research and a deficient personal writing style.

The research task, i.e. the problem and questions for investigation, as well as any hypothetical assumptions about it/them, are also presented in this part of the report. Research problems are derived from the theoretical basis and validated against the hypothetical assumptions presented there. The problems are stated in the form of precise questions. If there are many questions, they are numbered sequentially, and can be presented as core problems and contributing factors.