Thesis Review

(Updated on July 9, 2017 by Michelle Williams)

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A thesis review is one of the final steps in the writing of a long document known as a "thesis."  Theses are prepared by undergraduate seniors and by master's and doctoral students.  Undergraduate theses are commonly referred to as "senior theses," since they're composed by college seniors.  Graduate theses are referred to as either "master's" or "doctoral" theses, depending on whether master's or doctoral students are writing them.  Thesis reviews are implemented before a student submits his/her thesis to his/her thesis committee and department for grading so that the student can have a last round of feedback before completing the final draft.  Thesis reviews are typically done in partnership with the student's primary thesis advisor.

Thesis ReviewTypically, a thesis review will take place after a thesis advisor has read a completed thesis draft.  The thesis review serves as a kind of "last-chance" meeting, in that it's the student's last opportunity to seek guidance from the advisor before submitting the final document to the university.  However, a thesis review is still an informal meeting in which the student can speak freely about the project and solicit advice on how to improve it.  It is nothing like the thesis defense—a formal meeting of the student and the entire thesis committee, during which the student is asked tough questions about the research process, methodology, results, etc.  

To get the most out of a thesis review, a student should come prepared with questions.  The thesis writer will always be more familiar with the project than the advisor, and will be more intimately aware of its strengths and weaknesses.  Therefore, it's often up to the writer to ask for the type of feedback he/she wants.  In a thesis review, the writer should begin the meeting by asking questions about how to improve what he/she believes to be the most significant weaknesses of the text.  These issues should be discussed first, as content issues are always most important.  After these have been addressed, the writer should ask the advisor to closely examine the formatting of the document to determine if it follows the university's guidelines.  All universities issue strict criteria about the formatting of theses and dissertations; incorrect formatting can result in a delay in thesis approval.  Finally, students should ask their advisor about details of the defense so that they can have a better idea of how to prepare.

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