Over half of the time allotted to thesis writing has already elapsed. Along the way, we’ve had two opportunities to present and review our current progress with the rest of the class: during the project plan seminar and during the half-time seminar.
The first of these seminars, the project plan seminar, took place at the very end of January. As a class, we met in our usual room over a two-day period. As the name suggests, the intent of this event was to present the project plans that we had developed for our theses and then receive feedback from an opponent, the class, and the course leaders. The project plan included details such as a preliminary title, supervisor details, aims, study questions, study relevance, a short background, methods, ethical considerations, a list of key references, and a detailed time plan. As you can imagine, preparing this information before the thesis writing period even began gave us a big head start for when we finally did sit down to begin our projects because a lot of thinking and writing had already occurred. The seminar schedule was conceptualized to allow us to present our project plans on one day and act as an opponent for someone else’s project plan on the other.The half-time seminar, which took place in mid-March, served a similar purpose to the project plan seminar, but was conceived in a different way. Instead of meeting as a class, we met in groups that were roughly divided by thesis subject matter. For the seminar itself, we presented our study aims and questions as well as our preliminary results. In preparation, we read the half-time reports for each group member instead of just one. This measure ensured stronger engagement from the members present and thus usually led to a greater amount of helpful feedback.
Both seminars not only served the purpose of acting as a type of deadline for which we had to prepare and display the progress we had made, but also as an opportunity to receive critical feedback that would guide our work. One thing I’ve learned so far from writing my thesis is that is it easy to become immersed in your line of thought, so I was grateful for the opportunity to present my ideas to others and have my way of thinking challenged. Also, all these presentations are very good practice for the defense and all of the future presentations that I’m sure will lie ahead!