My recent posts have provided advice on the exit project or
thesis in planning: how to
get started, write a proposal, manage one's committee, and troubleshoot
problems. This post concludes this series by providing advice on getting
done-not the last-minute troubleshooting issues dealt within one of the earlier posts-but the big steps that will help you get done on time.
it you'll flounder.
- Make a
timeline and negotiate key deadlines with your committee-they may even
have a draft ready. For instance, Bruce Stiftel of Florida State
provides standard milestones
Allow time for comments and revisions. Don't underestimate the time to
create illustrations and do final formatting. Stick to your timeline and
if you need to depart from it, let your committee know ahead of time.
the university style sheet or create your own. There are often two parts.
One will deal with text:
punctuation, capitalization of words, reference formats, and related
issues. The other will deal with
layout: margins, heading styles, fonts. If there isn't a style sheet in
existence use a book like Turabian's Craft of Research
for the text styles. Copy a book or report you find attractive for the
layout style. This is an important document-sticking to a style can save
lots and lots of time.
notes carefully-I use a template that records the methods used, place
studied, and key topics for each reading and that also notes page numbers.
This is a great help later.
not absolutely necessary, I've found over the years that keeping notes
about what I do helps reconstruct decisions later. I keep such a log every
you really, really need to travel or buy a large data set you don't need
to get grants for masters-level projects in planning. It
isn't expected and it can take a lot of time.
people have not managed a 100+ page document-if you are one of those folks, look
for classes on how to use your word processing program effectively to deal
with pagination, sections, paragraph styles, tables, charts, graphs, and
images. There are many simple short cuts and I notice that too few
students use them.
Remember, getting finished is an important step on your path to
being a planner. Doing it as efficiently as possible will enable you to start making
a difference in the world all the sooner.
Ann Forsyth is professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University.