A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
As the semester comes to an end, many master students are dealing (or struggling) with their master thesis, including me. As I am coming to an end with mine (yayyy), I wanted to share some points I think helped me a lot during this process, hoping they will be beneficial for you too!
1. Set a schedule with your supervisor
Even though each programme has its own schedule for proposal submission, drafts and final version, it may not be optimal for you. Instead of trying to fit your plans to this one-fits-all schedule, you can discuss it individually with your supervisor. Do you want to finish it earlier and travel during the summer? Or maybe do an internship without worrying about your thesis? Just ask your supervisor whether you can hand it in earlier than the official deadline. My observation is they are even happier to have it earlier so it will relieve them from some of the work when everyone hands their thesis in at the exact same date.
Make sure you know what you are talking about, before starting to write it. Finding out a surprise on your outline or research question half-way through will be nasty. So do your research, read as much as possible and have a clear understanding of the topic before you start to write. Discuss it with your supervisor or classmates. A collective brainstorm can reveal many great ideas too.
This sounds almost the same as the first one but it is not. What I mean is to plan when will you be writing during the time period you have before it is already the deadline. You might split it accordingly to chapters, decide when you will fix your bibliography or do the proofreading. While planning your individual schedule, make sure to note other responsibilities such as lectures, assignments and exams. Now that I have my thesis deadline, one exam and one assignment all within only 10 days, I could have planned better for example. Set realistic deadlines, also when you are discussing it with your supervisor. It is wise to aim to finish it one or two weeks before the set deadline. Because there is always something new come up and you should be able to be a bit flexible to adopt them.
Probably the most popular and hardest to follow the suggestion of all: give yourself time to take a break and enjoy. After all, we are young students and these are the years to enjoy being young, go get drunk and be with our friends. It won’t help to stay in the library all day without being productive, just not to feel guilty. Taking free time is still investing in your thesis as you will come back with a fresher mind. I try to balance it with working from early in the morning but have my evenings for myself to relax or go out for drinks.
They say “A good thesis is a done thesis.” This is the quote I have been reminding myself all the time. Don’t try to create wonders. It is a master thesis, this is all. You already have a limited amount of words, too short to cover a large topic. Don’t try to address more than you can. And just write. Starting is already halfway to finish it.
Any suggestion you took away from your own struggle? Share in the comments!