12 Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Grad School
Mastering the Masters Thesis & Dissertation
When it comes to writing up your thesis or dissertation, the topic and even the outcome are less important, Williams-Nickelson said. “What is absolutely important is the academic exercise of learning how to conduct a thesis or dissertation really well.”
8. Keep a file of everything that interests you.
If you just started grad school, you might be stumped about what subject to select for your thesis. Kuther suggested starting early by keeping a file of anything and everything that interests you. Over time, you might find a theme around what you’ve been collecting.
However, remember that your topic doesn’t need to be revolutionary. Trying to pick an earth-shattering subject only prolongs the process. What also can stall the process is a longitudinal design, Williams-Nickelson said, so try to avoid conducting long-term research as your project.
9. Be thoughtful when choosing your committee members.
“Who you select to be on your committee is exceedingly important,” Williams-Nickelson said. Consider their work style, expectations and philosophy about the thesis or dissertation, she said. Some professors do push their students to come up with groundbreaking research. Others make your project even more complicated, “introducing all sorts of other research questions.” Instead, “consider asking a different professor who believes in the process and helping you learn how to do research…who wants to see you succeed and complete it” in an efficient manner.
To get a good idea of where professors stand, Williams-Nickelson suggested having “exploratory conversations with potential committee members.” If your advisor recommends a certain professor that doesn’t mean that you have to choose them. You could say “You know that’s a great idea, but here’s someone else I was thinking of and here’s why,” Williams-Nickelson said.
10. Write it your way.