Good material, right supervisor ease the process

Writing a thesis takes a lot of time and energy.

However, if you’ve done your research and planned it out correctly, it should be simpler than you think. Just make sure you don’t take on more than you can handle.

Maurice Yeates, Dean of Graduate Studies at Ryerson University, says the level of stress a student can expect to undergo while researching and putting together their thesis depends on the type of person you are.


“If you have good material, if you have it worked out right then it’s kind of fun writing up that kind of stuff,” says Yeates. “If you don’t have it worked out right and if you haven’t thought it through and if you haven’t done the type of research you should be doing, then it can be difficult and very stressful.”

A good thesis supervisor makes a big difference. Yeates says often students want to bite off more than they can chew in the period of time available to them. A good supervisor can make sure a student remains pragmatic about what they can achieve in the allocated time.

There are several kinds of theses. The most extensive is the doctoral dissertation, which is the prime piece of work students do for their doctorate. When completing a masters, students will either complete a research oriented thesis or a research paper.

“Basically what it boils down to is that if you’re in a masters program that involves a research paper, which is only then read by the supervisor and two other faculty members, then you do more courses, so it’s kind of all course work plus a research paper,” explains Yeates. “If you’re doing a masters thesis, then usually 50 per cent of the weight of the program is on courses and 50 per cent of the weight of the program is on the masters thesis.”

Yeates says most people get caught up in the amount of stress completing a thesis will cause them, but, as he points out, there is always stress in life. “At the graduate level the real big way of learning is to prepare a paper or a thesis which is your own work and shows what you can do and how you’ve been thinking about it and how you would tackle a particular issue,” he adds.

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