The Bologna plan introduced in Spain the obligation to prepare a Final Degree Project, hereinafter TFG, to complete the degree studies. This latest career milestone can be scary or anxiety -provoking for many students.
This work is a test of intellectual maturity, in which a large part of the skills acquired during university education are valued.
What is a TFG for? In simplistic terms, to access the job market with a degree in hand. The purpose of this six-credit subject is to promote critical capacity, originality, the planning of projects related to the degree, the approach of students to the reality of work, rigor and oratory techniques.
How to beat the shadows of the TFG?
Let’s imagine that we are the protagonists of the Gallic village of Udenzo and Goscinny, Asterix and Obelix. Julius Caesar, inspired by the 12 labors of Hercules, has challenged us: will these pupils be able to pass the 12 tests of the TFG?
If so, I will grant them the title; if not, they will be sentenced to one more call, without being able to enroll on time in the master’s studies they would like to take.
We go to Panorámix, who lets us drink a sip of the magic potion, so as not to see any more shadows and escape from the platonic cave and become graduates. What is that magic recipe? In a few drops of perseverance, a few grains of proactive attitude, a few sheets of logic, three glasses of critical thinking and search for academic-labour niches to explore, two tablespoons of detailed analysis and a few pinches of humility and knowing how to listen.
The twelve trials
Our contemporary Julius Caesar presents us with the following tests:
- Find the theme, without vagueness or flourishes.
- Justify our proposal, objectively and subjectively.
- Point out the hypothesis and its objectives, using a scientific method.
- Establish a methodology without entanglements, clear and precise.
- Design a relevant theoretical framework.
- Offer a critical and original experiment.
- Draw real, valuable and academic-professional conclusions.
- Mark strategies for the future.
- Reference correctly.
- Use careful academic language.
- Set clear time limits.
- Carry out an impeccable defense.
First test: what do I focus on?
Finding the theme, without vagueness or flourishes, is not a simple action. The player will have to make use of the potion, with the advice of the tutor, to study which line of investigation best fits his profile.
You must find the philosopher’s stone of the TFG. It will have to be a pertinent issue, that can be approached in a creative and academic way, that is not exhausted at the theoretical level, that is temporally framed and, at the same time, well delimited.
Second test: why?
It is pertinent that all academic work, such as the one presented here, be justified objectively and subjectively. In objective terms, to pass the test you will have to defend the social need to investigate the subject in question, as well as link the project with degree subjects.
As far as the subjective aspects are concerned, here the author of the work must demonstrate their interest in the investigation, without childishness.
Third test: approach
It is essential that the hypothesis and the objectives derived from it are well established. Future professionals will have to capture what motivates the investigation, what is the starting thesis, what is thought before investigating, so that later, thanks to a well-cared-for methodology, endorse, expand or deny that hypothesis.
The objectives will be derived from the hypothesis, which are the guide of the work and must coincide with the conclusions.
Fourth test: methodology
How to deal with the problem posed? Key in this test is documenting existing scientific methodologies, reading a lot, making notes…
We must bear in mind that, in order to describe something particular, the more general phenomenon must have been previously explained.
Fifth test: the foundations of the argument
It is about establishing the theoretical framework: the students have to show solidity in the foundations that support their practical argumentation.
For this, the pertinent bibliography must be collected, systematically ordered and not forgetting the definition of the key concepts.
Test Six: Solution Design
Let’s show Julius Caesar that we know how to design an experiment. We will have to solve the problem that we have described as relevant at the beginning of the tests, in an academic way, without vagueness.
We can rely on the strategies applied in similar works by authors with more extensive experience than ours, although contributing our personal touch, and without ever forgetting to justify any decision.
Seventh test: conclusions
After having passed the six previous milestones, the author must draw the pertinent deductions that are thrown from all of the above. They will obviously have to be in line with the objectives.
To do it serenely, it may be good to give yourself a little distance.
Eighth test: look to the future
We must bring a vision of the future to our project. If not, they will not grant us the seal of quality and we will not be able to escape from the crazy house of Asterix and Obelix.
Ninth and tenth: the importance of shapes
We have to reference well: we will have to follow the system that the Faculty has established, or, otherwise, opt for one and always be faithful to it.
Taking care of spelling and grammatical rules, as well as making use of scientific language, which you will never find as a companion on the journey to familiarity, is essential so that our work does not falter.
Test eleven: organization of time
Reasonable and realistic planning is key to successful work. Be careful not to allow Morpheus to be part of this adventure! We must deprive ourselves of our mobiles during work time, as well as be in an environment that does not distract us.
It is important to distribute the tasks by hours and make use of an alarm. It is better to work a few hours efficiently than to spend many hours in front of the screen without making much progress.
The weekly agenda and a daily time distribution with intervals for rest are key. Working for objectives is a great incentive, and giving yourself small prizes of ten, fifteen, twenty minutes (the breaks must be longer, although timed, with each hour completed), too.
Test Twelve: The Art of Public Speaking
The art of oratory now comes into play. The court must be convinced that one is sufficiently fit to be able to perform in the labor market the set of professions linked to the title that is intended to be achieved.
The work will have to be presented in a congruent way, displaying the strategies of a good commercial, in a formal format, with scientific rigor and poise.
At last! Constancy, proactivity, critical thinking, a thorough analysis, logic, knowing how to be and listen and humility have provided us with the way out of the platonic cave of the TFG. With our title in hand, we can feel proud of the enormous effort made. It wasn’t that complicated.
Author Bio: Lia de Luxan Hernandez is Professor of the Department of Modern Philology, Translation and Interpretation of the ULPGC at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria