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Going from a practical thesis to a more theoretical one?
With the Covid-19 situation, a lot of SciTech students have to change their theses from one based on practical work to a more literature/theory based thesis. Here are some tips that may come in handy (most of these are really useful even if you did not change your thesis):
Guidelines for academic language
The IMRaD structure is used widely in academic writing, and with good reason. It provides a good frame for your text, and helps you convey your results in a natural order through the text. Note that in some cases it might be a good idea to combine different parts. Read more about the IMRaD structure in the presentation "Searching, referencing and academic writing" in the part about academic writing.
Literature reviews can be useful to read, they typically sum up the situation within a certain topic at the time they were written. Usually it is a good idea to choose newer articles. Here are some examples of literature reviews within the SciTech subjects (log on remote access to view).
Most databases let you limit your search, e.g. with year and document type, like here in Scopus:
Tips and tricks
Don't wait for inspiration - just get going. Start with something you find easy, and set small goals for yourself. If you are a structured person, try starting with the structure of your thesis. What chapters and subchapters do you need? Note keywords under the different chapters/subchapters, and use them to start building your text.
Take notes while you are working. Make sure to record what you do, whether that is working in a lab or doing a literature search, and write about it soon after you have done it. Do not trust that "I will for sure remember this later, so I don't need to take notes." Never works.
Start writing early. It is tempting to focus only on your practical work, and even to use it as an excuse not to start writing. Do not fall for that temptation. Even if you don't have any results yet, you can always start on your introduction, methods and theory.
Keep writing. Be strategic, know yourself. Do the tasks you do not like at a time of day when you are well rested, whether that is in the early morning or at midnight. Make time for your writing.
And remember, you can (and should) always go back to read again (and rewrite if needed).
When you are getting close to the deadline of your thesis, make sure to have these things under control:
Why do we cite?
To learn how to properly cite sources is an important part of an academic education. We build our work upon what others have done before us, and it is common decency to credit them for the work that they have done - just as we would like others to give us credit if they use our work. And so we cite to acknowledge the work of others.
Citing relevant* and high quality sources also increases the quality of your own work. It places your work in a larger intellectual context, and gives you recognition for the work you have done.
Another advantage of citing your sources is that it gives the reader an opportunity to find and read the sources you have used for themselves. The goal should be to show the reader where you found the information you are building your work on. That way your reader can continue to explore the parts they find interesting or surprising by reading the original source.
Last, but not least, cite correctly to avoid plagiarism, which means taking credit for other people's thoughts or ideas. That can have serious consequences, like excluding you from further studies for a year, so make sure to cite your sources properly.
*Make sure that your sources are not only high quality, but also relevant to what you are writing about. Your ability to discuss your work in the light of other's in a good way is one of the key skills you need when writing an academic text.
When do I cite?
When you write a paper/thesis you need to tell the reader which words, thoughts, ideas etc. that are your own, and what you have borrowed from someone else. You tell them that by always referring to/citing the source (=the place where you find the information you are using, can be a book, a scientific article, etc.) when you use something that is not your own.
You do not need to cite when you use your own thoughts and ideas, but remember that you have to cite yourself it you use work you have handed in previously.
You also do not need to cite when you use what is considered common knowledge within your field. It is not always easy to know what is regarded as common knowledge, but as a rule of thumb it is better to cite one to many sources than one to few.
How do I cite?
There are many different ways to cite sources, each called a reference style. A reference style is a set of rules that tell you what the citations should look like. The references will look different depending on the source, e.g. a reference to a book will look different than an article when you see them listed in the reference list.
You must refer to all sources twice:
Ask your supervisor if there is a special reference style used within your field of study. APA 6th is used frequently in UiS, IEEE is also used within certain fields. If you are an IER student you should check out the subject page for Geology to find the suitable reference style there. The important thing to remember is to use one reference style throughout the entire text.
If you use a source in general you can cite the entire source. If you use information from a specific part of the source, you should do that in one of two ways:
EndNote is a reference management software. Best for master students dealing with long reference lists.
Use EndNote to
Why use Zotero?
BibLaTeX is a reference management system used in combination with LaTeX. If you do not plan on using LaTeX, this is not an option for you. It requires a bit of technical understanding, but it is pretty straight forward once you get the hang of it.