Description of the Thesis Project
Beyond the Websiteís Description of the Project
The thesis project is going to be a lot more work than you realize, but itís worth it. Many times in class or in conversation, topics from my articles came up. I didnít always agree with the arguments of the articles, but they added greatly to my discussion. I picked articles from myriad topics, and this diversity of knowledge remains particularly useful.
Originally, Ivo wanted 35-40 articles. I thought we were going to end up writing closer to 25 articles. Consequently, I finished 7 articles first semester. The number ended up being 30, which I think is appropriate. Hopefully, this difference in ex ante expectations and workloads will not occur because 30 will be more or less set in stone. Because of the difference in my expectation and the actual number, I ended up reviewing thirteen articles in April. I was working 20-25 hours a week for April. April is a difficult time to be a senior who is working hard.
I estimate that I wrote 150 pages. My articles were the longest of the group, but I donít see how you can write quality summaries that include the technical aspects of the articles and commentaries in less than 100 pages. On top of this writing, reviewing peer articles, updating the website, coordinating and meeting with peers represent a substantial amount of time doing work for my project that is not part of a traditional thesis. Peer reviews take between 15-30 minutes. The programming for the website is not difficult. I am uncertain how much time the internet aspect took, but it was more than the couple minutes per article I anticipated.
- Finish at least ten papers by winter break. More so than other semesters, the balance second semester is not only between classes, but between work and fun. Itís your last semester, and there is a lot going on. I was fairly diligent first semester but only finished 7 papers. Many people writing a thesis in another subject did no work until February, and they still had less work than me in the last three months. The project is a lot more work than an average thesis. Consequently, falling behind in this project is especially costly.
- Talk to Ivo as much as possible. It can be difficult to arrange meetings with him, but itís worth it. His help was two-fold. First, he really improved my articles. I attribute the development of the clarity of my summaries and the analysis of my commentaries largely to him. He knows many of the authors too, which is helpful. I emailed one author, and I was disappointed when he did not reply. From Ivo, I learned that the lack of reply was not very surprising. Second, he has a lot of interesting points beyond the articles themselves. Pick his brain and discuss these ideas with him.
- Choose articles wisely. Make sure the article is interesting and the argument is clear. At first, I figured that all articles were of high quality. I assure you this is not the case. I ended up reviewing three or four articles that either didnít have a well-developed point or were terribly-argued. I gained little from these articles. They were not worth the time.