The Thesis from start to finish
A Master thesis sounds intimidating for some whilst interesting for others. The crux of the matter is that the level of enjoyment you will get from a thesis mostly comes from yourself. In this article I will elaborate on my experience and how I think you can write a better and experience a more enjoyable thesis process.
You might be wondering why enjoyment is mentioned twice in the introduction. The reason for this is that I have written 3 Bachelor theses for 3 internships and am currently writing my Master thesis and the number one reason I have seen people quit or feel depressed about a thesis is the subject. Therefore I would like to stress the importance of a suitable subject, because it will not only determine your research direction but also the amount of gratification you’ll get for doing it. So to explain it even further: before the thesis proposal you’ll have to think about the subject of your thesis. I personally have 2 strategies for picking a subject: finding the right company or finding the right course.
If you find a company which you are interested in then you are likely to feel better no matter what the subject of your thesis will be. On the other hand, if you find a good subject you will most likely have enough enthusiasm during the thesis process. The latter is done by either randomly stumbling on a subject or by finding your favorite course and using the material or methodology of that course for your subject. As an example I provide my own thesis: I liked the courses supply chain modeling and supply chain management science; using these I decided to use simulation software for my thesis. As of this moment you might feel inspired or internally suggesting I am writing some mumbo jumbo, no matter what you are ready for the next step.
At this moment you will have no idea what to expect. The expectations of the university are clear but meager and even though you have had the course research skills, you don’t really know what to use. Don’t worry, everyone feels this way. The key you need to remember is the actual use of the proposal; while it is used to check your capabilities, its other use is to select a fitting supervisor. So download that syllabus, open that preliminary proposal sheet and follow the instructions to the dot. You’ll be looking to write anything from 5-7 pages, remember that even though you might not have an exact idea about what your thesis will look like, you must have a plan. It is exactly this plan that you will write down.
So listen up: your introduction will have to be solid as it is the game changer, make it short and concise so maybe 1 page and remember to make it appealing as people need to feel they want to read it. Set your problem statement as well as your research questions along the lines of what’s proposed in the research skills course. Lastly, your methodology will be the most extensive part of the proposal. This part will be about the purpose of your research questions, how to answer them, what data you need and what the final output will look like. Write down your sources correctly, either by using the reference tab in the newest Word version, remember to custom add volume and issues, or by using another type of software to keep tabs on the used references. That should be all for your proposal!
I will not write anything substantial about the thesis itself, you ought to understand that every thesis is different. However, there are still some general tips you could use. The first one is mostly important for people doing their thesis at a company but is applicable to all: mind your audience. Writing a complicated 30 pages literature review is not only not allowed due to word limitations but also makes it hard to understand for your readers. Secondly, take the reader by the hand. You’ll have to create a certain flow in your writing that no one doubts, if you e.g. suddenly change subjects then people will be surprised, look back and ask questions which is not beneficial for you. Thirdly, you have a supervisor who wants to help, use that opportunity to get the feedback you need. Lastly, give it some you. Your thesis will most likely get a higher mark if it contains some of your own opinion especially if that opinion is rather refreshing.
Go on and do that thesis, give it your all but remember to choose something interesting. The more interesting your thesis will be, the more you’ll enjoy it and the longer it will last. If you have any questions about the thesis itself then don’t hesitate to ask!