First, let me say that writing a thesis is hard! I needed to start with that statement because it’s the most important sentence in this blog. I wish someone was that blunt with me before I embarked on my thesis journey. I wish someone would have told me that writing a thesis or dissertation is nothing like the research papers you produced during undergrad.
A thesis is a beast of its own, but with a few tips and strategies, it is manageable. In the end, you will have your publication to declare yourself an author and future author of many other publications.
Do not do as I and approach the thesis as just another research paper for undergrad. Since I wrote a twenty-page paper as my senior capsule, I was cocky to think I could write my thesis in no time and with little preparation. Those who have written a large body of work are probably chuckling as I.
Here are my top five tips that I wish I would have followed when writing my thesis.
1. Find accountability partners.
This tip is the most important of them all. I did have accountability partners throughout writing my thesis. I had friends and family in my ear reminding, asking, and telling me to work on my thesis. Their pestering my have been a little aggravating, but the constant reminder and motivation helped me get it done. I could have gone days and weeks without opening my document.
2. Organize your web tabs.
I’m sure we can all relate to having many website tabs open on our search engines. Uniformly, this is a common habit for any internet user. I suggest to organize your tabs. I urge researchers to follow this tip and prevent yourself from searching through thousands of web pages for that one sentence to use in your research. Some good platforms to use for this are: Mendeley and Zotero.
3. Limit your breaks.
Yes, take a break from your research, but do not stay away for long. Taking a long break from your research can cause a disconnect from the material and make it challenging to get back in the groove of things.
4. Accept that there will be rewrites…a lot of them.
This was the most challenging step throughout my thesis journey. I can recall having a Thesis FinalFinal-6.0 saved in my documents folder. If I had accepted that the first draft is not the final draft and neither is the second, I could have mentally prepared for the number of rewrites that occurred.
5. Get feedback early.
I’m sure this is the step that saved me from pushing my graduation back for one more semester. Here’s a quick rundown of how I handled this step: First, my thesis needed to be submitted by April to in order to graduate in May. The semester started at the end of January. I submitted my FinalFinal 6.0 draft to my committee on February 1st. Ultimately, I gave myself an entire month to communicate with my committee to get the changes and edits finished in time. Remember, your project is not the only one your readers are assisting with. Shoutout to my accountability partner for creating this game plan!
Finally, the end! After countless hours at Barnes and Noble and Panera Bread. My thesis is complete. Now I feel ready to tackle my dissertation for my Ph.D.; no time soon, of course. But I am more confident and prepared for the journey.
Writing my thesis was hard, but I prevailed because I was designed to, and so are you!
You can do this!