Indicators for success

Research has shown a strong positive correlation between the factors listed below and successful, timely completion of a thesis.

  • The student understands research ethics and copyright requirements.
  • The student has developed research, writing and editing skills, taking extra courses or workshops as required to improve areas of weakness.
  • There is a clear and viable thesis statement or hypothesis.
  • The student is sincerely interested in the thesis topic.
  • The student speaks to others who have done or are in the process of doing a thesis, and looks at completed theses.
  • The supervisor and student have developed a clear understanding of how their collaboration will work. For example, in scientific collaborations, they have discussed and agreed on the specifics of who does what, authorship and credit, data analysis, sharing of materials, duration of the collaboration, other collaborations, and other details. It can be helpful to have a contract specifying these points. Note however that a contract binds both parties to the agreement.
  • The supervisor and the student have a good working relationship and the student makes the most of the access to knowledge and experience that having a thesis supervisor provides. Communications between the supervisor and the student are effective, respectful, and timely.
  • The student’s work plan includes realistic target dates for major milestones and allocates time for delays.
  • The student develops a system for information management and backs up all electronic files.
  • During the research phase, the student takes careful notes, identified by full bibliographic references, which clearly distinguish direct quotes from paraphrases of the text and the student’s own thoughts.
  • The supervisor reads drafts of the student’s work and returns it within a few weeks with clear, constructive comments and suggestions for revisions.
  • The student establishes a daily routine that imposes structure on the thesis preparation process and minimizes distractions.

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