Reflection and Iteration

From Sustainability Methods
Type Team Size
Me, Myself and I Group Collaboration The Academic System Software 1 2-10 11-30 30+

After you have written the first draft of your bachelor thesis, you will continue with the revision. Here it is important not to be discouraged if you make a lot of changes. This is a normal part of the writing process and is essential for you to get the best out of your work. Below you will find some tips on what to consider when reflecting on your work.

At some point in your work you will have something written at every section that you planned from the beginning, or that subsequently developed while working on your thesis. Your work is done, or so you think. This is the starting point of your iteration. You already achieved something, no doubt. I always have trouble looking at a part of a work, because it could go on in all sorts of directions. Hence having your thesis written roughly is an ideal setting for an iteration. Give the work to one of your peers, and all the while start working on consistency. More often than not a typical problem of beginners in research is either inconsistency on working, or too much repetition of certain words. Be consistent in concepts and theories, but still write vividly and engaging, not overly relying on the same phrases. This is quite a challenge and you need to practice your skills in writing. This enables you to develop the experience to rewrite your thesis draft, and make it better. What can also be helpful is to deconstruct your thesis. How is the argumentation, what do you want to say in which section? Is the flow of arguments straightforward? Is the structure of the introduction reflected in the discussion? Do you only deal with concepts that are relevant for the thesis? Is all relevant literature quoted, but not too much? Is the style of writing readable? Do you provide clear take home messages? And most of all, did you decide? Writers make decisions. Quite often I read texts of young researchers, and you can see that they could not decide which direction to go. They wanted to put everything in, overburdening the text, and making the hook almost impossible to find. You need to decide what you want to keep in, and what is just an additional thought you may have considered necessary on the way, but coming to think of it not relevant. Allow me to say a word on time management regarding this stage. Most students writing a thesis work right up to the deadline, becoming increasingly frantic towards the end, and quite some are even extending the deadline if at all possible. All planning that was done by so many people almost never paid off. In most cases I am aware of, people just completely ripped their timeline, became exhausted, repeatedly pulled all-nighters, and would have liked to improve their work even more. What does this tell us? I think it is normal that this is a stressful and not always fulfilling time. After all, it is often the largest hurdle people faced so far. So let us be honest with ourselves. This can be stressful. As a supervisor, it is also important for me to read a thesis 1-2 weeks before it is finalised. It is just sad if a good piece of work is getting a worse grade because of some error that could have been prevented. Overall, there is so much or so little that we can offer here, which is why we keep it brief. This is the key learning point in any given work, in the end you have to shoulder this yourself.

Main stepping stones are:

1. Reflection and iteration with your peers to make it around the cliffs. Peers tell you when to stop. You need to be in exchange with others if you feel that you just go on forever and cannot find an endpoint.

2. If you cannot stop for weeks contact your supervisor. Sometimes it only takes a few minutes to hear that you are not alone with your struggles, but that this is indeed quite normal.

3. Text lengths seems to explode in this stage. Make sure to only quote the most important literature. In case you wonder how you identify the most important literature? You are the expert, so you have to call this one!

4. In this stage, people tend to get lost in themselves. Best make a clear visualisation of your stepping stones, and stick to it. This may be a simple sheet of paper, a bullet journal entry, a whiteboard, or a poster.

According to Chicago Style conventions

The author of this entry is Max Mustermann.