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has anyone written a thesis?

(41 Posts)
notanidea Tue 24-Nov-09 18:32:17

I have to write 30,000 words thesis towards my masters degree.

I have 3 weeks annual holiday whichI am going to use.I am going to write the results sections first as it is the hardest.I would like any tips /adv from others who have done it.How did you index the references? Did u buy reference manager -someone suggested this to me.I need all the support and adv please.Thanks in advance.

sarah293 Tue 24-Nov-09 18:36:20

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cornsilkwearscorsets Tue 24-Nov-09 18:41:01

Is that the same as a dissertation? I'm doing a masters at the moment but haven't finished all my modules. May lurk.

ohmeohmy Tue 24-Nov-09 18:44:27

depends on the style of references- if it is acceptable to put numbers in teh text and list at the end then use Insert-endnotes with automatic numbering in word. then if you add more before it it will automatically alter the numbers of the rest.

abdnhiker Tue 24-Nov-09 18:46:17

I did my references by hand - it wasn't too hard to keep track of. I'm a scientist and I would always start with methods and sometimes even conclusions first before the results section so I knew where I wanted to end up.

BexJ78 Tue 24-Nov-09 18:57:57

I did my references by hand, the same way as Riven suggested. It depends what referencing system your university/college uses; always best to check because I seem to recall that the preferred referencing system for my MSc was different to that for my first degree.

I did leave mine until the last minute and then just write the whole thing over several days...probably not the best advice! But i did pass so can't have been too horrendous!!

superdanovi Tue 24-Nov-09 19:34:09

I'd actually strongly suggest that you use a reference software package for your references... It makes things much less of a faff later, and it automatically updates as you write, orders your references for you and creates the bibliography, which, if you have 300+ references like I did, simplifies life enormously. I used Endnote so couldn't comment on any other packages. You should be able to ask your department / supervisor for a copy of whatever it is they use.
Not sure what your subject is but I wanted to start with something easy so I kicked off with M&M. I did Results next, followed by the Discussion (it helped to do it this way round as I still had my results fresh in my mind). I did the Introduction last and found that the Discussion really helped me focus the Introduction which can often lapse into irrelevant drivel.
If you plan to write in Word and wanna be ultra anal, use the Styles function to define all your headings, sub-headings and figures. Doing it this way means that your Table of Contents / formatting are done automatically, so again, less faffage at the end stages when you're so sick of the thing, all you wanna do is vomit on it.
Hope this helps.

WilfSell Tue 24-Nov-09 19:40:38

I would recommend using the Firefox add-on, zotero. It is free and BRILLIANT! Very intuitive to use. Logs, stores and exports references easily. And did I say it is free?

You can also get online freeware versions of Endnote etc but zotero better IMHO.

And agree with using Word headings - makes printing out and contents pages etc so much easier.

If you invest a bit of time in working out these things now, I guarantee you you will say hours and days of worry later trying to get everything in order for printing. Trust me, I know...

WilfSell Tue 24-Nov-09 19:41:26

save not say

notanidea Tue 24-Nov-09 20:03:32

thanks.It is a MD with lab based research. I am not a scientist but did this so am very apprehensive as everyone keeps telling that writing is the hardest part. I want to do results as things are fresh and have two months just if I have to repeat any experiments.

notanidea Tue 24-Nov-09 20:06:14

what is styles function in the word? Is it different styles of writing eg., italics.

WilfSell Tue 24-Nov-09 20:09:47

No styles is basically a way of marking out headings. As long as you do it consistently throughout the document, Word can easily create a master document, sub-documents and generate a contents page based on the latest version

Like this:


1. Sub-Heading


1.1.1 Sub-section heading
1.1.2 Sub-section heading 2

and so on. You basically highlight/label each bit/heading thus and Word then helps you organise it...

EdgarAllenPoo Tue 24-Nov-09 20:12:23

good luck. any extra time you can buy for yourself is worth gold.

i hated writing up.

vanimal Tue 24-Nov-09 20:32:57

Writing up can be the best bit, as it can really help you to rationalise your research.

I am also a scientist, and start with Materials and Methods (it's the easiest bit), then the results, discussion and intro.

Agree with everything superdanovi said, except I used Ref Manager and not Endnote. But I think you should use some sort of packagee to manage your referencing for you. They can be a faff to set up (inputting lots of refs), but you will more than recoup this time in the long run.

Also agree about setting your heading etc before you start. I didn't, and then spent aaages messing around with it at the end of my v long thesis.

Also - do check styles, referencing, binding etc requirements with your uni - mine was v strict with type of paper, colour of binding etc (if needed).

Good luck - I loved the writing up bit, my research finally made sense!

EdgarAllenPoo Tue 24-Nov-09 20:50:21

vanimal you are v v strange, i'd rather have had teeth pulled than sit alone or week on end refining my witterings into a concise offering of sense.

but then, you are a scientist...

WilfSell Tue 24-Nov-09 22:32:08

Ah now see grin with zotero there is no inputting. Click the little file icon in the URL box when you're linked to an article, book or paper in a bibliographic database and it automatically retrieves all the details. And you can take a snapshot and make your own notes on it. Takes no time at all. Is brilliant.

Molesworth Tue 24-Nov-09 22:36:00

Thanks for the tip about zotero, Wilf; it looks just the ticket!

notanidea Tue 24-Nov-09 22:51:36

Thanks again for all the useful info.Cant download zotero though.

notanidea Wed 25-Nov-09 12:03:26

Hey managed to dowload it.Looks good.Thanks.

superdanovi Wed 25-Nov-09 12:28:22

A few other things:

(1) Your department will have copies of theses from previous students. Have a look at them to get a feel for what you should be aiming for.
(2) It never hurts to cite your examiners wink.
(3) It is entirely possible to enjoy writing up. As with vanimal, I loved the process... It was by far the best part of my Ph.D.
(4) Your examiners are most likely to ask you about your crappiest results then anything else.
(5) Ask your supervisor and another member of the department to give you a mock viva.
(6) Definitely agree with vanimal on getting the house style correct (re. font / word-limit / binding / printing) from the beginning.

notanidea Wed 25-Nov-09 22:10:33

I am trying to analyse the data and have a MD thesis from a previous student.I would have not bothered about the style but reading this and having a look at her work it does make sense to get it right from the beginning.

whiteflame Thu 26-Nov-09 20:18:27

Hi notanidea, I recently submitted my PhD thesis in science. I found the time invested getting the formatting sorted (heading numbering etc) really paid off. There's a good document here that gives step by step advice on formatting a thesis. You can just follow the link and download the top PDF (formatting your thesis styles and templates or similar).

Like others have said, I didn't write my thesis in cover-to-cover order - I wrote materials and methods, results chapters, introduction, discussion and then abstract.

There's a thesis support writing thread over in student parents if you'd like to join! here

Good luck!

notanidea Thu 26-Nov-09 22:00:40

Thanks whiteflame have joined the other threadsmile

BikeRunSki Thu 26-Nov-09 22:12:19

Check with your university what style of referencing they want/expect.

And don't expect to sit down and write it cover to cover.

msrisotto Thu 26-Nov-09 22:44:12

Wow, THANKS so much for the Zotero recommendation! One question though, how do you import the reference to your document?

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