Interpreting the comments from your research supervisor

Thesis writing is an important eligibility criteria for most post-graduate and doctorate programs. Thesis writing requires a logical collection of facts on the research topic. But this is not all for successful thesis writing.

Points to note to compose a good thesis

The researcher needs:

  1. Good analytical ability to analyze the data.
  2. Deep understanding of grammar to frame the sentences correctly.
  3. Perfection in spellings so as to avoid any spelling mistakes.
  4. Knowledge of various referencing styles.
  5. The art to present the whole thesis in an interesting and reader-friendly manner.

However thesis writing is not that easy as it seems and students often commit mistakes in their thesis. The thesis is checked by supervisors from the University. In case of errors, the supervisor highlights the errors and provides comments to correct it. But the problem goes worse when the students fails to understand the comments and therefore fail to rectify those errors resulting into low grades. There are a few common mistakes that students do. Let’s see how supervisors comment on these mistakes and how to rectify the mistakes for a good thesis.

A few examples of supervisor’s comments and how one should deal with them

When the supervisor says:

  1. Discussion is more of general in nature: This means the data lacks focus. The objectives of the research should always be kept in mind while writing ‘Literature Review’. Any deviance from the objectives makes research general.
  2. Literature Review lacks critical analysis: This means the data collected for literature review has not been studied critically. Literature review is not just writing the relevant information; it is also about questioning the facts. The works of 4-5 authors should be referred to study any contradictions on the subject. This gives completeness to the thesis.
  3. The Findings are too broad: This shows that the findings have not been filtered for their relevance to the research. It is not essential that whatever you found out of data analysis must be written under thesis. The findings should strictly adhere to the purpose of that thesis.
  4. You are not explaining your research: When supervisor provides such a comment, it shows that the thesis lacks personal interpretation of the facts. An effective thesis is one which not only mentions the facts but also explains and interprets the facts considering the objectives. A few lines of personal interpretation at the end of every paragraph make thesis more interesting.
  5. Your data is outdated: This means that the secondary data collected from various sources for the ‘Literature Review’ is not appropriate to current research problem. An attempt should be made to blend data from books and websites with newspapers and journals, so that the current situation on the research problem is also reviewed in thesis.
  6. Presentation lacks proper flow: By this, the supervisor means that the facts have not been presented in a proper sequence. The sentences need rephrasing. It is always better to provide a 2-3 lines summary at the end of every sub-heading. This keeps the readers connected with the objectives of the research and helps maintaining a flow.
  7. Use of Casual Expressions: Many times students use casual expressions in their thesis like ‘can’t’ for cannot, ‘don’t’ for do not etc. Thesis writing is a formal writing and thus all such casual expressions or slang phrases should be avoided.

Apart from the above comments, the common supervisor comments relate to missed referencing, wrong referencing style, incorrect framing of sentences, spelling mistakes, use of inappropriate words etc. These mistakes generally arise out of hurry. So while writing a thesis one should be ready for hard work and patience to make it live up to the university standards.

Ankita Agarwal

Analyst at Project Guru
Ankita is working with the editorial board of Project Guru as a Research Analyst and Writer. With Masters in Commerce and Business Studies, Ankita learned much of what she knows about management through experience. She has previously worked in various financial institutions like Birla Global, HDFC Ltd. and Citi Financial. She is self-motivated and writes for the Knowledge Tank section of Project Guru. She has authored more than 80 articles so far in Human Resources Management, Strategic Management, Finance and Marketing. She likes to pen her thoughts about the latest issues gripping these areas across the world.
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