Master Thesis: Tips and Tools for Success

Despite many courses on how to write my Master’s thesis, students underestimate the demands and workload that comes their way. Many preparatory work has to be done before it goes to the actual writing of the thesis. Only when the base is right, a rough outline exists and the necessary material is ready, the writing process will easily go by the hand. I myself had to write my master’s thesis in 17 days because professional commitments prevented continuous work. But this could only succeed because I already had a rough outline several months before submission, was aware of the topic, spent two hours a week in the source collection and already knew about the writing phase about what the result of the work would be. In addition to the preparation, therefore, a realistic timing is important to have enough buffer for surprises and new approaches.

Time management is essential for thesis work

Everybody approaches the thesis in different ways. Some work constantly and regularly, others produce the content in intense spurts, others write the work at the last minute. For a thesis with a deadline, solid scheduling is not only useful, but also necessary. Fewer students can put a flawless academic record on paper and media within days if several months are earmarked for editing. However, the choice of topic and the related question should not be underestimated as preliminary work. The following tips and tools can be useful suggestions for your master thesis:

  • Find a topic for the master’s thesis that really interests you. That’s the only way to stay on the ball in phases of sagging.
  • Check if there is enough literature on the topic. If you work new ground with your work, you are prepared for additional work. If there are not enough sources available, you have to supplement the literature with interviews, surveys and statistics.
  • If you have six months of work, expect roughly two months for topic finding with structure and source study, two months for source analysis and interviews, one month for writing, and another month for revision, fine tuning, ongoing counter reading and surprises!
  • If you belong to the kind of human being who likes to be procrastinated (lat. Pro cras = shift to tomorrow), there is another problem: pressure. Although diamonds are produced under pressure, carbon does not have to write a master’s thesis. The writing process works in a short time and under pressure, but without the necessary preparation you are done. Therefore, only put pressure on you if you are up to it. Otherwise, you should force yourself to prepare, so that the material is present and the pressure is not too high.
  • Writer’s block can occur. In my experience, they occur mainly in two situations: 1. There is too much material; you do not know where to start and feel helpless. 2. Time is pressing, but it does not want any thought on the paper. This is building massive pressure.
  • In both scenarios it can help to visualize the topic as a large and overarching parenthesis and to work on it in small parts. As on a map, you get the overview of the route and then work off the waypoints to the goal of the Master’s thesis.

Use tools to organize your literature. Although Word & Co. provide literature management, it is insufficient for academic purposes. I recommend Cite this for me, which manages your literature via the browser and as an app. With the app you can scan the barcode of books and immediately have the corresponding entry in the literature. Also the manual input works fast and well. Several thousand citation methods and common export functions complete the free software. The bibliography is exported via RefME in various formats and then inserted into the work. Alternatives are paid applications like EndNote or Citavi.

Vote regularly with your supervisor or supervisor. Although mentoring is often limited and particularly a problem for public institutions, your questions and status updates show that you are interested and engaged. Remember, less than one hour of correction time is usually available for a Master’s thesis. If the first-corrector can not spontaneously assign your name and also finds in terms of content and formal weaknesses in the work, is quickly devalued: you have obviously given no special effort.

For scheduling, a Gantt chart is recommended as a simple tool. Here you can plan and divide your work. At the same time, you can see graphically which activities overlap and which deadlines you have to adhere to.

Complete all formalities before starting your work. Fill out the required forms and explanations so that at the end only the date and signature are used. The bureaucracy is not to be underestimated and can lead to gray hair, if one is close to it and does not find the required forms.

Every college and university has guidelines for writing master’s theses. Read through these before the start, because details such as dates, forms, explanations, word count, outline, font, spacing, execution, submission format and contact persons are mentioned here.

Use plagiarism software to control yourself. Perfect software is not yet on the market. The demands on semantic intelligence are too great if an idea or thought plagiarism is to be recognized. Here, a person has to decide if he has been plagiarized. However, there is useful software that can map phrases, phrases, and sections by origin. If a position is marked and the corresponding source is indicated, this is the best opportunity for the author to review his quotes and supplement them if necessary. Turnitin, URKUND and Copyscape have proven to be good tools.

Do you have more tips and tools for writing a master’s thesis in stock? Then I’m looking forward to a message or a comment.

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