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How to choose a Master thesis partner.

Master programmes in Sweden will have different regulations when it comes to the Master thesis project. Some of the variations include the number of credits awarded, the period of time for the thesis and the number of people allowed to collaborate. My 1 year Master programme has a 15 credit thesis that runs for 3 months and allows collaboration of up to 3 students. 2-year programs will normally have 30 credits running for 6 months and sometimes have no collaboration. It is therefore important to know how to choose a Master thesis partner.

1. Choose a partner that you have worked with before.

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I cannot emphasize this enough – it is wise that you choose a Master thesis partner who you have worked with before in past assignments. This is because you will have already experienced their work ethic first-hand and you can comfortably confirm if you will be happy working with them. Having worked with them before will give you clarity on the role your potential partner played in the assignment and their argumentative, writing and reasoning skills.

2. What if you haven’t worked with them before?

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If you have never worked with them before, ask them to share an article they wrote. By exchanging past papers that both of you have written, you will get to see the writing skills of your potential partner. It is even better if the paper is from a similar course so that you can easily understand if the two of you will make a good match for a thesis collaboration based on the arguments your potential partner raises in their paper. With the excessive writing expected in your Master thesis, having a partner with good writing skills is fundamental.

3. The thesis topic should be of interest to both of you.

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The topic of your Master Thesis should be agreed on by both of you so as to maintain a similar level of engagement. However, if the topic is chosen by one person, there might be an imbalance of interest and this will reflect through an imbalance of effort. Therefore, before choosing a Master thesis partner, getting an understanding of the topics your potential partner wants to focus on is important in helping you know if you will work with them.

4. Discuss and agree on what you want from the thesis.

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One way of ensuring you and your Master thesis partner are on the same page is through having a candid discussion of what both of you want from the thesis. This will include agreeing on:

  • The grade you are both aiming for. If both of you aim for an A, then both of you should agree on how much effort you should put to get the A
  • The kind of job/company/area of expertise you want to strategically work in.
  • If you would want the thesis to contribute to a PhD in future or be featured in studies, publications and journals.

5. Discuss and agree on each one’s contributions beforehand.

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It is important to learn each of your strengths and agree on how you will apply them to your thesis. Distribution of the work based on your strengths will ensure that you work faster. While it is highly unlikely that the amount of work done by both of you will be equal, the effort should be the same. Get a partner who has the strengths that will allow both of you to work equally. Otherwise, there may lack a balance in the work that you do and this may affect your personal life if you feel overworked.

6. Discuss working styles

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It is important to understand the working styles of each other. While some people like to do things last minute and work very well under pressure, it may be quite the opposite for others. Therefore, understanding each other’s work style and agreeing on a similar working style that considers both of you will allow you to work better as a team in terms of hitting timelines.

7. Use collaborative tools.

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To collaborate easily, you and your Master thesis partner can use tools such as Trello and Asana to track the tasks each of you should do. You can also use Mendeley to easily manage references for both of you. Lastly, google docs will allow you to contribute to the same documents, add comments and edit.

With that said, all the best with your group work and thesis!

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