Imagine you’re on the phone with the students office: "Can I take 4 exams instead of writing the thesis? I'd rather..." Answer: "I'm afraid that's not possible. "According to the university’s rules, you must write a scientific paper..." What a pity...
You might think, "I can't write!" You might even say it (which is not to your benefit because predictions often come true...) The good news is: That's not true at all! You have been familiar with most of the techniques of academic writing for a long time. Please go through the following list. (By the way, you can construct your bachelor’s or master’s thesis the same way as an exam, see technique 2).
Technique 1: Make a plan and check tasks off!
Set your goal (deadline), define your tasks (when, what, where from, where to, how), get a solid start and before you know it, you’ll be checking off completed tasks. You can finish your bachelor’s or master’s thesis in 31 days...
Technique 2: Ask and answer questions, like you would for an exam.
Construct your thesis the same way you would construct your answers to exam questions. Begin with the research question or key question. Then work your way through the details and into the micro questions.
Questions have many advantages:
- Questions spark curiosity
- They activate the thinking.
- Questions motivate people to search for answers.
- They fill a blank page with text.
- Questions provide a path you can follow.
- Start with the W questions: who, what, en, where, how, why etc. Then move to the specific questions with the word "which," for example:
- What features do chocolate lovers have in common?
- What is the connection between chocolate consumption and learning motivation of students?
- What patterns can be seen in the data?
- What factors influence the choice by a student?
Questions help you find your focus and get the topic under control right from the start. The best way to learn is to ask the right questions because there are rules for formulating questions in academic writing. Remember the old days. When we were kids, we asked questions every five minutes... We learned to hate questions in school only...
Technique 3: Evaluate sources correctly.
Scientific work has a lot to do with source work. With millions upon millions of books and magazine articles, you can get lost in this jungle without proper planning.
The questions, the research question or the leading question, of the work will help you evaluate the sources. They direct your attention to the content you need to find in the sources. Different techniques are required to work efficiently with sources... You already did this for your exams when you had to find appropriate sources like notes, scripts or documents from the tutor and evaluate them for the exam... Just do that again.
Technique 4: Scientific work means omitting the superfluous.
Omission is very important in academic writing. This saves time and energy and preserves motivation. The focus on what is important incorporates the right results into the work.
You are probably already very familiar with omissions from taking exams. We had to focus on learning the important things for the next exam only… So we left out content.
Technique 5: Learn to use iterations for your academic writing.
This is a well known technique that comes from software development. The basic idea is to develop and test a software then go through the code again from the beginning and improve it. This can also be called a loop.
At first glance, loops seem to be a waste of time and energy. However, tasks are often so complex that we have no choice but to do loops. It works best if you follow this approach of iteration consciously so expect from the get-go that you will have to work in loops. Revision is NOT a duplication of work! It's just improving something that could not have been done so well before. Iteration is the only way.
One example is the survey of the state of research. XXXX After you have evaluated most of the studies, (You don't have to read ALL of them!!! Just extract the essence of the texts. See Literature Review.) you will have an overview and can classify some of the first studies correctly. The consistent inclusion of iterations saves you from a lot of frustration and errors. It is the only way to create a solid foundation for further work. Make a design and continue working on it until it fits.
This is also a technique that you are familiar with but probably under the name IMPROVE. However, it has always been viewed as annoying and unwelcome. Try to look at it from a different perspective: as an idea - design - test - improvement and again from the beginning. The result is excellence!
Technique 6: Apply the appropriate methods for academic writing
Scientific work works best when accompanied by special methods. By this we mean instruments and aids with which certain problems can be solved. These include, for example, statistical methods, survey methods, evaluation methods, thinking methods, measuring methods, calculation methods, etc.
The right methods lead to the goal. Wrong methods create a lot of extra work and lead you astray. The challenge now is to select the most suitable methods from the many different possibilities. This requires experience, but also the willingness to understand the methods beforehand. This is because we are usually so polarized that we prefer to try things before reading the operating instructions. When working scientifically, previous experience with the methods and their possibilities can save a lot of time. So, figure out how to find and apply the appropriate methods first. The Thesis Guide describes many methods in detail.
Of course, you are already familiar with this technique from your daily life. It always helps to have the right tools for a certain task...
Technique 7: Testing and evaluation is academic research.
There is quite a lot to check and evaluate when conducting academic research. Sources need to be checked, the data must be to be checked in addition to the methods, previous findings, models and much more.
In everyday life you also have to try a lot, which usually works quite well. But even then, mistakes can be made from time to time. We need the right assessment criteria for checking and evaluating the thesis. You can learn that.
Technique 8: Train systematic thinking for academic research.
Researchers study systems. These systems exist independently of us, whether we understand them or not. We do not (yet) understand most of it anyway.
Systematizing means applying the collected information into the right context. The aim is to provide an overview. This method includes sorting, structuring, assigning, eliminating, grouping, etc.
You’ve already done quite a bit of systematization in various areas of your life, from learning material for exams to shopping and even cooking...
Technique 9: Learn to analyse really well.
Analyses play a central role in academic writing. An analysis is the mental or actual decomposition of an object of investigation into its individual components which are then carefully considered. Their relationships with each other are also examined. The result of an analysis can give you an exact overview of the object under investigation.
You have also done thousands of analyses in your everyday life. However, in most academic writing, they must be done much more carefully and according to certain rules. They also must be documented. Learn the procedures of analysis.
Technique 10: Setting and planning goals is part of academic writing.
A goal is a definite planned state. The more clearly this state is defined, the greater the chances of success and the less effort is required to reach this state. Typical goals in academic writing are for example overviews of suitable methods or findings or a model.
Ultimately, the aim of academic research is to gain new insight. This requires a plan. Planning means defining steps that lead to the goal.
Obviously your practical experience with goal setting and planning is an advantage. But you should not spend too much time planning because then you’ll be more occupied with planning than with completing tasks. Take a look at the techniques against procrastination. They really help!
Technique 11: Recognizing patterns is academic research.
Patterns denote certain conspicuous connections. It is an important aspect of science to look for anomalies. Patterns can be recognized, for example, in behavior or in certain data or organizations. Patterns can be recognized by changing the perspective. A different arrangement can make patterns visible. However, much seems to depend on chance in this case. Focusing on the task at hand will increase the chances...
You have also done tasks like this many times before. The analysis of old exams included evaluations. Is it hard? Will I succeed? This is not a new technique for you.
Technique 12: Learn to build models.
Models are a central instrument in academic writing. Models are illustrations of certain conditions. Typically, models reduce reality to the essential. Models can be graphical, textual or even formal. A table can also be a model. Models make it easier to work. They show connections and also reveal any gaps. In addition, they demonstrate the integration of your thesis to previous research.
When you’re studying for exams, it’s best to take notes and make sketches like mind maps, flow charts or something similar, which are all considered model building.
Technique 13: Careful documentation is academic research.
When conducting academic research, it is important that one's path to knowledge can be traced from start to finish. This requires careful documentation. Each individual step must be described with the appropriate methods, instruments and models used, etc. Only when this condition is fulfilled can another person follow your path of knowledge and confirm the findings.
Since science has to be objective, it is hard to simply stumble on a certain result. Sometimes intuition can help. In this case, however, it is necessary to substantiate the findings. Despite everything, all findings must be connected to the previous knowledge.
Whenever you had to justify a decision or a response, this technique was involved. So probably very often...
Technique 14: Writing and rewriting is academic research.
Scientific work requires the publication of texts in the form of the Bachelor’s thesis, master’s thesis, dissertation or an article or paper for a scientific journal. In addition to gaining knowledge, one must also be in a position to present one's own findings clearly and comprehensively. Above all, you are required to describe what you found and how you proceeded.
This description technique was trained in the first years of school. BUT maybe you are better at talking than you are at writing. So you will have to refine your writing technique a little, but don’t worry, there are techniques such as micro questions for this.
Explore detailed procedures and techniques for good and fast writing of scientific texts in the Thesis Guide.
Good luck writing your text!
Silvio and the Team Aristolo
PS: Check out the Thesis-ABC and the Thesis Guide for writing a bachelor or master thesis in 31 days.