A thesis prepares you for scientific work at the university while you are still at school. We give tips on finding a topic and setting up the work. We also explain which mistakes you should avoid. Writing a thesis with these 9 tips & avoid 7 typical mistakes (+ examples).
Usually you have to write a thesis at some point during your senior years. This is a scientific paper on a specific topic. You either decide for yourself what you want to do in your work or your teacher assigns you a topic. The project serves as preparation for a university career, while you many scientific papers written, for example papers , a thesis and possibly a master’s thesis .
Writing a scientific paper is not that easy. There are a number of points that you need to be aware of. It is important that you have good time management , show patience and do not put yourself under pressure . In the following we give tips with which you will surely succeed in your technical work.
Table of Contents
- Find topic
- Sample topics
- Tips for building your specialist thesis
- Typical mistakes when writing a technical paper
Before you start writing your thesis, of course, you first need a topic. With a few exceptions, you have a free choice. First of all, you should decide on a subject in which you want to write a scientific paper. Pick a subject that you particularly enjoy. In your work you answer a research question that is related to this school subject.
Once you have decided on a subject, you have to come up with a research question for your work. Keep in mind that you can answer the chosen question either with the help of literature research, by carrying out an experiment or a survey. Which method is best depends on your research question. If you have problems finding a question, your teacher will surely help you with the search. He also gives you tips on precisely formulating the question or the title of your work.
You can also get inspiration from reading the relevant literature and looking at other academic papers on the chosen subject. In any case, you should consult your teacher when choosing a topic. He can tell you whether your ideas are realistic and can be implemented without too much effort. If you take on too much, writing quickly becomes no longer fun.
Basically, there are no limits to your imagination when choosing a topic. Once you have decided on a subject, that limits the choice a bit. Here we present a few selected topics for different subjects. These are very general topics that you have to adapt individually and pack into a question:
Examples for the subject biology:
- Diseases such as high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, Down syndrome
- Importance of crops
Examples for chemistry:
- Nuclear medicine
- Iodine number of fats and oils
- Importance of vitamin C in certain foods
Examples for the subject German:
- Film analyzes
- Novel analyzes
- Drama analyzes
- Media behavior
- spelling, orthography
Examples for geography:
- Tourism development in a specific place
- Structural change in mining
- Demographic developments in a specific area
Examples of history:
- Architectural history
- Traffic history
- Contemporary history
- History of the Jewish population at a specific point in time
- The world of gods in the Middle Ages for a certain ethnic group
Examples for the subject art:
- Analysis of the architecture of a particular building
- Biography of an artist
- Role of female artists at a specific time
Tips for building your specialist thesis
There are a few things to consider when writing a specialist thesis. It is important that you make it clear to yourself right from the start how your work should be structured. If you determine a structure in advance, you will orient yourself on it during the writing process and you will make fewer mistakes. We have put together a few tips for you that you can use as a guide when setting up the work.
Create an outline
As a first step, you should come up with an outline for your work. You determine the structure of the content, structure your work and avoid forgetting important points during the writing process. In the structure, you structure your work into individual chapters , which have further sub-items as required.
If you create the outline right at the beginning, you will keep an overview. An outline serves as a framework on which your work is based. It gives you support during the research and writing process. It is quite possible that changes will occur over time because you gain new knowledge or the results of your experiment or your survey are completely different than expected. In such a case, just adjust your outline.
Prepare cover sheet
It does not matter whether you design your cover sheet right at the beginning or after you have finished writing your thesis. But it is important that you give yourself enough time. The cover sheet should contain all the information about your work and yourself. This includes the following information:
- the title of the work
- the subject in which you are submitting the work
- your name
- your grade level
- the name of the supervising teacher
- the date on which you submit the work
You prefer to do without bright colors and unnecessary information. The cover sheet should be designed as clearly as possible . If you are unsure what the cover sheet should look like, ask your teacher or older students for a template. So, if you use the word processing program Word, you will also find templates for a cover sheet there. If you click on it, you can immediately use the templates for your work.
Optional: write a preface
Your thesis does not necessarily need a foreword. If you want to go into more detail about the topic, you have the opportunity to do so in the introduction. However, if problems arose in the course of the research and writing process , it can make sense to explain them in a foreword. The best thing to do is to talk to your teacher about this.
If you have decided on a foreword, you have to put it at the very beginning of your work , before the table of contents. You can write the foreword from a first-person perspective and make personal comments . This is not allowed in the rest of the work.
Prepare a table of contents
If you have already created an outline, the step to the table of contents is not difficult. Basically, you simply transfer the individual points of your outline into a directory and provide them with the appropriate page numbers . You can of course only add these at the end, as you don’t know at the beginning how long the individual chapters will be.
Write an introduction
The introduction is the first section of the written part of your thesis. Even here you should pay attention to a scientific writing style. Avoid colloquial language and filler words as well as long and complicated sentences. You formulate your entire technical work in the present tense , unless it is about past events that you want to emphasize.
The introduction should only make up a small part of your work, a maximum of ten percent . In this section of the thesis you introduce your readers to the topic, present your research methods and announce your approach step by step. It is also important that you formulate a goal that you want to achieve with your work.
Write the main part
This is the most important part of your thesis and therefore takes up the most space. Around 80 percent of your specialist work should consist of the main part. The task of this part is to answer the research question of your work . To do this, you use literary sources or evaluate the results of an experiment or a survey.
Your opinion always plays a role. However, you have to be able to substantiate this with sources. The best way to clarify your views is with different arguments. In addition, you should take a critical stance and not accept everything as it is formulated in the literature. Your task is to evaluate the literature used or to interpret your test or survey results. Question different statements and check their plausibility .
Write a conclusion
The conclusion forms the conclusion of the written part of your work. In it you summarize the most important results of your work again. Try to keep it as short as possible, but still formulate your findings precisely. The conclusion should be about as long as your introduction.
When writing the conclusion, think for yourself what the most important findings of your work are and how they will help to answer your research question. Here you also have the opportunity to go back to your self-set goal and give an outlook on possible further work on the topic .
Prepare a bibliography
The bibliography follows the written part of the thesis. In it you list all sources used in alphabetical order . You make your sources recognizable on the one hand in the running text or as a footnote, on the other hand again in detail in the bibliography. You can’t leave out any source. Internet sources also belong in the directory. It is important that you provide information about the author, the title of the book or article, the publisher and the year of publication.
Incidentally, the bibliography is given a page number and appears in the table of contents. However, it does not count towards the specified scope of your work. Make sure to keep a consistent citation style . If you are unsure what the bibliography should look like, please consult your teacher about this.
Add a declaration of independence
When you have finished your work, you add a declaration of independence at the end of the line. In it you declare that you wrote the work yourself and that you have given all sources used. This declaration protects you from plagiarism . The declaration assumes that you have identified all sources in advance. If you don’t, your teacher will most likely find out and you won’t pass the work.
Typical mistakes when writing a technical paper
There are a few things you can do wrong when writing a thesis. Most of them are very easy to avoid. Care is of the essence when writing a technical paper. If you give yourself enough time to calmly check how you have designed and structured your work, you will avoid many mistakes. You should definitely avoid the following things when writing a thesis.
Make the cover sheet at the last minute
The cover sheet is the first thing your teacher will see of your thesis. So it is definitely not a good idea to postpone the design of the cover sheet to the last few minutes before submission. Allow enough time for the design , because the first impression counts. If your teacher makes specifications for the cover sheet, you must absolutely adhere to them. If you don’t, you will likely be deducted points.
Do not structure the table of contents
The table of contents should give an overview of what you are dealing with in your work. Make sure that you structure it in an understandable way. You have to double-check basic things like formatting and the corresponding page numbers at the end. It would be very annoying if you make mistakes in this regard.
Also make sure that the headings of individual chapters are named the same in the running text as in the table of contents. If you make changes in the running text , you must also transfer them to the table of contents . In any case, it is a good idea to read the table of contents again shortly before submitting it and to check the page numbers.
Don’t divide chapters sensibly
The division of the chapters should definitely make sense and be understandable. It often happens that a chapter only has one sub-item. You should definitely avoid that. Each section must have at least two sub-points . If you can’t think of any suitable sub-items for a particular point, leave the chapter without sub-items.
Take text formatting lightly
Once you have completed the content-related part of your thesis, you will probably want to hand it in immediately. But the look also plays a decisive role in the awarding of grades. So you shouldn’t make any mistakes when formatting the text. Often there are guidelines from the school that you should adhere to. In any case, you have to make your work consistent.
Use too few sources
Research is an important part of your specialist work. In no case can you refer to only one or two sources. Always check information for correctness and inform yourself comprehensively . There aren’t too many sources, but there are too few. If your teacher sees that you have done a lot of research, it will have a positive effect on your grade. By the way, you will not only find it on the Internet. There are books on many topics in special specialist libraries. If necessary, your teacher can give you tips on this topic.
Incorrect labeling of quotations
Your work lives from research and reference to basic sources. Make sure you quote correctly from the sources. If you are copying something from another author, you have to indicate this. This is done using footnotes and the bibliography of your work. You are also not allowed to simply copy literal paraphrases. If you are unsure how to quote correctly, ask your teacher for advice. There are different ways of quoting.
Even if you want to hand in your work as quickly as possible, it is important that it is proofread. Ask your parents or friends to read your paper and point out any errors in content or form.
You have been busy with the work for a longer period of time and have read the text so often that you may not even notice small mistakes. It is often helpful if an outsider reads your work with a neutral eye. This way, errors may be noticed that you can correct before submitting the form.