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Dear Thesis… (Part 3: Reflections)

…what a journey it was

Although I was deeply motivated and interested in my topic, the process had its twists and turns on the way. Overall, the process took one year, almost to date. I used roughly half a year to get to know the theme very well at first, a quarter of a year to plan and narrow down my topic and the last quarter, about 3 months to do the actual research and writing (image 3). I used every opportunity in my studies to support the process.

Image 3. Master's thesis process by Emilia Kiialainen

In the beginning of the process, I found hints of what would be useful to do research on, by joining global communities around the topic, listening to podcasts, taking courses and attending seminars.

I contacted my advisor during the summer, and almost ended up doing my thesis for the company they worked for. This was not my initial intention, but it would have had its benefits, for sure. Although that didn’t happen, it really speeded up the process. It forced me to radically narrow down my topic quite early. I had to verbalize and explain my interest clearly and I was able to mirror the topic with someone outside the school, which was very valuable. I started my writing process in mid-December and finished by the submission date in mid-March. That left me three months for the actual writing. I also had a part-time job to support my studies, which left enough time, but there was no time to spare. It was an intensive period and a tight schedule, to be honest. My strategy was to write a minimum of one hour every day when I was not working, nor during the weekends. Sometimes I quit after one hour, and sometimes I continued, but it really gave me the routine to see the work evolving little by little before my eyes. That was a really good strategy that was recommended for me and I recommend that for everyone as well.

I shared the very first draft very early on to my advisor and even to my supervisor, although it was embarrassing to send it at that point. I met my supervisor three times during the process and focused those meetings on the core theories and outcomes of my work. The meetings supported the formulation of the academic spine of my work.

Somewhere in the middle of my writing I realized that I would benefit from someone reading and commenting on my writing more closely and I was lucky to find such a person from the Aalto faculty, who was willing to help me. I found this help priceless.

Towards the end of the process I sunk into the most common mistake that designers make which is thinking what MORE do I need for the work to be complete? Which was the opposite of what I needed or was realistic at this point. I could have done more interviews to make the study more credible, but I simply did not have time. I also felt that I already had a lot of interesting data to work with. At this point, I also thought that I needed validation for the value propositions that I had developed, but I ended up including these reflections as suggestions for further research in the conclusions part or the thesis.

…I guess it’s bye bye!

And that’s how it ended; me saying farewell for the ride. I kept my interest and enthusiasm for the topic throughout the journey. I felt that it was a fruitful, inspiring and authentic process for me. I did not become academically fluent from the process, but I learned a lot. I also used my creativity and strengths during the project by visualizing information. This supported me both in interpreting and communicating the results.

Read more about speculative design, futures design and design and creativity in general from my blog or connect through instagram where I randomly shared this journey as well @emiliakiialainen

Author: Emilia Kiialainen

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