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Writing - Thesis Guide for MA students: Helpful Tips

From those who've been there...

TIP #1: Choose a topic you enjoy or that fills a practical need so that you do not lose interest and motivation as the research progresses. Discuss your topic ideas with professors, classmates, and others who will give you constructive feedback.

TIP #2: Work with your advisor to schedule regular meetings. You will be accountable for completing certain tasks by those meeting dates, and your advisor can plan his/her time to read and give you a timely response.  

TIP #3: Set a realistic research/writing schedule given your other obligations and STICK TO IT. Start writing BEFORE you finish researching. The research will continue as you write. If you want a customized research paper planner, try this timeline tool from Baylor:

TIP #4: Before you type your first word, have a backup plan in place. Be sure to save the thesis in at least two places every time you edit your work, preferably one on-site and one off-site. Suggestions for backing up your work:

TIP #5: Organize your sources as you go. Whether in print or electronic format, have a system in place to keep track of all sources, notes, drafts, etc. Relatedly, use a consistent naming convention when saving different versions: ch1_v1, ch1_v2 or thesis02.10.19, thesis02.17.19, etc. You might like to see how your thought and writing progress over time. Or you may regret having deleted something!

TIP #6: Learn to use technology to your advantage from the beginning. Get familiar with Microsoft Word styles and templates and Zotero citation management software now and practice using them in your course papers as well as your thesis drafts. The librarians are here to help you with these tools so please ask for assistance. We also have a limited seat subscription to Grammarly Premium - please contact Connie if you would like to get access! Feel free to use other technology; however, the librarians may not be as knowledgeable about them. 

TIP #7: While your advisor will help you with your thesis statement, outline, etc., they will not act as editors and proofreaders. Enlist friends, relatives, or classmates to act as readers, editors, and proofreaders to give you constructive comments. Get feedback chapter by chapter to make it more manageable.

TIP #8: If you need a super detailed system on HOW to get the thesis done, we recommend Hacking the Thesis