Vol. 2 – Student Guide with Tips & Tricks from Former Students

Read the continuation of the first student guide from the “Tips & Tricks” series, where eight former students share their suggestions and advice regarding thesis writing. Take their hot tips into consideration to smooth your upcoming experience.

Alisa Pleska

We proceed to investigate the most crucial aspects of thesis writing. If you are here and reading this, I believe you read the first part of our student guide called “Vol. 1 – Tips & Tricks from Former Students about Thesis Writing”. There, the interviewed former university students advised on the choice of a thesis topic and a teammate, communication with a supervisor, and your writing routine. Let’s go and learn from others’ mistakes (or successes)! Here you have “Vol. 2 – Student Guide with Tips & Tricks from Former Students about Thesis Writing.”

Excelerate DO NOT Save it for Last!

Let’s start this student guide with this advice: Do not save it for last! They say, “save the best for last.” I hate to burst your bubble, but references, sources, and bibliography are not desserts. However, you will deal with the avalanche of work armed just with a dessertspoon, leaving the reference list for last. Students tend to lessen the needed amount of time to organize all sources correctly. Do not trick yourself with false hopes and take notes from this student guide!

“Begin working on your sources from early on. Use reference management tools like Mendeley”.

Former student
Begin working on your sources and bibliography for your thesis early on
Begin working on your sources and bibliography for your thesis early on. Photo by Fausto Bottini

Importantly, when sources are sorted and done in haste, there is a chance to miss some references. By turn, this is fraught with severe consequences – plagiarism. On the other hand, do not try to fool anyone and prettify your bibliography, expanding it with non-related sources.

“It seems obvious, but be familiar with all the information you include in the thesis. You should be able to clarify and argue about all the material you have in your project. If needed, you should also be able to explain your project in a simplified way.”

Former student

Excelerate Each Body Has a Skeleton

And so does your thesis! Create a plan, structure, framework – name it as you want. Often it might be challenging to write a thesis as at the beginning (and quite often in the middle of the process), it is fragmented. Having some guide in front of your eyes in the form of a possible table of contents can help keep your train of thought on track.

“Start with a ‘bigger picture’: create a structure for your thesis. You might follow a generic structure like IMRaD – introduction, methodology, results, and discussion to create a ‘skeleton’ of your thesis. Under each chapter, put a sentence or two indicating what you intend to write about. This helps create a ‘bird’s-eye’ view of your work, and you will be more ready to start filling the chapters in.”

Former student
Thesis collaboration interview between students and a company representative.
Thesis collaboration interview between students and a company representative. Photo by Fausto Bottini

Importantly, before coming to the backbone of the subject, you need to gain enough understanding of your thesis area. It means that you need to read, research, sift through a pile of articles, and again read. 

“It might seem unproductive, but the first few weeks, or even months, you might not be able to write a few pages every day. Pages count, but what counts more is all the reading you do early in the process.”

Former student

It might take you some time to build a strong foundation for profound text. So, do not have any qualms about empty pages; it is coming.

Excelerate Stay Sane and Carry On

A thesis is the highlight of your education. This one is for all the marbles, but with one condition – you need to stay sane and healthy. Tellingly, in this student guide, all interviewed former university students mentioned the necessity of destruction one way or another.

“Exercise! Yoga practice, a run in the park, or a long walk, will all help to clear your head and prepare you for another day of writing. Stay sane by going for walks in nature – the green color calms us down.”

Former student
Tips and tricks about Thesis Writing - plan
Remember to relax – yoga practice is one of many activities that can help.

More haste, less speed! Do not push your body and state of mind to the breaking point. Try your best to avoid long-term sleep deprivation and stress by organizing your thesis writing routine deliberately. In a word, you are your one and only asset.

“Treat yourself sometimes, it is very important!”

Former student

Excelerate Add some CO-spices

By that, we mean CO-creation, CO-operation, and COllaboration with a relevant company for your thesis. Working with a company on a real case can give you additional motivation and interest. Knowing that your research can amount to usable knowledge and be utilized afterwards sounds exciting!

“Search for a company or organization to collaborate so that you can work on a practical issue.”

Former student

Besides, a company thesis collaboration can help to minimize the discussed above challenges with structure and guidelines. In a best-case scenario, a company will be your faithful ally or trusted adviser. And that is valuable!

“Try associating your project with the real world. This can be in the form of collaborating with a real firm. Presenting clearly to the company what you are working with might catch their interest.”

Former student

Excelerate Balm for the Soul

Lastly, in our student guide – this is not a tip but rather a soothing reminder that all students go through more or less the same experience. You are not the first to procrastinate; find relief in sweets and food; treat yourself for one written paragraph and hope that lighting up candles will set up the right mood. Inhale and exhale. Step-by-step, thought-by-thought, and word-by-word, you will get there!

I hope you found our student guide helpful, or at least comforting. In conclusion of our student guide, read the last tips and tricks from former university students about thesis writing:

“You are still probably going to stay the whole night in the library before handing it in (smile).”

Former student

“Bean me up, sugar! Yes, sugar and caffeine support you when you are tired. Still, try to remember that there is a life after where your body and teeth are still part of yours. Treat yourself with vitamins, some exercise, and sunlight.”

Former student

“It is like high school: when you are in the process, it is all-important and dramatic. Once it is finished, everything is forgotten.”

Former student

“Bear in mind that we are not saving lives; it is sad but true. So, save your energies and nerves!”

Former student

I hope you enjoyed reading both volumes of our student guide! Good luck with thesis writing!