Modifications of thesis requirements by graduate programs have led us to examine the purpose of a thesis and to propose changes for the agricultural sciences. Our objectives are to (1) make the thesis serve the student by developing skills in scientific communication and (2) aid the advisory committee in evaluating the student's performance. To accomplish these objectives in the agricultural sciences, a thesis should demonstrate the thinking and writing ability of the student as well as his/her research competence. The writing exercises should be similar to those the student will encounter professionally. Our thesis format would first present a thorough literature review based upon a given hypothesis. The second part would be a proposal outlining an original research problem. Following the research, the student would write one or more manuscripts styled as publishable articles. Reports on experiments or data not publishable, discussion of ideas, and commentary on scientific theories can also be included. The proposed format will give the advisory committee a realistic basis for evaluation and will allow the student to acquire practical training in scientific communication con-current with the research.



theses, dissertations

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