Your master’s or bachelor’s thesis is a real scientific project. In the given time you have to use your energy optimally to work efficiently. This includes planning the effort for the entire project and dividing it into separate parts:
- Writing the work
Time is the most important factor in this project. Bachelor’s theses are usually set to 3 months, master’s theses to 6 months. Therefore, when writing your thesis, it is essential to make a plan to avoid stress and a bad outcome. Good time management allows you to continuously work toward your goal and effectively use the processing time.
Prologue to the schedule
An important and central goal of your studies is the completion of the subject. For most subjects this not only includes exams, but also writing a bachelor or master thesis. At the latest in the last semester, the time will come when you have to deal with this essential task. If you have already defined a topic and found a supervisor, you have taken the first steps for your thesis. But there is a lot of work ahead of you and you should structure this well.
Maybe you feel like there’s a huge mountain of tasks ahead of you. With a time plan for the Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis can handle this feeling something. This guide will help you to keep track of all the important steps in your work, to structure your approach, and to use the time you have available so well that you can do it all.
How to find a topic for Bachelor thesis & Master thesis
The concrete topic is the starting point of your work. But where do you get a bachelor topic from? An easy way is to ask a lecturer or a company for a given topic or to apply for this. Sometimes, however, it is also important to develop a topic yourself. The topic finding does not actually belong to the plan, because it takes place before the registration of your thesis. Nevertheless, setting a specific topic and research area can cost a lot of time. The following steps are important when finding a topic
- to search, formulate or interpret a topic
- explore the topic: collect information about the topic, interview experts or use your own knowledge
- Search and evaluate literature
- to narrow the topic
- set the start of the project
- determine the exact question
- Clarify methodology and procedure
- create an exposé and discuss this rough outline with your supervisor
Include the registration of your work at the examination office and appointments for the exchange with your supervisor. All these are steps that can cost time and should therefore be well planned.
Step 1 in the plan
Preparation phase for the bachelor thesis
If you have found a supervisor for your work and have committed yourself to a topic, then it could actually start work. But how? It’s best to set important parameters of your work first. These are:
- the time frame of your work
- the given scope of research and pages
- the formal claims
The formal requirements for a thesis vary greatly from subject to subject or between different universities. Even institutes of one subject can set different requirements for the creation of the work. In some degree courses, it is customary that you initially only agree on a topic, which is relatively informal, and this only after the completion of the bachelor or master thesis officially registered at the Examination Office. There are only a few time restrictions here. In other subjects, you will learn about your topic at short notice and then have only a few weeks to implement everything.
Typically, a bachelor thesis should comprise 30 pages and students receive 13 weeks or 3 months to write the paper. A master’s thesis comprises about 80 pages and for these you often have 26 weeks or 6 months time. These values are also assumed below.
First of all, make yourself aware of the individual work steps. Then you roughly estimate how long you will need for each phase. Samac, Prenner & Schwertz (2011, p. 28) propose the following classification:
- 20% structuring phase
- 20% exploration phase
- 20% reflection phase
- 40% writing phase
The writing phase thus takes up most of the time planning. But the three other phases together amount to 60% and are therefore very important for the success of your thesis.
Step 2 on schedule
The research of literature
Finding the right literature is essential for your work. This phase must therefore not be neglected. Finally, it forms the framework for the further course of action, for the theoretical part of the work, the derivation of hypotheses and your methodology. The exploration and structuring phase together comprise 40% of your plan. If you have 13 weeks to complete the bachelor thesis, you can plan about 9 days for the literature research. In doing so, you first look for suitable literature and preparatory work that you can use. Take at least one day to sift through the literature and get a rough idea of it. For working through the found literature and studying the books, you will continue for 16 days.
In the research phase you search for primary sources, view the material and also use research or secondary literature and other sources. In addition, you evaluate the literature collection, arrange the books and magazines. Also, be sure to clear up important aspects of the research, such as when the library opened, how inter-library loan works, and think of a buffer if you need books that are already on loan.
Advice on literature search:
- do not collect as much literature as possible, but only relevant sources
- do not miss the transition to the next phase
- If literature is missing, you can research it later
In an empirical work, you measure or collect data yourself. Here it is recommended to include the collection of data and experiments also in this phase. Are you planning experiments, interviews or measuring data in a lab, then do not forget that it takes time.
Tips for your experimental or empirical work:
- Go ahead organized from the beginning
- follow your schedule as accurately as possible
- keep a research journal in which you record test series or other data
- with the research diary you can better understand results later
Step 3 on schedule
The writing phase of the bachelor thesis
When all the preparations have been made, it’s time to write! The literature is studied, everything is organized and now only the actual work is missing. The writing phase is the largest part of your Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis and roughly covers 40% of the time. Here you work off several points in succession:
- you create an outline
- you make hypotheses
- you write introduction, main part and conclusion
4 to 5 weeks you plan for the writing phase and set up a rough weekly schedule. If your bachelor thesis includes 30 pages, then you should create about 7 pages every week. Find out the best how many days of the week you can actually write at work. If you have four writing days per week, then you have to complete each of these two pages. Do not spend more than 4 hours writing each day, otherwise you will suffer from effectiveness and quality. Find out individually at what time of day writing is easiest for you and when you can work especially productively.
Use writer’s block
Writer’s block and unproductive phases are not lost time. Instead, you can use such situations to read and correct individual chapters, create formatting, and properly refine the literature.
Later, these tasks would be unnecessary time wasters. Plan such phases from the beginning. Sometimes they even give you new ideas for your further writing process. Even better, you will progress if you create a work plan for the next day in the evening. This will save you time that is otherwise lost for consideration and re-entering the writing process.
Avoid distractions and write for a maximum of two consecutive days. After two weeks at the latest, your schedule should include a break for recovery. It is best to work one week and then take a break (Krämer, 1999, p. 30). Finally, you plan a few days on which you do not continue writing at work. This will give you some distance and a different view of everything. Now you can reflect the writing again and make small additions.
Step 4 in the plan
The correction phase for the bachelor or master thesis
Do not forget the correction phase in your scheduling! It is important for a good result. When correcting your work, you eliminate as many sources of error as possible. In order to avoid errors that have a negative effect on the rating, you should firmly anchor all stages of the correction phase in your timeline.
Important points in the correction:
- review bibliographical references and bibliographies again
- read it three times: first pay attention to the content, then to language and grammar and finally to formal criteria
Clarify formatting of the work
First, you check the literature. Wrong bibliographical references can lead to the failure or revocation of your title. Anyone who cites foreign ideas without citing a source commits a plagiarism – that must not happen. You can manually determine if all sources are correct in the text and bibliography. In addition, you can use plagiarism software. You upload your work and the software checks if there is identical content online. This will make your work plagiaristic. The universities themselves use similar software. Include one day in your plan.
When proofreading, you go through your work again under different aspects: content, language and formalities. As a result, you reveal many careless mistakes. Let the work read again by a third person – such as acquaintances or a copy. Professional proofreading is done by experts who make sure your punctuation, spelling and grammar work is flawless. An editorial office checks the linguistic level of the work. This is about the testing of repetitions and the reading flow.
With a final format check you make sure that the first impression of your work convinces. All formatting should be correct and meet the requirements of the university. Find out which regulations apply and check your document for them. Even a professional format check can help. This checks graphics, the table of contents, citations, the outline, the bibliography and the cover page.
In your timeline, the correction phase should take two weeks.
Step 5 on schedule
The submission phase of a bachelor thesis
Include the pressure of your work in the plan. This phase can still take a few days.
There are two variants of printing and binding:
- You print locally in a copy shop: This usually takes a day, but depends on the order situation and the opening hours of the shop.
- You can print the work in an online shop: This usually takes only 24 hours. You load up your work, select binding and embossing and then find the finished work in the mailbox the next day or it will be delivered to you by the parcel service.
- Then the finished work is handed over. It’s best to schedule two days for this phase.
Examples of different theses
Submission of a weekly schedule for the timetable of a bachelor thesis
When creating the plan for your work, it’s not just important. to calculate the individual phases beforehand, but also to deal with the calendar. Maybe there are days when you can not write your thesis because they have other appointments, such as lectures or your part-time job. How much working time is left for the bachelor or master thesis?
If you create a concrete plan for a week, the following overview can help:
- appointment speech
- literature review
- Get material
- Evaluate material
- Make an Exposé
- interim report
- Mails and phone calls
- editorial staff
Here you specify the week and specific days of the week for the individual work steps.
With a schedule, you structure your work. You keep track of already completed or still to be done individual tasks, organize your time wisely and prevent time shortage. Prepare everything well, write concentrated and check everything in the end again. Scheduled buffers help you when it takes a little longer