I didn’t get it right the first time …
My very first master thesis is in economics. My thesis partner and I struggled as we had a very short time to come up with the thesis topic and research question. We already knew we were going to write thesis together and we started on schedule (which means late). What we should have done was to get started way before the thesis semester began. It does not have to be in-depth but at least to have a concrete idea on the topic and research scope from the very beginning.
It doesn’t matter which subject the thesis is about. As a kick-start to writing thesis, it is good or even essential to go beyond lectures and textbooks to find inspirations for writing thesis.
For my current thesis, I have been thinking about it since the first semester. To be honest, I don’t know what topic to focus on since I’m new to textiles at that time, but thinking about it means being open to different and outside perspectives. My ‘thesis ideas’ change all the time as I’m exposed to new studies and learnings. The more places I look, the more inspirations I get and the more I know what I want to write about. This time, I don’t feel as lost as before.
Other than lectures and books, where could be the inspirational sources for the thesis topics & research questions?
I get the most inspirations from watching documentaries related to my field of studies. A way to view things from new perspectives and different angles. ‘The True Cost‘ is one of the documentaries that triggers my thesis inspirations.
Attend Events and Networking
Campus events like conferences and career events are good ways to network as well as to gain insights and stay tune with the industry development.
My biggest takeaway was from ‘The Design for Prosperity 2014‘ conference in Borås University where global speakers present construction of new models of sustainable prosperity for a sustainable transformation of our present and future. It touches upon understanding of the ethical, aesthetical, ecological, technological, economic, and social challenges of our global societies. I felt like I had been given a dose of freshener. It’s about consolidating the different angles and putting the pieces together and together taking concrete actions towards a common sustainability goal, truly inspiring.
Check out job portal on the university website or other global job sites for thesis collaborations and research with other companies. It is a also good way if you want to search for companies that are interested in collaborating with your thesis topic.
The rest is reading up everywhere and being open to related blogs, journals and trade magazines etc. I get a lot of inspirations from talking to different people of all ages. Apart from people I met in school, speaking with my colleagues and friends, having discussions and debates with them on my ideas also brings in new perspectives.
When it comes to writing thesis, many students have the option of writing from home or anywhere, thanks to online resources and virtual meetings. This means students do not need to be in the university or in Sweden.
Although I’m writing my thesis in Sweden, I’m not anywhere near the campus and I have difficulties accessing the library books at my university which are not available online. I also find it challenging when I cannot have spontaneous discussion with my thesis supervisor in person to physically and visually present my research and thoughts.
From an international student perspective, is returning home a better option for writing thesis?
Here is the compilation of the experiences from my classmates and myself when it comes to writing thesis back home or off-campus.
Savings on rentals and expenses in Sweden
Get to return home or be anywhere
Opportunities to write or collaborate thesis with companies back home/outside Sweden
Cannot meet the lecturer or the thesis supervisor in person to facilitate discussions
Accessibility issues such as university’s resources and library books
Re-establishing rental agreements and/or the need to search for new accommodation
Distractions from families and friends, inability to focus
Inconvenient for discussions and meet-ups, especially for those writing thesis in pairs together with another student
According to most of my classmates, the main driver for returning home is the savings from rentals and expenses in Sweden. Although virtual meetings and online resources help to facilitate writing thesis from home, the main hurdle is not able to meet the thesis supervisor and/or the thesis partner (for those writing in pairs) in person for in-depth discussions.
It can get very stressful towards the deadline. That’s when students receive feedback from the thesis supervisors and have to make adjustments or re-do certain sections. Some of my classmates find it challenging to have virtual meetings with their thesis partners due to different time zones and some find it frustrating of not being able to reach the thesis partners in time for urgent matters, especially towards the due date.
For my classmates who stay in Sweden and write their thesis on-campus, they find it more convenient to make use of the university’s resources such as study rooms, labs, equipment and access to physical library books which are not available online. It is also easier to have in-depth discussions in person with the thesis supervisor and/or thesis partner. At the same time, it feels good to get the support from the classmates at school, checking in on each other’s progress, having discussions and sharing thoughts.
No matter where you write the thesis, it requires a lot of discipline and effort. Most importantly, do consider whether you have access to the essential resources if you write thesis from home/off-campus. Be prepared, think about the potential challenges you might face when writing thesis and have a ‘game plan’ to overcome these challenges.
Vacation’s over. I have now started working full-time since August. After my internship at IKEA had ended, I went for several interviews and was offered a position in communications from the same department which I did my internship. There are many companies within IKEA and I work for IKEA of Sweden AB in Älmhult. It is the heart of IKEA’s product development. This is where designers, product developers and engineers work closely together to develop the range and supply the home furnishing offer all around the world.
I had also switched the two year master program to one year which means that right now, I’m working full-time on my master thesis. The good thing is I can work on my thesis from home. I’m also trying to make a connection between the research area and my work. At my workplace, there is a textiles department and potentially my ground of my thesis inspirations. The textile manager happens to be a former graduate from my school, The Swedish School of Textiles.
If you are thinking of writing your thesis in collaboration with a company, one way to get started is to contact the companies directly. A good opportunity to do so is during Career Days in the university. It is best to have the research topic and ideas ready when you approach the companies so that the companies’ representatives can put you in touch with the right person or department related to your research area. At University of Borås, we also have Company Day where companies present thesis topics and seek collaborations with students.
September is the time to shake off post summer-vacation procrastination. Note to self and those who are also writing the thesis: Don’t panic and Start Writing!