Five Top Tips for Writing a Thesis

Order of chapters

When you are writing up your thesis, ensure that you’re familiar with the expected order of the chapters.  Usually, the abstract will be first, an example of order is below:

  • Chapter One is the introduction which will include your reasons for conducting your thesis research, the research questions, etc. 
  • Chapter Two is usually your literature review. 
  • Chapter Three the methodology – how and where you conducted your study and with whom. 
  • Chapters Four onwards can vary.  Usually, you will have a results chapter (or more than one) and afterwards, your conclusion(s) and discussion.  Details of the references you cited and then the appendix or appendices will follow.

Referencing Style

It is essential that you know which referencing style your college or university uses.  Some use APA and others Harvard or Chicago.  These are the most popular but there are many others!  It’s also important to consider whether you’re writing using UK (British) or US (American) spellings.  Your college or university might have a requirement or you might be able to choose your own.  Whichever the case, ensure you’re consistent throughout your writing.

Keep notes, revisit and review

When you’re writing up your thesis, it’s not essential to write your chapters in numerical order.  You might start writing the earlier chapters including your literature review.  It’s fine and indeed important that you go back, revisit and update your review as you read other relevant or interesting articles and book chapters.  It’s important to write up your results, for example, as soon as you can after analysing data, to ensure nothing is forgotten.  It’s also a wise idea to keep notes and jot down anything you need to remember – it’s easy to forget!

Do not get overwhelmed

It’s important to try not to get overwhelmed with everything.  Writing a thesis is exhausting but should be written with time management in mind.  Do consult with your supervisors and meet as often as possible to keep on top of things and to not become stressed which is very easy to do.  It’s perfectly natural to think you’re never going to finish but persevere and keep in touch with your supervisors to keep on track – this is their job to assist you wherever possible!

Have a critical friend

Have a critical friend to read and proofread your work.  It’s easy to not see the simplest mistakes in our writing.  Asking a friend to look at what you’ve written is so important but you must have an open-minded and not be offended if they make suggestions.