Thesis Writing

Writing a Bachelor or Master Thesis under the Supervision of Prof. Bernecker (subject to change)


I mainly supervise theses in the field of economics. This is an incomplete list of theses I have supervised so far: 

  •      The effect of nudges on the environmental compatibility of consumer choices
  •      How do regional trade areas influence the worldwide trade flow value and how is this affected by 
         the development stage of countries 
  •      Public debt and economic growth: an investigation focusing on Italy
  •      Evolution and effects of foreign direct investments in Romania since 2000 


If you want me to supervise your thesis, this is how to get started:

1. Take part in an elective class taught by me.

2. Think about one or more (early and unfinished) ideas on what topic/question to write your thesis about.

3. For each idea you want to suggest, write a one page document answering the following questions:

a. What is the question you want to answer in your thesis?
b. What is some of the key literature on this question that already exists?
c. Why is it still justified to write yet another text on this question?
d. What are the sub-questions you will try to answer in your thesis?
e. Which methods do you want to use (literature, data analysis, ...)? How do you get the sources? How do       you analyze them?

4. Send me an e-mail applying for my supervision including (1) your one page document(s), (2) your current transcript of records, and (3) the info in which semester you want to write your thesis. If your idea (or at least one of them in case you sent several) sounds convincing and I have sufficient capacity left in that semester, I will let you know and reserve a supervision spot for you.

Before your thesis writing semester approaches, proceed as follows:

1. Make sure you fulfill all requirements for starting a thesis as stated in the official regulations of your program of study (such as having passed all core modules of the first four semesters). To inform about the regulation details, there are info sessions offered every semester by the study administration.

2. Think about the timing of your thesis writing semester and plan your next steps accordingly and on time, i.e. start early enough to indeed be finished at your desired point in time. For your planning, take into account the following points. I.e., it is a good idea to get started about half a year before you want to be completely finished with your thesis

a. Before you are allowed to register your thesis via SAM, you need to get my approval for 3 different documents you need to develop (see below). Developing the three documents in their final version may easily take at least 2 weeks.
b. When registered via SAM, the proposal phase (11 weeks for a bachelor thesis, 4 weeks for a master thesis) starts, followed by the writing phase (6 to 9 weeks for a bachelor thesis, 14 to 16 weeks for a master thesis).     
c. After submission of your thesis, it typically takes another 2 to 4 weeks until the Colloquium can take place and you are finished.

3. Send me again the latest version of the one page document of the idea you want to work on for your thesis. I will either send you feedback via e-mail or setup a slot to talk (as needed). Based on the feedback, revise your one page document.  

4. Once I have accepted your one page document, ask me to send you my "Tips on writing a thesis" document and develop a first draft table of contents of your thesis (1 page) and a project plan showing when in the proposal and writing phase you plan to do what (1 page). Make sure that all your 3 documents are consistent with each other. Then send all 3 documents to me for feedback.   

5. Once I have accepted all 3 documents, you are allowed to register your thesis with the administration (start at SAM). Astrid Wolf in the examination office can answer all your questions regarding the administrative process.  

During your thesis writing semester, take into account the following:


1.
Work on your thesis. Make sure to follow all official regulations such as the “Guidelines for Writing Scientific Papers” of the department at all times.

2. During the proposal phase, submit a hypothesis-based dummy of your thesis to me for feedback. Contact me if you are unsure what that actually is. 

3. Us discussing your dummy is the last interaction between the two of us during your working process that is officially required from my side. If necessary later, feel free to schedule additional office hours with me and/or consult me via e-mail. However, note that one of the goals of the thesis is for you to show that you can work on a scientific endeavor independently. Thus, excessively relying on my advice may be taken into account when grading your thesis. 

4. Early on in the semester, approach me to discuss whom to pick as a second examiner for your thesis and for when to schedule your Colloquium. During the 30min Colloquium you will have to defend your thesis and answer questions by the second examiner and myself.
 
5. Make sure you submit your thesis within the official deadline to both the administration (following the official rules regarding hardcopies etc.) and to me (to me, submit a pdf version of your thesis). If needed, I may also ask you to also submit the data you analyzed etc. 


When grading your thesis, I use the following evaluation criteria:

1. Relevance & Structure
a.
Problem/main question is relevant and well defined
b. Problem/main question is structured into helpful sub topics/questions

2. Content & Methods
a.
Key questions are adequately and completely answered
b. Answers rely on sound use of relevant literature, economic reasoning/modeling, data, examples

3. Form & Readability
a. All formal rules such as the ones stated in the “Guidelines for Writing Scientific Papers” are followed
b. Thesis is no longer than necessary given the content width and depth and is easy to read

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