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How to Write a Thesis

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,920 Ratings  ·  184 Reviews
By the time Umberto Eco published his best-selling novel "The Name of the Rose," he was one of Italy's most celebrated intellectuals, a distinguished academic and the author of influential works on semiotics. Some years before that, in 1977, Eco published a little book for his students, "How to Write a Thesis," in which he offered useful advice on all the steps involved in ...more
Paperback, 229 pages
Published February 27th 2015 by MIT Press (first published 1977)
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This one's going on my shelf next to Steven King's On Writing as one of the best guides to putting together a long-form piece of written work I know of. It's cogent, it's comprehensive, and for a book aimed at new graduates, it's appropriately scary.

I want to say that I'd recommend it to anyone intending to write a thesis, but I recently lent this to a friend who's about to embark on his PhD (and who, incidentally, is one of the most vigorous scholars I've ever met). After a couple of months, he
Sep 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
God Umberto Eco is such a d i c k ---

--- and I don't want to give him any more attention than I already have, so I'll keep this short.

In the introduction, Francesco Erspamer tries to justify including 60+ pages of outdated library information in a 2015 edition. Things made redundant by the internet, like "be sure you are close to many libraries so you can find many books"; things made redundant by computers, like "index cards make it so you can put your sources in alphabetical order as you go";
Reading How to Write a Thesis by Umberto Eco, even an ‘updated’ version in this MIT Press edition, felt like a sweet exercise in futility. There’s something folksy and quaint about being told how to put notes on index cards and properly organize them and being given tips for using the library and talking to librarians. (Not too surprising, as Eco wrote this in the late seventies—almost forty years ago!) But with over twenty-three editions and countless translations, there’s something to be sai ...more
Nadia Z.
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Sto per dire una cosa che stupirà solo chi non conosce Eco. Questo libro fa morire dal ridere. Se state per affrontare la scrittura della tesi e siete in alto mare, rivolgetevi a lui. Davvero. Non solo il suo libro è utile dal punto di vista tecnico, ma vi strapperà una grandissima risata. Eco era un uomo intelligente e profondamente ironico e simpatico. E oltre ad aiutarvi nel vostro percorso, sicuramente riuscirà a infondervi il buon umore e la voglia di completare il vostro lavoro.

Da un punto
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Additional tip: Instead of spending valuable time reading a book on how to write your thesis, actually write it.
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sau hai tháng quằn quại, cuối cùng cũng đọc xong quyển này.
Tôi sẽ cho quyển này 1 sao vì bản dịch quá sức cẩu thả, y như quăng bản tiếng Ý vào Google Translate và ngồi sửa lại để khi đọc có vẻ trơn tru theo kiểu word-by-word. Nhưng với một nguồn động viên an ủi lớn lao cùng văn phong đỏm dáng từ lão già mà tôi cực kỳ yêu thích này, tôi sẽ cho quyển này 3 sao. Dù sao thì nó cũng vực tôi dậy để tìm lại cảm hứng cho cơ hội nghiên cứu đầu tiên của mình.
Nói tóm lại, trung bình thì quyển này 2 sao.
Arybo ✨
Se la parte inerente alla bibliografia è un po’ noiosa, le spiegazioni su come stendere una tesi sono molto utili e, spesso, consigliano rimedi semplici a problemi apparentemente insormontabili. Un testo un po’ datato (parla di macchina da scrivere e microfilm), ma ancora attuale per quanto riguarda la stesura.
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
Para alguien que, como yo, aun está pensando en el tema de sus tesis y tiene algo así como un semestre para empezar a trabajarle en serio este puede ser un gran libro. Quizás cuando escriba mi tesis me voy a dar cuenta de que todo lo que Eco afirma y aconseja es falso y contraproducente, lo cual dudo, pero en cualquier caso eso no será sino dentro de un buen tiempo. Por ahora quiero dirigirme al estudiante que se encuentra en una situación similar a la mía.

Desde que empecé a pensar en serio en u
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Do not expect this book to tell you what to put in your thesis, or what to do with your life.

A wonderful little book that, while not being essential reading, imbues the reader with a quiet enthusiasm for the difficulties, complexities, and pleasures of researching and drafting a thesis. There are some pieces of advice that, for me, are particularly worth committing to memory (‘Write everything that comes into your head, but only in the first draft’, for example, and ‘Do not play the solitary g
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-digital
Ilegible. Si más o menos leen mis reseñas de vez en cuando, sabrán que me tengo prometido a mi mismo no leer libros viejos salvo que sean hiper-clásicos. Este me parecía de esta segunda calaña. Creo que lo que más me motivó fue que aparece en la bibliografía recomendada del doctorado de la Facultad de Economía de la UBA. El libro es de 1977, aunque tiene nuevas ediciones. Si yo estuviera a cargo de una nueva edición, le cambiaría el título a "Cómo se hacía una tesis hace 40 años". Obviamente no ...more
Aug 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Posted on my book blog.

I'm currently enrolled in a Master's program and about to start working on my thesis in Museum Studies. Since I used to be a Medicine student, I'm more familiar with scientific research, so I wanted a book that was more focused on other kinds of works. This one by Umberto Eco seems to be regarded as the authority in the matter.

It was a nice read (even if the author can seem rather unorthodox at times) and overall quite useful. I read an older edition so the research chapte
Philippe Malzieu
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
Interest only for students or "doctorants". Why edit again a book destinated only for university people. Not bad, but far from other Eco's opus. Is it only for the money?
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Das Buch bietet einen interessanten Einblick in das wissenschaftliche Arbeiten in den 1970er- und 1980er-Jahren in Italien. Es schlägt jedoch auch einige interessante Strategien für das Schreiben einer wissenschaftlichen Arbeit vor, die heute noch anwendbar sind. Auf mich wirkte Ecos Buch inspirierend: Um eine lange Abschlussarbeit schreiben zu können, muss man sich in einen gewissen Modus versetzen können. Mit diesem Buch fällt mir dieser Einstieg leichter.
Lexxie (un)Conventional Bookworms
*I received a free ARC of How to Write a Thesis from MIT Press via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

ARC received on November 10th 2014.

When I saw that this has been translated to English, I requested it straight away. As a grad student, I'll take all the help I can get in writing a thesis that will make sense and help me get my MA.
Teilweise sehr langatmig..aber gute Strategien und Formulieren als Vorschläge :)
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: phd, dnf, audio_book, audible
An interesting glance at research before modern computers where normal commodities. Hardly applicable to today's research process, and not particularly relevant to scientific domains.
Ionut Chiruta
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This little yellow-grey book picturing a bold-bearded man who, notwithstanding, encompasses a world of knowledge within his twinkle-flicker forehead has shared a part of his knowledge. The latter is reflected in How to write a thesis.
I deeply enjoyed this book, as I see myself getting ready for my dissertation. For a good part of the tips, academic rules, I was aware of their existence. Nevertheless, for the rest, I had Umberto Eco introducing them to me. Throughout the reading of this book, I
Swaraj Dalmia
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
I picked up this book, to gain a certain insight into the process of scholarly scientific research, and what i got was a very practical advice/guide from a respected scholar to a novice who might be starting his academic career.

For those who might be dissuaded by the phrase, 'a Thesis' in the title, one could paraphrase it into any form of research, be it journalistic pieces, a research paper, your dissertation or a book.

He delineates phases, from first choosing a topic, to compiling an almo
Jan 30, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I punti di forza di questo "agile volumetto" (cit.) sono sicuramente il fornire un metodo di lavoro serio e una struttura che, se seguita, non fa perdere tempo allo studente sotto tesi. Ottima la parte della citazione bibliografica e le note a piè di pagina.
Allora perché solo 3 stelle? Perché il volume è datato. Considerando che tutti o quasi hanno un pc e una connessione a Internet, non aver pensato a un'edizione riveduta e corretta è quanto meno fastidioso (nessuno scrive più le tesi con la m
Sep 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pedagogía
A pesar de su edad, el texto se conserva fresco y, lo que es más importante, aún resulta útil. Lo peor: a pesar de sus nueve reimpresiones, aun no se ha dignado la editorial a corregir los errores ortográficos y ortotipográficos. No cuesta tanto y lo merece
Dec 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Daddy Umberto's guide to writing a thesis on a typewriter in the italian university in the 70's without the internet. Plenty of hot tips on how to use index cards
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable book about how to present coherent ideas in a written form.

There is a lot of technical advice about how to actually structure a written document (he uses a university thesis as the illustrative example, but I could see it being useful for many other purposes).

One of the the more practical takeaways for me was to start maintaining a file of index cards that contain bibliographic and directly quotable text as well as personal observations from books I read as a ways to look back an
Vinícius de Sousa
Uma leitura muito satisfatória mas, ao mesmo tempo, extremamente enfadonha. Isso porque, apesar da minha 26ª edição, de 2016, ser "revista e atualizada", ainda me sinto lendo um livro do século passado. A obra ainda tem valor contemporaneamente, mas grande parte simplesmente caducou. O autor passa páginas e páginas falando de dilemas que hoje, com a internet e os sistemas de informações digitais, não fazem o menor sentido, como procurar livros em catálogos de bibliotecas - coisa que, se não for ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Κανείς δεν μπορεί να αμφισβητήσει το συγγραφικό ταλέντο και την αριστουργηματική πένα του Eco, ιδιαιτέρως εγώ. Ωστόσο ο σκοπός που επέλεξα τον συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο ίσως δεν ταίριαζε με τον σκοπό της συγγραφής του. Η προσπάθεια μου να εντρυφήσω στη μεθοδολογία της επιστημονικής έρευνας σίγουρα δε βοηθήθηκε ιδιαίτερα από την ανάγνωση του βιβλίου, αντιθέτως καθυστέρησε και ως αναγνώστρια με μπέρδεψε. Σίγουρα δεν έχει να κάνει με την πένα ούτε με τη λογοτεχνική αξία του βιβλίου. Έμαθα πάρα πολλά και ...more
Laura Walin
Käytännönläheinen, hyvin perusteltu ja havainnollisin esimerkein varusteltu kirja tutkielman kirjoittamisesta, joka on iästään huolimatta edelleen täynnä relevantteja huomioita. Pidin etenkin aiheen valintaa ja rajausta käsittelevistä luvuista sekä siitä, että syyt kirjallisuusviitteiden merkitsemisen viilaamiseen oli kunnolla selitetty. Econ tyyli on hieman snobistinen, mistä en hänen esseitään lukiessani ole pitänyt, mutta tähän teokseen ote tuntui sopivalta, ja minulle tuli sellainen olo että ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
mal witzig, mal ernst + schöne Beispiele.
lest es, ehe ihr schreibt!
(sagt j-d, der noch nicht begonnen).

einiges ist alt wie der Wald und auch viel zu italiano,
ich würde dem Buch doch meine Sympathie zukommen lassen.
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really useful if you're writing a thesis or dissertation, even if some of the advice is dated; (this book both made me really miss card catalogs while also reminding me of the misery of attempting to edit on a typewriter).
Vivek Rai
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found the ideas put forward by the author to be extremely helpful. The most helpful chapters were "Chapter 1: The Definition and Purpose of Thesis", "Chapter 2: Choosing the Topic", and "Chapter 5: Writing the Thesis", mostly because the ideas put in here are field agnostic (this is not to say that the other portions of book are valid only for a specific field) and highly relevant for someone who has ever had to write a research proposal or thesis.

Beginners like me, who tend to be overly ambit
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Umberto Eco wrote this book in 1977, after he noticed that increased access to higher education in Italy had created a mass of students who needed to write a thesis to graduate, yet had not received adequate instructions in how to undertake and complete such a project. Perhaps many of these students, from working class backgrounds, felt that to ask about these particulars would reveal the discrepancies between them and their more elite classmates. Eco himself barely mentions the sociological spe ...more
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every academic
Eco’s Wie man eine wissenschaftliche Abschlußarbeit schreibt is a basic read for students entering the final stages of their studies. Actually, the text should be mandatory for those entering university, it’s so elementary and important!
It’s an introduction with clear and helpful information with positive and negative examples, explaining why something has to/needs to be done, and other things should absolutely be avoided. It helps that the usually very dry, boring, and overly correct way of “H
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Umberto Eco was an Italian writer of fiction, essays, academic texts, and children's books, and certainly one of the finest authors of the twentieth century. A professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, Eco’s brilliant fiction is known for its playful use of language and symbols, its astonishing array of allusions and references, and clever use of puzzles and narrative inventions. His pe ...more

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“There are many things that I do not know because I photocopied a text and then relaxed as if I had read it.” 6 likes
“The “thesis neurosis” has begun: the student abandons the thesis, returns to it, feels unfulfilled, loses focus, and uses his thesis as an alibi to avoid other challenges in his life that he is too cowardly to address. This student will never graduate.” 4 likes
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