“… and that’s when I went to the fridge to get another beer.”
German teacher recounting how he corrected our exams
Ah, bachelor and master project reports, ah, bachelor and master’s theses, they could be so interesting … if it weren’t for the writing. Not the students writing it, but me having to read and correct the same mistakes over and over again.
Hmmmm. And yeah, some problems run deeper. A misunderstanding on how to do the work. Like “I’m only halfway through the analysis, but to stay within my time schedule, I’m currently developing the concept/design, I’ll continue the analysis later.” Okay, great, go ahead, build something without knowing the constraints, that will work out well.
But that makes it interesting. These projects and theses are the moment when students (and their advisors, well, mostly their advisors) see whether they actually did learn something. Or whether they just passed the exams without actually understanding the subject matter.
And on the plus side, many do learn — a lot. And actually surprise you (although … that excellent work surprises … that’s rather depressing). To avoid at least some of the usual mistakes, I did write an annotated version of the default project report/thesis template. I have removed the title page, among others, because AFAIK I may not put anything online on my own that uses the university logo. And given that I separate my work and and my private blogging, I did not feel comfortable with using it. Also, while the structure of the document is from the institute, the annotations do at least in part reflect my view on what makes a good thesis.
That being said, the template is available here as PDF export. It’s in German, sorry. The students write in their native language, reading the english abstract is punishing enough (think Yoda). And yeah, I also write in broken english, but I do not use Google Translate or bad school english. And there’s a reason why we use proof-readers. And yeah, as you might have guessed, I don’t use proof-readers here, I have neither the time nor the money. But the texts here aren’t the basis for an academic qualification (disqualification might still be possible, though 😉 ).
If you are interested in an english translation, leave me a comment. It might take a while though.
Oh, and BTW, other interesting postings might be the two issues preceding a thesis (in English and German):
- Finding a Bachelor, Master and perhaps even PhD thesis Topic in Media and Computer Science
- Writing a Synopsis for a Bachelor, Master or PhD Thesis in Media and Computer Science
or the following tips on writing (all three in German, sorry):
- Some remarks on Student Project Reports (Tips in German) <- nicely complements the thesis template, as it also includes the underlying reasons and offers practical writing tips (in the sense of dealing with writers block and the like)
- “Oh, du weißes Blatt, inspirier’ mich … oder besser nicht!” — Wissenschaftliches und fiktionales Schreiben ohne Inspiration (aber mit Inhalts-Outlines, Scrivener, u.v.m.)
- MetaNook Presentation (German): Wissenschaftliches Schreiben im Studium: Oder: Wie schreibe ich das verdammte Teil bloß?
P.S.: BTW, my diploma thesis wasn’t much better, nor was my dissertation thesis (prior to proof reading, I’ve got a photo of the proofreader feedback in Organizing Creativity — looks like the pages got in a bloody knife fight, and lost over and over again). That’s the thing, you make mistakes, you learn. I’d just like to outsource some of the work to always spot the same mistakes, so students can make better ones.