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The aim with this report is through different approaches write a structured and well balanced opposition of the master thesis "Relationship between Consumption Patterns and Waste Composition". The focus with this report was to evaluate the master thesis from different angles and try to analyze as well as interpret the study. To be able to analyze the thesis, reference information from lectures at Royal Institute of Technology were used.
The master thesis has been analyzed in four different sub chapters; introduction and overall consistency, methodology, theoretical framework and results and conclusions.
Calculating the overall grade with use of a grading system the result is an E for the master thesis. When analyzing the different parts in the thesis it is clear that this thesis is at a very low scientific level. One of the reasons why it is hard to pass this thesis is that one of the most important parts failed; theoretical framework with the sources of evidence. Concerning this and that all different parts in the thesis correspond to a low scientific level the overall grade is Fx.
Table of Contents
Aim and Objectives
The aim with this report is through different approaches write a structured and well balanced opposition of the master thesis "Relationship between Consumption Patterns and Waste Composition". A grade for this master thesis will also be delivered based on scientific standards.
Below are the objectives that should make it possible to fulfill the overall aim;
Describe and analyze the introduction and overall consistency of the master thesis.
Describe and analyze used methodology and theoretical framework of the master thesis.
Describe and analyze results and conclusions of the master thesis.
Discuss and analyze the overall master thesis to be able to set an appropriate grade.
This group work report is limited to investigate the master thesis "Relationship between Consumption Patterns and Waste Composition" (Gou, 2009) according to scientific standards.
The focus with this report was to evaluate the master thesis from different angles and try to analyze as well as interpret the study. To be able to analyze the thesis, reference information from lectures at Royal Institute of Technology were used.
Relationship between Consumption Patterns and Waste Composition
The master thesis will be analyzed in four different sub chapters; introduction and overall consistency that will include abstract, aim and objectives, system boundary and overall consistency. The second sub chapter is methodology that will treat methodology, reliability, validity and falsification. Theoretical framework will include used sources of information, references and other sources of evidence. The last chapter is results and conclusions that also will handle discussion and generalization of the study.
Introduction and Overall Consistency
The abstract is the first impression of the thesis, besides cover page, and it plays as crucial role to inform the reader both about the aim of the report and present the major results and conclusions of the study. It is also beneficial to explain how the result was achieved and the specific limitations of the report, the system boundary. The author of this thesis confuses the reader immediately as it is mentioned about a purpose of the thesis and this purpose is not exactly the same as within the report. Another point is that it would be better if the author only used an aim in the report and not both aim and purpose, see 3.1.2 below for more details.
In the abstract is it mentioned, in one sentence, about the result of the study but it is not enough information to get a good picture of the result and conclusions in this master thesis. Overall is the abstract to short and not enough informative for a master thesis, it also confuse the reader due to the use of purpose and not a single aim. The missing information about used methodology is not according to scientific standard as the reader needs understanding how the results were achieved.
Aim & Objectives
As discussed above is it a bit confusing for the reader that the author both has a purpose of the thesis and an aim. It would be preferable to only have one aim that would make the scope of the study much more clear and focused. When reading the chapter with aim and objectives it says aims and it is not clear in this thesis if there is only one overall aim or many due to the use of word purpose in the chapter before. Both aim and purpose are in the same time almost similar.
The aim should be challenging and bring science in a specific area a step further, it also should also be interesting for the reader. In one way is the aim of studying waste composition and consumption patterns in a Chinese city interesting as China is a leading nation in the development of our modern society, but to make this thesis even more interesting should the author compared Chinese conditions with for example European or American conditions. It could also be appealing to include the area of waste prevention and a creative discussion around the waste hierarchy as it is increasing in relevance.
For the structure of objectives would it be beneficial to use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant/Recourse and Time-limited). Several of the objectives in the thesis are acceptable as they try to help to achieve the overall aim in a clear way and they also follow SMART to some extent. For example is the author both identifying and analyzing consumption patterns, consumer expenditure, waste composition and the relationship between consumption and waste composition. This is good and builds the basis for a clear understanding of the most important goals to reach the overall aim.
One thing that it not obvious is the relationship between the aim (purpose), objectives and the consumption and waste in the future. In the abstract is the purpose to "predict trend of the waste composition relevant total household consumer expenditure in the future 10 years", but in the aim chapter it says "â€¦identify relationships between waste composition and consumption pattern and predict how it will change in the future". The objective linked to the future is "Prediction of the totalâ€¦in the future 10 years". The research about the future is not clear from the beginning as the purpose and aim are not exactly the same; this is a bit confusing for the reader. But when the reading the full reports it comes clear that the focus is the future 10 year and this is analyzed and discussed in the study.
The information about system boundary is very limited in the thesis. It is not stated in the system boundary chapter that the thesis only focus on analyzing waste and consumption pattern in the Chinese city Jinan, even though it is obvious. Another good system boundary could be to write that the study should focuses on the years 1999 - 2008 for historic data and to focus on predicting the impact for the future 10 years, 2009 - 2018.
A valid point to consider would be to mention that the report focus on municipal solid waste (MSW) as well as stating that it is the household consumption that is analyzed and not companies or other municipal organizations consumption.
It is of great importance that the thesis is written in a stringent way with logical connection from aim and objective to result and conclusions. In this study is there a rather good consistency from abstract to the end of the thesis, were it is clear that the study is about the relationship between consumption and waste generation within the city of Jinan. One problem mentioned before is the use of both purpose as well as aim and also in the middle of the thesis where it is not 100% clear what is theoretical framework, results from own investigations and own analysis. Still is the author rather consistent in the thesis and this is important and makes it easier for the reader and makes the result and conclusions more reliable.
The language and spelling in this master thesis is not at a level that can be expected. This is a problem in all parts of the report and it seems like the author does not have enough language skills to write in a better way. Still is spelling something that must be corrected and also other minor mistakes that make the overall impression low.
In this thesis the author tries to investigate and analyze the relationship between waste consumption and consumption patterns. In order to achieve this goal the author should use some scientific methods. These methods are given in the chapter methodology. The author set the first step defining the relationship between waste consumption and consumption patterns and second step defining the target group to base the research on.
In the methodology section the author has also define the resources that are used in the thesis such as a literature review, search on databases, a field trip to the research region, interviews and two forecasting models. When considering the consistence of choosing methodology with the aims and objectives, it is possible to say that the choice is relevant in relation to objectives. Literature reviews are one of the most important points in a scientific study as well as interviews and observations that are useful since the author tries to find a relationship. In addition, considering the report as a whole, it is possible to say that most of the elements which are declared in the methodology part are used during the study. In that manner, it is possible to say that the report is consistent as a whole except just one element. As we have mentioned above, the author aim to find a relationship and in order to achieve this goal he declares to interview experts in the area. Except the methodology chapter, the author never mentions about the interview again. This is one of the most negative points in the methodology section. It is not possible to find any information about how, where, by whom the interviews were done or in which way this information was used. Besides that the author mentions that the interviews were done with experts, but any feedback is not given about these experts. Another important point is that the questions asked during the interview should be presented.
There are some conflicts in terms of validity and reliability in the study, since it is not possible to find the information above in the thesis. Even though the results of interview have not been used in the end, for example if the author did not find any useful information, it should be a discussion about these uncertainties in the thesis.
The first thing discussed about research methods was if it has been used only quantitative research methods or also some qualitative research methods. Since the author aims to find a quantitative relationship, it is logical to use quantitative data. On the other hand when analyzing the thesis deeper and interpret the result, it is possible to see that the use of only quantitative forecasting methods might lead to different solutions. Since the aim is to find the relationship between waste and consumption patterns the author should study social and cultural issues also. The consumption patterns are also related to population, life styles and consumption behaviors. The author could have evaluated the relationship between these by doing the interviews. Still it is not any information about it which makes it hard to analyze.
In order to check the validity of the thesis, documented evidence has been analyzed and also the trust of the evidence. Unfortunately is it identified that some of the evidence and also results are insufficient. Although nearly all calculations have been presented in the appendix, would it be preferable if the origin of data and final results could be clearer and well documented. Another important part is that the models, which have been used during the study, are not well explained and determined. There should be more detailed introduction of the models and calculations. The given information is not enough for the reader to understand these models. This situation makes it harder for the reader to have a clear opinion about the results and tables that are presented.
Reliability is the ability of a system or method to be applied during other conditions in a time period. That means that in order to understand if these models are reliable or not they should be applicable for another cases. Hence, since it is not presented any information or references about the models and is it hard to see how these models operate and this gives the same problems as for validity. It was not either possible to find other applications for models on the internet but we could not find any. In order to say that it is a reliable study, there should be more detailed information about how data were collected and how the final result has been generated.
Every scientific report should be able to falsify. To be able to do that for this thesis, there is a must to understand all the methods, models or calculations that have been used. They should be clearly documented and declared for the reader. Even though the exact behavior of all models has not been explained, we can still find the basic algorithms of the models. We could say that the main problem of the methodology part is validity and reliability and not the falsification.
It is clear that, in order to test and verify any hypothesis formulated during a research process, the collection of data is of utmost importance. The gathered data will be the evidence that, once analyzed, will corroborate or contradict a hypothesis. In fact, it is just by the evidence collection and analysis that a scientific research process reaches its conclusion. The analysis of the given master thesis, regarding the evidence gathering, points out some doubtful approaches used by the author. These are exposed below.
Sources of Evidence
All statistical evidence collected in this work was apparently taken from Chinese government agencies, in the city of Jinan. This approach leads to some potential mistakes:
a) Since all the websites are in Chinese language, it does not show much transparency when analyzing the methods utilized for those agencies to collect the data.
b) According to Wennersten (2010) is it important to have several kinds of references when gathering data. Using this approach, looking through different independent sources, will it be possible to check the evidence reliability, which is not the case in the analyzed thesis.
However, it is important to state that due to the high specificity of this study, there are possible very few data available on the subject, which could explain the massive utilization of the Chinese government numbers.
Another mistake regarding evidence is concerning the evidence referring. It is stated in the work that the sources used in the thesis were: 'literature review in the relevant fields, searches in databases from waste management organization and on the web, a field trip to Jinan, interviews with experts and researches, and two models.
Even though stated, it is impossible to track this information since almost no references in the text exposing which evidence was taken from which source. In other words it is not possible to determine if certain evidence is collected from for example interviews or from literature review.
Additionally to the lack of references within the thesis text, the author does not utilize the Harvard referencing system, which is indicated for Royal Institute of Technology thesis works. In fact the referencing system used does not follow any known system.
Results and Conclusions
The results and conclusions for the waste generation patterns in the future and the methods used in this research are related to the aim and the objectives posted for this project. The final results are generated thru a model that uses real life variables and recorded information from the past, which gives some degree of insecurity and decreases the reliability of the final outcome. The models that are used to calculate the available data and generate the final predicted results for the future are not complete and take into account insufficient number of criteria for the calculations. Therefore the predictions generated with the models are discussible, because a lot of important social and financial parameters were not considered in the calculations. The origin of the information used in this project and the parameters established for generation in the models either do not have sources or originate from source that is very difficult to verify what makes the results lose part of their credibility. The results from the models are very sensitive and changes in the daily data about the waste composition in the city can produce completely different output for the predictions. Although in this project most of the used data oscillates in numbers depending of the social status of the population, it has a constant growth for all of the population. The results that are generated with the used methods are very weak, in a sense that they can be easily changed in the future with the change of some social, economical or environmental standard in the society. Even with available data about the generation of the waste from different social levels in the society it is very difficult to predict the future waste composition in the city by using only mass flow or material parameters.
Although, the discussion and conclusion in this thesis have good connection with the pre established objectives, analyze of those parts revealed several important things that are lacking and that makes them incomplete. First thing is that there is mixing of the structure and content of the parts in the report for this project. There is a lot of information for the discussion that can be found in the methodology part. The consequence of this is that discussion and the conclusion parts are short and that they do not include sufficient explanations about the methods used and the results that are generated with those methods. Also there are not clearly posted conclusions, because of the short explanation, but also because there are a lot of grammar mistakes and misspellings that makes this part hard to understand.
It is important to mention that the study takes place in a specific geographical location and in special social conditions and therefore the use of these results in different studies on other locations should be taken with precautions. This is because the results and patterns regarding the increase of waste amounts can be similar in different countries; there can be big differences in the composition of the waste and the percentage of different waste fractions in the total amount.
Taking into account that the aim for this thesis is analyzing the complex connection between consumption patterns and waste composition, the whole thesis represents good initial effort into simplifying the complexity of connection and providing with information that will help more complex and profound research projects for that area in the future. There is a basic rule when any kind of project is being prepared. At the beginning of the project with creating the aims and objectives for the project, you are deciding what kind of results you will get in the end of the project. So, the final opinion is that, although they are not formulated well, the results produced with this research are related with the objectives and correspond with the effort of the author to accomplish the aims created at the beginning of this project.
Grading of the Master Thesis
The analysis of the master thesis in this report was divided into four chapters and that will also the chapter of grading be. To be able to set an overall grade the individual grades will be: A=5, B=4, C=3, D=2, E=1 and F=0. The calculation of overall grade will be: (Introduction and Overall Consistency Grade + Methodology Grade + Theoretical Framework Grade + Results and Conclusion Grade)/4 = Overall Grade.
Introduction and Overall Consistency
In general is the introduction rather okay, but still is it not at a level that should be for a master thesis at Royal Institute of Technology. The abstract is weak and the introduction is not very scientific. The structure for aim and objectives is quite good, especially the objectives. The overall consistency is rather okay but the English language used in the thesis is at very low level, as well as spelling and finish. The grade is D=2.
The chapter is too limited and has not enough information about the used methodology. The author just describes a part of how he has worked to get the result, for example would it be preferable to illustrate into more detail. But even more severe is the missing information in the study about the field trip and interviews that was mentioned in the methodology chapter. The main problem that is severe is the validity and reliability of the study. The grade is E=1.
To write about waste and the link to consumption is interesting, especially in China, but the information used in this master thesis is very hard to verify. When analyzing both sources of evidence and referencing system it is clear that this thesis is not ready to pass, it is at too low scientific level and it is not following Royal Institute of Technology standards. The grade is F=0.
Results and Conclusions
The positive part of this chapter is the use of graphs but they are still not perfect. It would be preferable to have better title and description of the different axis as well as clear information what graphs shows. The major mistake in results, discussion and conclusion is the missing transparency of what is the authors own results, own opinion and conclusions, this is severe mistakes. But the author still answers the research questions in a decent way. The grade is E=1.
Calculating the overall grade; (2+1+0+1)/4=1 which results in an E according to the grading system. When analyzing the different parts in the thesis it is clear that this thesis is at a very low scientific level. One of the reasons why it is hard to pass this thesis is that one of the most important parts failed; theoretical framework with the sources of evidence. Concerning this and that all different parts in the thesis correspond to a low scientific level the overall grade is Fx.
The master thesis both describes and analyzes an interesting topic and also has some scientific qualities, this is why it would be beneficial for the author to improve some areas to be able to get a grade E.
References - The references needs to be written according to Harvard referencing system and it would be preferable to have a greater variety of sources of references.
Better report structure - To increase the level of readability and reliability of the report and make it more stringent would it be preferable to separate chapter 4 to 7 in a better way. It should be 100% clear what is theory, result and what is discussion.
Discussion - To search and present theories in a specific research area is not very demanding, but to make a creative discussion that is both deep and broad is a challenge that should be included in a master thesis at Royal Institute of Technology.
Transparence of models - The used models in the thesis is not as transparent as expected, for example the Gray model need to be described better for the reader of the thesis.
Spelling and other minor mistakes - The language, spelling and other visual mistakes need to be corrected. Graphs and charts should be illustrated in a consistent way.