Questions that are better served with a short answer than with a post.

What should I do, if I don’t know a topic?

This is the default state, so don’t feel bad about it. Read advice on how to discover topics and how to choose your topic from them.

How many thesis topics get proposed by students, how many by supervisors?

I have no empirical data on this. My personal estimate, however, is that the fraction proposed by students is small, however. Why? Because it is much harder to get a motivated supervisor for a topic that you proposed. Continue reading “FAQ”

Which Tools to Use to Write your Thesis?

If you program a new application, choosing the right programming language is critical. Choose Java or C#, for example, and you have free access to state-of-the-art IDEs and thousands of frameworks and libraries. Choose Clou or Panter, and you are on your own.

For a thesis, the choice of tools is far less important. For my own writing and research projects, the big bottleneck is my thinking speed. When choosing tools for your thesis, the goal is thus mostly to avoid waste. Continue reading “Which Tools to Use to Write your Thesis?”

How to Get Great Supervision?

Good versus bad supervision makes a large difference to your thesis project; both in terms of the outcome and how you feel along the way.

The single most important factor is how much time your supervisor dedicates to you. In general, many other factors influence how much useful advice you get from your supervisor (including your personal working styles, prior supervision experience, …). However, even great supervision experience is no use if the time to apply it to your thesis is lacking. Perceived “good” and “bad” supervisor performance in the eyes of their students is primarily determined by the amount of time the supervisors invest.

However, supervisor dedication varies drastically. Continue reading “How to Get Great Supervision?”

When to Write What?

When you write your thesis, your of level of knowledge of its chapters changes. It increases as you read, implement and experiment. It also decreases, however, as you move on to new parts and your brain throws out old stuff to make room for new stuff.

If you write a part too early, you have to rework later to accommodate for the new knowledge; or delete pages, as you learn that the topic is far less important that you thought two months ago. If you write too late, on the other hand, you need effort to rediscover the forgotten information.

Both rework and rediscovery waste time. Choosing when to write in which form is key to minimize waste. Continue reading “When to Write What?”

How to Spend Your Writing Time Well?

A thesis is made up of several chapters, including an introduction, definitions, related work, proposed solution, and conclusion. You must decide how much time (and pages) to spend on each of them. I call this writing resource allocation.

If this is done poorly, authors will waste a large part of their writing time on chapters that are not central to their thesis; for example, producing bloated definitions or myriad irrelevant technical details. Not only does this distract readers, it also robs authors of the time they need to write their central chapters carefully. Therefore, poor writing resource allocation is a recipe for a bad thesis. Continue reading “How to Spend Your Writing Time Well?”