As you approach your senior year, upper level courses may require a final thesis paper or project. Getting yourself organized and set on the right track early, can mean all the difference in the world regarding your final grade.
The first item on the agenda is to have a full grasp of exactly what is required in your project. Sit down and read through the assignment once, twice, even three times and figure out what you are going to say. Making an outline can be invaluable in the long run. As you begin to research and plan out the written portion, your mind may get a little jumbled as to the order of presentation. If you have a written outline, you will have a rough roadmap of what you want to explain. On the back of the article, write out a few questions that you know you must fully explain. When you have finished the project, you can go back and read through the questions. If you are satisfied that you gave a clear explanation for each, then you can be sure you are on the right track for a good grade.
The research you do for a thesis is probably the most important part of the project. You must make sure that every piece of writing is reliable and properly cited before you even think of including it. The first place to start is a credible place that offers peer-reviewed articles or journals. Your school or local library is likely to have a series of informative and trustworthy papers that are available, to the public. Most libraries are now equipped with fully automated systems that offer online versions of the writings. If you have any questions regarding the validity of what you are reading, go online and look up any other of the author’s works. If there is a pattern of questionable data, do not use them as a credible source. If they are reliable, it will be easy to find a series of other scholars that support their arguments or findings. Research is the entire bases of your project, if it isn’t 100% reliable don’t risk being penalized because of laziness.
Most thesis projects are stretched out over the midst of a semester or year. It is so easy to procrastinate because you think you have unlimited time. Those deadlines will sneak up quickly and you don’t want to be stuck at exam time with a 50-page thesis you haven’t begun. Sleepless nights in the library are not worth it. Setting dates for deadlines can save you a lot of trouble later on. They can be fairly flexible but you must dedicate yourself to getting the work done gradually. Say you want to finish at least one item every Wednesday. It will give you time on the weekend or during the week, depending on how busy your schedule is. Something as simple as finding one valid article in a week will help you out immensely.
Facts not Fluff
When you finally do sit down to begin writing, make sure that you are not using “fluff” to fill the void. It is never a bad thing to do too much research. If you think you are going to base it off two articles, find three. If you need a bit more information you are set to go, if not, it probably wasted ten minutes of your life. Also, if it is appropriate, don’t be afraid to voice your own opinions within your paper. It will demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the subject and have given the topic a serious amount of thought. Reading someone else’s words is going to get tiresome after a while and may give the impression that you are simply copying them. Do not begin to ramble or go off topic within the project, it is better to be a bit short than to go off on an irrelevant tangent. Sticking to what you know is the best way to go, no matter the topic.
A thesis project requires time and organization that demonstrates your abilities as a student. These attributes can and will be transferred into the work world and there is not better time like the present to get into the right habits.