Thesis Writing Tips

This is a collection of tips for writing a thesis, with a focus on the technical process of writing, editing and formatting.

The Thesis Report

Writing takes time, and you should start with it early. Writing is also an iterative process, and you will not be able to finish a section on a first attempt. It takes several iterations until you are satisfied. You should therefore start to write as early as possible, even if you think that you will be able to write “easier” after you have made more progress with the work of your thesis.

Starting early with the writing is also important so you can receive feedback from your supervisors. If you deliver them a version only a few days before the deadline, you cannot really benefit from their feedback and learn from it.

When you write your thesis, you do, of course, much more than just writing. You study literature, make experiments, build prototypes or perform other research activities to gain some results. In this guide, we focus on the more technical issues of writing, editing and formatting. (The actual research is covered for instance by the seminar on design science.)

The Writing Process

Writing and doing research is an iterative process, going through cycles that consist roughly of the following activities:

Phase Goal
1 Planning Figuring out what to do and why.
2 Research Doing the literature research and experiments.
3 Thinking Digesting mentally what you observed.
4 Writing Finding words for thoughts, results, arguments.
5 Editing Improving readability and sorting of arguments.
6 Formatting Setting the text, tables and figures into PDF.

In this document, we don’t cover the research part, and only focus on the task to get research results onto paper. In particular, we focus on the following tasks:

It helps to be aware of the different goals of these activities, and you should be aware which of the ones you are doing. In practice, the borders between these activities are more blurred. When you start thinking, you will see that you need to do more research, or that you need to conduct some experiments. When you start writing, you may discover that you need to do some more thinking, and so on. Still, being aware of the different goals may help you to focus on what is important.

Have a look in the menu above. We also cover the important issue of plagiarism and give some tips on tools.