Ibérica (Nov 2016)

A move-step analysis of the concluding chapters in computer science PhD theses

  • Carmen Soler-Monreal

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 32
pp. 105 – 132


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This paper describes how computer science doctoral writers construct the closing chapters of their PhD theses. The data are drawn from the chapters playing a concluding role of 48 PhD theses defended at the University of Glasgow from 2008 to 2014. The analysis applied a qualitative-quantitative approach. The titles of the concluding chapters of the theses were first examined and also their divisions into sections and sub-sections. Then the chapters were subjected to a move-step analysis: Move 1 (M1) “Revisiting the study”; Move 2 (M2) “Consolidating research space”; Move 3 (M3) “Proposing practical applications and implications”, Move 4 (M4) “Recommending future work” and Move 5 (M5) “Recapitulating the study”. The results revealed that most of the computer science PhD theses have one final concluding chapter with three main moves: M1, M2 and M4. The most frequent steps are “reviewing the work carried out” and “summarizing the specific work reported in every thesis chapter” in M1, “presenting results and contributions”, “answering the initial research questions or hypotheses”, and “making claims” in M2, and “acknowledging limitations” and “suggesting further research” in M4. Movestep patterns appear in recurrent cycles throughout the concluding chapters. Several suggestions for pedagogical purposes are provided.