How to write a thesis alone

Are you wondering how it’s like to write a thesis on your own? There is a handful of advantages and disadvantages to doing thesis writing alone and we’re here to enlighten you on the topic. Here is an overview of all the pros and cons.

Katrine Lionett Pedersen

Let’s look into what it’s like to write a thesis alone. As a university student, you have almost certainly tried to work both in groups and alone. And you probably have a preference already. Depending on the workload and type of work, it might be preferable to ride solo, or it might be more convenient to work with others.

We’ve made a list of the pros and cons of how it is to write a thesis alone, which will be continued by another post about thesis writing… in a group. Surprise! For many reasons, it’s sometimes not self-chosen to write a thesis alone. Hence, we have also made a list of solutions for the cons that might be associated with just that. See also tips on how to write a thesis as a group.

The pros and cons of writing an independent thesis

Self-chosen topicLack of academic discussionFind yourself a peer or another study group to discuss with
Time and structure based on own premisesNo one to share thoughts and frustrations with Use your friends, family, or other peers
Self-chosen level of ambitionProcrastinationMake structure and set goals
An attentive supervisorNo distribution of tasksAcknowledge your strengths and weaknesses

The pros of writing a thesis alone

Excelerate Self-chosen Topic

How to write a thesis on your own? When riding solo, the decision-making process might turn out a little easier than when writing in a group. If a particular thesis topic fascinates you, there is no need to agree on someone else’s topic. You can simply go with the flow and choose the topic you truly want to write about. Because thesis and passion should go hand in hand. Also, there might be some methods used for research that you’re more comfortable with than others, which is entirely up to you.

Excelerate Time and Structure Based on your Premises

You’re very flexible with your time when you work alone. Additionally, you don’t have to take into account another person’s busy calendar when setting aside time for thesis writing. Many have a part-time job besides their studies, and in that case, it’s a lot easier to arrange your thesis writing, considering your own schedule solely. In addition, you don’t need to be bothered with work distribution. Maybe you work best under pressure or perform well when you’ve plenty of time on your hands. The good news is that you can do exactly what pleases you without adjusting to another person’s work method. It’s definitely a way of how to write your thesis more efficiently.

Student happy to write his thesis alone
You can decide everything by yourself. Photo by Fausto Bottini

Excelerate Self-chosen Level of Ambition

We all have different expectations of ourselves and what we do. Whether you are aiming for the stars or just want to pass through the eye of the needle, you can decide that all by yourself. You do not have to match your expectations with someone else’s, which gives you the freedom to do as you like. And how to write your thesis as well.

Excelerate An Attentive Supervisor

Although you get fewer supervisor hours granted when you work alone compared to when working in a group, you still have your supervisor’s full attention when consolidating your time with them. There is only a dialogue between you and your supervisor and not an extra person to consider.

The cons of writing a thesis alone

Lack of Academic Discussion Excelerate

On the face of it, you don’t have a partner you can discuss your academic thoughts and doubts with.

If you’re atonished by something you’ve read in an academic article or book, it’s fairly difficult to share your astonishment with anyone. Unless someone else from your studies has read it too. Also, if you end up going around in circles and need a way out, you don’t have the most obvious opportunity to do so. That can be quite frustrating.

Solution: Find yourself a peer or another study group to discuss with

If other peers from your program also work independently on their thesis, reach out to them and use them for academic discussions. Also, you may help each other out when feeling stuck or needing feedback. Other student groups might be interested in helping you on how to write certain parts of your thesis. You just have to reach out to them.

Otherwise, ask your counselor if she/he will be able to discuss with you a bit more frequently.

No One to Share Thoughts and Frustrations With Excelerate

Besides having a need for academic discussions, you’re also a human being who thinks and feels. Not being able to share whatever comes to your mind with anyone can feel quite lonely and/or annoying. You’re not working on your thesis 24/7; nevertheless, it still takes up a lot of your time and energy. In the time spent on your thesis, you’ll need to talk about other non-thesis-related stuff too. But when doing thesis writing alone, it’s rather difficult, as you’ll be spending a lot of your time on your own.

Students spending time together
Spending time with friends is simply the best. Photo by Fausto Bottini

Solution: Use your friends, family, or other peers

But how to write a thesis without making it your entire life? Although your thesis takes up a considerable part of your time, you need to engage in other activities during your thesis writing period. Remember to spend time with your friends and family and share whatever is on your mind with them. If you have a job, use your co-workers for the same purpose. Socialize with people around you, thus your social needs can be pleased. Make arrangements with other university students about sitting together when writing on your theses. In that way, you can feel a sense of belonging. Sometimes, just listening to and being with other people can be just enough to please your social needs. And you can get inspiration on the various ways of how to write your thesis as well.

Procrastination Excelerate

We’re all familiar with the feeling of procrastinating… Maybe because something else came in the way. Or most probably, just because you postpone stuff until the very last minute until there is no way out. When working individually it can, in particular, be easy to postpone things, since you can’t disappoint anyone but yourself. See our guide on how to stop procrastinating.

You don’t have to live up to any expectations, but your own. Nor agreements coming from your non-existent thesis partner. However, there is a lot of work attached to writing a thesis. Especially the data gathering part might turn out to be a little more circumstantial than first expected.

Solution: Create structure and set goals for your thesis

Use your calendar! Allot time for thesis writing and research in your calendar, and do your very best to keep the arrangements. With yourself. Sometimes we miscalculate how time-consuming things are, so don’t be too hard on yourself when you couldn’t complete something within a certain period of time.

Also, set goals. Create an Excel sheet or Word document to create an overview of your time. Hence, you can add agreements with yourself and the goals you’ve set for yourself, simultaneously. A goal can be as simple as: ‘on February 25, I see myself finishing my theory part’. Do whatever works for you!

No Distribution of Tasks Excelerate

You’ve to get around the fact that you have to do everything yourself. You can’t rely on someone else writing parts of your thesis. That’s actually cheating. So don’t do that. To start with, it may seem impossible to get an overview of all the things that need to be included in your thesis, but you’ll, of course, manage. However, we might all have writing parts, which we preferably want to work on. The sad news is that you have to work on everything equally. No one can take the workload from you.

How to write a thesis alone
You have to write everything by yourself. Photo by Fausto Bottini

Solution: Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses

But how to write a thesis alone? Firstly, acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. Most likely, you’ll use more time on some parts of your thesis, and some less, because something is simply easier for you to write. Allot proper time for the parts that are more difficult for you to write. Also, set your standard and your level of ambition with your thesis according to your skills. Be honest with yourself!

So, now you may have a proper idea of how to write a thesis alone if that is what you go with. Remember that you can always sign up on Excelerate to get a thesis collaboration with a company. Hence, you might not feel that alone on your project. The thesis collaboration will enable you to create real solutions for real companies!

We wish you all the best of luck on how to write your thesis alone.