How to write a Master Thesis

If you are wondering how to write a master thesis, it is because you have already reached that point in your university career where you would think that everything would be full of good emotions for being so close to that diploma, but the truth is that you will experience stress like never before.
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How to Write a Master Thesis

Carlos' Opinion -
How to Write a Master Thesis.

During my time at Hochschule Heilbronn, one of the requirements for graduation was to do a Master Thesis.

The thesis period for bachelor or master students would become for some a stressful time.

As a difference from a regular studying semester, the thesis time is basically a work between the student and himself or herself.

As a student, one might have the thesis supervisors, but they are merely as support.

There is a thin guidance, since it is the student work to to figure it out what topic to write about the master thesis, how to write a master thesis, where to get the references, which methodological approach to use, where is the best spot to write the thesis and so on.

And of course, there might be lots of students where they might not have any clue at the beginning.

Questions and doubts keep rising.

Probably all master students pass this phase.

In my case, I already knew I was interested in a topic related to entrepreneurship.

But entrepreneurship itself, just that term is too generic, and for a master thesis you should create a fancy title.

You can start checking out many thesis, and find out very long titles that would also try to be very specific and go to the point of what you are going to write about.

And actually, this is recommended because there is already plenty information on internet, books and journals where you can get the information that you are looking for, so it would be better to target just what you are looking for.

So in my case, to find out a supervisor, I got to know that one of my professors was already working on entrepreneurship.

In one talk with her, she gave me as a tip to do a bit pre-research on the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.

As I got to know the work of that organization, it helped me out to narrow my topic on the different pillars that surround entrepreneurship, and I choose out the least developed pillar for my country, Mexico.

Therefore I came out with the fancy name: Fostering the Cultural Support of the Mexican Entrepreneurship Ecosystem.

Sounds a bit cool and smart, isn’t?

In my case, I focused to start with the research and information collection.

I searched in Google, by adding “pdf” at the end of the term that I was searching, to have better and academic search results.

I searched at ResearchGate, there is already a database of open research.

Plus, I used the university’s own digital library and also I accessed Tec de Monterrey digital library, since as an alumni I could also still have access to it.

Since the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor already had a database, I focused on a quantitative analysis, without the need of doing my own surveys.

I rushed first to get the sources and tried to get the important information, because I was planning as well to go to the World Cup 2018 in Russia. 😀

After my 2 week trip, I knew I had around 2 to 3 months left to finish the thesis, but for me was not that stressful at all.

I already had the important information collected, and it was a fact of setting it up in the structure and keep typing and analysing.

Eventually, I finished up my thesis and had to find out what was the best way to save money on the thesis printing, and a friend gave me up advice.

I also wrote the steps I did to save up some money when printing up the thesis in Heilbronn.

You can read it up here How to print your thesis in Hochschule Heilbronn.

So I hope that the following article helps you out in the creation of your master thesis.

Don’t hesitate to give me up advice when there are improvements or corrections to be done.

Defining Master Thesis Topic.

With this small guide you will learn how to write a master thesis correctly, with specific tips for each part of it.

Before any move you do, we recommend you to have properly defined the topic that you want to make the research.

We state this because you will be dedicating almost a whole semester for a specific topic, this also means, that it should be interesting and thrilling for you, otherwise the whole master thesis period would be a nightmare or long ending story.

The number one convinced about the relevance of the research is you, not your professors, or the university, you will be the one in charge of this thesis project, so it is highly recommended to select properly your topic.

If you don’t have any idea of which topic should you choose here are some tips. 

Write about your future career interests on a piece of paper.

Write about businesses that you would like to start, or job positions that you would like to land in, or any issue that you would like to find a solution.

This will help you to narrow the topics of interest that you might have.

At present time, the master thesis could be just a requirement of the university, or it could also be a thesis project with a company.

Either way, the research process will also help you on your inner professional development.

After graduation, there are plenty of students that don’t have any clue what are they going to do.

If what are you going to do after your studies is something that worries you out, remember that the process you will do on the master thesis could be a jumpstart for you. 

Either if you want to become an entrepreneur, or you want to land a dream job, the master thesis could also be the time where you sit down yourself to write out a plan for yourself. 

But in a more academic style, of course.

It would be up to you.

This blog has some articles that were based on Carlos’ Master Thesis in entrepreneurship.

If that doesn’t sound like a thing that you would like to write about, then there is another tip for you.

Ask your favorite professors in what areas are they doing research.

Professors at universities are most of the time working on papers and doing research.

Some professors might even be required to publish constantly.

Therefore, they are already investigating different topics.

If during your master lessons, there was one professor that had an interesting topic, then ask directly about ideas, or if they even need support on research.

This could be another path to find out a master thesis topic. 

Master Thesis Structure.

With this small guide you will learn how to write a master thesis correctly, with specific tips for each part of it.

One important step is to set up the structure.

Here we left a base that could help you to have an idea of the structure you should follow.

Remember that every university might have different requirements for their own thesis structure.

Table of Contents Example

  • Table of Contents #
  • Declaration of Authorship #

    Here you could write something like: "I hereby confirm that I have written the present thesis independently and without illicit assistance from third parties and using solely the aids mentioned. All parts, which were obtained literally or in a general manner from published sources, are marked as such." This is needed as a consent of your work.

  • Abstract #

    The abstract would be a sort of summary of your work, and it is recommended to be short, around 150 words, and it could be in another language. This could be left for the end.

  • Acknowledgements #

    Remember to say thank you.

  • List of Figures #

    If you plan to add any figure, it should be added on the list.

  • List of Tables #

    Or a list of tables.

  • List of Abbreviations #

    Or abbreviations.

  • Introduction #

    Here you explain the topic. Why it is an actual topic. You give a general idea of the research. You state the research problem and the goal. You also briefly mentioned any methodology you used, and a brief outline of the whole thesis. It is recommended to leave introduction at last.

  • Literature Review #

    Here you will define any keywords and key topics tp be explained.

  • Content Chapters #

    If you want to further develop your thesis into different chapters, you will develop the different topics that add up to the main research problem.

  • Methodology #

    If you decided to choose an qualitative or quantitative research, in this chapter you might define what where the steps you have done to prepare the research.

  • Results #

    In this chapter the results obtained from the research will be mentioned.

  • Discussion #

    On the discussion the author should give more from his analysis and how the results obtained could prove or reject the hypothesis stated during the problem.

  • Conclusion #

    It is an overall closure of the discussed topics of the master thesis.

  • References #

    Here will go the list of used references.

  • Attachments #

    Any extra information such as the interview scripts or the survey results could be added.

Before moving on, here is a video where you can follow up on how to create a Table of Contents in Word to set it up properly before working up on your thesis.

Writing a Master Thesis Introduction.

First of all, when we talk about the introduction of a thesis, we are referring to the section that opens the body of the text. It should give the reader an overview of everything that has been written in the work.

In order to know how to write the introduction of a thesis, it is of vital importance to understand that it is the point of orientation that will help the reader to know the direction of the text he/she is about to read.

Similarly, the order is as follows:

The description of the topic.

This is the part where you have to point out to the reader in a clear way what the thesis is about.

It does not have to be very long; a brief but direct description is fine.

If it is longer, more general details specific to the central theme of the text are included.

We know that the central theme of the text may vary according to the field of study, so the exact wording will go hand in hand with it.

Knowledge Gap Report.

This is the second step of the introduction, but it may be one of the most important.

Especially if we have the need to propose new specialized knowledge in the area of study, which is more than frequent in thesis.

Reporting a knowledge gap is easy, we only have to refer to what other authors have said about the topic we are dealing with, giving it the value that their contribution deserves, but ending by explaining those dimensions that perhaps have not been explored, or that have been poorly researched.

Whenever we go on to write a thesis it is because we want to test models or theories, so that we can validate them.

And at this point these can also be referred to.

This is not a criticism of previous work, but an observation to what may be more in depth.

Thesis Justification - Proposing a series of questions and/or objectives.

At this moment it is necessary to point out those questions we seek to answer with our thesis, or the objectives we hope to achieve.

These can be written in a single paragraph, or in the form of a list (in case we have more than one to help with the understanding of the text).

The function of introducing the questions and objectives at this point of the work comes with the need to generate an expectation in relation to what the reader will find in our thesis.

So these should be consistent with what we are about to offer.

The justification is that part of writing a thesis where we have to expose the reasons why it is being carried out.

These are understood as the reasons why it is important, or pertinent.

When we talk about “pertinence” we are referring to the recognition of how adequate and current is the topic being dealt with, according to the concept under which we are working.

Because we know that this type of work must bring innovation and also go to the depth of all aspects of the subject.

The first thing you should keep in mind is that the most important question you should answer is why you are researching that topic.

So it goes without saying that in order to know how to write a thesis justification, it becomes necessary to already have a broad knowledge of the topic.

Apart from this, at this point it is also vitally important to know clearly what are the objectives of the thesis, the delimitation that will guide the efforts, and the previous work that has been done on the same topic, so as to have them as background.

What questions will help you make a justification?

When writing a thesis justification, you are expected to answer the following questions:

It is worth mentioning at this point that the questions are not explicitly included in the work.

Rather, their answers are part of the paragraphs that should be seen in the justification of the thesis.

This section goes right at the Introduction of the Thesis, together with the general and specific objectives.

A preview of the text's internal organization

This step is usually neglected.

But, when it is done, it has the potential to facilitate the reading of the text.

It is like having a map of the path that the thesis will follow.

Writing a Master Thesis Literature Review.

Setting up the literatute review is to bring up context to your research, and set the reader on a frame. 

And we will explain this in three points:

  1. In the event that you have not mapped out the depth and breadth of the material that is currently available to you there is no way for you to develop a structure that is sufficiently convincing of the material that you expect to be taken as the basis of your work.
  2. In the absence of a complete summary of this material, there is no way for you to justify your research position.
  3. In the event that you have not done a thorough literature review you are losing context when you make any criticisms of materials that have been published before yours.

What you should know about literature analysis of a thesis.

Writing a thesis literature review consists of having in mind a clear understanding of the role it plays in the execution of substantive research.

And, to do so, you will have to:

Identify the context.

That is, know where your research thesis fits into the body of knowledge.

Know what the key concepts and variables are.

In every thesis a series of key concepts and variables will always be applied within the research area, and it is relevant to know them.

Know the relationship of the previous point.

If you do not handle something so simple, how do you expect the rest of your research paper to have consistency?

Establish the need for additional research.

And this may start from the fact that you have found some inconsistencies, or lack of evidence from what has been done so far.

And even if you feel that there are opportunities for further development, or alternative methodologies that could be taken into account.

The literature review will help you to set up that framework to define and direct the following aspects of your researh.

Writing a Master Thesis Concept Chapters.

There are some chapters of the thesis that you migh develop to add valuable information to your research.

At this point it is vitally important that you:

You demonstrate mastery of the material.

The focus should be on the relevance of the material to the topic that has been proposed, and the design of a logical framework to serve the analysis of the material, with relationships that make sense, and organized ideas.

Simple is better.

When writing a thesis it is important to include what you actually read and understood.

It’s all about making sense.

The reader, regardless of academic level, must arrive at the end of the reading with a complete sense of understanding of the study that has been done.

Otherwise, the thesis has failed to be useful in sharing the knowledge for which you worked on it.

Writing a Master Thesis Methodology & Results.

Here you would have to define with your supervisor what type of research are you planning to do.

If you are aiming for a quantitative or qualitative research, then you might set up different methodologies to do your research.

Either conducting interviews or surveys, find out which one will apply to your research better.

Writing a Master Thesis Discussion.

This part of the thesis is where most of the analysis and thoughts of the researcher are brought.

The discussion brings up back from the body the main aspects that approve or rejects what the researcher was aimed to look for.

By writing the discussion, you might going back and forth to remember what key aspects were consider, and what was found during the methodological research.

At the discussion, there might be no need to keep adding more citations, since here is more over an opinion of the writer based on what it was found.

Writing a Master Thesis Conclusion.

First of all, and for clarification, the conclusions are a final reflection on the work you have done.

This is the last part of the content of a thesis, and it works as the closing speech of the thesis.

To write the conclusions of a thesis correctly, you must take into account a series of elements that will be necessary, and sufficient, to make clear the results obtained from the work, the procedure followed for its development, and whether or not the objectives were met.

Therefore, keep in mind the following points:

Writing a Master Thesis Acknowledgements.

When writing the acknowledgements of a thesis, the first thing to do is to start with those that seem an obligation.

That is to say, those people or institutions that have supported us financially, directly, and with the words that you feel are correct.

Then you can move on to the instances that collaborated in your thesis.

At this point you must demonstrate that there was a professional relationship between them and you.

In general, you should thank the university, or some general entity, and each one approaches it in the way he/she prefers.

After these two important points you can begin to name those people who helped you professionally, such as your parents, a sibling, or a lover.

And also take advantage of the moment to mention those who served as advisors or tutors in the writing process.

Many people have doubts about whether or not it is good to thank God for the thesis, but if you feel so, add God, science must not be separated from spirituality.

When writing a thesis you put not only your faith in your studies, but in whatever religious beliefs you have to get it through.

At the end, students have to bring up energy from somewhere, because 6 months focusing on writing might be tough.

So the inclusion of this thanks goes hand in hand with what the writer thinks.

After all this you can make the dedications you have in mind.

At this point you will have more freedom, because it does not have to be anyone stipulated, but to whom you feel has perhaps been a motivation for your personal improvement.

This is the ideal point to let your personality come out after having been writing so formally.

Tools for Writing a
Master Thesis.

Obviously, besides using Word as the main word processor, there are some other tools that could be helpful for you while writting the thesis.

For references I used directly Word citation tool.

If you want another tool, there is Citavi.

As well, if you are more cautious with your writing and grammar, a friend was using Grammarly Word-Addon to have support on her writing.

This would be helpful to reduce or eliminate any typo mistake in your work.

What to do with the Master Thesis?

Unless you have been sponsored by a company or research institution, you are mainly the owner of the master thesis.

In my opinion, doing a master thesis is more focused on creating the abilities to THINK and to learn how to find answers, or prove them right or wrong.

But also, that written work should be used somewhere.

By my experience, I can say that I dedicated a considerable amount of time writing the thesis, that it would be better if I could bring more utility to that work.

What to do with nearly around 80 pages of written content?

Certainly, that work should be used for, so I decided to split my work and use that content for my blog.

For me it has been useful, since those articles are also being used by people from all around the world who are also doing research on Entrepreneurship.

So there is an option, you can start your own website and establish yourself as a thought leader and it will help you to bring up your work to the world.

How to Write a Master Thesis

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