“It’s just a thesis”

Having (finally) submitted a thesis draft last month, the highly attenuated process of actually finishing the damn thing is, hopefully, nearly over. This makes me pleased, not least because when I do not lapse into feeling like it’s a metaphorical weight dragging me down or a gas seeping into every free moment of my life because it is not done yet…I actually rather like my topic and look forward to the finished product.

I am used to saying “it’s just a thesis” for several reasons. Foremost is the fact that it is, indeed, just a thesis, as opposed to a dissertation. It’s a long paper. Yes, it is divided into chapters; but I am fully aware that, since the entire thesis would probably be a chapter of a dissertation, my “chapters” are adorable. Which segues into the the second reason, a sort of self-defensiveness: I’m not writing a dissertation, but I’m not stupid. And finally, there is the motivational aspect. It’s just a thesis. Sit down and bang it out.

But “it’s just a thesis” opens up the matter of divergent definitions between fields. I realized that comparatively recently when chatting with friends in STEM programs, and I am reminded of it fairly frequently when processing the Chance papers. Thesis = Ph.D requirement. Which does not mean anything beyond the fact that different fields may use different terminology for “great big research project,” but can make me stop to clarify that no, really, it is just a thesis.

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