Six Ways to Start or Save Your Senior Thesis

You know your topic so well when you are in the middle researching your senior thesis that it is almost impossible to figure out where to begin when discussing it. After spending months, or even years researching a topic, you’re able to write about it and continue the conversation for hours. A thesis that is too long and disjointed will not help a reader understand your topic or make it interesting. You will be more productive if you let the ideas flow from your head onto paper. This is something that no one wants, especially when there are tight deadlines.

Others have trouble getting started or maintaining momentum in their writing. Stress, anxiety, and knowledge paralysis can make it difficult to start. It can be difficult to force ideas out of your head into a coherent, linear argument.

Both cases have high stakes: a thesis that is not completed or poorly written can delay graduation and increase tuition payments. These tools can help you avoid stress and reduce it.
Goal 1: Complete a Draft

First, get the words down on paper and finish. It is surprisingly difficult to accomplish. There are many distractions. An incomplete thesis will not get you a grade, so you need to finish it. These are three ways to submit a thesis that you are proud of.

  1. Find Your Focus

There are many reasons people lose their focus. There are tools that can help. It’s difficult to not check social media while writing on your computer. Then you can lose track of time for hours. You might consider an app like Cold Turkey Writer and FocusMe that blocks social media sites while keeping you focused on your task. The Forest app is a great tool for those who struggle to write in a short time. It visualizes your progress and distracts you from distractions. Both Forest and Cold Turkey offer free versions. You can also purchase the premium version for an additional fee. FocusMe offers monthly, annual and lifetime subscriptions depending on how long your projects will need it.

  1. Keep track of your tasks

Project management is essential for completing your thesis. You can use simple tools like Outliner, or more powerful apps like Trello. Or you could go for something in between like ToDoIst. A more comprehensive program or a more detailed outline may not be the best. Sometimes people get too involved in listing every step that it slows down their progress. Some people track their work so much that it overshadows the project. You should consider how you work and pick the right tracking method.

  1. Accountability for Action

Accountability apps can help you set goals and penalize you for not meeting them. Even though graduating late or losing your GPA due to a poor thesis may be motivation enough, these distant consequences might not be enough for you to stop procrastinating. StickK and BeeMinder integrate with ToDoIst, among other apps. This makes it easier to set goals.

Another option is to work with an online accountability group via a social platform like HabitShare, or by forming an in-person one. These are some tips to help you form a group.
Goal 2: Do it well

After you are confident you will finish your thesis, the next step is to improve its clarity and quality. A strong thesis is built by organizing your research, managing your time and streamlining your presentation. These are three tips to help you improve the final product.

  1. Research Repository

It can be difficult to keep track of your research and your thoughts. However, it is essential to create a bibliography and connect your ideas. You can create an electronic research folder by using web clipping and organizing software. You can arrange your research by topic, combine ideas and move thoughts around. You can also share your research ideas with your academic mentor, research advisor, or your friend who will always call you out when your work isn’t up to par.

To manage your research, you can use tools such as Mendley, Evernote or OneNote. Mendley was specifically created for academic research projects. Zotero can detect online research and assist you in capturing it. These tools can help you organize, track, and cite your research. Mendley and Evernote offer premium and free versions, which provide extra storage. Zotero is available for free and OneNote is part of Microsoft Office subscriptions.

To make sure nothing is lost in the shuffle, you can use an online plagiarism detector like Academic Help to check your writing.

  1. Overhaul Your Organization

As you learn more, your thinking will change. To better convey your message and convince your audience, you may have to overhaul your entire structure. It can be difficult to organize and reorganize text. You can use Microsoft Word’s built in styles to arrange your sections. Drag and drop is possible in the navigation pane. Gingko and Scrivener are great apps for organizing your ideas and rewriting. These are organizing and outlining tools that can help you see the connections between your ideas. Scrivener also has literary-focused tools, such as mind-mapping, which will help you improve your fiction projects. Gingko offers a limited free version, as well as a monthly pay-whatever upgrade. Scrivener is just $50 per license.

  1. Reduce the clutter

You don’t have to worry about whether your sentences contain unnecessary words when you’re writing about something that you care about. However, cluttered language can distract from your point and take away from the main idea. This is especially true if you don’t know as much as your readers about the subject. WordRake’s editing software can help you eliminate unnecessary words and phrases. This will make it easier for your readers to understand your thesis.
My Senior Thesis Experience

WordRake is great for strengthening theses. I use it every day on my thesis. WordRake was already available to me through my internship when I was writing my thesis. I used WordRake to run different sections of my thesis after I had completed my first draft. WordRake offered valuable suggestions throughout my work. Here’s where it was most helpful.
The Abstract Section

Abstracts are limited in word count, which can prove difficult due to the complexity and length of a thesis. WordRake helped me to tighten my abstract by removing unnecessary phrases. WordRake made two mistakes in my abstract. These were due to WordRake misinterpreting something I said. Instead of rejecting these edits, I changed the sentence so that the software accepted them. I am willing to take on the risk that software will not understand me.
The Methods Section

Transitions are common in the methods section of a thesis. Although a few transitions can improve the flow of your writing, too many can make readers feel as though you are holding their hands. This is not something you want to give to intelligent people who will decide whether or not your thesis is accepted. WordRake is a great tool for identifying transitions. I found it helpful to scan my writing and identify those that did not add value. This gave me a more concise, clear methodology.
The discussion

It is easy to add more of your opinion than necessary to our discussion section. Because we have spent so much time researching and analyzing data, phrases like “it is obvious that” or “clearly” are common in our writing. Our readers don’t expect us to tell them something is obvious. They want us to show it to their eyes. It’s also awkward when something that you consider self-evident to be obvious to another reviewer isn’t. WordRake cuts “it’s obvious that,” “clearly” and many other phrases that we use to tell our readers, rather than showing them.

Your thesis has taken months to prepare. Make sure the final product is worthy of your efforts. To catch any edits that are too close to the topic, do your research and revise your thesis. It was a great tool that helped me get a 3.9 on my thesis. I know it can also help you write strong thesises.

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