The Challenge of Writing a ThesisTuesday, May 18th, 2010
Writing a thesis is hard but also rewarding
You are almost finishing your studies and now you realize that you still have a lot ahead: it is time to start thinking about your thesis. When should you begin? Is it too early yet? Or, on the contrary, you have already wasted valuable months? Many students agree that the best moment to begin (at least, with preliminary reading) is during the summer before their senior year, and then work all year long on the project. And that is because writing a thesis is a long process that sometimes feels way too long and even pointless!
But don’t give up before you start. You will success if you manage to organize yourself, find an interesting topic and focus on the big picture. After all, isn’t it all about getting your degree?
How much time shall I spend working?
Students and graduates who have already finished writing a thesis report that most of the job is reading and researching, and advice others to start writing even as you read, at least taking some notes or writing short summaries. While the research alone can take a hole term, another term should be spent in writing. Reserve an extra term for editing and proofreading, since these things take a lot more time for a thesis than for essays. Your thesis advisor can provide you some help organizing your timetables.
What exactly is involved in writing a thesis?
Before they even start researching, most students think of a thesis as only a more extended research paper. While it is, of course, much larger in size than anything you have written before, the concept of thesis is quite more complex than its amount of pages. With your thesis, you are actually producing new relevant knowledge within your discipline, and not just comparing what others have said before (even when you are, of course, expected to use and quote several sources). However, the writing process is not so different as for shorter research papers. A long as you learn to organize and handle a bigger amount of research material, and you take your time and do not try to rush into the whole process, you’ll do fine.
Why is writing a thesis so frustrating?
Mostly because it takes a lot of time. If you find annoying proofreading a five-paragraph essay a couple of times before handing it in, think about correcting for the third time a small graphic in page 46 of your thesis and just forgetting what is it all about. Besides, the fact that students are supposed to write a thesis on their senior year makes them experience it as a burden. Even if you are following the schedule, you will feel you are not done with it until you have finished it (and sometimes, not even then!).
On the other hand, writing a thesis is also a very rewarding experience, especially because of the challenge it represents and the satisfaction you will experiment once you are finally done.