Preparing thesis for submission



I am currently in the final stages of writing this thesis and looking to submit in mid September. I am in the humanities so my thesis is 5 chapters of 20,000 words per chapter. Throughout the process I have written each of these chapters to a "final draft" standard before moving on to the next one. That said I know I want to go over them again and tighten them up. I am 15,000 words into the final chapter and I am wondering how people on here prepared their thesis for submission.

I know that I am going to struggle with resisting the temptation to change everything. But apart from that are there any housekeeping tips to make sure that everything appears as polished as possible? How much did you consult with your sups at this stage? I want to start redrafting now but did you consult your sup over every change or did you just do it and then show the changes to him? I would like him to look over each chapter again but I know this might be possible and that's what worries me.

Thanks. Have some broccoli. (sprout) *It says it's a sprout but it looks like broccoli to me!

Avatar for DrCorinne


It might sound obvious, but I think that at this stage it's better not to lose sight of the "bigger picture". You really need to start reading your thesis as a whole, and only afterwards you can see gaps/ problems etc. There is always a risk of having repetitions and things that need to be clarified (and you thought you did somewhere else only to discover that you didn't!).

Also, you have pretty long chapters - what is your total word limit? This is a good opportunity to cut any redundant text.

Personally, I didn't have a lot of input from my sup. He read the final version as a whole thesis just before submission, so I cannot advise you on this, but I suppose it depends on your supervisor and his availability.

I am not sure that I have been very helpful, but I hope I have earned my daily ration of broccoli!


======= Date Modified 05 Jul 2012 14:04:13 =======
Towards the end of mine, my supervisor insisted I only ever show him the whole thesis so as Corinne says, he was keeping an eye on the 'big picture' and indeed I was asked a question about this of sorts in my viva.

Re: formatting, the following might be worth considering:
- run through it and conduct a tense check.
- although a humanities thesis, ensure that any graphs, pictures, tables etc are labelled EXACTly the same way
- literally go through it page by page and check for any instances of extra lines, font or style inconsistencies.
- I would also do the above with your bibliography.


I gave my supervisors as close to final drafts of each chapter. They made comments, I made changes as they suggested but never showed them the chapters again.

I agree with the person who said that 20 000 word chapters sound quite long, so it could be a good time to cut down bit that are not needed.

I also agree with looking at teh bigger picture. Do the chapters flow well from one to the other.

(sprout)(sprout) * I think it definitely looks like a sprout!


I gave my supervisors my thesis chapter by chapter initially, they sent me comments/feedback on each one, and I then made the changes they suggested and compiled the thesis into a whole. I then read through the whole thing and did some major editing (deleting repetition, improving the 'flow' of the whole thing, making sure any cross-references within the thesis were correct, checking all the diagrams/captions were formatted the same etc).

Then I sent my supervisors the whole thing and they read it as a whole and sent me feedback on the whole document. I made these changes, and then submitted, without my supervisors ever seeing the final version (they told me they didn't need to as long as I felt I had addressed all of their comments). This way they only ever saw each chapter twice - once as an individual chapter and then once it was incorporated into the thesis. I didn't want to bug them with too many drafts so this worked well for me (I also know from past experience that if I sent them multiple drafts they wouldn't bother reading them!!)


This is all great advice. Thanks do much.

Is two months or 6 weeks enough time for all of this? How long did you guys all give it?


you sound all but good to go - six weeks is plenty of time, probably too much tbh. Assuming it's checking rather than ruthless editing, a fortnight would probably do it. If you're trying to shorten your chapters as the others suggest give yourself more time. Plus never forget that big picture as it is really important.


This might be a stupid question but did you refer back to earlier points in the thesis when using certain terms related to your area of expertise. Is it enough to expect the reader to be aware of a concept in chapter 4 if you analysed that concept in chapter 2 and are using it again? Would a footnote with "Refer to the analysis of 'chronic constipation' in chapter 2" be enough.

(Sorry I know these are question I should ask my sup but he's on holidays at the minute!)


I asked my superviosr a very similar question - she basically said there is no need to ever repeat anything, just refer back to where you first mentioned it.

For example, I used the same equation a number of times in different chapters, so instead of writing the equation out again I put things like:
Correlation was determined using the Pearson's correlation coefficient (Equation 6.5, Chapter 6).

Or occasionally I would simply refer to something I had explained in detail before, so I would write 'as discussed on page 55, Chapter 2' etc.

The only things I repeated were things discussing my work and my findings, just to make sure the examiner didn't miss them ;-)