Writing your Ph.D. thesis is not as simple as it sounds. While some Ph.D. students like writing more than the others, working on a dissertation requires more than an interest in writing. It requires lots and lots of time, effort, and patience. There are no secrets or magical shortcuts you can use however there are tips and ideas that will help you complete your dissertation.
The process of thesis writing can be overwhelming due to its size and significance. The project will be scrutinized by your advisor and the committee. Your graduation will also depend on its successful completion and defense. These thoughts can be daunting and may even tempt you to wait until you have researched and thought of a topic over and over again. However it’s even more difficult to start the process the longer you delay. You have to start writing. That is the only solution. As you continue to write, you will be amazed when things start to take shape. Productivity begets productivity.
Keep writing, don’t stop. Let your mind continue working for your project to keep moving. The task is not to submit hundred pages of notes for your supervisor to look over – you need to produce a thesis with complete sentences and paragraphs.
Write so that you can rewrite.
When it comes to writing, some people believe that the first draft must also be the final output thus get discouraged from writing further. However this is the issue. You have to get your ideas on paper so that you can return to it and make the necessary corrections. Understanding that rewriting is a part of the content creation process will help you write persistently, make improvements, and welcome the idea of fixing any issues later on.
Spend enough time to determine your thesis and establish your methodology.
This could also fit in the first slot however the importance of writing early should be emphasized. Besides, modification of your thesis and methodology is also possible as you go on with your writing and make some progress with your overall argument. Spend time writing and rewriting your thesis and methodology and you will know the direction you are heading and where you have to go.
Work on another section if you get stuck.
Having a clear thesis and methodology will let you move around in your thesis whenever you get stuck. While it is not a good thing to make a habit of avoiding difficult tasks, there will be instances when you have to move to easier sections to use your time more effectively. As you make progress, you will be able to diminish the feeling of panic that looms over your work whenever you are stuck and can’t write.
Don’t forget to do the checking.
There will be days when your brain is too worn out to write. You can use the time instead to check bibliographies, quotations, etc. so there is still progress with your work.
Seek feedback on the whole thesis.
Try to ask feedback not only on individual chapters but for the whole thesis. Let your supervisor know that you’re interested in getting feedback as a whole to determine if all things fit together nicely.
Make preparations for the viva.
The viva is also very important. Focus on it too not only on the thesis. With a successful viva, opinions of the examiners can change. Bear in mind that you are the expert in your field and not the examiners. If possible, try to ask an arranged mock viva from your supervisor.
Writing and completing a dissertation is doable if you work hard for it. Yes it’s tough and challenging. You may feel tired, lost, and frustrated while you go through it but that’s all part of the process. What matters is that you sit through it and work on it with everything you’ve got.