A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
As the academic year is coming to an end, I am currently waiting for my thesis grade to be published in order to be officially graduated from the Advanced LL.M. of Law and Digital Technologies program. While I am counting down for the celebrations, and graduation ceremony of course, I want to share with you some of my takeaways from the thesis writing process that you might benefit next year.
Do not forget that early bird catches the worm! In our program, the thesis process officially starts in December and lasts until mid-July. This means that the thesis process always runs in the background for the whole second semester. I should admit that, one of the, few :), mistakes I have made this year was to postponing the thesis process in my mind during the first months of the academic year. Only after the thesis process officially has started, I changed my mind-set and tried to find my balance with it.
I would suggest you to put yourself in the ‘thesis-writing-mode’ as soon as your program starts! Start taking notes of the interesting debates in the lectures. Type down interesting questions you come up with and discuss them with your classmates and professors. Do further research on the topics you find interesting to make yourself familiar with the concepts and theories. These will help you to find your thesis topic rather easily and have a clear mind on what you want to achieve with your thesis.
Do not forget that thesis writing process is long. Very long! You will be reading articles and conducting research on your thesis topic for more than a semester. So, try to identify a topic for your thesis that would make you hyped up.
Also, be honest to yourself and to your supervisor. If you think that you didn’t like your topic, you feel that your topic is way more challenging than you estimated, talk to your supervisor as soon as possible. Neither you nor your supervisor will be happy to have a crisis moment half-way through the process.
Your thesis is your own product. The answer for your research question, ideally, has not been answered by anyone else. Therefore, your research should not be focused on finding the answer for your research question. Instead, you need to collect relevant arguments from each and every article for analyzing and synthesizing them to reach your own answer, assessment or conclusion.
Always remind yourself that ‘done is better than perfect’. Once you start writing, the first parts will inevitably be super vague and sometimes even out of context. Do not be worried about this! This is why you have your supervisor and constant feedback sessions with him/her. Your supervisor will guide you to find your way and tune with your thesis. However, you need you provide your supervisor with a document that he/she can comment on.
Therefore, keep calm and just write. The most useful method for me was to set word limits per day, for example 500 words per day. This may help you to concentrate on your task and meet your deadlines.
There will be times that you will feel overwhelmed and want to run away. You could be in doubt about your research question and think whether it worth to be addressed or not. You could even question your own abilities and compare yourself with others. Beware that these can happen to anyone!
In case you are overwhelmed or tired, be easy on yourself! In such a case, try to take a break and communicate with your supervisor and friends about to share your feelings. Do not forget that you are a master’s student who are still in progress.
In the end, thesis writing is a challenging process. However, the satisfaction you get after submitting your thesis is worth all these struggle. So, just hold on!
Do you also have any suggestions for the ones who might be struggling with their theses? Let us know in the comments below!