How to write a master's thesis (with images)

How to write a master's thesis (with images)
How to write a master's thesis (with images)

Students learning to write a master's thesis must first and foremost understand that there must be a research question to which they will need to answer later. A master's thesis will represent the most important part of your graduate studies, and a relevant dissertation question that forms the backbone of your work will elevate it from a prosaic level to a more meaningful one.


Part 1 of 5: Choosing a theme

Write a Master's Thesis Step 1

Step 1. Think about what interests you

You will pass a lot of time on this project, so it is imperative to choose a theme that really interests you, something that is not going to bore you after a while.

  • To obtain a diploma. The theme must be sufficiently complex, but manageable.
  • To take pleasure in working. The theme that really interests you, something you won't get tired of in no time.
  • To find a job. If you know what you want to do after graduation and / or what company you want to work for, it may be worth choosing a topic that will help you achieve that goal.
  • To make you useful. Your thesis may have as an objective the improvement of living conditions or the protection of the planet.

Step 2. Find thesis ideas

Think about your field in a holistic way. What are the gaps in the literary world? What new analysis can you do? Then think about what you enjoy about this area and what you have learned while studying. Try to synchronize the two to write a thesis that you enjoy writing, but that is relevant.

  • Think about your favorite subject in your studies. It could be an author, a period, a theory… Imagine how you could go deeper into the subject.
  • You can go through the notes you took during your studies and find out if there is a topic that you gave special importance to.
  • Speak with your professors and members of the university, they can give you useful suggestions. It is sometimes necessary to meet with your advisor at least once before starting to work on the thesis.
  • Consider reaching out to businesses that appeal to you. Some may be looking for information that you could expand on in your thesis. This might even help you find a job with that company afterwards.
  • If you want to participate in improving the planet, you can contact NGOs (Non-profit organizations) and charities or search for thesis topics on the internet.

Step 3. Choose the appropriate topic

After defining several possible topics in the previous steps, determine which one is closest to your main goals. Create a clear, precise and structured writing plan for writing your thesis and defending it.

Write a Master's Thesis Step 2

Step 4. Choose a research question

Think carefully about the questions in your master's thesis that will elicit important research and answers from members of the educational community and their clients. In your master's thesis, you must answer the research question with conviction and clarity in the written presentation you submitted to graduate.

  • Make sure that your question and the answers provided provide original content to the existing body of research. A smart question will make your research well focused, organized and interesting.
  • Once you have set out the topic and its focus, try to formulate 5 to 10 questions related to your research. This will force you to think about the topic flexibly and realize how minor changes in writing can influence the course of your research.
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Step 5. Conduct your research

In order to answer the central question of your master's thesis, adequate research is required. Read texts, conduct experiments, do whatever you need to do to answer the research question. It is through this that you will know whether it is worth continuing or if there are any inherent issues that you need to resolve. It will also allow you to gather the information necessary to move forward on the next steps.

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Step 6. Choose the thesis committee

Usually, the individual monitoring committee consists of two to four members. It is important to choose (if possible) members with whom you get along well, who have enough time to devote to your project, and whose area of ​​expertise coincides with the demands of the job you have to do.

  • In general, the members who will follow you will be chosen before you start your thesis. They can help you by guiding you and providing useful information, the sooner you choose them the better off you go.
  • There is nothing more frustrating than having your memory progress delayed by a teacher who has too many obligations to devote a little of his time to you.

Part 2 of 5: Choose your texts

Write a Master's Thesis Step 5

Step 1. Perform a literature review

Analyze currently available literary works and research that may be relevant to your master's thesis. This literature review must be exhaustive in order to ensure that your thesis is important and not redundant. It is important that your brief focuses on an original and relevant idea. To make sure of this, you need to be familiar with the context of your research, what other people have said on the topic and what the public thinks about it. Take note of the general information about your topic and the different people involved in the available document.

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Step 2. Choose your main sources

The main sources are those that were written by the initiator of the idea, the story, the theory, the experience … They constitute important factual foundations that will serve you in your master's thesis, especially if you are writing an analytical dissertation.

For example, a novel written by Ernest Hemingway or an article in a scientific journal in which new results are published for the first time would both be major sources

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Step 3. Choose your secondary sources

Secondary sources are in response to primary sources. They are important and should be included in your master's thesis, as you will need to demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of the critical context of your dissertation and that you understand what leading scholars in your field have said about the topic.

For example, a book written about a novel by Ernest Hemingway or an article in a scientific journal that examines the results of someone else's work will both be considered secondary sources

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Step 4. Manage your quotes

Depending on your field, you can front-end most of your research in the first chapters of your dissertation or you could distribute the sources throughout the document. In either case, you will have to follow several different quotes. You should keep track of your quotes as you write rather than adding them after you are done writing.

  • Use the citation standard appropriate for your discipline. The most common standards are MLA, APA and Chicago.
  • Create a works cited coordination or citation entry for each source you cited in the text of your document or in the footnote.
  • Consider using citation management software like: EndNote, Mendeley or Zotero. These will allow you to insert and move quotes within your word processing software and will automatically fill in works cited or reference pages for you.

Part 3 of 5: make a plan

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Step 1. Know the requirements of your field of study

A master's thesis in English does not have the same requirements and does not use the same formats as a thesis in Chemistry. There are two types of master's thesis.

  • Qualitative: this type of dissertation requires that one carry out a project of an exploratory, analytical or creative nature to a certain extent. This is often the kind of dissertation for students of the humanities.
  • Quantitative: This type of memory requires doing experiments, measuring data and recording results. It is often the kind of dissertation for students of scientific disciplines.
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Step 2. Define the idea for your brief

Prepare a clear statement of the central question you plan to answer through your research. It is very important that you can state your brief clearly and explicitly. If you have a hard time framing the question, you should rethink the whole project.

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Step 3. Prepare a plan

The plan will allow you to see where you are in the progress of the project and also give the jury members an idea of ​​what you intend to accomplish and how you plan to go about it.

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Step 4. Know what to include

You should check with your university for the exact requirements, but most master's theses should include the following:

  • Cover Page;
  • the signature page (with the signatures of the members of the jury, often obtained during the defense or after the project has been deemed completed);
  • the summary: this is a small description (about a paragraph) of all the work done in the brief;
  • the table of contents (with the number of pages);
  • the introduction;
  • Development;
  • the conclusion;
  • works cited or bibliography;
  • all necessary appendices and endnotes.

Part 4 of 5: Use the writing process

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Step 1. Establish a schedule

One approach that works for most people is to use the calendar in reverse. This method involves planning the writing from D-Day and working backwards. If you have a sense of how much time you have to finish the project and break it down into smaller, more manageable parts to assign them individual due dates (whether those dates are just for you or for your committee Chair also), you will be less overloaded with the scope of the project.

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Step 2. Write a little bit every day

Writing thirty pages in two weeks is not an easy thing, but if you can write 500 words per day, you will accomplish it very easily. Try not to succumb to frustration and put off your work, because this way it will pile up and become difficult to manage.

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Step 3. Try the Pomodoro technique

Most of those who have trouble motivating themselves and being productive with their memory find it helpful to work with pomodori (tomato-shaped timers) using the Pomodoro technique. The basic idea is that you concentrate and work for 25 minutes and then you take five minutes of rest. This breaks up your work into small, manageable parts and can reduce the distressing feeling that often accompanies a long, large project.

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Step 4. Take breaks

It is very important, especially when working on a large scope project, to give the brain a rest every now and then. You can't stay focused and working all the time without losing the quality of your content and jogging away from ideas for a few days will jog your memory when you get back to work. You'll spot errors you haven't seen before and get new answers you haven't thought of.

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Step 5. Find the writing time that works for you

Some people work better in the morning, while others can concentrate better at night. If you're not sure when you're most productive, try different approaches to see what works best for you.

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Step 6. Write your introduction

You may think that your dissertation proposal is a starting point in writing your introduction. You might want to copy and paste sections of your proposal to begin your introduction, but remember that you have the flexibility to change ideas as they progress. You might need to revisit your introduction a few times throughout the process, perhaps each time you finish a large section or chapter.

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Step 7. Incorporate the literature review

If you had been asked to write a literature review before starting the dissertation, that's good news: you've written almost an entire chapter! Once again you will need to touch up and revise your work, and you will probably find the opportunity to add elements to your review as you go along with your work.

If you haven't written the literature review yet, it's time to do some research! The literature review is in fact a summary of all the opinions of intellectuals on your topic as well as several direct quotes taken from the main and secondary sources that you cited as a reference

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Step 8. Contextualize your work

After analyzing the existing knowledge, you need to explain your contribution to this knowledge, in other words, what you have brought new to your field of work.

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Step 9. Write your dissertation

The rest of the memory varies greatly depending on the field. For a scientific dissertation, the following will be done with a few secondary sources since it is now a question of describing and presenting the results of a study. With regard to a literary dissertation, you will probably continue to cite secondary sources to base an analysis or to read a particular text or several texts.

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Step 10. Make a solid conclusion

Your conclusion should show in detail the importance of this master's thesis for the disciplinary community and may suggest guidelines that future researchers might follow to continue with relevant information on the subject.

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Step 11. Add additional information

Be sure to include tables, charts and figures if necessary. You could also add appendices at the end of your work which relate to your work, but which are secondary to the central question of your master's thesis. Make sure that all aspects of your work are presented according to the guidelines and requirements of your institution and discipline.

Part 5 of 5: finalize your thesis

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Step 1. Compare your draft with the requirements of your university

The submission requirements of dissertations and theses are known to be tedious and complicated. Make sure that the documents meet all the standards imposed by your department, in general and by your chairman of the jury in particular.

Several departments or programs provide a standard document for dissertations and theses. If you find one, it will be easier for you to use such a template from the start of your work (rather than copying and pasting your essay in it)

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Step 2. Reread your entire brief to make any necessary corrections

Take about a week after you finish work, to give the brain some rest, then come back with clearer ideas to spot any grammatical or typographical mistakes you might have made. When you are too involved in the writing process, it is possible to just read what you want to say rather than what you really want to write. It is therefore important to take a step back in order to assess your work and your writing more effectively.

Alternatively, ask a colleague or trusted friend to proofread your brief and help you pick up small grammatical, spelling or punctuation mistakes, and typographical errors

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Step 3. Follow all of your department's printing guidelines

You will likely have to print (at your own expense) one or two copies of your master's thesis for your university as well as any other personal copies that you would like to keep for yourself. Make sure you have followed all the guidelines to avoid any bad situation during this final step.

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Step 4. Prepare for your defense

After you have finished the bet of writing your master's thesis, you will probably do a defense during which you will have to present the ideas that you have put forward in your thesis to your members of the jury. This is a great opportunity for you to prove everything you've learned in the process and allow your jury members to ask questions and let you know any concerns they might have. As the name seems to suggest, this is often more of a conversation than defending your position.

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Step 5. Submit your brief

Your institution certainly has very specific regulations regarding the submission of theses. Most universities require you to upload your dissertation to ProQuest, especially for tracking purposes in their archives. So be sure to follow your university's guidelines for submitting dissertations.

  • Some institutions require that you submit your dissertation for format verification before uploading it to ProQuest. Be sure to approach the director of graduate studies in your department for specific instructions.
  • Don't forget the deadline for submitting theses, which is often well before your graduation date. The delay in submitting your thesis could force you to postpone your graduation date, which could affect your job or the pursuit of your higher education.


  • A thorough literature review or available research on similar topics might save you from wasting time on revisions before your work is presented.
  • Remember why you are writing your master's thesis and who might need to read and use it. Your master's thesis is aimed at your jury members, so keep in mind that they will have more extensive knowledge and experience before reading your work. Don't bore them with an unnecessary document.
  • Choose the ideal question before starting your research to save time and avoid frustration. The rigorous effort to find the ideal question is probably the most important task in the process of writing a master's thesis.
  • Consult with others who have already completed their master's thesis and graduated. This can be a long and tiring process and the help and advice of someone who has done it before can be invaluable.

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