A 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.
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:
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 Days. She 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.