Before starting the thesis
Before starting the thesis, the student must familiarize themselves with the ethical principles of the thesis, publicity, data management, and accessibility and sustainable development.
You should also familiarise yourself with the entire thesis process, the related instructions and the thesis open badge.
It is recommended that students start to write their thesis only after they have completed their basic or core competence studies, and they have sufficiently completed professional, methodological studies or profiling competence studies for them to be able to apply their knowledge and skills to practical expert-level tasks linked to their professional studies. The topic of the Bachelor’s thesis must be related to the student’s professional studies and potential career after graduation. It is worth choosing a topic that is of interest to the writer of the thesis. Students must also ensure that a similar thesis has not been written on the same topic previously.
The topic of the Master’s thesis must be significantly linked to the student’s studies, current or future job, or another stakeholder. As its best the Master’s thesis is able to produce new knowledge, innovatively and creatively develop the changing world of work.
HAMK students can apply for a scholarship from the HAMK’s Foundation for writing a thesis or project work, for which the student accumulates credits. The grant can be applied for by students of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Read more about the foundation’s instructions and application.
The author of the thesis is guided by the general ethical principles that apply to all fields of research in Finland:
- The author of the thesis respects the dignity and autonomy of human research participants.
- The author of the thesis respects material and immaterial cultural heritage and biodiversity.
- The author of the thesis conducts their research so that the research does not cause significant risks, damage or harm to research participants, communities or other subjects of research.
The Ethical Recommendations for Thesis Writing at Universities of Applied Sciences by The Rectors’ conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences Arene gives recommendations for universities af applied sciences for a thesis process that is ethical and in accordance with responsible conduct of research. The recommendations are based on legislation and on international and national principles, policy lines and recommendations of research ethics.
Furthermore, all HAMK theses comply with the guideline Responsible conduct of research and procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in Finland (2012) issued by the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (TENK). Responsible conduct of research applies to all theses regardless of the field of study.
Responsible conduct of research
Responsible conduct of research includes ensuring that the student has the necessary research permits and consent, using an appropriate research method, reliable implementation of data collection and processing, and referencing sources in an appropriate manner. In addition, each discipline has their own ethical standards that contain more detailed guidelines on research ethics.
Violations of responsible conduct of research include carelessness or fraud. Carelessness includes gross negligence and carelessness during the research process, inadequate citation of prior research results, and misleading reporting of results or methods. Fraud includes, among other things, fabrication or falsification of observations or results, plagiarism, misappropriation, or modifying and presenting original observations deliberately so that the results based on those observations are distorted.
Plagiarism, or unacknowledged borrowing, refers to representing another person’s material as one’s own. This includes research plans, manuscripts, articles, other texts or parts of them, visual material, translations etc. Plagiarism includes direct copying as well as adapted copying. HAMK uses the Ouriginal online service for plagiarism detection (via Wihi). It is used to check if the theses contain sections that may have been copied without the appropriate citations. Misappropriation refers to the unlawful presentation or use of another person’s results, ideas, plans, observations etc. as one’s own research.
If there is cause to suspect that the author of a thesis has violated responsible conduct of research, an allegation is made to the Rector in writing. Based on a recommendation by the Vice Rector, the Rector will make a decision on whether or not to initiate a preliminary inquiry.
Responsible conduct of research includes ensuring the necessary research permits in all fields. The student and the supervisor must consider whether the thesis will require research permits well in advance before starting the collection of research material, i.e. in the planning phase of the thesis. If the subject of the research is an organisation or the activities or representatives of one (such as staff or students), a research permit must be requested from the organisation in question before starting the collection of research material. Permit practices and the prerequisites for granting the permit vary by organisation.
Under HAMK’s research permit guidelines, a research permit is required for all research, development projects and theses targeting the staff or students of HAMK (including surveys). Instructions for applying for a research permit.
If the thesis is planned to be implemented in a manner that requires an ethical review, the student and the thesis supervisor will jointly apply for a review from the ethical committee. An ethical review is typically required if the focus of the study is on minors under the age of 15 without separate consent from a parent or if the study involves interfering with the physical integrity of research participants (for example, collecting data with a smart ring).
If carrying out the thesis process requires an ethical review, a statement must be sought from the ethics committee before applying for a research permit. The approval statement from the ethics committee is attached to the research permit application. Applying for the statement is usually only required for Master’s theses.
HAMK is a member of the Ethics Committee of Human Sciences of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Universities of Applied Sciences that carries out ethical reviews of HAMK’s theses. For more information, see the TENK guideline Ethical principles of research with human participants and ethical review in human sciences in Finland (2019) and the website of the Ethics Committee of Human Sciences of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Universities of Applied Sciences.
Informed consent to participate in research is a key ethical principle in research involving humans. It is not the same as the consent used as a legal basis for processing personal data. Informed consent to participate in the research is requested from the research participant before any data collection. The researcher documents the consent to participate in the research given by the participant orally, in writing, electronically or by other means.
In research designs in which, for one reason or another, the research participant cannot be asked for informed consent to participate in the research, a statement from the ethics committee must, as a rule, be requested. For more information on the rights of the research subject and informed consent, see the TENK guidelines the Ethical principles of research with human participants and ethical review in human sciences in Finland.
The entire thesis report is public, and it may not contain any sections that have been removed due to reasons of confidentiality. Confidential data are also not to be marked as appendices. If a thesis contains any confidential content, including a company’s business secrets or information on its product development, the confidential information should be contained in background material which is completely separate from the actual thesis and which remains in the exclusive use of the commissioner. The thesis agreement contains separate provisions on the background data and its archival. A duty of non-disclosure applies to the thesis supervisor where confidential information is concerned.
The student retains the copyright to their own work. This includes both rights and obligations. Statutory issues related to theses include different types of rights to the results of the student’s work (copyrights, patent and design rights) and liability in case of accidents and damages. These aspects will be subject to a separate agreement between the student and the commissioning party as part of the thesis agreement. The thesis agreement describes provisions on copyrights and patent and design rights that must be taken into account under the law. If IPR rights that need to be protected arise in connection with the thesis process, the author must personally apply for sole rights, should he or she wish to do so.
A data management plan is drawn up in connection with the thesis plan, and it describes the processing of research data during the thesis process. The data management plan ensures that the collection, processing, storage and destruction of data have been carefully planned and implemented. The plan must be drawn up and saved on Wihi before starting the collection of research data.
The data management plan is saved as an attachment to the completed thesis. If something changes in the collection or processing of data during the thesis process, the plan must be updated. The content of the data management plan is described in more detail in the instructions of the data management plan.
After the thesis is completed, the collected research data must be processed in accordance with the data management plan. The thesis process may also include the creation of other documents, such as a research permit decision and a data protection notice, for which HAMK records management plan (arkistonmuodostussuunnitelma or AMS, in short) defines the storage period, storage location and a party responsible for storage. The student must check their obligations regarding the storage of documents in the checklist.
If the research data that have been collected for the thesis are to be handed to HAMK for further use in teaching or research activities, a written agreement must be drafted on the matter. If the thesis is connected to a HAMK project, the disclosure of the research data to HAMK should be done using the appropriate agreement template.
If the thesis includes the processing of personal data, the processing life cycle must be planned in advance. The European General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679) and the Finnish Data Protection Act (1050/2018) require great care in the processing of personal data:
- theses and related data must include as little personal data as possible
- research participants will be informed about the processing of personal data
- personal data must be removed or converted into an unrecognisable form by utilising e.g. codes in the materials that help prevent identification (anonymisation or pseudonymisation)
- secure methods and tools shall be selected for the collection, recording, storage and destruction of personal data.
More information about the processing of personal data in theses at HAMK’s Digipedagogical guidelines.
An accessible document communicates its contents clearly and comprehensibly. The accessibility requirements for digital documents are laid down in the Web Accessibility Directive 2016/2102, which is implemented in Finland by the Act on the Provision of Digital Services (Laki digitaalisten palvelujen tarjoamisesta 306/2019, 2010). Accessibility requirements also apply to theses.
The thesis is available in a digital format either in the Theseus database or in HAMK’s internal thesis archive. For anyone who is interested in the thesis to be able to utilise the content, it must be ensured that the content, structure and technical characteristics of the document are accessible. For this reason, the thesis must be in the accessible document format.
Ensuring accessibility increases the comprehensibility of the document, its adaptability for various devices and interfaces, and also technical functionality when using assistive technology (e.g. screen reader). Once the document has been created to be accessible at the processing stage, it is saved in the accessible PDF/A format that also allows it to be archived.
The technical accessibility of the content of the document must be ensured in a way that
- the content is written in readable fonts (taken into account in HAMK’s document template), the order of reading is defined, and styles from the word processor are used
- images are assigned alternative text
- sufficient contrast is defined between the text and the background or graphic elements
- link names are descriptive
- information is not shared using only colour symbols, for example in tables.
HAMK is a strong promoter of sustainable development. Sustainable development means taking environmental, economic and social perspectives into account in a responsible manner. Observing the principles of sustainable development forms the prerequisite for the responsible development of both business and society at large. Therefore, each thesis must include sustainable development perspectives relevant to the topic of the thesis, which are taken into account during the assessment process.
The environmental perspective is linked to ecological sustainability. The goal of a carbon-neutral society requires the introduction of new services, technologies and operating models so that the carrying capacity of nature is not exceeded. Environmental sustainability makes it possible to examine effects related to biodiversity, climate change, land use and freshwater use, for example. Ecological sustainability includes both natural environments and urban environments built by humans.
The economic perspective provides an opportunity to examine the economic sustainability of activities and services as well as to study the use of raw materials and their impact on environmental loading. Circular economy and green transition are its key themes. This includes energy efficiency, fossil-free transport and sustainable heating solutions.
The social and cultural perspective deals with societal issues related to people’s well-being. For example, issues related to equality, health, education and work are part of social sustainability and provide an opportunity to examine the relationship and activities between individuals, organisations and society.
Interdependence is an important element that stems from the sustainable development mentality. This means that, for example, a product or service increases or reduces the environmental burden, which in turn has economic significance and results in social impacts. The interdependencies between the three perspectives of sustainable development, the environmental, economic and social dimensions, provide an opportunity to analyse the sustainability perspective in more depth.