My Experience With Thesis Writing and Original Research

Wow. I’m graduating. It almost doesn’t feel real for a number of different reasons. Obviously, this graduating class is different from any previous class with quarantine and social distancing. But it also feels so weird because I’ve done all of this work and it doesn’t seem like it’s over quite yet? 

Anyway, I guess this is the last article I will write for Her Campus at UMKC. I thought I could impart some “wisdom” for future seniors, however far in the future that may be. 

So, as part of most majors and degree paths, you are required to produce some kind of original research or a thesis in order to showcase the fact that you actually learned something in your field. I had to do this twice. Well, I only had to do it once but chose to do another for the Honors College because I’m a masochist. Anyhow, over the year and a half that I have been writing these two projects, I picked up a couple of tips and tricks that might assist future writers.

  1. 1. Do Not Do It Alone.

    With both of my projects, we were required to take a class with other seniors writing their projects in order to build a community. And let me tell you, that was a huge help. Seeing other students who were going through the same processes and same struggles that I was helped me take a breath. Seeing them succeed made me want to succeed and pushed me to be a better writer and to actually get it all done. I remember at the end of the last semester, all of us graduating thesis writers locked ourselves in a study room for a weekend and just had writing marathons where we would order food and drink. Being able to talk about your thesis with people in the same field as you helps tremendously because they are likely going to be able to give you inspiration and help you work though that one nasty little claim that is on the tip of your tongue but you can’t write down.

  2. 2. Just Write.

    I found that this was, and still is, the hardest part for me. For the thesis that I am still finishing up for the Honors College, I spent a whole year reading, researching and outlining. But when it came time to write this semester, I found myself blocked. I knew what I wanted to say, but nothing sounded right when it came out on paper. However, I found that if I could at least get it typed out in something at least semi-coherent, then it would be pretty easy to go back and edit. Likewise, I found that a lot of the writing wasn’t bad and was stuff I could use. Stream of consciousness writing and writing bursts like 1khr are super helpful for getting ideas out there.

  3. 3. Your Advisor is Your Best Friend.

    If you tried talking with peers and you’ve tried just writing and it still sucks and nothing is happening, talk to your advisor for your project. They are more than likely an expert in the field that you are researching, which is why they’re your advisor in the first place. Schedule a meeting with them, whether it be in person or on Zoom. Sitting down with them and letting them know where you are at is huge because A) they’ve been where you are now before and B) they can probably understand where you are going with your statement or argument and help guide you to what you want to say. Both of my advisors were incredibly helpful in this regard and definitely are the reason my projects even got done.

Producing senior work, whether it be an original research project, a lab or a thesis, is hard work and it’s scary work. You are proving to your school and to yourself that you deserve that degree that you’ve worked so hard for. It definitely isn’t easy, but hopefully with the tips I’ve provided, the weight on your shoulders can be a little less debilitating.