How to write a thesis or disseration – Just common sense

This part of the guide tackles the creation of a dissertation or thesis from several angles. From the moment the work begins, until the moment when it reaches its final form. A common theme, which strongly links together all the various pieces of advice, is the idea of optimising the time you spend working, taking into account the final objective.

If you follow the advice given here, not only will you produce a dissertation that is easy to read, but you will also make the best use of all your working time.

It is divided into four sections: Just common sense (below), Some writing rules, Structure and How to save time.

Just common sense

Choose a topic that interests you

It is only later, in discussion with your supervisor, and given the data available, that you will shape your ideas into a realistic proposal.

Accept that you might have to change your topic

At the start of your work, you will have an idea of what it is you would like to do. But what do you do if it turns out not to be realistic? Prepare Plan B from the start and decide when, if necessary, it will be implemented.

Write a position paper

Make this the first thing you do. Describe, in a maximum of four pages, the field or the business you will study, the question to be answered, why it is important, your methods and the expected results. Use this document as if it were a business card. Share it with your teachers, your colleagues and other researchers, and collect their feedback.

Delete everything that is not absolutely necessary

Ask yourself what you absolutely must keep in order to make a solid argument. Get rid of the rest. As Saint-Exupéry said, “Perfection is found not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to remove”.

Think about your readers

Never forget that you are not writing for yourself. When you re-read your work, constantly ask yourself, “If I was reading this paragraph for the first time, what would I think?”.

Take your reader by the hand

Regularly remind your reader what it is you are trying to demonstrate, where you are in the argument, and what remains to be done. Maintaining this thread guarantees an easy read and helps your explanation.

Read part two:  Some writing rules.

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