Thesis reflexes are unconscious or barely conscious actions during the Bachelor's or Master's Thesis. They can waste a lot of time because they distract from the actual goal: a compelling text with a storyline, scientific substance and a real personal contribution.
The following tips help to prevent thesis reflexes. These tips can save days or even weeks of time.
Thesis-Reflex 1: Immediately run to the library and look for literature
Writing a Bachelor's or Master's Thesis is inevitably connected with a visit to the library. Implementing this as the first step does not sound wrong at first, but watch out: Before each visit to the library you should think carefully about what you want to find there and also where you can find it. After all, it can be very time-consuming and inefficient if you have to spend time searching for the correct literature first. At that rate you’ll spend a whole day in the library looking for sources rather than working on your thesis.
So resist the reflex to go to the library immediately and do the following: Invest time in online searches in electronic catalogs like Google Scholar. Searching on the internet saves time and energy. Besides, hardly any library will have all the books you need anyway. So if you do your research beforehand, you can save yourself the disillusionment of knowing that your library only has a few suitable sources.
Thesis-Reflex 2: Start by reading books for three weeks
After the literature is collected, you can read for a few days or even weeks. It gives you a good feeling - after all, you are reading something thematically appropriate and you are learning something actively.
However, you should always read with one goal in mind. The question of your bachelor's or master's Thesis should be clear so reading will only require a matter of days.
Thesis Reflex 3: Copy old theses on the topic page by page
Old theses can be helpful when writing your own thesis. Using them as a source of inspiration is not prohibited. However, you should resist the reflex to largely adopt the contents of old projects for the obvious reason: danger of plagiarism! Furthermore, in case of doubt, old theses are only a compilation of content from even older theses - keyword "old bones".
So it is better, safer and above all faster if you clarify your focus first and concentrate on your work instead of aimlessly copying old works.
Thesis-Reflex 4: Enter complete word groups in the search field
The more words you enter, the fewer results you will find.
A cautious approach is better:
- Define your terms.
- Search the first sources using these terms.
- Form groups of words.
Thesis-Reflex 5: Write 15 pages of theory
After the literature has been sifted through, you’ll want to have something on paper. This is understandable but can take a lot of time and may not be so useful afterwards. One trick is: Limit writing on the basics to three days. That way you can move on to your analysis and your personal contribution. This saves time and earns points in the evaluation.
Thesis-Reflex 6: Show the first outline to your supervisor
Your supervisor may be able to tell you what he likes and what he doesn't like so you will know right away where you stand. But this reflex has two risks: If your outline is chaotic, you will not make a good first impression. As a result, you will feel less motivated and question everything.
Or your supervisor thinks it’s okay so you do too. He thinks that this is just the first draft so you will change a lot. The final version will look different… This lulls you into a sense of security and makes you feel insecure later when you realize that the outline was not useful. You can't contact your supervisor too frequently for consultation...
- Thoroughly edit your outline. Use our template in the topic trip.
- Leave the draft outline for a day or two.
- Make an appointment with your supervisor.
- Revise your outline again before the appointment.
- Take notes during your meeting.
- Send the revised version to your supervisor for approval.
Thesis-Reflex 7: Constantly searching sources for quotations
Constantly skimming sources for quotations can prevent you from quickly completing your bachelor's or master's thesis. When you have a rhythm to writing ("flow"), you should always try not to be pulled out of it. Try our turbo writing technique and write five pages per day!
Thesis-Reflex 8: Incorporating all found sources into the text
Always work in a goal-oriented manner and therefore only write what really makes sense and is necessary.
- Now that I've already spent time searching...
- The supervisor agreed that my sources were good.
- Copies cost money too.
- BUT only keep what’s relevant.
- Anything that isn’t necessary to your analysis should be left out.
Thesis Reflex 9: Ask supervisors about every little issue
You shouldn’t contact your supervisor too often. Asking about every little issue gives a bad impression. Some supervisors might also lower your grades. If you incorporate his or her input too much, it becomes less of your own work...
Of course, it is fine to schedule consultations with your supervisor or professor - that's why they are there. But it’s better to collect your questions and ask them all at once instead of following your reflexes and asking your supervisor things all the time.
Thesis-Reflex 10: Constantly revise written material
Does the following scenario look familiar to you? You write five pages, read them 10 times, decide you aren’t happy with them then revise them again and again and again... You will never finish your thesis this way!
Constantly revising your text wastes time and energy and it makes you feel insecure.
- Make an outline that includes all chapters through to the end.
- Learn the Turbo writing technique from Aristolo.
- Write five pages every day.
Three tips to prevent thesis reflexes and finish the thesis faster:
- Clearly formulate the topic, research question and goal at the beginning. Do the 10-minute topic trip.
- Write a detailed proposal following Aristolo's thesis guide and give yourself enough time to do so. You will find a template in the Thesis Starter Package.
- Acquire analysis methods and writing techniques BEFORE you start writing.
Good luck writing your text!
Silvio and the Aristolo Team
PS: Check out the Thesis-ABC and the Thesis Guide for writing a bachelor or master thesis in 31 days.