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How do you start to write a thesis?

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To graduate at the end of their academic studies, the students have to submit a bachelor thesis, master thesis, or a doctoral thesis, so-called Ph.D. thesis, to complete their graduation. But how do you start to write a thesis?

The famous blank page: Starting your bachelor thesis, master thesis or Ph.D. thesis

Well, before you even begin to do your research, analysis, and academic writing, you first have to complete and present your proposal or exposé with a supervisor, and then submit it with a thesis committee. Imagine your proposal like a short draft of your thesis conception. It contains all the essential parts that will be presented in your dissertation in a condensed form, such as topic, aims and objectives, methodology, or a first literature review within around 10 to 15 pages.

How do you start to write a thesis proposal

The exposé explains the topic, contain aims and objectives, report the intended methodological approach, and conduct research in a short form. Further, it discusses the theory framework shortly and sums up the existing literature and resources, explaining the specific gap that your research will fit in the literature.

Last but not least, it includes a first version of the time- and working plan. For sure, the first version of your time- and an operational plan handed in at the moment of submitting the exposé will not be your last.

a cruel angel´s thesis

Don´t forget to take notes on all changes in your course of research or writing, giving information about unpredictable facts that make part of the process and giving reasons and arguments for the new way you decided to take. In a later stage, you will have to proof and report about the modification from the original plan.

Creating yours: What does a dissertation contain?

Within four essential phases – the preparation, the research, the period of analysis, writing and discussion, and the post-processing – producing a thesis takes a long time. It takes several months if you write a bachelor or master thesis until some years if you plan to write a whole doctoral dissertation (Ph.D.).

Starting from the proposal, a thesis usually contains all formal sections, which are already named and included in the proposal. Divided into chapters and parts, which are split up in sections and paragraphs, it begins with acknowledgments, followed by the (thematical) introduction that leads into the subject and explains central aims, objectives, and the focus. After that begins the first theoretical section, including definitions of relevant terms and the theoretical framework, followed by the empiric research chapters which are centered on the investigation, fieldwork, case studies, and analysis.

Discussion and Conclusion: The final chapters

In the end, the discussion chapter reveals and condenses the evidence of your strongest results, providing all facts and answered questions (findings) that came out during research and analysis. In a condensed form, you are presenting your selection of findings, establishing superordinate theoretic models, and putting them into relation with the key concepts from your literature and theoretical framework in the section of conclusion before opening new doors with questions for further research. After doing all necessary research, academic writing and editing, you still have to deal with the question of your thesis format, the dissertation acknowledgements and to prepare your thesis defense, the final oral exam.   

How is the format of a thesis

Many people ask about the central question of the extent. It´s not easy to answer. The extend of the pages that you want to write is very subjective. It depends on the number of individual motives, the topic, your resources, and without any doubt, your point of view. In the end, the number of pages is not the most important: Some people are completing their thesis with around 200 pages, others with 600 or more. In the end, you will have to deal with the task of format, layout and preparing your presentation for the day of your defense!     

About the author:

Picture of Dr. Friederike Jurth
Dr. Friederike Jurth

Possibly you already heard of me through different media channels. My name is Dr. Friederike Jurth, and I hold a certificate from Harvard in Higher Education Teaching. Since 2010, I have given lectures on Methodology, Empirical Research, Anthropology, and Transcultural (Music) Studies in collaboration with universities in the United States, Germany, Spain, and Brazil. In 2010, I began a 7-year-long fieldwork project in Rio de Janeiro and have since presented my research at conferences worldwide, including in Japan, the United States, Australia, Brazil, Thailand, Switzerland, and many other countries. Additionally, I have worked as a lecturer and researcher with Germany’s renowned UNESCO Chair.

After completing my doctoral dissertation with summa cum laude, I aimed to unite, condense, and share the steps, ways, and details of my unique methodological and structural approach that I developed during my Ph.D. and that ultimately helped me achieve this result. By concentrating and putting them together into an elaborate academic conception, MyThesis Academy was born. Motivated by the sole aim and objective to help my students through all steps and stages of their thesis journey, MyThesis Academy enables them to achieve their best possible results in the shortest time, independent of their specific area of research.

In addition to my extensive teaching and research experience, I am part of the authors of the Cambridge Companion to Music in Brazil 2024, published by Cambridge University Press & Assessment, where I contribute as a Cambridge Author. This work is a co-operative project conducted remotely from Cambridge, England, United Kingdom.

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