Book Review by Holly A. Moore

College of Community and Public Service Undergraduate Advising Center

Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI


How to Write a Thesis by Umberto Eco

For many people, the thesis is a daunting and at times overwhelming concept. While a thesis is an important and hefty task, the book How to Write a Thesis expounds the thesis in a way that alleviates some of the intimidation and anxiety that may surround a student nearing this substantial academic endeavor.

The book is broken into sections with headings that cover a variety of topics from how a student should approach steps such as choosing a topic and the organization of sources among many other helpful tips. Eco organized his book in a way that takes a student from the very start of the thesis process and works through what students will encounter as they progress through the process providing advice and wisdom along the way.

I would recommend this book for those who are unfamiliar with the process of writing a thesis as it provides an insight into the complexities of writing a thesis. Eco also provides the different avenues that students may choose when preparing for a thesis and shows that there are options and not all theses must be done in the same way or be indistinguishable from others. As a first generation college student pursuing a master’s degree in education, this book answered questions I knew that I had but couldn’t put words to. The purpose, history, and process of writing a thesis has become more clear due to the help from Eco’s book and couldn’t have been more timely of a read as I prepare to embark on a thesis of my own.

While the book is helpful in many ways, “How to Write a Thesis” was originally written in Italian and is over forty years old. As a result of the books age, some of the advice has since aged and is no longer relevant for today’s students. The system for organizing sources and information is outdated by the advancements of technology and availability of online databases, organizational systems, and changes in citation formatting. Eco also makes suggestions that students writing a thesis should make attempts to travel in order to fully understand the work and cultural context of the topics they are researching. While this could be relevant for some fields, it’s not a financially practical or necessary part of producing a quality thesis in today’s academic environment.

Overall, this book served as a way to gain an understanding of what a thesis is meant to be both in concept and in practice. For those who are unsure if the thesis is an endeavor they would like to pursue or those who are unsure of where to begin, this book gives an excellent basis of knowledge on the thesis. While some sections are outdated or culturally irrelevant to a modern American student, much of the information is valuable and worth reading.

Posted in: 2017 Book Reviews
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