Thesis/ dissertation: how to proceed (1/3: Before you start writing)

Today, as I realized that people are already back to school and as I started to feel nostalgic about the time I was at the university, I thought maybe I could help. What I am sharing today is the way I proceeded when I was writing my thesis (which I finished on July). My experience was a positive one: first because I got very good comments from the jury (yes that's me being proud :D), second because I enjoyed the time I spent doing research, and third because the results of my work could have a real impact on the field.

Now, if you are reading this, I assume you have a reason to: either you have already started working on your thesis/ dissertation or you are planning to. Anyway, I am assuming you already know what the topic is. If you don't I have one advice for you: choose something you like to enjoy the tremendous amount of time you'll spend on it.

The first thing you need to do is to go online (Google is your friend) and look for everything that could relate to your topic: books, journals, scholarly papers, etc. Then you should save all this material in your drive. If this step sounds stupid, then here is why I mention it: the way you name your documents is very important, you'll need it when you take notes, and then at a later stage when you are updating your references. What I suggest is the following:
                       [Code] Full_paper_name___Author(s)
The code could be in the form of a letter [A], letter and number [A1], or any other form, just keep it short! 

Hint: if the source is a website then open a note document and copy/paste the link + date accessed and add it with your sources using that same format. You don't want to lose that kind of information

Now that you have your list then you need to start reading! Obvious I know, but when the list gets very long, with many different aspects of the topic then you'll get lost. What I suggest in this case is you create a table (Code, abstract, author), you go over all your sources and you copy the abstract. Then you read all the abstracts, you highlight the keywords, and you start creating clusters, seeing patterns and recognizing authors considered pioneers in the field.

After the list of sources is organized, you should start reading. If you can't read in a screen, it's going to be more complicated -for you and the planet-, you'll need a highlighter, loads of paper and a notebook to write your notes down. Else, you'll need to start a new word document which you'll use to take notes. What I suggest is that you use copy/paste and add the document's code at the end. For example: Working on your thesis is fun. [Code]
This will allow you to have the exact wording if you want to include the citation at a later stage, to paraphrase, or to know who the author is (by referring to the table of abstracts you created) if you want to compare different views/ definitions/etc. 
Your notes' document will keep growing over time. Keep it organized and clean, it will save you a lot of time.

This is what you need to do when you are starting, watch out for Part 2 I'll tell you more about how to write your thesis. I wish you the best of luck,

No comments

Dîtes-moi tout !

Powered by Blogger.