Students often struggle writing their first, or even fifth, thesis. Free tools, like OpenOffice, are supposed to help writing these documents, but most of the times they cause more trouble.
The problem here is not OpenOffice necessarily, but the lack of understanding how these apps work. LibreOffice, OpenOffice, NeoOffice (and most other document writing apps) have built-in features to support writing — instead of hinder. They are able to create an automatic table of contents and a bibliography index, they can reference material throughout the document, they can handle tables and other media.