One of the strongest instincts we have is the desire to learn new things about the
world we live in. In fact, through our entire life we never stop learning new things.
This has been crucial for our survival, but it also stimulates our curiosity. Very
young children learn by copying the behaviour of others. Learning is later extended
to acquiring knowledge through other modes of communication, e.g. through
books, lectures and labs. One of the primary goals of academic training is to learn
how to learn, i.e. to learn how to continuously absorb new knowledge. This is
increasingly important in rapidly changing areas such as computer science and
information systems. The process of exploring the unknown, studying and learning
new things, building new knowledge about things that no one has understood before
– that is what we think of as performing research. Undertaking a thesis project is
one step towards an increased understanding of how to study, how to learn about
complex phenomena, and towards learning how to build new knowledge about the
world around us.
A thesis project is a capstone in undergraduate and graduate education, and as
such, it builds and tests the skills and knowledge acquired during your education
and training to become professionals. The thesis project is different from a tradi-
tional course in several ways; in its size, in its goals, in the form of examination, in
the form of supervision and in the form of communication (personal dialogue, as
opposed to lectures). A project represents a significantly larger workload than a
single course. While traditional courses include lectures and lab work, where the
focus is on acquiring knowledge in a specific subject area, the thesis project focuses
on deepening your understanding of a subject. But above all, it should give you
training in carrying out projects independently, at an advanced level, using a sound
This introductory chapter sets the scene for the book, discusses the characteris-
tics of thesis projects, and explains how best to use this book in order to complete
your project successfully.
M. Berndtsson et al. (eds.),
Planning and Implementing your Computing Project - with Success!
© Springer 2008