5 foolproof tips for completing your master’s thesis on time

Desk
I have really been enjoying working on my master’s thesis. It’s only been a few weeks since we started, but I wanted to share some tips that have really helped me make progress on it so far:
  1. Set an ambitious, but realistic time plan: This is my number one piece of advice. I keep a detailed thesis plan in Trello. Not only did I write out a broad timeline with important dates and deadlines, but I also have sections for daily to-dos and for recording questions as they arise. Each day, looking at that daily to-do list keeps me focused. When designing a timeline, I encourage budgeting in extra time so that you have a cushion if things don’t go according to plan. Also, if you do manage to complete your goals ahead of schedule, you can always conduct more analyses, polish your writing, or even start to work on a potential article if you plan to publish your thesis.
  2. Establish a daily schedule and stick with it: It doesn’t really matter what time of day you choose to work on your thesis; you know best when your most productive hours of the day are. In my opinion, the most important thing is consistency. For me, that means being at my desk ready to work by 9 at the latest.
  3. Find a dedicated workplace: I was one of the lucky students who was given a workspace in my advisor’s research group. This is an ideal scenario for several reasons. Importantly, it is free from distractions, not to mention that it is essential for keeping the data I am using secure. Additionally, the thesis period can be isolating, so working within a group is a huge plus. Even if you’re alone for most of the day, it’s nice to interact with other people during fika or lunch.
  4. Keep track of what you’ve read: I’m so glad that a student from the year above me mentioned this: make sure to write down at least a line or two about each paper you read. She suggested making a list of papers using a table in Excel. Personally, I keep track of all of my literature in Zotero as I mentioned in this post; this not only allows me to write notes about each paper, but is also an enormous aid when it comes to citations.
  5. Ask others to comment on your work: Besides having your advisor read your drafts, it may be helpful to ask a friend or colleague to look at your work periodically. Ideally, ask a variety of people to review what you’ve done so that you have a set of fresh eyes and different perspectives.

4 thoughts on “5 foolproof tips for completing your master’s thesis on time

  1. Great post! Thanks
    Fortunately, I have applied many of your recommendation except seeing other people. I prefer to work at home 😦 Working at KI campus for my thesis has not really contributed to my project nor to my social interaction (is my fault, no other’s).
    Regarding the 4th point, right now I have listed 114 refrences I have read. Not all of them are useful and not all the useful ones will be included in the final document. But it is important to tack them and to know why they are useful and why not. I also created a 6 points scale about usefullness for my work from “no doubt to be included” to “Not related at all with the topic, not interesting at all”. Last days I have been in the process of finalizing the short list, highlightin citations and re reading parts from the first I read with differnt eyes.
    Another recommendation could be to have a diary, a log book. You can check and find thoughts you had and now they are valuable.
    Ah! and backup your work and your source files at least daily, better if you se dropbox, onedrive or other service on the cloud. If you have written notes, backup them also (pictures with your phone could be enough).
    This comment is almost as long as a post 🙂

    1. Those are some really great points! I think working at home can also work really well, especially if you have a quiet corner to yourself. It’s also a wonderful option if it saves commuting time. I really like the idea of rating literature using a six point scale regarding usefulness. I can imagine that it has really come in handy in retrieving the right papers for your thesis. The diary is also a great idea because you can quickly recap what you did if you are meeting with your advisor or need to explain your process in writing. Anyway, these are all great tips – maybe you should consider writing them in a follow-up post about additional tips from your perspective!

    1. Thanks so much, and I’m glad you thought some of these tips were useful. It’s a great idea to use Trello for all kinds of assignments – I’ll have to try that as well!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s