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Writing a Thesis


Students may find writing theses challenging, even daunting; whether or not the degree program has involved a great amount of writing, the writing process at times presents obstacles that seem insurmountable. The conscientious student prepares for those times and follows some simple strategies to get through them.

First, the student should conduct more research than initially seems necessary; a worthy goal is to perform twice as much research as one will need to fill the thesis. This practice will allow the student to omit material that during the writing process seems extraneous, nonsensical, or overly arcane, and the ability to choose not to include some material can provide the student with a psychological boost through the doldrums of the writing process. Moreover, the student who performs too much research can freely exercise a choice over that research regarding what is viable or relevant and what is not, which results in a much stronger thesis.

Second, students who are writing theses should move steadily through the project, creating and meeting personal deadlines. For example, the student should set dates to conclude the bulk of the project's research, to finish writing each chapter, and to complete a series of revisions. These personal deadlines will relieve the student's stress to meet external deadlines by not allowing the work to amass overwhelmingly.

Third, the student should recognize that writing a thesis is a long process, and it will go much more slowly than first anticipated. The student should plan to write one or two pages a day over the course of several months; he or she should not wait until the last minute to begin writing and then expect to produce ten pages a day. Academic writing moves at a glacial pace.

Finally, if the student finds that writing a thesis occasionally presents crushing difficulties or causes unbearable anxiety, the student should feel comfortable taking an evening off from the project. Remarkable things can happen while the brain is resting, and the overworked student may benefit in unexpected ways from curling up with a movie or with some good leisure reading.


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