Thursday, November 15, 2007

So you think you are writing a thesis

Recently I have begun my journey into the hectic world of writing a thesis. Thus far these are some points that I have learned. I offer them up to anyone in hopes that they may have a less hectic journey.

First, pick your topic as early as possible. For me my topic, CIPA, was related to my interest in Information Policy and ICT Policy, so I had a 'leg up' with some materials. The earlier you choose your topic, the more reading and research you can conduct. That is within the boundaries of my second point.

Point two is to know the rules of the Institutional Review Board, the Graduate College, and department/school in which you are studying. All three of these entities have a different area of coverage. Probably the most unhelpful, or waste of time for me, what the Institutional Review Board. (Here is my rant at least as it pertains to my institution's IRB). Though some of the material is relevant to all researchers, most of the training materials provided and tested over for the IRB is completely irrelevant to many researchers that do not conduct research on children or in a medical area. (I am one of those researchers) It took me a few hours each day for a week to complete the incredibly overly dramatic and majority irrelevant information in the IRB training. (End of rant).

Along with beginning your thesis as early as possible, you should already have in mind who will be your advisors. Though my advisors think I will be doing all the work, I think that their assistance in being objective and constructively critical of my work is just as important as my portion. My advisors, in our first meeting, said it is 'your thesis', but with all the advice and information they provide it is more a concerted effort. So choose advisors that are interested in your topic, can be active in the project, and who are nice to you! Always be nice to your advisors, they will be 'life savers' and 'therapists' when you have issues.

Time management. An extremely important concept in any thesis. Just last week I began to work on my scheme for my thesis. Unfortunately, the best laid plan is wasted as soon as a variable changes. In my overzealous or naive attempt at scheduling I overlooked the fact that my advisors have lives outside of advising me on my thesis. The audacity of my advisors to have lives, when I have none. Now, I can laugh about this, because it seems so incredibly strange that I did not think of this variable. I even considered snow days and holidays in my scheme/schedule. So no matter the plan, be prepared for changes. One other thing, is to be sure you solicit for dates when your advisors will not be available to participate. (I have learned Time management the hard way recently). Remember those different entities, the IRB, Graduate College, Department/school, well they will all have different due dates for many different aspects. Take those dates and put them all on one single calendar, preferably your thesis scheme/timeline.

My last piece of advice as of now: STAY POSITIVE. No matter how bad it seems, you can 'KBO', keep buggering on. (Thank you Sir Winston Churchill for that)

1 comment:

Suzie said...

Good luck with your thesis! When do you anticipate finishing it? And when do you anticipate graduating? I still have 1-2 years left to go, but I've been mulling over thesis ideas ever since starting the MLIS program.