What can we help you with? Thesis problems
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Do you have problems with your thesis?

The typical problem to occur during the writing of the thesis, is that nothing happens.

When postponement becomes a problem
App. 75% of students and researchers state that they postpone to some extent when they write larger assignments. To postpone is normal behaviour, but it may become problematic if it continues for years without your assignment being finished. Typically, postponers attribute to the assignment a great deal of significance: When I'm finished, I'm going to move in with my girl-/boyfriend, then I'm going to get a good job, then I will be free from my studies, and have greater responsibility, and become an adult, then I will finally be my father's equal, etc.

A vicious spiral
Thesis problems often become a vicious spiral: The task is enormous – it is hard to act – guilt about not getting started – the feeling of insufficiency – low self-esteem and the feeling of defeat – then nothing gets done – sadness – no energy to move on – even more guilt and perhaps depression and fear that nothing will happen. The longer this continues, the greater the defeat, and the harder it becomes to ask someone else for help – or to defend yourself against questions from others concerning when you will finish.

Where does it typically go wrong?
There are many reasons to postpone or stall with assignments:

Perfectionism / Ambitions are too great
meaning unrealistic expectations to yourself, and self-criticism before you even get started writing. It is naturally very hard to begin and finish something that you have decided is going to be nothing less than perfect. The goals are too great and too obscure, and you often give up working on your assignment unless you have a whole day in front of you - it won't pay off.

Counter-reaction against authorities
Postponing can be a counter-reaction to an external authority, for instance a parent or supervisor, or to an inner authority, meaning an exaggerated self-critical attitude. The postponement is an unconscious desire to control things for yourself.

Immaturity concerning studying
The postponement may be linked to the fact that the student is not prepared to handle such a large independent assignment, either due to lack of practice (the student may have kept to group projects rather than individual work), or the student does not have sufficient practice in structuring the material and their time.

The expectations of others
The student has not chosen the subject of the thesis based on own interests, but based on what his/her parents or the supervisor wanted.

Own expectations
including both fear of success and fear of failure.

The student is overwhelmed by the isolation you often find yourself confined to while writing your assignment.

The thesis takes up everything
The student sets aside friends, girl-/boyfriend, work, and extracurricular activities to spend all his/her time on writing the thesis. Life is set aside for the sake of the assignment, but there is no energy for it. The entire day is being set off to working on it, but there is no separation between working hours and leisure time.

Personal relationships
may be the cause of thesis problems. The postponement may be a reaction to old or recent deaths in the family, an end to a cohabitation, or betrayal and abuse during childhood.

Fear of becoming an adult
For many there is an issue of dependence: Fear of finishing, fear of becoming an adult after fifteen to twenty years as a pupil/student. It may be especially scary for first-generation academics to finish and to embark into a completely unfamiliar working life. To many young people, it is something new to be supposed to trust your own judgment instead of others' (for instance parents' or teachers').

Ups and downs
The thesis period is typically marked by both ups and downs. One day you experience writing an interesting, perhaps even amazing assignment, and the next day you are overwhelmed by sadness over not feeling smart and academic enough, by the insecurity of what the supervisor requires, and the insecurity of whether you will finish.

Existential issues
Together with the writing process, the student simultaneously undergoes a maturing process, which means that the thesis writer during writing will be interrupted by existential questions that both disturbs and matures: What is the meaning of my life, who am I, where am I going, what do I want.

What does the Student Counselling Service offer?
Contact us if your thesis has got you bogged down.


Do you have problems with your thesis because of:

  • Unsuitable structuring of your work?
  • Anxiety and fear, sadness and depression?
  • Bereavement and grief?

Do you have problems with your thesis because of:

  • Unsuitable structuring of your work?
  • Anxiety and fear, sadness and depression?
  • Bereavement and grief?
If you are stuck with your thesis and need more support. Find your nearest counselling service