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Are you preparing for a ‘thesis baby’? Here are my do’s and don’ts when choosing a partner

(Private photo: Madina Balgabek)

Blog |   14. Nov 2019

Madina Balgabek


It’s getting more serious and you are telling yourself you should read up more for your thesis and already decide on tons of things like who to write with, who should be your supervisor and what topic you should tackle in your final big paper.

I feel for you, I’ve been there too. I was a student with zero experience of how to write papers. Any papers. In Kazakhstan, things work slightly differently and the year I graduated with my bachelor degree was the first time students were allowed to choose to write a thesis project or take three additional exams. Guess what I chose?!

So, four years after working hard towards graduation, and it wasn’t that difficult after all. I just took my exams and was released to be a free mortal. Until CBS happened.

I was afraid of the thesis process from the day 1. I attended all sorts of events and talks about how important it is to choose a suitable partner and topic you are interested in. But I was not interested in things to a degree that I wanted to write my whole master’s thesis about them. And excuse me, but at least 80 pages?! Who reads them?

After the nightmare and surviving cold months in Copenhagen while writing my thesis, I came up with some tips that I thought might or might not be helpful for fellow sufferers.

And excuse me, but at least 80 pages?! Who reads them?

We are now in the period when you are submitting all the contracts and making a first draft summary of what your thesis is about and who you are writing it with. You might have already chosen a person but may now be doubting whether you want to keep writing with that person or go solo before it’s too late. So maybe my checklist will help you make that decision.

Know your priorities

First and foremost, in my opinion, when choosing a partner, you should get your priorities straight and be honest. What is important to you and your partner when finalizing your thesis paper? Are you alright with submitting in August or October instead of May? Is your partner okay with getting a “pass” instead of top marks? Are you okay if the paper is not the next “Origin of species”?

So, agree on your hard deadlines, your minimum level of quality for the paper, who is good at what, and manage your expectations from the beginning.

Know your limits

Do you care to be involved in all aspects of the thesis because you are control freak like me, or are you okay splitting the tasks and sometimes not knowing what your partner has read before writing this or that piece? Also, how do you feel about working on a thesis alone while your partner is taking a break from a stressful life aka. “thesis life” and you need to work for two people during that period?

Or letting go and having that weekend off with your family to cool down while your partner is making magic happen that you cannot control while you are away.

Know your stress

Let’s be clear – being stressed is normal in this period of your life. Of course, it is important that you do well. After all, you spend two years on being able to graduate. You are scared of all the what if’s in your mind and this doesn’t always bring out the best in you or your partner.

Be patient with each other and sometimes one must be an adult while the other is going bananas, because tomorrow you might have the heebie-jeebies/your cockroaches out too.

Sometimes it isn’t important to tell your partner he/she is wrong. Believe me, most of the time they know it. They just want you to say, “I’m sorry to hear that”, “Can I help you with this part?”, “Okay, let me take this part”, “I understand you”. Just listen to them, even though what they are saying is unfair.

People show stress differently and since you chose this person to be your “thesis husband/wife” to produce that “thesis baby” you just have to find ways to work it out. Too many marriage references, I know, deal with me

Know your friend

You might have met a soulmate, a friend, a sister from another mister in your first year or earlier and you want to share this stressful period with that person and write a thesis together. Be careful and weigh all pros and cons. You need to consider if you ever wrote any exam papers with your bestie.

We are only human, after all, so we badmouth some aspects of a human psyche

How was it? Did you like working with her/him as much as you like hanging out? If you’ve never written anything with a friend, maybe consider if you want a thesis partner more or a friend?

Sometimes it’s best to keep friends free so you can complain to them about your thesis partner. We are only human, after all, so we badmouth some aspects of a human psyche. It doesn’t mean your thesis partner is bad. You just need to let off steam from time to time with someone who is not involved in your thesis process.

Know your inner clock

This might be silly advice but think of when you work best. Are you an early bird who likes to get things done as soon as possible or are you a person whose day starts at 12 and you love to pull all-nighters?

If this is mismatched, you might have a problem actually working together. If you are strict with your ways of working, maybe writing alone is not a bad idea and you should reconsider it.

Know this just for the sake of knowing it

When you write alone, you must know all the materials 100% and have an answer for the defense all by yourself. There won’t be another soul who knows exactly what mess you are in because it is your mess alone. Of course, you can discuss your topic with other students, friends, professors and so on, but they won’t care about your “thesis baby” as much as you do.

When you write with someone else, there is a chance that your partner will remember a paper that is completely blank in your memory and it will pull off the defense.

They won’t care about your “thesis baby” as much as you do

However, when you write with someone else, you do need to be able to compromise and explain 1 thing 100 times to another person if he/she just doesn’t get it and the deadline is close. You need to take care of two people instead of one, and yes, we are adults and should be responsible for our own knowledge and memory ourselves, but let’s be honest, nobody is perfect and shit happens.

That’s it from me. Good luck with thesis partners and please take care of yourselves and, if possible, your partners!

(Private photo: Madina Balgabek)


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