This is the starting point for any MBI student about to begin the graduation project. For questions that are not covered here, send an email to the graduation coordinator (Dr. Gerard Wagenaar).

MBI Thesis

The MBI Graduation Project is split into a 15EC project proposal phase (INFOMMBI1) and a 25EC thesis phase (INFOMMBI2). The thesis project takes about 8 months: 40EC are gained through the the two phases, and 4EC through the MBI Colloquium. The set up phase that is necessary to arrange your project is excluded from the EC count. 

The thesis project consists a project idea, a graduation supervisor, and a graduation project facilitator. The project facilitator can either be a company or the university. Original ideas from the students are welcome, as long as they are aligned with the research interests and/or proposed projects by the supervisors: see the KonJoin system. Companies can propose ideas by contacting the graduation coordinator.

MBI colloquium. While conducting their MBI thesis, students are expected to actively participate (and present twice) in the MBI colloquium, a bi-weekly gathering in which MBI students present and discuss their thesis projects.

When can a thesis be started? When the courses are successfully completed. An exception can be given by the MBI programme coordinator (email) for students with one pending course.

Timing. Take into account that your supervisors will need sufficient time to review the different chapters of your thesis. It is wise to deliver individual chapters as they are ready. 

Previous theses. To get an overview of how an MBI thesis looks like, you can consult previous theses online.

This preliminary step is executed before the official start of Phase 1. The duration largely depends on how quickly a supervisor is found and a topic is agreed upon. This part is excluded from the duration of the thesis project.

1. Define a topic: the topic has to be agreed with the department member who will act as a first supervisor. Arrange meetings with staff members to discuss possible options, based on their research interests (look at their webpages, their google scholar profile, the KonJoin system, or ask the graduation coordinator). If unsure about possible topics, please arrange a meeting with the graduation coordinator. Students can also try to arrange a project that fits within an internship with a company. Any project, however, requires a first supervisor from the department who guarantees for the scientific quality of the thesis project. An overview of the current availability of the supervisors is shown below (availability below zero means the supervisors are over-committed).

2. MBI Colloquium enrollment: enroll in the MBI Colloquium [INFOMCBI3]. Regular and active participation in the colloquium is compulsory part of the MBI thesis project; exceptions can be made for students conducting their thesis project outside the Netherlands. For questions on the colloquium, please consult the webpage and/or contact the MBI colloquium coordinator.

3. Define your project: together with the first supervisor, describe your project's title, problem, aims, and research goals. Come up with a textual description, which should not exceed 3800 characters.

4. Work placement agreement: If you conduct a project outside UU, a "work placement agreement" should be filled in, and signed by the student, company supervisor, and the Science Research Project Coordinator. Deviations to the standard contract shall be discussed with the Science Research Project Coordinator. 

5. Formalize the graduation request: use OSIRIS student to submit your research project; if applicable, you will also submit the signed work placement agreement. Your request will be checked by the student administration and by the graduation coordinator. You may be asked for modifications, should they find any problems with the form.

6. Subscribe to the mailing list: important communications to graduating students are sent through this channel. Subscribe here.

The student defines the research method for the thesis, and conducts a scientific survey of the literature in the field of study. The intended learning outcomes are that the student should:

  • Be able of designing and developing a research plan, and
  • Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the relevant literature.

The proposal contains at least the following elements:

  • Title
  • Research plan, consisting of:
    • Problem statement: gap in the literature and/or practice
    • Research question and subquestions
    • Outline of and justification for a chosen research method
    • Literature research protocol
    • Milestones for the key phases of the project
  • A review of the literature that confirms that the gap exists and that the proposed research method is suitable and can lead to interesting scientific insights. The literature review can be performed using any technique spanning from an enumeration of related work at the one extreme, and a systematic literature study at the other.

The work for this phase will not be graded but only marked as "Voldaan" (pass). Phase 1 is finalized with a presentation in the MBI colloquium (first presentation), which describes the context of the thesis, research questions, envisaged method and artifact(s), and the findings from the literature. The evaluation of the first part should consider the following factors: project's context, research approach and presentation. The first supervisor will handle the grading through Osiris.

Delays. Part 1 should be finalized within 3 months since the beginning of the project. When this part is ranked as not satisfactory, a retake project proposal should be handed in. For details, see the protocol delay at the end of this page.

This phase concerns the actual execution of the research according to the approach defined in Phase 1. Halfway through, the student also presents once more in the MBI colloquium (second presentation), reporting on the work that has been conducted during the thesis, and the results obtained so far. The second part is passed when the student thesis is approved by the two supervisors, and a final presentation has been successfully made. The learning outcomes for the student are the following:

  • Conduct sound scientific research according to a predefined plan,
  • Contribute to the scientific body of knowledge,
  • Critically review the research and its plan,
  • Give a convincing presentation about the work, and
  • Write a scientific report about the conducted research.

The grade of Phase 2 will take into account the following artifacts

  • The thesis report
  • The final presentation
  • For grades of 8 or above, a scientific paper based on the thesis’ results is required

The grade is calculated using the criteria defined by the graduate school of natural sciences.

Cum-laude graduation. To obtain cum-laude, Phase 2 should obtain a grade of at least 8.5 .

Delays. The student will receive a grade after 8 months since the beginning of the entire project. In special cases, when students have achieved all the ILOs, the graduation can take place before the 8 months. For retake rules, see the delay protocol at the end of this page. For an MBI thesis, the maximum grade for a retake is 8.0.

When approaching the finalization of the thesis and the scientific paper (i.e, when the supervisors think so!), it is time to wrap up the project and graduate.

  1. Set date for graduation: both supervisors should agree on the date, including the time.
  2. Ask for MBI Colloquium EC: obtain 4 EC for the MBI colloquium by sending a message to the MBI colloquium coordinator 
  3. Arrange room and beamer: send an e-mail to the department's secretaries to arrange for a room and a beamer, if not included in the room, where the defense will take place. Please make sure to include the time, date, name of the thesis, supervisor, and the number of expected attendees.
  4. Deliver printed copies of the thesis to the supervisors: at least one week before the defense; this is compulsory, unless the supervisors explicitly say they don't want the printed copies.
  5. Thesis defense: the student gives a presentation of 25 minutes, followed by a question-and-answer session that typically lasts about 15-20 minutes. A grade will be decided and probably announced afterwards. For the grading of your graduation project, please send a digital assessment form with your personal details and thesis title to the supervisor at least two days before the defense. Please use this template attendance list for keeping the attendance in your defence session and send it to the MBI colloquium coordinator after the defence. The last signature of the attendance list should be the signature of your first supervisor.
  6. Publish thesis to "Osiris Scripties": Website
  7. Graduation ceremony: an official ceremony, held in the Academiegebouw in Domplein, where the diplomas are handed out. The dates are available here

MBI Colloquium

The MBI Colloquium is a bi-weekly meeting in which students interact about their thesis progress. A colloquium meeting typically lasts two hours and consists of two or three  student presentations. Participation in the MBI Colloquium is one of the requirements to graduate from the MBI program. Exceptions to participation are granted to students who are conducting their thesis abroad.

To pass the course, you need to have 11 tokens in total. You need to attend and actively participate in at least 8 colloquium sessions  (3 tokens can both be colloquium sessions or theses defences of other students), in which you will give one presentation about your thesis project (after finishing  the first phase of the thesis). In the same session, you will be the discussant for another presenter. For the discussant role, you will receive the long proposal of the presenter beforehand. You are expected to prepare 1-2 slides about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) regarding the research project of the presenter. The discussant role will be assigned to you by default. You are expected to participate in the discussions and also provide feedback to the presenters using the feedback forms.

Please note that the student can fail the presentation. The lecturers attending the colloquium determine whether a presentation is sufficient. If not, the presentation needs to be re-attempted.

To receive regular reminders about the colloquium, please subscribe to our mailing list. There is also an Outlook  Calendar (MBICalendar) containing all MBI-related events. After finishing phase 1, preferably in between 3 and 7 months of your project,  check the schedule from the colloquium calendar when you are ready to present, get approval from your supervisor for a possible date, and send a request to the MBI Colloquium coordinator (currently, Bilge Yigit Ozkan). This request should include the names of your MBI supervisors, a worktitle and your long proposal (in pdf format) attached, with your first supervisor in CC. Any request not including the aforementioned information will not be processed by the MBI colloquium coordinator. The presentation cannot be scheduled sooner than 2 weeks after receiving the long proposal. The session registration closes two weeks before the session. This will provide enough time for the discussants to prepare for their presentations.

You can also collect tokens by attending the thesis defences in the MBI program. You can see the schedule of the defences in the MBICalendar. You need to make sure your name is on the attendance list for the thesis defence. You can get at most 3 tokens by attending the defences.

If you are a student defending your thesis, please use this template attendance list for keeping the attendance in your defence session and send it to the MBI colloquium coordinator after the defence. The last signature of the attendance list should be the signature of your first supervisor. The attendees in your defence will be able to get tokens for the MBI colloquium.

Intended learning outcomes. A student who successfully attends the course can:

  1. Clearly present his or her research work to an audience of junior and senior researchers in information science
  2. Orally contribute to the scientific discussion after the presentation of a topic in information science, by acting as a discussant or by making questions
  3. Provide to-the-point written feedback about an oral presentation

When you have made your presentation and collected the participation tokens, contact the MBI Colloquium coordinator by communicating your name and student ID to get your ECs registered.

Presenting at the colloquium is required after finishing the first phase of the MBI thesis (between month 3 and 7). You will have at most 15 minutes for your exposition, and the presentation will be about the problem, research questions, research method, and the study of the literature. The presentation can be given only if the student has passed the first phase of the thesis (and it is registered in Osiris Zaak), after the first supervisor has explicitly given the student permission to present, and if (s)he has approved the slides two days ahead of the colloquium.

After the presentation, there will be 5 to 10 minutes for the discussion to take place:

  1. The discussant presents his SWOT slide (see later) and discusses the paper
  2. Follow-up discussion takes place including the entire audience

In the same session you will be presenting, you will also be the discussant for another presenter.

For the discussant role, you will receive the long proposal of the presenter beforehand. You are expected to prepare 1-2 slides about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) regarding the research project of the presenter. You will discuss your findings in 3-5 minutes trying to engage the audience in the discussion.

You can use the following template to do your SWOT analysis. Read the long proposal and try to identity the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for the problem statement, the research question, the research method and the literature study. The format to use to present your finding is up to you.

    Problem statement Research questions Research method Literature study
Internal Strengths        
Weaknesses        
External Opportunities        
Threats        

The discussant role will be assigned to you by default. If you’re scheduled as the first speaker, you will be the discussant for the third speaker. If you’re the second speaker, you will be the discussant for the first speaker. If you’re the third speaker, you will be the discussant for the second speaker.

There is also a bi-weekly O&I research colloquium, where staff members of the MBI programme present their research. Students interested in the research of staff members are invited to attend these meetings. The research colloquium also takes place every two Mondays, and its schedule alternates with the regular thesis colloquium – in a Monday with no thesis colloquium there is (usually) a research colloquium. The calendar shown in this page also details the schedule of the O&I research colloquium.

Further information

Edge cases

What happens when a student gets an insufficient result after part 2, even after the retake? The student has to start a new project from scratch.

Part-time thesis

The MBI programme is full-time. As such, thesis projects should not be seen as a side project next to a part time job, for the duration is defined based on a full-time basis. Professors are entitled to reject a student's request for them to be a supervisor, if the student wants to finish a graduation project next to a job.

Scope

It is highly recommended that the scope of the final thesis project fits the interests of the lecturers from the department. For an overview, either check the websites of the group members, or KonJoin. Note that internships offered by companies do not automatically constitute a thesis topic; an internship without a supervisor is not a thesis..

Admission

In principle, admission to start the final thesis project officially is permitted when all courses are passed and is confirmed by the (likely) supervisor of the student, after the supervisor has approved the short proposal. Exceptions can be granted when only one course is pending and close to completion; however, expectations are left to the discretion of the MBI programme coordinator.

Doing your thesis outside the Netherlands

It is possible for highly-motivated students that aim at high-quality projects to conduct their thesis outside the Netherlands, either at a company or in a university. Students who intend to spend time abroad are welcome. The same rules on the quality of the project and the availability of a first supervisor apply to projects abroad too. A supervisor may decline to serve as supervisor for a project abroad, whenever (s)he finds the risk of project failure too high. Students doing their thesis abroad are exempted from attending the MBI colloquium.

What is a bad time to apply for an internship?

Summer is a bad time: generally people are on holidays throughout July and August, slowing down the process by a month or two. If interested in starting in September, please contact companies in May or June.

 

Within all Master's programmes one or more research projects are mandatory. Please see ‘Study programme’ for general information on such projects in your curriculum. In many cases, a research project may be carried out outside of the university, in the form of an internship at a company, research institute, or another university. This can be in the Netherlands as well as abroad (see also: ‘study abroad’). 

You are required to apply for approval of your research project by submitting a request via OSIRIS Student. Please select ‘My Cases’, ‘Start Case’ and then ‘Research Project GSNS’. Important: in order to apply completely and correctly, you must have discussed the project setup with your intended project supervisor beforehand! We advise you to study the request form previous to discussing it with your supervisor, or fill it out together, to make sure you obtain all of the information required.

After submitting your request, it will be forwarded to your master’s programme coordinator, the board of examiners and student affairs for checks and approvals. After approval of your project it will be automatically registered in OSIRIS. If something needs to be amended, you will be notified by email. Please DO NOT register yourself in OSIRIS for the relevant research project courses. You will be automatically registered upon approval of the Research Application Form.

  • Please note that this protocol (English version) applies when a project is delayed
  • In case of a project or internship outside of Utrecht University, please make sure you fill out the Work Placement Agreement in OSIRIS Student / my cases. This agreement will be available for filling out in OSIRIS Student/My Cases after you have submitted your initial request for research project approval
  • Only for students that have started their research project prior to 1 November 2018 (GMTE), prior to 15 April 2019 (MBIM/AINM) and prior to 17 October 2019 (COSC): your project supervisor will fill out the assessment form part 1 at the end of the first part of your project, and the assessment form part 2 at the end of the second part of your project and hand it in at the Science Student Desk (in pdf) in order to have your grade registered in OSIRIS. (For all other students the assessment is done in OSIRIS Docent and the paper forms cannot be accepted anymore).