How to: Write a Master's Thesis in 3 Weeks

I liked how he wanted her to party in his pants in the movie
This makes no sense at all.

Makes no sense that I am here giving advice to a blank piece of digital paper on how to complete a thesis in 3(!!) weeks when I, myself, haven't gone the distance to do it. But strangely enough, perhaps maybe because it's Buddha's birthday and he is all smiles and he did some tantrik, calming-down shit on me that has instilled belief that I really can. Hey, if Trump can dream, I can too. 

Btw, happy birthday Buddha! 
Even though I rubbed your fat belly and lost every single hand in poker last night. You sly, fatso you. Throw in those aces next time eh?

So where was I? yes, yes the thesis.

Thesis can be a daunting task for any graduate student. To write down two years plus worth of research and paper reading and more research and more paper reading and implementing can be strenuous, confusing and most importantly, tedious. Most students I talked to had so much information they just didn't know how to begin.

But no worries, here I present a reasonably well structured plan that can be implemented directly to your thesis writing plan. However, for the plan to be successful, I am assuming certain responsibility from your part as well:

Responsibility 1: You shall work every single day
Responsibility 2: You shall drink every single day (I am kidding mom, just kidding)
Responsibility 3: You shall look in the mirror and you shall repeat the words "I love writing" (DUH!)

For me, writing is not an issue. I like what I do and I know the knowledge will help me sustain a living after I graduate and so forth, there's a natural motivation for me to finish my thesis with aplomb. I actually feel excited about the prospect of shoving down my thesis at people's throats after I am done.

I seriously do. You just wait for it.

This might be the case for me but not necessarily for you. The important thing to realize is that you have a topic you have in mind, and you have been thinking about it for a long time now and that you have a good level of understanding on the subject matter. Remember I said good, not deep. Good for now is enough, you will delve deeper once you start writing and realize that you haven't actually understood at a level where you can write about it. Try it and you will know what I mean. 

He's funny

Playing the Thesis Game

Forcing an Aim
In order to find a motivation, your thesis topic should have a particular aim in mind. Take a moment to think about what exactly you are trying to accomplish with your thesis, what impact this might have in the society or scientific community or how future academics and researchers, industries and policies are going to use your understanding to improve on what they already know. 

Whether the topic is about analyzing whether implementing better public transport system in less dense cities reduces carbon footprint or why chimps masturbate in front of cameras, it's up to you to really think and force an aim for your thesis. 

For instance for me, when I started out building a camera, there was no comprehensive study, or a book that gave proper direction on know-how of building a camera from scratch. I really struggled and although my research on paper looks linear, it isn't. I want my thesis to be a go to guide for anyone who is going start out like me; from knowing nothing to having at least a sense of direction and important tit-bits on understanding cameras so that they can, from then on, do their own research and explore and build their own imaging payload. 

What I have noticed is that, when you are writing, you really have to think who your target audience are and how they would perceive your writing. That will help you to find 1) motivation 2) sense of purpose. You can be a pessimist and think that nobody would read it but that's exactly how you started writing your thesis; with no audience in mind.

Once you identify the audience and the find the aim, sitting down and typing gets so much easier. 

Content Writing and Scheduling
Ok, I lied. 3 weeks is quite short. I did market this blog to make come here but what I am trying to get here is that scheduling can really let you see the whole picture force you to start working. It not allows you to plan time ahead but also let's you schedule "cushion" days where you can rest with a bad hangover or do laundry or finish up portions which are taking longer than expected.

So how exactly do you go about Scheduling?

Imagine opening your thesis for the first time and looking over the Contents section. What do you see? List down every bit of topic that you want your thesis to have. After that, think of the heading that you can write the most, the one with you are most familiar with. Once you have identified that, move on and select another one that you feel you can write more. And so on. 

After that, it's all about assigning days. Just make sure that you give yourself time because as I mentioned before, as you start writing, there will be moments where "I know this thing but I don't seem to explain it well or sound convincing, I need to do more research." That's guaranteed to happen

For example, my Contents Scheduling looks like this:

pays to have a nice white board
I know for a fact that I have much more understanding of my camera's hardware design and architecture. By selecting that as my beginning point start typing galore, I finish up an important portion of my thesis done. I have seen so many people start our with Introduction and tackle each topic in a linear fashion but I don't recommend that. Hardware for me is the core of my thesis, and I should first finish up that core before I can move on to add unnecessary bullshit on my beginning chapters.

Breaking Down the Big Guns
Once you have identified and scheduled the topics in your thesis, you move to the next step and really taking the time to think about all the sub-topics and important information you want your thesis to include. How do you approach the beginning? What is the foremost thing you need to explain in the chapter? How do link each topic in linear fashion one after the other?

For example, in my case I identified that Hardware is my go-to topic to get my thesis going:
just whatever you wanted to write about the topic

I began pondering describing how I selected the processor for my camera in the beginning but I soon realized that I should have first began with the image sensor. AND then I realized that to select the image sensor, I should have been clear of all the design constraints that the satellite imposes. Is there a specific mission requirement that the image sensor needs to fulfill? Does the satellite have enough downlink capacity for a RGB565 QQVGA image?

Once I backtracked and found out the root of the Hardware, the others just started popping up like popcorns. All you have to do now is stick to your plan and repeat the same step over and over again for each topic. This works. This really works. 

Compiling and Editing and Stuff
The way I work is that I tackle each topic and save it on a separate word file. Hardware will have hardware.doc and Software will have software.doc and so on. Once all the topics are tackled and wrestled, they need to be placed the way you want your readers to read them. 

This is when the tedious work begins. You assign numbers to tables, graphs and pictures. You go through each line and see where you have to reference it (helps to keep memo). And then go and find that source and refer it properly. 

You might be saying why the f*ck do I have to bother writing about this stuff but this actually takes more time than you think. If you thought writing took time, well my friend, this takes equal amount of time. Format, refer, edit, repeat. 

And there you go
And yeah, there you go. Hope this helps planning and disciplining yourself to untie that final knot between your graduate school education and long lustful freedom. Or so I think.

Have yourself a good Saturday.


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