Winter break can be the perfect time to unwind, reflect on the past quarter and have a bit of a breather before the new year starts. Winter break is also the ideal time to start preliminary research on your thesis. As veterans of the thesis process, we mentors have a few thoughts about thesis work and winter break:
- Take advantage of this time and remember that your thesis is in the preliminary research stage. You shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking that you should be crafting an argument now; rather, take this time to follow various argumentative threads and learn about your object, field, critical conversation or intended methodology. Having the time and space away from campus can allow you to do thesis work on your own time and without the pressures of classes and other projects too.
- Ask yourself “What do I want out of the project?” Asked early, this question can solidify the real-world scope of your project. That is, your true-to-self aim in writing a thesis. Do you want to play with the idea of Aristotle or explore the role of arts in economic and community development? Do you want to write a thesis that has both creative and critical components or would you like to ground your project in a discipline-specific topic? The answers to these questions may not be obvious, but taking the time to ask yourself truthfully what it is that you want out of this project can help bring your possible abstract ideas and thoughts about the thesis into more concrete and manageable terms. Remember the project scope too: 25-35 pages. You may come up with approximately 15 different project ideas, but remind yourself of what’s possible.
- Read Judiciously. You won’t be able to read everything; don’t read all of EVERYTHING. Be smart about what you choose to read. If you find early on that a specific article is not invested in the same idiosyncrasies or particular line of investigation that you are, don’t be afraid to put it down! Do write down why that particular article or book didn’t work. Jot down a few sentence that explain why you didn’t like this source or why it didn’t jive with your analysis. Also, keep a list of the articles your read!
- Just read. Getting started can be painful, but know that the time and energy invested now will pay off later in winter quarter. Trust us.