How to survive your final bachelor science project
|Date:||27 June 2018|
Doing your final bachelor project can be a daunting task. However, no matter how scary it is, you have to do it to write that sweet sweet BSc next to your name. To help you through the process, I have, together with a bunch of friends who are just finishing their project, outlined a few tips to help you survive your final bachelor project.
Accept that your research is not going to change the world
Groundbreaking research takes years and a dedicated team of people. You have three months and your team consists of you and yourself. Don’t panic if you don’t find amazing results that might cure cancer. Instead, focus on the research process instead of the results, and your project will look a lot better already. For the ambitious students among us: your research isn’t going to change the world, but it might be a good start.
You are most likely not the first, second or third priority of your supervisor
Your supervisor is probably also a professor. That means they’re busy teaching, doing research, grading exams and doing a thousand other things and they’re guiding you through your thesis project. You’re most likely not their first priority, so plan accordingly and don’t schedule your thesis around the expectation that you’re getting emails back within the hour. Tip: Make friends with the professors PhD students and other students doing their bachelor project. They may be able to help!
Aside from scoring a date, planning is probably the hardest thing you’ll be doing during your studies. Actually, scrap that: planning is easy. Following your planning is impossible. So, why not cheat a bit and get some help? There are some great apps (e.g. Focus Booster is great) to help your time management and for the hardcore procrastinators, there’s a browser extension that will irreversibly block certain website for a day once you spend too much time on (just don’t accidentally block Wikipedia).
Make the necessary preparations
By this, I don't mean stocking up on red bull and paprika crisps. Make sure you are prepared for the research you are going to do. Think about what knowledge you need to have - for example, I have a friend who had to programme during his bachelor research project while he had no programming experience whatsoever (aside from a single course that used MATLAB). This really slowed him down, to begin with as he got used to it, and he regrets not learning some beforehand. Talk to previous students and their PhD students to find out what you need to know, and if you need to code - you can even take an online course. Be sure to bug your professor to know the prerequisites in time.
How to get over a writer's block
You know you need to write, but you just don’t know how to start. Probably sounds familiar, even if you haven’t written a thesis yet. Here are three things that really helped me out.
- Write literally anything - no matter how bad - then come back to it after an hour. Reason? It is way easier to improve a paragraph than it is to create one.
- Whenever you take a break or stop for the day, stop in the middle of a sentence, not at the end of a paragraph. Additionally, write down your key thoughts at that moment, as it makes it a lot easier to jump back in and pick up the thread next time you’re working on your thesis.
- Start easy, and start early. Think about which parts you find the easiest to write, and begin with that. Once you’re in the flow it will be easier to write the rest.
- Bonus fourth tip: Print out a draft and leave it by your toilet. You will be able to spot mistakes when nature calls and it gives you some extra time away from your phone.
Not everybody needs to use statistical analysis in their bachelor project, but if you're one of the unlucky few, this could be the best tip for you. One of the hardest parts of your thesis could be the statistical analysis that comes with doing your research. Now hopefully, you’ve picked up some knowledge during your statistics classes but you are still struggling - there is hope. There are multiple resources available online - YouTube for one. There are also resources available at the faculties - such as experienced tutors and of course your thesis supervisor (or their PhD students) that can help you take a look at it.
You’re not doing yourself any good by staying in the UB for 10 hours a day. Take a break - go outside. You can take a look at our weekly blog posts for ideas of things to do to unwind, take a day off (if time allows) to go on a day trip, or just take a bike ride to a nice spot in Groningen.
We hope you weren’t reading this while you should’ve been working on your thesis, but if you did, let us know what works best for you! And remember, you could always give up, drop out and found a million-dollar company (success not guaranteed).