Tips For Writing a Thesis

Writing a thesis can seem daunting because it’s probably the longest paper an undergraduate will ever write. If you’re thinking about writing an undergraduate thesis check out these tips for preparing for and writing a thesis paper!


1. Pick an advisor that works the way you do

Everyone has a different way of approaching big papers: some like to make huge outlines, some like to start writing as soon as possible. Your advisor has preferences when they write papers and they’ll often structure the way they advise you based on that preference. Get to know whether they are more of a hands off advisor who primarily lets you work on your own and just answers your questions or if they’ll be more hands on and help you set deadlines and offer advice without you asking direct questions. Make sure you know any potential advisor’s style so it fits the way you like to work.  


2. Pick a topic you like

Make sure you like your topic because you’re going to be working on it for almost a year. If the topic isn’t something you enjoy you’re going to be miserable by the end of your second semester. You can use classes you’ve enjoyed as inspiration for your topic but think about it carefully. But if you decide that the topic you chose isn’t your favorite, there are opportunities early in the process to change or shift your topic to better suit your interests. You can also talk to your advisor about different topics if you’re struggling between a few or struggling to pick a narrow enough topic.


3. Start researching early

If your thesis starts the first semester of your senior year, try to spend part of the summer before researching the topic you think you want to pursue. Not only will researching in the summer give you a head start before the stress of the semester kicks in but it will also give you some time to figure out if you really like the topic you chose.


4. Set deadlines for yourself

It’s easy to let research and writing fall to the wayside when the final deadline seems far away but doing a little work every week will make a world of difference when there’s a week left before your thesis is due. Give yourself small deadlines every week or two, even if your advisor doesn’t give you deadlines. Setting deadlines will make sure you keep working on your paper and don’t get distracted by your other classes and deadlines.

5. Find a thesis buddy

Some departments assign you someone in your department to keep each other on track but if your department doesn’t do that, find someone else who is writing a thesis. You can keep each other to the deadlines you set yourselves and proofread each other’s papers. Even if you’re in different departments, it’s always good to have a fresh pair of eyes on a paper to find all those little (or big) mistakes you keep overlooking.


These are just a few tips that might help when deciding to write (or beginning to write) a thesis. Good luck!



All images from Giphy