This is a message for all our hard-working final year students who are sitting over their respective keyboards doing battle with their theses... hold your nerve and keep going! I'm sure you're all experiencing moments like Paul Sheldon in Stephen King's Misery... see below!
When in doubt, just stop and take a look again at your plans and keep asking yourself this simple question: "What does the reader need from this paragraph?" Ask yourself, "Is this paragraph earning its keep? Is it doing an identifiable job? Is it making use of good supporting evidence? How is it helping your argument get from A to B as purposefully as possible?"
Your enemies now are repetition, deviation from the through-line of your argument, and departing from evidence-based discussion. Are you saying the same thing over and over ? Are you going off on tangents at the last minute? Are you asserting things to be true - or true of everything or everyone - without the necessary evidence to support your claims? As students get more tired, academic conventions and the 'tone' of their writing tend to be the first things to slip, so take a break, freshen-up, and reappraise the academic quality of what you're writing, and how you're writing it.
Proof-reading: if you haven't roped someone in to proof-read for you, rope them in. A fresh pair of eyes will be invaluable to you if you want to mitigate against annoying typos and grammatical errors.
Some basic house-keeping: you need to provide two bound hard-copies of your Thesis to be handed in to Campus Registry on Friday 25th January between 4pm and 5pm. Prior to this, you will need to have uploaded your Thesis to Turnitin, retrieved your ID number, and added it to your assessment cover sheet (available on myUCA etc). You need to be aware that Campus Registry are instructed to close the door to any student submission after 5pm... Even if you are a minute late, Campus Registry will disallow your submission. Every year, one student will push their luck and things always end in tears.
I suggest you seek to submit early and leave nothing to chance. Printing and binding a thesis all take time and if you're doing everything at the last minute, you are upping the chance of falling victim to unforeseen circumstances.
You can purchase binders from the UCA shop (Ground floor) - and there are binding machines in the UCA library, though I strongly recommend you ask for assistance before attempting this - and please don't attempt it at the last minute!
Other things to remember: you need to ensure your thesis is presented according to academic conventions: contents page, page numbers (students often forget to paginate their work in their hurry), and 1.5 spacing for your text. Things to avoid: don't 'text wrap' your illustrations, as this often creates disjointed formatting and makes for a more difficult reading experiencing. Present your text and illustrations the way you would on your blogs - so a paragraph of text followed by a centred illustration, followed by a paragraph of text and so on. Trust me - your assessor will appreciate this sane, simple approach.
Many of you are writing your theses using bullet-points or sub-headings to help you cover all the points you need to make. You should remove all bullet-points and sub-headings from your chapters prior to submission, as these create the impression of reading 'a list' or a 'chapter plan' and assessors don't like them because it fragments your argument. The only titles should be your main headings at the start of each new chapter.
Remember too: write (or re-write) your Introduction last; this is so you can accommodate any changes in your argument that have happened naturally in response to your research. This is the moment where you can re-clarify 'what' you've written, and 'how' you've written it and which theorists and ideas have become most important to your debate. Your introduction should mirror the thesis you've actually written, not the version you started writing much earlier. They will not necessarily be the same thing at all at this stage - and that's okay!
And finally - make no mistake: your Thesis represents a huge achievement. It's not easy. It's a massive challenge. Don't underestimate what you're undertaking. Take pride in just how difficult this task is, and how well you've managed it so far. You're a final year undergraduate student - it doesn't get more grown-up than this!
|This is you @ 4pm on Friday! Job done.|