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5 Common Mistakes to Avoid While Writing Your Thesis

phd dissertationA friend of a friend is working on a dissertation. I read a lot about nonfiction genres during the A to Z Challenge, looking at grant writing and nonfiction in general, but I didn’t get into the fine art of writing a dissertation. She covers it well in this post:

Writing a thesis will most likely be the single most complicated academic assignment you are going to work with throughout your career – or, at least, it is going to feel that way, because it is the first assignment of that order of magnitude you will have to write. Taking into account how much depends on your success with it, it pays to go in prepared and learn from the mistakes of others. Here are 5 things you want to avoid when working on your thesis.

1.    Procrastinating

We all know how it goes: you seemingly have months of uninterrupted time to complete your thesis, and it feels as if you have all the time in the world. Certainly, it won’t hurt much if you wait just a single more day before starting, right?

Wrong. Single-day delays tend to accumulate, and before you understand what happened the deadline is a week away with you still being on square one. So start working immediately. Do at least a little work every single day, without exceptions. Understand that you are going to need more time than it feels right now.

2.    Not Sleeping Enough

Lack of sleep is the single most common cause of mistakes, poor results, and other academic problems. Again, it is better to spread your work on your thesis over a longer period of time than to try and pull it off in a couple of all-nighters. The less sleep you get, the more mistakes you make and the poorer is the general quality of your work. If you feel overwhelmed by other, smaller but still very time-consuming tasks, you can always use custom essay help to ease your burden a little.

3.    Relying on a Single Opinion

A thesis is, by definition, a huge assignment that should take into account different approaches and methods of dealing with a problem. By limiting yourself to a single point of view (or a source of information on the topic, or a recommendation on how to tackle the task in general) can lead to a disaster in the long run. It makes mistakes more likely, it decreases your ability to make objective decisions and so on. Using multiple sources of data, preferably from vastly different fields of research, is always preferable.

4.    Choosing a Wrong Topic

There are many ways in which you can doom your entire work at the stage of topic selection. You may choose a topic that is too general and end up with an assignment that is going to take years to properly research, write and organize. Or vice versa, you may choose a too narrow a topic, which will result in a thesis for which it is impossible to find relevant sources. Choosing a topic you know nothing about will cause you to spend an inordinate amount of time researching and makes you more prone to mistakes. In other words, it is better to choose something you are reasonably familiar with, neither too general nor too specialized. Consult your supervisor – in most cases, he will be able to help you make up your mind.

5.    Using Unverified Information

A thesis is a very serious piece of writing – in many ways, it is the first real piece of scientific research you are going to work on. Which means that completely different standards apply to it compared to what you may have been used to. No unverified information. No dubious sources of data.

Writing a thesis is a hard job in and of itself – don’t make it harder on yourself by making obvious mistakes.

More on nonfiction writing:

4 Non-fictions by Indie Authors

Book Review: A Writer’s Coach

Book Review: Einstein: His Life and Universe


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and  Twenty-four DaysShe is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

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56 thoughts on “5 Common Mistakes to Avoid While Writing Your Thesis

  1. Excellent post and true reminders…. Using Unverified Information might be like throwing overboard all efforts. Choosing a good topic is necesarily the best way to keep the thesis flowing… As to the hypothesis or problem-question I´d say it is truly important and we need to try to conclude answering to that “question” (For what I understand usually posed in potential verbal tense). Thank you for sharing dear Jacqui 😀 ⭐ best wishes to you

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  2. Pingback: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid While Writing Your Thesis – SEO

  3. Ugh–yes, you’d BETTER enjoy your topic! I have found as someone who writes on a wide variety of topics that writing is SO much easier when you enjoy the topic. I wrote something about the Blockchain yesterday and it was miserable. Today I wrote about how sunlight helps you avoid depression and it was much more enjoyable.

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  4. I think number 4 is the most important. When we don`t like our topic we waste too much energy and put extra effort just to do the minimum. Sooner or later the lack of interest will affect the quality of our thesis. I finished everything and I am really glad I had something I enjoyed. Number 4 is crucial when it comes to writing. Very useful post 🙂

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  5. This is a great post with excellent advice, Jacqui. I have not written a thesis but I do write non-fiction research publications on the African investment environment. I have written six such great big documents to date and I use between eight and twelve sources of information and my own calculations and interpretations.

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  6. I’d like to second your thought of doing something each day. The writing process includes a number of tasks, research, writing, editing, and getting feed back. Many think that research and writing will take all the time – no editing, and perfecting the document will. You should also find (even pay) some one who can copy edit for you. Poor grammar and typos have killed many a good thesis.

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  7. Writing thesis exige the wide imagination in the field only,and all thing in relation if the thesis must be longer…i think,
    Lavoisier: Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed
    en french languages,comme a dit LAVOISIER; rien ne se perd,rien ne se cree, tout se transform.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Jacqui – relating to what needs to be done is essential – then getting on with it … makes sense and re-evaluating …not going off at a tangent. All so easy to quietly sideline … writing for your audience – target that particular project … cheers Hilary

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