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Architecture: Thesis Preparation

This guide presents resources on various aspects of architecture including history, theory, design and technology.

Introduction

In an article in the July 24 1974 issue of Architect's Journal, Jeremy Baker talks about the student thesis as a way of providing students with "greater awareness of the world." Library research can help to provide the framework as well as set the boundaries for the design project.  Good research techniques can make the process both expedient and enjoyable.

Writing Your Thesis

Books on Reserve at ARR

Writing Built Environment Dissertations and Projects:  Call Number TH 213 .5 F37 2017

Peter Farrell with Fred Sherratt and Alan Richardson

The Journey to Dissertation Success: Call Number NA 2500 L387 2016

Elizabeth Laycock, Tim Howarth and Paul Watson

Research Methods for Architecture: Call Number NA 2000 L83 2016 

Ray Lucas

Architectural Research Methods: Call Number NA 2000 G76 2013

David Wang, Linda N. Groat

Guidelines for starting your thesis, courtesy of UC Berkeley

Harvard Guide to Using Sources

Harvard Guide to Using Sources: The Harvard Guide to Using Sources is an easily accessible introductory guide to use of sources. It includes tips for students on finding, choosing, and integrating reliable sources into academic writing. The Guide provides examples of MLA, APA, and Chicago styles of citation and includes information on avoiding plagiarism.

Thesis Organization

  1. Introduction
  2. Motivation
  3. Objectives, Scope and Limitations
  4. Description of the research
  5. Conclusions/Summary of the work
  6. List of Case studies
  7. List of references/literature case studies for thesis research work
  8. Identification of the project site

Past Thesis and Thesis Prep Books

The Libraries maintains online documentation of past Super Jury award winners and other theses receiving a B+ or better grade.  They are available on SURFACE, the Syracuse University database of scholarly works, by searching for "School of Architecture Theses."

Click Here for an easy link to the list of available theses.

Library Services

 Off-desk Consultations- Students are encouraged to make appointments with Barbara Opar and/or other subject librarians as appropriate.  You may contact Barbara by email at baopar@syr.edu or at 443-3518 (ARR) preferably, 443-2905 (452 Bird Library). For assistance in other subject areas see the following list of subject specialists.

Special orders-  The Library may be able to order new architecture books or other materials to assist you. If you have specific requests, contact Barbara.

Extended loan period- Thesis and thesis prep. students are given graduate status in terms of library circulation privileges. Stack books circulate for one year. See Barbara for details or special requests.

InterLibrary Loan-  ILL obtains materials (books, periodical articles) not available within the Syracuse Libraries system. ILL requests may be submitted online using the appropriate form found online at Inter Library Loan.  Periodical articles will be made available electronically. Books will be delivered to Bird Library or Carnegie Library. Services are free of charge. To submit a book request, it is suggested that you use WorldCat to locate the citation. To submit a periodical article request, it is suggested that you use the SU links tab on the specific database citation page. 

Sample thesis prep books- Select (B+ and above) books are available through the Library's institutional repository, SURFACE.

Citation guidance- RefWorks (Databases tab) is one of the many sources available for proper formatting of your bibliography and notes.

General Guidelines

 

Familiarize yourself with your topic.  Be sure you are able to answer the following questions before beginning your research:
Take a journalistic approach to gathering information.
Who?
What?
Where?
When?
Why?
How?
Gather background information about your topic using reference sources.  
 Reference books provide important information on a topic, include specific details, and point to other useful sources of information. They point the way into the core literature of a topic contained in books, journals, reports, and many other types of publications. They can also summarize, digest, or review the literature on a topic in ways that save you time and energy.
Knowing the reference sources in your discipline can increase the efficiency of your searches by enabling you to better focus your questions.
Be sure to evaluate the kinds of sources you are using.  Review your print sources and pay special attention to Internet sources.
Read the source carefully.  Note organizational differences between tools. Not all works are comprehensive in scope.
Be creative
Try alternative and related headings to locate the information you need. If your initial search is so broad that you have too many sources, then narrow your search. If your search brings back too few sources, then broaden the search, using more general terms.

 

The Search Plan

Define the topic.

Determine the component parts.  If the topic is fairly broad, start with the narrowest concept.  If your topic is very narrow, begin your research using broad terms.

Gear your searching to the resource. For example, when searching subject specific periodical databases, use terms the least common to the discipline.

Review your results and refine your search as necessary.  Broaden the terms if you need more information. Narrow the terms to limit the amount of information retrieved.

Synthesize the information. Determine if and what additional information is needed.

Actively seek out alternative views as a way of testing your theory.

Begin your research in the architectural literature.

 

Search Strategies

Familiarize yourself with your topic before beginning your research . This will save time later. This includes determining the appropriate search terms to use. Include synonyms and related terms.

Modify your search as necessary, including searching related resources or additional databases not as closely linked to your subject. These sources may include relevant information.

Know the nature and parameters of the reference tool(s) you are searching.  Certain reference works only cover particular time periods or may not be comprehensive in scope. For instance, most online databases begin their coverage in the 1970s-80s.

Make the fullest use possible of reference tools, including bibliographies and footnotes which can lead you to other sources.

Read the source carefully. Note organizational differences between tools.

Be creative. Try alternative and related headings to locate the information you need.