How to Write and Defend Your Thesis


As a graduate student, part of the requirements for receiving your degree will be writing a thesis on your research topic and defending the thesis to your supervisory committee. The thesis is a written document focused on your chosen research theme and is composed of more-or-less independent chapters that relate to that theme. The thesis chapters will describe the scientific projects and tactics you chose to address your research theme and topic. The goal of your thesis is to definitively document that you are now an expert of your chosen research topic, that you can think critically and follow the scientific method, and that your conclusions are based on sound science that you have conducted. The goal of the defense is to convey that expertise to your supervisory committee. Typically, writing the thesis comes after completing projects and analyzing results, and the goal of writing the thesis is often to publish the chapters in scientific journals (but this is not strictly a requirement for graduation). Truly though, writing the thesis can start on Day One in graduate school and this mentality can speed up finishing your graduate program. This guideline provides some steps and advice towards making many of your writings throughout graduate school work for (not against) writing your thesis, preparing the thesis to submit to your graduate school, and defending the thesis to your committee.

You must be logged in and recognized as an AFS Member to see this content. Please log in now, or join today! If you are already an AFS member, please register on this site to access your members-only content.

Kyle Wilson, PhD Student, University of Calgary
Recipient of the 2013 Outstanding M.Sc. Thesis of the Year, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, The University of Florida
Karen Dunmall, PhD Candidate, University of Manitoba
Vivian Nguyen, PhD Candidate, Carleton University