I finished my thesis today and the title page must contain the starting-date and the finishing date of my work on the thesis. What is this time frame called? It should not only include the time I spent with the actual writing but also the time I spent preparing the thesis, so all time I spent working. All templates I received from university are in German, it's "Bearbeitungszeit" there.

I came up with the following possibilities

  • Work time: April 1, 2011 till May 21, 2011
  • Work duration: April 1, 2011 till May 21, 2011
  • Writing time: April 1, 2011 till May 21, 2011
  • Writing duration: April 1, 2011 till May 21, 2011

By the way: Is the date format correct for American English?

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    Nervous breakdown? Living hell? (Can you tell I finished my thesis quite recently?) – PLL May 21 '11 at 17:20
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    By the way, the title should be “What is the time you spend on a thesis called?”, now “How…”; see this question for explanation/discussion. – PLL May 21 '11 at 17:29
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    @theomega: Brevity is nearly always a virtue. Why call it anything at all? Just put the range itself on the title page, with a dash between the two dates. In US you could use 04/01/11 - 05/21/11, but UK and others use the dd/mm/yy format. To avoid confusion I'd go for 1 Apr 2011 - 21 May 2011 unless the recipient establishment has its own published standard format. – FumbleFingers May 21 '11 at 17:33
  • @PPL: We could do with a special button on EL&U to auto-generate the text of your post from relevant question titles! – FumbleFingers May 21 '11 at 17:36
  • What country university system is this for? In American universities, I don't think there is a required such field. For countries, you should either have a template, or see another submission to see how they write it in English. – Mitch May 21 '11 at 17:54

The best literal translation I can find of "Bearbeitungszeit" is "processing time", which really sounds odd here. I think I would use "Thesis period:"

Your dates are correct for American English, but I would use "through" instead of "till", or perhaps an em dash.


Thesis period: April 1, 2011 through May 21, 2011


Thesis period: April 1, 2011–May 21, 2011

  • ...and of course that comes out as an en dash instead of an em. Ah well. – MT_Head May 21 '11 at 17:37
  • I think maybe you might have meant it came out as a hyphen instead of an en dash? I've edited it to be an en dash, which looks better to me - but you can edit to an em dash if that works better for you... – psmears May 21 '11 at 17:41
  • @psmears - you're right; I should have either said "hyphen" or used the HTML character. – MT_Head May 21 '11 at 18:18

I think the best way is:

       "Thesis writing duration: 1 April 2011 - 21 May 2011"

As I found something about the correct date format.

And The following date formats are not acceptable:




I would go for Research timespan I guess.

Shouldn't you write April the 1st? or 1st of April? And of course : use until instead of till. I'm not sure till is in the dictionnary.


Got more precision see: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/till for usages.

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    @M'vy: Till is in the dictionary, and could (just about) be used in this context. In informal contexts, 'til is more common, but wouldn't be suitable here. Untill, on the other hand, doesn't exist at all. The best approach is simply to use to. – FumbleFingers May 21 '11 at 17:21
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    "Untill" is NOT correct - it's "until" (one N.) "Till" and "'til" (the apostrophe indicates that it's a contraction of "until") are acceptable in conversation or in informal writing, but not official. And none of them fits this context. – MT_Head May 21 '11 at 17:24
  • Well I got confused. I meant until of course. – M'vy May 21 '11 at 17:25
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    Till is a perfectly good word, and is in Shakespeare, the King James Bible, and all reputable dictionaries. Other than that, completely agreed with your answer :-) – PLL May 21 '11 at 17:26
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    The date, in American style, is written April 1, as MT_Head describes. – Steve Melnikoff May 21 '11 at 18:11

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