Copyright © 2012 Claude Lambert
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Over the years, I corrected countless master’s dissertations and about 100 Ph.Ds This simple advice stems from experience. Theses come from a long tradition, and teachers in all fields, be it philosophy or biology, have a lot of expectations in common. The only exception is math: mathematicians have their own unique rules for it. I once met a mathematician who had a three pages thesis. If you are not a mathematician, here comes a list of tips that might help you. If I had known all this before I entered my field of research, I would have done a better job: in any field there are things that you are supposed to know or to guess, and not many people will think of telling you. Here come a few tips stemming from experience and past mistakes.
1. Very often, you do not have much of a choice with your thesis subject, because you need funding, and the only way to get paid is to be part of a team working on a subject that is part of a grant obtained by one of your professors. It is a wonderful opportunity to work within a team and learn a lot of things but it is only a wonderful opportunity if your work is well defined enough to provide you with a thesis at the end. Be pre-emptive: do not get into a situation where five students will fight at the end for the same data or into a situation where you provide slave work and you will be author number 25 at the end of a long list, if you are lucky. What will be in your thesis and belong to you should be well defined between you and the boss. Confirm it by a gentle email (thank you for…. It is my understanding that…my subject will be … and will encompass… please let me know if this is correct) and keep a copy.