As promised, today we are beginning the first of a series of posts on how to improve your thesis writing. Anyone who has written a thesis will agree that it is no easy task and can make for some very stressful days, weeks and months. However, with the appropriate preparation, this career-defining task can be achieved with much less stress than one would think! We hope you all find these tips helpful and that ultimately you can submit a dissertation that you are proud of. We will be updating the Foolproof Reading blog with five tips per week, so don’t forget to check back here at www.foolproof-reading.com next week for tips 6-10.
1) Be organised from the start
– Write up the methodology for your experiments as you do them. It is very easy to forget the important, finer details of your methods when you try and recount these 8 months later.
– Formulate you glossary tables on an ‘as-you-go’ basis. This is especially important for abbreviations, otherwise you will find it very time-consuming (and less accurate) to try and list all abbreviations used when finalising your thesis in the last weeks before it is due.
2) Use headings and sub-headings to structure your work
– Don’t be afraid to use multiple levels of sub-headings, so long as it helps to logically structure your work.
3) Don’t use complex words (unless they are needed or field-specific)
– It might seem ‘cool’ to use complex words, but in most instances they seem out of place and disrupt the flow of the writing.
4) Use a reference manager
– Gone are the days of keeping a separate document where you cut and paste references as you cite them. Get a copy of Endnote or similar and learn how to use all functions of it.
– However, don’t forget, the reference manager is only as good as the reference information that you download or input. Many citations downloaded from Pubmed, for example, are not complete and have errors. For this reason you still need to check the actual citation list once you formulate this in case it has errors or omissions in it. Better yet, get a professional proofreader to do this for you – such as Foolproof Reading 🙂
5) Insert all figures in grouped format, or, even better, as pictures
– Microsoft Word has a tendency to do crazy things in regards to figure formatting when figures contain multiple aspects. If they are hard copied in as pictures, not much can go wrong.