My first worry about beginning the thesis writing process was that I have to pick a topic. After doing some research though, I’ve found that there are a few steps students should take before worrying about what their thesis will encompass. Isn’t that a relief??
A.) Find out your department guidelines.
- Log into MySCAD.
- Click on the “Student Workspace” tab.
- In the “Advising” column you’ll find the “Graduate Studies Website.” Click on it.
- Click on “Thesis Information,” found on the left side of the page.
- “Guidelines” will appear under the “Thesis Information” heading. Click on it.
- Click on your department and sit back for a good read.
Your department guidelines will list important information on how to pick your thesis committee, submitting your thesis application, and what the thesis must include. Make note of important deadlines and prerequisites, which vary by department.
B.) Read other students’ published theses.
Under “Thesis Information,” you’ll find the “Thesis Database Link.” This little gem gives you access to SCAD’s graduate thesis collection, which you can search by student name or keyword. Perusing these papers was a great way for me to see what topics students have covered in the past, which got my own creative juices flowing. It’s also a great resource if you want to see what a completed, formatted thesis looks like.
C.) Create a timeline.
I’m still working on mine and will let you know what I come up with. This part is trickier because department guidelines vary and each student works at a different pace. It’s hard to say exactly how long writing a thesis should take – maybe that’s why I can’t find many schools willing to define it.
I did find a Dissertation Calculator from the University of Minnesota that was kind of cool. Students can plug in the date they want to begin their dissertation (or thesis, in our case) and when they want to be finished with it. The calculator then breaks the whole process into 18 stages, with due dates for each. Stages are titled things like “Creating a work plan” and “Outlining and drafting chapters,” and each includes a detailed outline of what needs to be done. Not every step will apply – I’m not conducting field work and I don’t need to come up with a budget – but the details of each stage are extensive.
If you find a better working timeline or think there should be another piece added to these initial steps, let me know! Guess I better go plug in my dates…