Structure of the thesis

Create an index (to be corrected several times)

We had already talked about and explained how to do a degree thesis index. The index is the backbone of the manuscript, it is the part around which to build the thesis. Those who have never written a thesis or even a book may not understand the importance of the index. The first objection could be: “How can I write the index if I still don’t have the content?” Think about it if you have never had a structured writing experience. Instead you will notice by writing that the index serves precisely to draw guidelines: the skeleton of your text.

The index is your map during the thesis writing adventure.

The index must not tie you or bind you, but support you in writing your text.

It must be the bone on which to build muscles, nervous system, organs and skin.

You can modify the index every time you realize that you have not considered important parts of the topic. The index is a red thread to follow when writing.

How is it created?

Much depends on the type of thesis you plan to write.

A historiographical thesis will probably follow a chronological criterion, even if each theme will then be studied in depth according to an accounting chronology.

A biology thesis will explain a scientific phenomenon from several points of view: the classification, the study of the habitat, the study of chemical components, the observation of the phenomenon over time, the conclusions.

An experimental thesis in chemistry could be organized based on the experiment: description of the tools, description of the experimental protocol, analysis of the collected data.

To create the index, imagine that you have all the topics you could touch on the thesis in a container. Probably (and if you followed my instructions) you have already read many texts on the subject and you have also started the actual experimental phase (in the case of an experimental thesis). This results in a great deal of data and ideas accumulated by your brain, but also in a feeling of chaos and confusion.

Here, take your ideas one by one and separate them according to a cataloging criterion. Help yourself with paper and pen, imagining extracting the individual elements from a messy drawer and replacing them on the sheet in a given position: at the top right the type A elements, at the top left the type B elements, at the bottom left type C elements and so on. You will realize that some topics contain others: they are the macro-themes, they will probably become your chapters. The microthemes instead will be simple paragraphs.

At this point, think of a lineup that allows you to touch all the topics and put it black and white using a pattern similar to this:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1
  • Paragraph 1.1
  • Paragraph 1.2
  • Chapter 2
  • Paragraph 2.1.
  • paragraph 2.2
  • Conclusions

The straight of the methodical nerd

If you have collected written material, notes, flyers, images, books, I recommend creating a folder for each chapter with all the material you will use during the writing. Going forward with the research you will add or modify the material, but it will be very useful (and relaxing for your mind) to have everything already divided by topic.

Write following the index

Thanks to the index, you will be able to better argue the jumble of ideas you have in mind. The trick will be to follow that index and let it guide you to deal in depth with the content of the paragraph you are dedicating to.

It is normal that new ideas are being drafted, so nothing prevents you from changing the index if you realize that some initial ideas were unfounded or if you notice that a particular topic has more importance than what was believed at the beginning .

Once the writing process has started, it is likely that you will need to consult texts or data that you have previously seen. Other times, your teacher will ask you to go back over the steps to modify them.

It is normal, in short, to pass periods in which one writes less and periods in which the keyboard seems to go by itself. The important thing is never to stop and try to keep your fingers “hot” by throwing down even a paragraph a day. In this way, when you return to the most intense phase of writing, you will not have to go through the feeling of blockage experienced at the beginning of your thesis.

An important organizational aspect is to establish times: when you have understood what is the average of pages per day that you can guarantee, calculate the number of days available to establish also in an indicative way when you finish the job. Respect the timetable: it will help you not to arrive – as many do – to write the thesis in the 3 days before delivery!

And it will also be important because you will need to correct: go deeper into the next paragraph!

It never ends to correct

When you write, the time comes to correct sooner or later. Personally, I love the phase of correction because it allows me to get an overview of the work done. For some, it is a tedious and somewhat frustrating job. Whatever your idea about it, I reveal to you a great truth that you will have to deal with sooner or later: you never end up correcting and every time you read your thesis you will find new errors.

We can summarize the errors in two types:

formal errors: syntax errors, grammatical errors, small typos such as typing errors

substantial errors: wrong or incorrectly expressed concepts, logical leaps, errors in the data and in the information reported

As a rule, a good speaker reads and corrects the thesis with his student during the writing. My rapporteur, always very attentive and present, corrected one chapter at a time, so it was more convenient for me to wait for his notes before moving on to the next chapter. If you are not as fortunate (or unlucky, depending on your point of view …), you will find yourself presenting the thesis to the speaker after having written it all out. In any case, I recommend making intermediate revisions, for example at the end of each chapter, so as not to arrive at the end with macroscopic errors that would be difficult to remedy.

What should you do?

if possible print the chapter

read the pages noting the corrections on the side

go to the file correcting the things reported on the sheets of paper one at a time

Don’t correct directly on the file, better read it first. It will give you an overview that otherwise you would miss.

How long is a degree thesis?

On the length of a thesis there are several schools of thought, but the real answer is “it depends”.

It depends on the subject.

It depends on the level of specialization.

It depends on your way of writing.

The advice I can give you is these:

  • do not be afraid to ask your rapporteur if there is a recommended length
  • check if your faculty has published on the website of the guidelines in which an indicative length is also specified
  • ask your colleagues around: perhaps they have posed the problem before you and they already have the answer you need
Where is the thesis printed?

In copy shop. Around the universities it is full of specialized copy shops that also print degree theses. They usually have covers prepared and are able to perfectly reproduce the university logo.

Before taking the file to print, check that at least the cover and the title page are free of typing errors!

Do you have a doubt? Ask the speaker!

If some speakers are uncooperative or completely absent, I have also known many students unable to relate to their supervisor.

Relating to the speaker does not mean suffering from your anxieties and requests, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, even the simplest ones. Go to an interview or write e-mails in a polite and formal way. It will be difficult for you not to give a clear answer.

Remember: it is YOUR thesis, it is YOUR moment

for some students the thesis is a frustrating moment that generates panic and palpitations. Others face the thesis with total indifference, as a necessary step to achieve the thesis and finally launch into the world of work.

I remember the months in which I wrote my theses as happy periods, because despite the difficulties I managed to create something of my own, something that would put to use – at least from an intellectual point of view – everything I had studied for years.

I do not know with what attitude you will live your thesis, but I hope you always remember that it is your moment of glory, therefore face it with positivity and enthusiasm, because rarely in life will you ever happen again to be able to dedicate to a project with the same freedom, dedication , availability of time and expression of interest from the world around you.