Recently I defended my thesis for a master's degree in computer engineering, and internal reviewers marked it satisfactory, however, they made some comments in my report and presentation, one of them was to include the technical contribution of my research in the thesis report and presentation.

I found this comment very serious, and I couldn't get any idea on how to work around on those issues.

My research was related to some intervention on online learning (here I have used the techniques that are available through literature review) and it is based upon the use of popular psychological theory.

I used statistical methods to analyze the results. I have collected the data through a self-reported survey questionnaire. Results obtained were also somehow satisfactory(findings somehow deviated from the existing findings).

I also develop a tool to visualize the activity of the student interaction in that online learning, and which I consider as one of the contributions.

With all these things done, I am still confused about the problem of identifying my "technical contribution".

My Questions are:

What should I report as my technical contribution? How should I approach myself to identify my technical contribution? Actually, what is considered a technical contribution?

I know I need to consult my supervisor for this, but he will definitely ask the same question to me, and I will not have any answer for that.

Any help would be appreciated and thanks in advance.

  • 2
    What new engineering knowledge did you add to the literature? Basically, what's new. What did you find? Oct 19, 2020 at 4:39
  • I have used an existing theoretical model that has been implemented in different domains and used that same model in my domain with some changes in variables and factors. And I have tested that model and got the result out of that. And I extended the duration of the experiment up to 16 weeks and the experiment was done in a real learning context (which was not done in previous research). And the results of that previous finding did not match with the finding I have obtained.
    – Rasik
    Oct 19, 2020 at 4:44
  • 1
    seems trivial. This like saying I'll now show 1+1=2 works if I replace the symbol '1' with an 'apple'. Oct 19, 2020 at 5:31
  • @Prof.SantaClaus, I am stuck now, Isn't demonstrating the concept of integrating the various elements in the real learning context, and observing the long term effects, by using the existing theoretical model and validating the model not considered as my finding?
    – Rasik
    Oct 19, 2020 at 5:37
  • 1
    Do your thesis regulations actually mention that your contribution must be technical? Otherwise, you can argue that the type of your contribution is different. You make an empirical contribution towards deepening the knowledge about online learning (based on certain, established methodologies). Oct 19, 2020 at 8:45

1 Answer 1


This is a late answer and possibly moot now, but I'll guess that whoever wrote that was concerned that your field is engineering but your contributions are more likely to be pedagogy. Perhaps they were looking for some engineering contribution and, not finding it (or finding in insufficient) made the comment. But it seems not to be a blocking comment as you were passed.

But a "technical contribution" can be to pedagogy as well. How does your thesis contribute to the learning of engineering or some such thing. In particular, since you used an existing model, how does what you did differ in the application from what was known in other domains?

It is just possible, of course, that your results could have been expected from what was known, in which case there is little technical contribution at all. If it was otherwise sufficient, then you have done well, but it is something to keep in mind for any future academic work that you might do. Editors and reviewers of scholarly papers may be more insistent on how "innovative" a contribution is than would be an MS defense committee.

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