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Writing My Thesis: The Journey from Start to Finish (Part 2)

I have completed and submitted my thesis. My topic: “222 Days of Platform Lockdown: Circumvention Culture, Digital Activism and Internet Censorship.” It took exactly 5 months to complete, and it is one of the most tasking research engagements I have carried out in recent times.

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In the first part of this article, I shared three main points to note while writing a thesis: timing (the earlier the better), use of tech (find your software) and consultation (consult your supervisor).

This time, like I mentioned, I have completed my thesis and submitted, and it was a journey I’m proud to share. It marks the end of my masters program, and it is symbolic as it represents my historic academic work that contributes immensely to social sciences and humanities – the media and the society. In this second part, I don’t intend to just share tips, but rather take you through my journey from how I arrived at my topic to how I gathered my materials and presented arguably a formidable and iconic research work totaling 81 pages (Times New Roman font 12 at 1.5 line spacing). I’m so proud of myself!

The Beginning: Choosing a Topic

This is the most important part of thesis writing. This can determine a good thesis or otherwise, an enjoyable research journey or a torment. It is a very confusing time for students who are about to begin their thesis. To some, it is less confusing, especially among those who have rightly developed their niche. However, to many others, they love so many things that it all expands their level of confusion. This was exactly my case.

Media, Communication and Culture studies is very broad, and I was in love with many areas. For example, I loved anything digital communications or media and technology. Also, I was highly interested in media and migration, and at the same time also interested in media literacy, especially eco-media literacy while immersed on media and politics as well as celebrity cultures. My head was chaotic on making a choice of an area to focus on for my thesis.

What did I do? I began by sincerely gauging my interest level for each of these scopes of study, and deliberately letting go my interest areas that don’t measure to the top 3. At that moment, it became clearer that my top 3 areas for thesis research were: media and technology, media and migration, media literacy and all things inbetween, of course, politics inclusive. The next thing I did was to reach out to my professors who are established in these research areas, and I scheduled a meeting with them, one after the other.

Unlimited access to your professors is one of the beautiful specs of studying at Södertörn University, and by extension, studying in Sweden. None of my professors hesitated at meeting me to discuss my intended thesis area and they provided valuable feedback and advice at every confusion. For each of these meetings, I had already done my research, and had outlined possible research topics, and they usually redirected me or straightened my path while allowing me to make the ultimate decision. Soon enough, I was sure I wanted to work on Media and Technology, and that marked the beginning of my specific focus on that area for my thesis.

The Topic, the Materials and the Conclusion

Remember my topic, “222 Days of Platform Lockdown: Circumvention Culture, Digital Activism and Internet Censorship.” This is a topic born out of immediacy, need and personal connection. On June 4, 2021, in my country Nigeria, the government announced the banning of the social media platform – Twitter. Twitter has a huge, significant and influential user base in Nigeria cutting across education, business, politics and entertainment, and additionally, this was the first time the internet has been censored in such a manner by the government since Nigeria’s uninterrupted democracy of over 20years.

This was indeed a big socio-political change, a significant one worthy of in-depth scholastic research. While many scholars focused on what caused the banning of Twitter, the impact of banning of Twitter and generally the cultural meaning of this ban, I was seeing something different. Meanwhile, Twitter ban wasn’t permanent, it was lifted at some point – it lasted for 222days, from 5 June 2021 – 13 January 2022, that exactly, is where my title came from. While Twitter ban was in effect in Nigeria, thousands, if not millions of Nigerians kept using Twitter in Nigeria. The government threatened to arrest the Twitter ban violators, but they still kept tweeting, despite that one cannot ordinarily access Twitter using the Nigerian internet connections or through the local service providers. This right there built up my research questions to find out – how people in Nigeria engaged in circumvention practices over the ban; how we can understand circumvention practices as a form of digital activism; and how circumvention has become a cultural engagement in the global fight for democracy and against internet censorship.

After I built the outline of my thesis, worked extensively on previous researches, I bought my flight ticket to Nigeria – Abuja and Lagos, my study locations. I spent the next 1 month in Nigeria gathering materials including surveys and interviews. While this filed work was going on, I maximized the access I had to my professor by reaching out every now and then through Zoom calls. Soon, I was back to Stockholm, analyzing my data and presenting my findings. What an exciting thesis journey.

I enjoyed every bit of this journey, as it allowed me to learn so much more about social movements, democracy, the internet and my country Nigeria generally. Because I was connected to the topic, and highly interested in the use of digital media or what is referred to as technoculture, my thesis turned out to be an easy ride, though tasking.

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: External link.

Amaraizu Genius is an International Student Ambassador at Södertörn University

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