I just finished writing the first part of my thesis, which is called a thesis proposal, and I can’t believe I’m even writing these words right now. The last few weeks have been challenging and tough but also very rewarding as I’ve been pushing myself and accomplishing things I never thought were possible.
Today I want to talk about what it’s like to write a graduate thesis proposal because before I started this process I found little information on what the whole experience is like.
Like I’ve mentioned before, the first step in the whole process is to put together your committee. Once you have your committee set, it’s time to get going with things. Before you begin anything, you want to have an idea of what topic you want to research. Let me just say that this was harder than I imagined because, like many others, I have a wide range of interests so narrowing them down was kind of tough. When I finally decided what my topic was going to be, I took two things into consideration: first, I decided to stick with the main topic I had written papers on throughout the grad program and secondly, I decided that I wanted to do further research into an area that I’m passionate about. So, my topic ended up being related to romantic relationships, because I had written many papers on this subject, but I incorporated YouTube since I am very passionate about the platform.
So, when it comes to a thesis proposal you will be working on three areas before defending (which is a presentation of your work to your committee). Those three areas are your introduction, your literature review, and your methods section. These three areas are ultimately going to be the first three chapters of your thesis (aka your final product).
One of the things that really helped me with this process was making sure I was organized in both what I was doing as well as my timeline. What also really helped is the constant communication I had with my chair. This part is CRUCIAL. In my case, I would meet with my chair once per week and each week we would discuss things that I worked on the previous week. I remember when I first started the process, I felt really overwhelmed thinking about the thesis as a whole but really taking things week by week helped out so much!
So here are some tips I have for you if you are about to start this process soon:
- Set up a schedule to meet with your chair on a weekly basis if possible (this helped me tremendously and made me feel less overwhelmed)
- Keep a planner where you write down daily goals and to dos. This helped me focus on small goals, which ultimately led to accomplishing bigger goals.
- Keep everything saved on a google drive that is specifically for your thesis.
- When it comes to keeping track of your sources, I recommend using Zotero as well as making a list in a google doc noting the source name (i.e. title of the article or title of the book), author and page number if you are pulling direct quotes. This will be a life saver if you forget to cite correctly- trust me!
- The writing will be done little by little. Don’t stress about wanting to finish everything chronologically. In my case, there was a point where I felt really overwhelmed with the literature review and my chair was very awesome and made me shift gears and suggested we work on the methods in order to get my mind out of my “brain block” when it came to my literature review. I later came back to the literature review and had a fresh mind that allowed me to focus on what I needed to research and write.
Overall, my biggest takeaway from the process so far is to take things little by little and step by step. It’s amazing to look back at everything you have accomplished so far and I’m not going to lie, it feels great!
Stay tuned for more tips about this process. Next I will talk about preparing for the defense!
Carol Kennedy says
What a loving, sharing person you are. Obviously, you found the need to write this Graduate Thesis Proposal Guide to help others and that’s a wonderful gift to those searching for just this sort of thing. Though I’m a great-grandmother and not in school anymore, I just had to say, being so “shareful”, is a strong indicator of future success. Blessings.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blogpost Carol. I truly appreciate it 🙂 My goal is to just share helpful information.