Revision Land

You thought the post after the Conclusion would be on the defense, didn’t you? Ha! Sorry for the disappointment, but you don’t just get to jump from the draft to the finish line.  Don’t get me wrong—it is an accomplishment to complete the first full thesis manuscript.  Some people never make it to this stage.  That said, you have rounds of revision to undergo before your thesis is ready for the defense.

Hopefully, you’ve been in close communication with your thesis adviser this whole time and you’ve already revised the first half of the thesis based on feedback from the proposal defense. If not, do that first. And if your adviser has critiqued other sections, make sure you’ve corrected those as well (I prefer to look at a draft of the Findings section by itself). Once all feedback has been addressed, it’s time to send your first full draft to your adviser.

Give your adviser 1-2 weeks to read the draft.  We are busy people and we care about our students so we need the time to read it and give you feedback.  It’s fine to check up on your adviser after about a week if you haven’t heard anything.  This email should be more to the tune of “Hi Dr. _____, just making sure you’ve received my thesis. Thanks!” and definitely not “S’up, First Name, why haven’t you read my thesis yet?”

When you receive your thesis feedback, brace yourself.  Criticism is not easy for anyone.

Some points to keep in mind about your revisions

  • Take a deep breath. If you need to just glance at the feedback briefly and then come back later to do the work, that’s fine.
  • Recognize that everyonehas to do revisions. The more revising you do now, the more smoothly the defense will go.
  • If your thesis isn’t as marked up as expected, it may be because your adviser wants you to focus on particular changes for this round and save more detailed changes for later (i.e. if your adviser spots some organizational issues, it makes sense to have you fix the structure of the thesis before highlighting grammatical problems).
  • Address everynote, question, and mark-up from your adviser (and your committee). Your revised draft should not include any of the issues from the last round of revision. If you don’t understand something, ask!
  • I will say it again, revise everything! Nothing is more frustrating than rereading a thesis with the same issues that I commented on in a previous draft. It feels like the student doesn’t care and doesn’t value my time.
  • Revise everything your committee members suggest. You also don’t want your committee thinking that you don’t care and that you don’t value their time.
  • Visit the Writing Center on campus. The folks there can help you with your writing and give you support.
  • Push through and complete the revisions! You can do it!
  • Don’t be surprised if there are more revisions. Most students go through multiple rounds with their adviser before the thesis moves to the committee.

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