Common mistakes when writing a thesis

  1. Academic register: In academic writing such as thesis, try to avoid writing in the first person (“I will show that…) and instead opt for the third person (“This thesis will show that…).
  2. Do not write “in my view…” for a more objective statement, write “This element appears to underline…”. So, the reader gets the sense that this is your view being expressed here without resorting to the first person.
  3. Some supervisors are flexible on this and some are more strict, but its safer to err on the side of formality and adopt the third person.
  4. The rule for punctuation and the small superscript footnote numbers is, generally
    speaking, that the footnote number comes at the end of the sentence, after the full-stop. Hence, this is correct.1 By contrast, this is incorrect2.
  5. Don’t use colons ( : ) in headings because generally speaking they are un-neccessary at the end of a heading. Generally, avoid punctuation unless it is justified.
  6. Ordinal numbers: Grammatically, it is best to write first, secondly, thirdly etc “firstly” to “first”. It is a minor point but we believe that the corrected version is more consistent with proper grammar.
  7. Word choice: Change your use of the word “legislators” to “legislatures”. That is because in the contexts in which refers to the law-making authority (the legislature) rather than individual law-makers (the legislators).
  8. Use of the word ‘argued’: when referring to the decision of a court, in English we say that the court ‘held’ a particular thing to be true, we don’t say that the court ‘argued’ a certain position. In reality, the lawyers in the case ‘argue’ but the court decides. So in English we usually say, “…the court held that the parties….” or “the court found…” or “the court decided…” etc.