Hey guys! I published my thesis about a month ago and promised to share some tips on how to make thesis writing more enjoyable or at least bearable. I am sharing 10 tips in this post and I hope you find them helpful. Let’s get right into it!
1. Have a schedule
I’m a very big planner so I may be a bit biased when I say this but having a schedule is really important. A Gantt Chart is great for this. Decide on your start and end dates. Have deadlines for when you want to finish certain chapters and choose the perfect time for writing, for you. It is very unlikely that you will always stick to your schedule but having some guidance is necessary.
I understand and know so much about writer’s block. However, you can try and beat this by reading other papers related to your work.
2. Reference other people’s work
Don’t feel shy to get help! I found myself getting stuck on how to go about certain chapters. When this happened, I simply looked up other people’s work to see how they wrote different chapters. Your reference doesn’t always have to be in the same field as yours but if you do find some, that would be a plus. I read a dissertation on the intertextual references that are incorporated into the formation of the fictional world on the Nickelodeon animation Avatar: The Last Airbender simply because I was trying to understand their writing style and get ideas. It was a really good dissertation by the way.
I didn’t know how to go about my acknowledgements so I googled my mom’s dissertation and used it for “inspiration”.
3. Meet your supervisor as often as possible
First of all, I know some supervisors can be a pain to work with so I hope you choose yours wisely.
I used to tell myself that I paid to be able to meet my supervisor and I would make sure I got my money’s worth. I would advise you to make it a point to meet your supervisor before you start writing a new chapter and when you’re done with a chapter. Of course, you can meet as many times as possible in between but try and make those two meetings a must. You can ask about what is expected in a certain chapter and your supervisor can also give you tips on how to go about the chapter. Additionally, you can also go over what you’ve worked on and see if there are any changes to be made. Make sure you take notes in these meetings!
Also, ask whenever you don’t understand something or you need help with something. If your supervisor doesn’t help you, don’t include them in your acknowledgements. (LOL).
4. Set goals for each chapter
I wrote what I expected or hoped to cover in each chapter and would make sure I wrote about everything I planned to write about. I have added some pictures of my (messy) notes to give you an idea of what this looked like for me.
Write down what you need to cover in every chapter and section. This ensures that you don’t leave anything out and also helps you remember what questions you should be answering in each chapter.
5. Start writing!
I took so long to start writing my first chapter, the introduction because I was trying to come up with a killer opening sentence. That was a waste of time. Don’t wait for the perfect sentence or whatever. Just start. You can always go back and edit later. I took so long to start my introduction only for my opening sentence to be what it was.
The ideas come as you write so just start or you may end up waiting forever.
6. Make sure you are using the right grammar
I highly highly recommend using Grammarly. Grammarly is a “cloud-based writing assistant that reviews spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, engagement and delivery mistakes.” Sometimes you can read through something a thousand times and not see any mistakes so let Grammarly do that for you. If you have someone willing to proofread your writing for you, take advantage of that. Also, play around with your words. Don’t play it too safe with your choice of words but make your paper exciting to read.
While I’m recommending AI to help with writing, you can also try Quillbot. Quillbot is a paraphrasing tool. If you are having trouble paraphrasing something you read from a book or website, you can copy and paste the sentence in Quilbot and it will help you with paraphrasing. This reduces your plagiarism count at the end. I didn’t use this for my thesis because I only found out about it after but you could give it a try.
7. Make use of reference managers
Do not leave referencing for the last minute. Chances are you will be using so many references and you don’t want to forget them or forget where you used them. Reference as you write. I used Mendeley to help me with this and I would highly recommend it. Mendeley is a reference manager that generates bibliographies for scholarly articles.” There are many others you could use such as Endnote but I can only vouch for Mendeley.
Some people say referencing as you write interrupts the writing flow. While this may be true, referencing with a reference manager doesn’t take so much time because it generates the bibliography for you. That’s better than spending weeks or even a month trying to find all your references at the end.
8. Make sure your writing flows
At the end of it all, you want to have a cohesive body of work. So make sure the sections flow and when you read a full chapter, it flows. Think of it like story-telling. Make sure it isn’t all over the place. Let each section smoothly introduce you to the next. You may have to move sections around when editing just to make sure it reads well and everything is connected.
You Can Also Read: All About My Thesis Defense
9. Save the introductions for later
Every chapter usually has an introduction. I suggest you leave this for the end when you’re done writing the rest of the chapter. The introduction usually tells you what is in the chapter or the sections. It’s just easier to write when you have everything else.
10. Read and follow the given guidelines
If you have any guidelines given to you for your thesis, such as the font to use, spacing, etc, study those guidelines and if you can, write them in your notebook so that you can constantly check against them as you write. If you don’t follow the guidelines, you may end up printing out your thesis more than once. That is a cost you do not want to incur. Trust me on this. I printed mine twice. A total of 6 copies all because of a silly oversight. It was not cheap.
Those are 10 tips from me! If you have any more tips you would like to share, please leave them in the comments below. As usual, if you have a question, leave it in the comments or contact me privately: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to help.
This is probably the last post I’m sharing related to thesis writing. It has been fun sharing this experience with you.
Thanks for reading!