Jörn-Henrik Thun
Professor of Operations Strategy
Master in Management

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings… or how to survive the Master’s Thesis

February 6, 2015
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Well done! Mission completed. All presentations are over, all written exams passed successfully. No! Something is missing: The Master’s Thesis. But this will be a piece of cake! Again: No!

Note that the topic of your Master’s Thesis might be something like a business card since no one will ask you about your last written exam, but certainly will be interested in what you have dealt with the last three or four months on your own! So think thoroughly when choosing the topic. You will live with it for the next months! It will accompany you wherever you’ll go! And it is more pleasant to look into the eyes of a lovely bride day to day.

Get started early!

Some make the mistake believing that there is plenty of time. It’s funny how time flies when you are busy. The great advantage of starting early is to steer the boat into the right direction from the very beginning which raises the effectiveness of work. To be as efficient as possible is important but on the wrong track it will be meaningless since any progress is worthless. If you do not manage to start early your chances to receive a good grade will be like a snowball’s chance in hell!

Structure your work.

Some are just writing about a topic but without any clear line of argumentation. This is definitely awful for a potential reader the reading flow is hampered. A good structure enables a stringent path of argumentation. Moreover it helps the author to climb from one chapter’s mountain to the other.

Stay in contact with your supervisor.

Although it might not be appropriate to show up every single day, a supervisor would like to know about the progress of your work. And sometimes he might be even helpful in terms of critical questions.

Motivate your work.

One can bore a reader to death but he is obliged to do so. An interesting introduction should motivate the reader to go on reading by highlighting the relevance of the work. If a potential reader gets lost in the introduction he might be lost forever since there is only one chance to make a first impression. Tell him where you want to go and why your work is worth reading it.

Work precisely.

Although some people believe that citation is something for bored nerds it is definitely required. It is nice if people have their own thoughts and beliefs but they are not essential for an academic work. Honor who honor is due. So cite the authors of useful approaches, methods, etc. They deserve it.

Do not cite everything!

Although it might be attractive to cite the own contribution in the current issue of “In Touch” it is not appropriate for a scientific work. Focus on academic sources such as scientific journals or books. Furthermore, also current sources should be used in order to stress the novelty of a topic.

Be careful with the way you work.

Sometimes the good impression of a scientific work is weakened by a poor layout, bad wording, or many orthographical and grammatical errors. There is no necessity to make mistakes! A proof reading is strongly recommended.

After finishing your work you can be proud and celebrate yourself intensively. But do not start celebrating until you can hear the fat lady sing!

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