Are you one of the unlucky souls in your final semester with a thesis to tackle?
Before you moan about the large amount of research that you have to undertake and the many sleepless nights ahead, getting involved in a thesis can actually be a great learning experience as an undergraduate student, with many students experiencing a growth in self-confidence, independence of thought and sense of accomplishment.
While the thought of doing independent research can be daunting, here are some tips to help you cope with your undergraduate thesis — and come out on top!
#1. Start early
This will sound like a no-brainer but avoid procrastinating when it comes to choosing your topic and research question. After all, formulating a relevant and interesting research question for your thesis can be a challenging and time-consuming process.
Your thesis is a chance for you to explore a particular topic in depth, so it becomes important to pick a topic that truly fascinates you!
To get a better understanding of what might be expected out of you, try looking at your seniors’ theses. It also helps to develop a good rapport with your thesis advisor as they are not only there to guide you but to keep you on track.
#2. Be resourceful
Feeling a little rusty with Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS)? Fret not. There’s Google and YouTube for that.
You can also look up reputable tutorials online or ask your friends or seniors for help. They may be able to provide helpful online resources that have helped them, or worked with a different thesis advisor who provided them with resources that you can also use to improve your work.
This is not the time to be shy so seek help from others instead of suffering in silence.
If a thesis presentation is required, check if it is possible to sit in on your senior’s presentations. This will give you an idea of what to expect and allow you to learn from their mistakes during their lecturer’s feedback.
#3. Work as a team for moral support
While you and your coursemates may be focusing on different areas of research, that does not mean you can’t still work as a team!
From helping one another with tricky statistics or complex programming to providing moral support in tough times, know that it gets easier with the support of friends.
Bounce ideas off each other. Sometimes, merely talking to your friends can help shape and mould your thoughts and ideas that can help with your work.
#4. Take a break
Over the course of your thesis, you’ll be reading plenty of literature relating to your topic and writing relentlessly to meet your deadline, sometimes sacrificing sleep in the process. However, sleep deprivation can make you prone to making mistakes.
If you’ve been toiling away during the daytime, let your work stew overnight before working on it again the following day after a good night’s rest.
This can help you spot loopholes, mistakes and areas where your writing needs to be tightened.
#5. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel
Producing your thesis can be overwhelming at times. Though it may seem like you’re running a marathon that you’ve not properly trained for, remember that it’s not all doom and gloom.
Take things one step at a time and break things down into manageable tasks to ensure that your project is on track.
Your undergraduate thesis is a good platform to gauge if research is something you might want to branch into. It is also a useful experience if you’re looking to go into postgraduate research in the future.
Even if research is not on your horizon, your thesis can help you to cultivate skills such as critical thinking, which can be useful post-graduation. Additionally, it can act as a confidence booster as you have the satisfaction of completing your own research!
While an individual’s thesis experience may differ from others who are enrolled in different programmes, have comfort in knowing that there are many other undergraduates who may be struggling to complete their thesis too. This rite of passage may fill you with trepidation, but with hard work and persistence, you’ll be able to pull it off!