Let’s play a word-association game. Choosing a topic, problem statement, “How to write a thesis tips”, despair, changing the topic, panic, central phenomena, litreview, panic, procrastination, APA, interview, academic writing, inspiration, findings… Yes, all of these things and even more are about a journey that every graduate student has to go through.
Writing a thesis is both daunting and rewarding experience. In my case, and I think, in case of most of my group mates, it is challenging in terms of holding job obligations and thesis writing together. Both responsibilities require high concentration, time and energy consumption, and you cannot sacrifice thesis interests to work, and vice versa. Conclusion? Thesis is a huge work that requires all idle moments of your life. Yes, and time. Entering Master’s Degree and writing my thesis made me appreciate every minute of my life.
However, it is extremely gratifying to gain colossal practice while conducting research, and what is more, I have noticed some changes in myself, like developing this habit of putting “pop-up ideas” on the paper immediately they come to my mind, or, being judgmental and critical to opinions and searching for another side of the coin. I believe that it is research that is leaving an imprint on the way of our thinking and behaviour. Conclusion: for a long life-learner, the research is a mine of information as while doing research you get more and more skills and knowledge.
During this journey I have faced several challenges climbing up every step of my research and I have worked out my own understanding and tips I wish I had known before. First, it is certainly experiencing a culture shock in a new territory. To get an idea “Where am I?” and “What to do with it?”, I started reading tips by graduate students who went through all fire and water. Looking at all those tips made me feel even worse as the number one tip always told about starting it earlier. For left-it-to-the-last-minute type of student, who also works full-time, it seems to be sarcasm but not an advice. Conclusion: the best word of advice you can get from your Research Advisors who are masters at their craft.
Then… How can I know whether enough literature I reviewed or not? My research Advisor once told me that, in fact, in academic world we never stop reading literature as every researcher should be aware of the latest studies conducted by their colleagues, or just to be aware of what is happening in the field of your research. Yes, it is true. However, I still believe that there should be a way of prioritizing literature. The thing is that it is practically impossible to read all the articles published. To illustrate, one credible search engine like Taylor & Francis provides me with more than 8 000 peer-reviewed articles on my topic, and if I read at least 5 a day, I will need more than 4 years to go through all of them. Conclusion: do not try to read everything that search engine offers to you but rationally select what to read. In our circumstances, for students who aim to submit thesis on time, there should be a dead-end point where you stop adding new concepts and try concentrating on what you already have to shape your paper.
And I want to conclude my blog post with great words by great person, a physicist and the developer of the theory of relativity Albert Einstein: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer”. This is true about writing your thesis. It is not that pivotal to be know-it-all, it is just how much time and care you devote to your paper and how passionate and enthusiastic you are about it.
p.s. The photo was taken by me and posted upon approval of the model)