Bachelor thesis - how to write it with ease
The bachelor thesis is the first opportunity to write a comprehensive scientific text for many students. Depending on the course of study, the grade of the Bachelor's thesis counts for up to 20% of the final grade. It is, therefore, worthwhile to put much work into it and to intensively explore the development of scientific texts (also for the further course of one's career).
To give you some orientation about the different steps of writing a bachelor thesis, you will find the most important information here:
- Writing a Bachelor Thesis
Writing a Bachelor Thesis
To write a bachelor thesis and achieve a good result, you should heed a few essential tips. The work begins long before the actual writing. You can avoid many problems that you might otherwise encounter during the writing process with good preliminary planning. After that, you will have to do extensive literature research, after which you should start the writing itself. At the end of the process, you should not be afraid to have your work proofread.
Pre-planning - preparation is everything
Do you have a rough idea of what your Bachelor thesis should be about and want to get started right away? This is more than understandable but will present you with several problems. Even if it seems like a waste of time, plan your work well in advance and clarify the general outline before you start.
Finding the right supervisor
At the very beginning, of course, is the search for a suitable supervisor. This search is your responsibility, so start as early as possible to prevent other students from beating you to the punch. Every mentoring relationship is different, and there is no general "good" or "bad." In the best case, choose someone you already know and with whom you get along well. If you don't have anyone in mind yet, your university will probably provide you with lists of possible lecturers where you can find what you are looking for. Also, check out testimonials from previous students to better determine if you and your choice will likely be a good fit.
Your supervisor should be able to help you with specific questions about theories or methodologies, support you in making decisions, and help you understand the formal requirements of the bachelor's thesis. Don't be afraid to check in with them regularly and keep them informed of your progress.
Define your research question - consider your interests!
To define your research question, you need to have already done some reading on the topic. Usually, you start with a rough idea and then look at all relevant sources that provide you with information about your research topic. It would help if you were sure that your question has not yet been sufficiently addressed and has something new to contribute to the discourse. It does not have to be a noble prize-worthy innovation - often, small details are interesting or connections that have not been investigated in this form before.
Ask yourself: What can and do I want to contribute to this field? Do I have a unique perspective from which I can see the question? Be aware that you will spend many hours on your research question - so in the best case, it should interest you and provide you with intrinsic motivation.
Prepare a synopsis and a timetable
Your supervisor has been chosen, and the research question has been defined. Now you should take your time to write an exposé. The exposé is a detailed guideline in which you give an overview of the planned work steps, summarize your work's rough content, and create a schedule. In the context of a bachelor's thesis, an exposé is usually required by the supervising lecturers to be able to point out possible stumbling blocks in advance and to be able to provide adequate support in planning.
An exposé is also vital for you personally: through the conceptual planning, you will get a good impression of the feasibility of your project, uncover some blind spots, and have a guideline for later blockades, which you can use as orientation even in difficult times.
By the way, you don't have to realize the exposé down to the last detail. Often obstacles or questions arise along the way that you could not have considered in advance. This is quite normal - don't let yourself get confused and stay flexible despite all your planning.
Research literature - a good overview is important
When the research question is defined, the literature research starts. Be sure to take enough time to get a good overview of your topic's current state of research. The better you have informed yourself in advance, the easier it will be to write, formulate your hypotheses, and position your results in the scientific discourse.
Be sure to make a list of the literature you have reviewed. A literature management program can help you keep track of the literature and prepare well for the source references in your Bachelor thesis. It is best to ask at your university - usually, there is a program that you can use free of charge as a student. In most cases, this is Zotero, Citavi, Mendeley, or Endnote.
Tip: If you work with a literature management program and use a specialized word processing program for scientific writing, you can save much work when formatting. With SciFlow, for example, you can easily import your collected references and drag and drop them to the desired location. The formatting into the correct citation style is done automatically by the program.
The writing process
Enough of the preparation now - you can finally start writing. You will find that it will go much faster than you think if you are well prepared.
It's best to divide your writing up well. Nobody will manage to write from morning to night every day. Try out what rhythm works well for you. Maybe you can write well for an hour at a time and then need a fifteen-minute break, perhaps a short walk? Or can you dig in for three hours and then take a more extended break? It has always helped me a lot in those times to make an appointment in the late afternoon, book a sports course, or something similar. It gave me an excellent motivation to get my workload done and, at the same time, a counterbalance to the concentrated writing on the laptop.
Additionally, you can consider how to optimize your daily schedule so that you have to make as few decisions as possible that don't involve your bachelor thesis. For example, you could order a convenient cooking box for this time instead of worrying about what to cook today. Or, you could create a precise daily schedule for yourself that details when you'll write, when you'll research, and when you'll take a break. The goal here is to reduce the number of different decisions to concentrate on your Bachelor thesis fully.
Structuring your thesis - outline and composition
Your bachelor's thesis consists of an introduction, the main part, a conclusion, and possibly an abstract and an acknowledgment. Be sure to ask your institute in advance what the formal requirements are.
Writing the introduction
In the first step, create a (preliminary) outline for your paper. You have probably already set the foundation for this in the synopsis. After that, it is often helpful to write the first version of the introduction. However, you should adjust it again after you have finished your work since some things often change during the writing process. Some writers prefer to start the introduction only after the main part has been written and only make notes at first.
In the introduction, you explain your research question, your approach, and the relevance of your paper. You should also explain the structure of your paper.
Writing the main body
The main part is the core of your bachelor thesis. First, you should position your topic in the current scientific discourse. You explain the state of research and define critical terms. Then, describe the methods you used, justify your approach, and present your results. There is also room for crucial questioning of your results and an interpretation.
Especially in the main part, make sure that you do not lose your line of argument. It is essential that you build up your argumentation logically and that readers can follow you at any time. The exposé prepared in advance will help you with this.
Writing the conclusion
In the conclusion you should bring your work to a meaningful end and put all the findings in context. The conclusion should be related to the introduction. Together with the latter, it is a significant part of the thesis. In the future, many readers will read the introduction, read the main part on a sample basis, and look at the conclusion attentively again. In the conclusion, you summarize your findings, briefly place them in the scientific context and critically reflect on the weaknesses of your work.
Writing abstract and acknowledgments
If an abstract is required, you can keep close to your conclusion. In the abstract, readers should be able to find a summary of your work - all relevant data and facts, methods, conclusion, classification, and criticism belong here.
An acknowledgment is not obligatory, but most writers include it. Here you can write an informal and personal text. It is common to refer to all the people who have provided financial, professional, or emotional support. A short history of the bachelor thesis is also often placed here: How did the choice of topic come about? What obstacles and good moments occurred during the writing process? Don't go into too much detail here - the acknowledgments should not take up more than one page.
Dealing with writer's blocks - when things go wrong
There are a few proven strategies if you get stuck during the writing process. The cause is usually the pressure you have put on yourself, either internally or externally. Therefore, it helps many people with writer's block to step out of the writing process entirely for a few hours or even a few days and clear their heads. This can happen especially if you don't manage to create enough counterbalance to writing in your everyday life.
Sometimes, however, a state of overwhelm sets in in the face of the giant pile of work. In this case, a look at the preliminary planning in the exposé can help to gain confidence about the process. It often helps to know the following concrete steps and then work through these step by step. You don't have to have the entire work in view. Work your way forward piece by piece.
If you get stuck in thought loops and are struggling with a hypothesis or a formulation, talking to selected fellow students or outsiders can also help. Choose someone from whom you will not receive unwanted and unsolicited feedback - this could make you feel even more insecure. Find someone you trust and discuss your current blockage with them. Often, an exchange of ideas quickly solves what you could not sort out in your head.
Proofreading your thesis - almost done!
Once you have finished your Bachelor thesis, you should have it proofread. You can either hire someone who does this professionally or you can look for people in your environment who can help you.
It often makes sense to ask someone familiar with the topic (such as a fellow student) and an outsider (such as a best friend who has a different career path). Feedback from someone close to your topic can challenge you on the content and give you final ideas for slight restructuring or open questions. If you also give your work to an external person, they will probably have completely different questions. Both parties should also be on the lookout for spelling and grammatical errors.
In addition to people, it makes sense to have your work checked by a spelling program. Some writing programs already have an excellent built-in checker. In SciFlow, for example, this is the text checker of LanguageTool.
Focus on your work - we take care of the rest! The SciFlow text editor is compatible with all common reference managers; you can simply drag and drop your sources to the right place. SciFlow takes care of formatting automatically, while the spell checker takes care of grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
If you take the time to plan your thesis well in advance, find a suitable supervisor and write an exposé, you have already laid a good foundation. Detailed literature research and a daily routine during the writing phase will help you make good progress. In the end, get help with corrections and hand in your Bachelor thesis with a good feeling. Don't be too hard on yourself if you get stuck and take breaks.