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Writing the thesis – surviving and thriving

After finally choosing the topic and agreeing with two supervisors, your scariest, toughest, most life-consuming project of uni life is ready to start: hello Abschlussarbeit.

I wanna stay positive though; it is kind of exciting as well, being able to test for a grand last time what you learnt on the past years. The thesis is, of course, the way to prove you’ve got the skills and the strength (if not necessarily the knowledge) to conduct a whole research project on your own.

Here’s what you need to know about writing a thesis:


As I said, the next months will be tough, so first step: take a deep breath. Understand that you’re not expected to change the world with this project. It might be the case that few people aside from your parents and supervisors will read the whole document. However, once it’s done, your personal feeling of satisfaction will be more than worth it, I promise!

Second, prepare your space. Think of somewhere you’d like to spend the next months of work, it can be the library or a nice coffee spot, but you’ll also need a desk at home. Make sure to be surrounded by plants, lots of light, your tidy notes, and don’t forget to write some inspiring quotes on post-its and paste them right in front of where you’re working. One of my best friends got through the thesis with a “if not today, when; if not you, who?” post-it cheering him up.

The research process has many rules, mainly regarding citation formats (choose yours early and stick to it) and plagiarism avoidance. However, you’re free to start the way it suits you better. The general recommendation is to start by thinking on the objectives and the research question, followed by the hypothesis, but don’t worry if you only find them once deep in your work. Allow them to show up, control the scope but let the ideas flow. Write the Abstract last, it is a summary of the work you did and not a plan for the work you’ll do.

What’s been most effective for me is to set my thesis goals and my small personal deadlines using the SMART method.

S – specific: make your goals narrow. That’s why you’re advised to control the scope. There’s a tendency to think we can cover more than a university thesis actually allows. It is good to keep in mind the costs and resources available, the materials needed, etc.

M – measurable: make sure you can evaluate your progress. That’s easier when you prepare the content table in advance, that way you know on which chapter you’re working and how long until you get your results.

A – achievable: make sure the approach fits the time frame and that it’s within your set of possibilities.

R – realistic and relevant: choose a topic that really catches your attention, something to test, prove or add to. However, make sure there’s a previous batch of studies approaching the field, it doesn’t matter if it’s not completely new, just needs to be interesting and justifiable.

T – time-based: set a deadline, your project should have a fixed and ambitious end date. This is what will keep you motivated and will help you to know which task to prioritize.


Choose a creative and informative title. Download and fill the registration format here. Collect your supervisors’ original signatures (not digital) and submit the format to the ZPA. As soon as your application has been checked and approved, you will receive a letter of acceptance stating the deadline, and the processing time begins: you have 20 weeks.

Keep writing. You can check some of our productivity method suggestions in this article. They might help you to stay on track. Give yourself small rewards every time you reach an interior project goal and plan for proper rest days, they’re equally important as the productive days. On some of those occasions, dare to discuss your ideas with someone else, a colleague or your grandma egal, it’s a practice that keeps the mind organized and simplifies all that difficult information while bringing the words to your mouth.


Once you’re done, 3 paper copies and an electronic version must be submitted to the examination office. Make sure that the copyright declaration (with the declaration of publication) is included in every copy of your thesis. The office will send it to the named supervisors, who will then have 8 weeks to assess it. The colloquium should take place at the earliest possible date, at the latest twelve weeks after submission of the thesis. You and your two examiners organize the colloquium (arrange the date).

You go and rock it. The results will be published in PABO. And that’s basically when duty ends. You survived and you thrived.

Last step: celebrate!

6 Kommentare
    • Tania Berenice
      Tania Berenice sagte:

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