Skip to Main Content

Humak's Thesis Manual, Bachelor's degree

Knowledge base

In order to succeed in projects commissioned for the development of operations, the author must be very familiar with the specialised professional literature of the field and have a concept of what kind of knowledge or competence the field is lacking. Often the author must familiarise him- or herself with similar projects both in Finland and abroad. Before starting the development work, the student should obtain a clear understanding of what is already known about the topic. The goals of a thesis often become clear only once the student has researched the subject extensively. 

Existing knowledge, such as research and reports, makes up the knowledge base of the thesis. Learnedness and the ability to apply the literature are key issues for theses in higher education. In the best case, the student is able to demonstrate how the new knowledge gained from the final project increases the competence and knowledge base of the entire professional sector. 

Theory is an integral part of understanding the topic which can be used to develop the operations. With theory, the author will be able to identify the need for development and to find clues as to how the development work should be carried out in practice. In most universities of applied sciences, including Humak, the term knowledge basis is used instead of theory in order to better highlight the practical nature of the applied knowledge. The concept of knowledge base also refers to the knowledge which is not necessarily peer-reviewed research literature, but can also be different strategy papers, documents and unwritten experiential knowledge which can help in the developing task. However, the knowledge base must not be purely based on experimental knowledge, or so-called tacit knowledge. Any references to tacit knowledge should also be documented. 

Students are often shy about modifying the text in the source literature. An inexperienced writer may be afraid of misrepresenting the message of the source. This is evident, for example, in a generous use of direct citations from the research literature. However, a thesis must be written in the student’s own words and ideas, by combining different sources. This way, the knowledge base is shaped to become a unique text that conveys precisely the perspective of the particular student writing the thesis. If the student is limited too much to using a single source, the knowledge base will inevitably become too much of a summary of that source.  

Where will the student find the right sources? The supervising teacher can, of course, recommend sources if he or she is sufficiently well read for this. Informaticists can also be asked to help find concrete sources, and also for making sure the sources the student has found are up-to-date and relevant. Finding relevant sources is primarily the student’s task and a part of the thesis process. 

The minimum requirement is that the student is able to define the key concepts relevant for the project, and use them to search for sources in the following databases: 

•    Humak Finna 
•    Melinda
•    Google Scholar

All databases can be easily found online, for example by using Google. In Humak Finna and Melinda, it may be best to use the Advanced Search function, which will enable the student to search for sources with combinations of two or more search terms. Humak Finna also has a tab for International e-resources search, which can be used to find scientific publications available in electronic format. In addition, the ARTO – Reference Database of Finnish Articles in Humak Finna finds both scholarly articles and newspaper articles. The search function in Google Scholar works in the same way as the search function in Google in general, which means that search terms are entered in one field without any words in between them. 

Today, many people are accustomed to googling the information they need, trusting that almost all relevant information can be found with search engines. However, this is insufficient for theses and final projects in institutions of higher education. Help using databases is available from the supervising teacher as well as the library staff.