Getting Finished: When is Enough Enough?
It could be that at the start of your final year you found it hard to get going on your thesis. Now you may well face the opposite problem - bringing yourself to let it go. Deciding that your thesis is ready for submission is a big step. So how do you know when the time is right to submit? When is enough enough?
The first thing to remember is that you are working to a deadline - you should be aiming to submit your thesis by the end of your final year. It is important that you keep to this deadline. In your work plan you should have taken your expected submission date into account, allowing some weeks before this date to give your supervisor a chance to read and comment on your thesis and for you to make any changes as needed.
Ensuring that you keep to this deadline should be a key part in your process of deciding when to submit your thesis.
What do you think?
Ultimately, you are responsible for deciding whether your thesis is ready for submission. As you approach your expected submission date, you need to make up your own mind as to whether your thesis is ready.
The first thing you need to do is go back to your thesis plan:
have you covered everything you wanted to cover?
does your thesis clearly set out what your original contribution to knowledge in your discipline is and what implications stem from that?
have you followed the advice for developing your writing?
have you completed a process of successive re-drafts?
If you have taken a structured approach to writing your thesis and can answer "yes" to all of these questions, then it is likely that your thesis is ready - even if you think it can be improved, the odds are that the work you have done is sufficient for your first submission.
Remember that your thesis does not have to be perfect. You need to be honest with yourself - if you think that further revisions are necessary, ask yourself what improvements you hope to make and how long will it take to achieve them? If these improvements are relatively minor, then they may not be needed; and if they will take many more weeks or even months to achieve, then perhaps not realistic either.
What does your supervisor think?
Even if you are not entirely happy with your thesis, your supervisor is there to provide advice. Make sure your supervisor has several weeks in which to read and comment on your thesis before the final submission deadline.
Seeking feedback from your supervisor is very important and it is strongly recommended that you do not submit your thesis without your supervisor having first had a chance to comment on your final draft. Your supervisor may structure their feedback on your thesis in a way that brings out the positives before going on to talk about any weaknesses. You will need to take a balanced approach - be pleased with the positives, but take any weaknesses seriously and listen to and act on any comments your supervisor might have for addressing these.
However the decision to submit your thesis does rest with you. If your supervisor is of the opinion that your thesis is ready for submission, this should not be taken as an assurance that the degree sought will be awarded - that decision rests wholly with your examiners.
If you and your supervisor are both happy that your thesis is ready for submission, you next need to start making your final checks before you have the thesis bound. In particular, you need to ensure that you have followed the University's rules on formatting your thesis. Before that though, it is important to undertake a thorough process of proofreading your thesis.