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If you merely aim "to have the whole thing done by [some distant date]", you can deceive yourself and procrastinate more easily. If you have told your adviser that you will deliver a first draft of chapter 3 on Wednesday, it focuses your attention. You may want to make your timetable into a chart with items that you can check off as you have finished them. This is particularly useful towards the end of the thesis when you find there will be quite a few loose ends here and there. Iterative solution Whenever you sit down to write, it is very important to write something.

So write something, even if it is just a set of notes or a few paragraphs of text that you would never show to anyone else. It would be nice if clear, precise prose leapt easily from the keyboard, but it usually does not. Most of us find it easier, however, to improve something that is already written than to produce text from nothing. So put down a draft as rough as you like for your own purposes, then clean it up for your adviser to read.

Word-processors are wonderful in this regard: in the first draft you do not have to start at the beginning, you can leave gaps, you can put in little notes to yourself, and then you can clean it all up later. Your adviser will expect to read each chapter in draft form. Do not be upset if a chapter — especially the first one you write — returns covered in red ink or its electronic equivalent. Scientific writing is a difficult art, and it takes a while to learn.

As a consequence, there will be many ways in which your first draft can be improved. So take a positive attitude to all the scribbles with which your adviser decorates your text: each comment tells you a way in which you can make your thesis better. As you write your thesis, your scientific writing is almost certain to improve. Even for native speakers of English who write very well in other styles, one notices an enormous improvement in the first drafts from the first to the last chapter written.

The process of writing the thesis is like a course in scientific writing, and in that sense each chapter is like an assignment in which you are taught, but not assessed. Remember, only the final draft is assessed: the more comments your adviser adds to first or second draft, the better. If you have any characteristic grammatical failings, check for them. What is a thesis?

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Your thesis is a research report. The report concerns a problem or series of problems in your area of research and it should describe what was known about it previously, what you did towards solving it, what you think your results mean, and where or how further progress in the field can be made. Do not carry over your ideas from undergraduate assessment: a thesis is not an answer to an assignment question.

One important difference is this: the reader of an assignment is usually the one who has set it. The readers of a thesis do not know what the "answer" is. If the thesis is for a PhD, the university requires that it make an original contribution to human knowledge: your research must discover something hitherto unknown. Obviously your examiners will read the thesis.

They will be experts in the general field of your thesis but, on the exact topic of your thesis, you are the world expert. Keep this in mind: you should write to make the topic clear to a reader who has not spent most of the last three years thinking about it. Your thesis will also be used as a scientific report and consulted by future workers in your laboratory who will want to know, in detail, what you did. Theses are occasionally consulted by people from other institutions, and the library sends microfilm versions if requested yes, still.

More commonly theses are now stored in an entirely digital form. These may be stored as. The advantage is that your thesis can be consulted much more easily by researchers around the world. See e. Australian digital thesis project for the digital availability of research theses. Write with these possibilities in mind. It is often helpful to have someone other than your adviser s read some sections of the thesis, particularly the introduction and conclusion chapters. It may also be appropriate to ask other members of staff to read some sections of the thesis which they may find relevant or of interest, as they may be able to make valuable contributions.

In either case, only give them revised versions, so that they do not waste time correcting your grammar, spelling, poor construction or presentation. The short answer is: rather more than for a scientific paper. Once your thesis has been assessed and your friends have read the first three pages, the only further readers are likely to be people who are seriously doing research in just that area. For example, a future research student might be pursuing the same research and be interested to find out exactly what you did. Where's the circuit diagram? I'll look up her thesis. I'll have to look up his thesis.

I'll order a microfilm of that thesis they cited in their paper. By the way, the intelligible annotation of programs is about as frequent as porcine aviation, but it is far more desirable. You wrote that line of code for a reason: at the end of the line explain what the reason is.

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Make it clear what is yours If you use a result, observation or generalisation that is not your own, you must usually state where in the scientific literature that result is reported. The only exceptions are cases where every researcher in the field already knows it: dynamics equations need not be followed by a citation of Newton, circuit analysis does not need a reference to Kirchoff.

The importance of this practice in science is that it allows the reader to verify your starting position. Physics in particular is said to be a vertical science: results are built upon results which in turn are built upon results etc. Good referencing allows us to check the foundations of your additions to the structure of knowledge in the discipline, or at least to trace them back to a level which we judge to be reliable.

Good referencing also tells the reader which parts of the thesis are descriptions of previous knowledge and which parts are your additions to that knowledge. In a thesis, written for the general reader who has little familiarity with the literature of the field, this should be especially clear. It may seem tempting to leave out a reference in the hope that a reader will think that a nice idea or an nice bit of analysis is yours.

I advise against this gamble. The reader will probably think: "What a nice idea — I wonder if it's original? The reader can probably find out via the net or the library. If you are writing in the passive voice, you must be more careful about attribution than if you are writing in the active voice. Style The text must be clear. Good grammar and thoughtful writing will make the thesis easier to read. Scientific writing has to be a little formal — more formal than this text.

Native English speakers should remember that scientific English is an international language. Slang and informal writing will be harder for a non-native speaker to understand. Short, simple phrases and words are often better than long ones. Some politicians use "at this point in time" instead of "now" precisely because it takes longer to convey the same meaning.

They do not care about elegance or efficient communication. You should. On the other hand, there will be times when you need a complicated sentence because the idea is complicated. If your primary statement requires several qualifications, each of these may need a subordinate clause: "When [qualification], and where [proviso], and if [condition] then [statement]". Some lengthy technical words will also be necessary in many theses, particularly in fields like biochemistry.

Top Tips When Writing Your Postgraduate Thesis or Dissertation

Do not sacrifice accuracy for the sake of brevity. An advertising copy writer would love it. The longer example would be fine in a physics thesis because English speaking physicists will not have trouble with the words. A physicist who did not know all of those words would probably be glad to remedy the lacuna either from the context or by consulting a dictionary. Sometimes it is easier to present information and arguments as a series of numbered points, rather than as one or more long and awkward paragraphs.

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A list of points is usually easier to write. You should be careful not to use this presentation too much: your thesis must be a connected, convincing argument, not just a list of facts and observations. One important stylistic choice is between the active voice and passive voice. The active voice "I measured the frequency The passive voice "The frequency was measured If you use the passive voice, be especially wary of dangling participles. For example, the sentence "After considering all of these possible materials, plutonium was selected" implicitly attributes consciousness to plutonium.


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This choice is a question of taste: I prefer the active because it is clearer, more logical and makes attribution simple. The only arguments I have ever heard for avoiding the active voice in a thesis are i many theses are written in the passive voice, and ii some very polite people find the use of "I" immodest. Use the first person singular, not plural, when reporting work that you did yourself: the editorial 'we' may suggest that you had help beyond that listed in your acknowledgments, or it may suggest that you are trying to share any blame.

On the other hand, retain plural verbs for "data": "data" is the plural of "datum", and lots of scientists like to preserve the distinction. Just say to yourself "one datum is.. Presentation There is no need for a thesis to be a masterpiece of desk-top publishing. Your time can be more productively spent improving the content than the appearance.

In many cases, a reasonably neat diagram can be drawn by hand faster than with a graphics package, and you can scan it if you want an electronic version. Either is usually satisfactory. A one bit i. While talking about the size of files, we should mention that photographs look pretty but take up a lot of memory. There's another important difference, too. The photographer thought about the camera angle and the focus etc. The person who drew the schematic diagram thought about what components ought to be depicted and the way in which the components of the system interacted with each other.

So the numerically small information content of the line drawing may be much more useful information than that in a photograph. Another note about figures and photographs. In the digital version of your thesis, do not save ordinary photographs or other illustrations as bitmaps, because these take up a lot of memory and are therefore very slow to transfer.

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Nearly all graphics packages allow you to save in compressed format as. In vector graphics as used for drawings , compression is usually unnecessary. In general, students spend too much time on diagrams — time that could have been spent on examining the arguments, making the explanations clearer, thinking more about the significance and checking for errors in the algebra.

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The reason, of course, is that drawing is easier than thinking. I do not think that there is a strong correlation either way between length and quality. There is no need to leave big gaps to make the thesis thicker. Readers will not appreciate large amounts of vague or unnecessary text. Approaching the end A deadline is very useful in some ways. You must hand in the thesis, even if you think that you need one more draft of that chapter, or someone else's comments on this section, or some other refinement. If you do not have a deadline, or if you are thinking about postponing it, please take note of this: A thesis is a very large work.

It cannot be made perfect in a finite time. There will inevitably be things in it that you could have done better. There will be inevitably be some typos. Indeed, by some law related to Murphy's, you will discover one when you first flip open the bound copy. No matter how much you reflect and how many times you proof read it, there will be some things that could be improved. There is no point hoping that the examiners will not notice: many examiners feel obliged to find some examples of improvements if not outright errors just to show how thoroughly they have read it.

So set yourself a deadline and stick to it. Make it as good as you can in that time, and then hand it in! In retrospect, there was an advantage in writing a thesis in the days before word processors, spelling checkers and typing programs. Students often paid a typist to produce the final draft and could only afford to do that once. How many copies? Talk to your adviser about this. As well as those for the examiners, the university libraries and yourself, you should make some distribution copies.

These copies should be sent to other researchers who are working in your field so that: they can discover what marvellous work you have been doing before it appears in journals; they can look up the fine details of methods and results that will or have been published more briefly elsewhere; they can realise what an excellent researcher you are. This realisation could be useful if a post- doctoral position were available in their labs. Even having your name in their bookcases might be an advantage. Whatever the University's policy on single or double-sided copies, the distribution copies could be double-sided paper, or digital, so that forests and postage accounts are not excessively depleted by the exercise.

Your adviser might also help by funding the copies and postage if they are not covered by your scholarship. A CD with your thesis will be cheaper than a paper copy. You don't have to burn them all yourself: companies make multiple copies for several dollars a copy. The following comment comes from Marilyn Ball of the Australian National University in Canberra: "When I finished writing my thesis, a postdoc wisely told me to give a copy to my parents.

I would never have thought of doing that as I just couldn't imagine what they would do with it. I'm very glad to have taken that advice as my parents really appreciated receiving a copy and proudly displayed it for years. My mother never finished high school and my father worked with trucks - he fixed 'em, built 'em, drove 'em, sold 'em and junked 'em. Nevertheless, they enjoyed having a copy of my thesis. This may be bad for your physical and mental health. Typing Set up your chair and computer properly. The Health Service, professional keyboard users or perhaps even the school safety officer will be able to supply charts showing recommended relative heights, healthy postures and also exercises that you should do if you spend a lot of time at the keyboard.

These last are worthwhile insurance: you do not want the extra hassle of back or neck pain. Try to intersperse long sessions of typing with other tasks, such as reading, drawing, calculating, thinking or doing research. If you do not touch type, you should learn to do so for the sake of your neck as well as for productivity.

There are several good software packages that teach touch typing interactively. If you use one for say 30 minutes a day for a couple of weeks, you will be able to touch type. By the time you finish the thesis, you will be able to touch type quickly and accurately and your six hour investment will have paid for itself. Be careful not to use the typing exercises as a displacement activity.

Exercise Do not give up exercise for the interim. Lack of exercise makes you feel bad, and you do not need anything else making you feel bad while writing a thesis. How about walking to work and home again? Walk part of the way if your home is distant. Many people opine that a walk helps them think, or clears the head.

You may find that an occasional stroll improves your productivity. Food Do not forget to eat, and make an effort to eat healthy food. You should not lose fitness or risk illness at this critical time. Exercise is good for keeping you appetite at a healthy level. I know that you have little time for cooking, but keep a supply of fresh fruit, vegetables and bread.


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It takes less time to make a sandwich than to go to the local fast food outlet, and you will feel better afterwards. Drugs Thesis writers have a long tradition of using coffee as a stimulant and alcohol and, in the old days, marijuana. Used in moderation, they do not seem to have ill effects on the quality of thesis produced.

Excesses, however, are obviously counter-productive: several espressi and you will be buzzing too much to sit down and work; several drinks at night will slow you down next day. Others Other people will be sympathetic, but do not take them for granted. Spouses, lovers, family and friends should not be undervalued. Spend some time with them and, when you do, have a good time. Do not spend your time together complaining about your thesis: they already resent the thesis because it is keeping you away from them.

If you can find another student writing a thesis, then you may find it therapeutic to complain to each other about advisers and difficulties. Coda Keep going — you're nearly there! Most PhDs will admit that there were times when we thought about reasons for not finishing. But it would be crazy to give up at the writing stage, after years of work on the research, and it would be something to regret for a long time. Writing a thesis is tough work. One anonymous post doctoral researcher told me: "You should tell everyone that it's going to be unpleasant, that it will mess up their lives, that they will have to give up their friends and their social lives for a while.

It's a tough period for almost every student. It is also an important rite of passage and the satisfaction you will feel afterwards is wonderful. On behalf of scholars everywhere, I wish you good luck! A suggested thesis structure The list of contents and chapter headings below is appropriate for some theses. In some cases, one or two of them may be irrelevant. Results and Discussion are usually combined in several chapters of a thesis. Think about the plan of chapters and decide what is best to report your work. Then make a list, in point form, of what will go in each chapter.

Try to make this rather detailed, so that you end up with a list of points that corresponds to subsections or even to the paragraphs of your thesis. At this stage, think hard about the logic of the presentation: within chapters, it is often possible to present the ideas in different order, and not all arrangements will be equally easy to follow.

If you make a plan of each chapter and section before you sit down to write, the result will probably be clearer and easier to read. It will also be easier to write. In any case, this standard page gives the university library the right to publish the work, possibly by microfilm or other medium. Make sure that you consult that for its formal requirements, as well as this rather informal guide.

Declaration Check the wording required by your institution, and whether there is a standard form. Many universities require something like: "I hereby declare that this submission is my own work and that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, it contains no material previously published or written by another person nor material which to a substantial extent has been accepted for the award of any other degree or diploma of the university or other institute of higher learning, except where due acknowledgment has been made in the text.

Abstract Of all your thesis, this part will be the most widely published and most read because it will be published in Dissertation Abstracts International. It is best written towards the end, but not at the very last minute because you will probably need several drafts. An abstract must be self-contained. Usually they do not contain references. When a reference is necessary, its details should be included in the text of the abstract. Check the word limit. Remember: even though it appears at the beginning, an abstract is not an introduction. Acknowledgments Most thesis authors put in a page of thanks to those who have helped them in matters scientific, and also indirectly by providing such essentials as food, education, genes, money, help, advice, friendship etc.

If any of your work is collaborative, you should make it quite clear who did which sections. Table of contents The introduction starts on page 1, the earlier pages should have roman numerals. It helps to have the subheadings of each chapter, as well as the chapter titles. Remember that the thesis may be used as a reference in the lab, so it helps to be able to find things easily. Introduction What is the topic and why is it important? Forget about Christmas, Midsommar is the holy day of the year in Sweden! When you read about Sweden and its culture in books, Christmas is often mentioned as the most important day of the year.

After my first Midsommar in Sweden let me tell you something: those are lies! Sweden is a very dark country […]. Master programmes in Sweden will have different regulations when it comes to the Master thesis project. Some of the variations include the number of credits awarded, the period of time for the thesis and the number of people allowed to collaborate.

My 1 year Master programme has a 15 credit thesis that runs for 3 […]. However, living there has taught me better! I love this. I look forward to studying in Sweden hopefully next year and reading your posts has made me ready psychology. I am very grateful. I did my Master at Stockholm University and I was literally the queen of procastination. Five thesis writing tips for procrastinators. Elke 2 years ago. Get your social media under control The least distracted you are, the faster you will be done with thesis writing. Source: giphy.

Mark your agenda — Stalk your supervisors source: PhDcomics. Comments 4. Written by Hazal 2 Jul at Everyday life Social life Swedish cities Swedish culture. Written by Katharina 23 Jun at 6. About me Holidays and occasions Social life Swedish culture Uncategorized. How to choose a Master thesis partner. Written by Concillier 10 Jun at 1. About me Academics How-tos and tips. Written by Katharina 9 Jun at 4. Contact me at elke. Next post Written by Justine. Cheers, Mariela. Leading Management Consulting Firm. Awesome collection,I think this is very helpful for every blog has to need this useful info.