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Writing Up a PhD Thesis: 10 Tips from Experts

by Eric
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Here we should tell you that writing a Ph.D. thesis is a challenging complicated assignment and you have to dedicate yourself fully to this task for months to come. At some point it is true, you, most probably, have never written anything as complicated as this before. However, if you come to this point, you have already written many research papers, and even more essays and projects. You know what academic writing looks like.

Yes, there is strong doomsday mythology surrounding Ph.D. thesis writing, and you may fall under the spell, stress out. We don’t tell you to relax, but we definitely want you to keep calm as nothing bad is happening — you can do it, especially if you plan in advance and you plan for force majeure as well. In this article, we will share with you some tips that may be helpful in this way.

Don’t procrastinate – start right away:

Ph.D. thesis writing is a sprint, not a marathon. You feel like there is plenty of time to finish it, and you, of course, will do it at a smart pace, and you will be very careful to follow all the intermediary deadlines, etc. We believe you understand that most of the students tell themselves the same sweet lies. So, start right away, get used to the routine.

Plan the structure of your thesis with your supervisor:

There are two ways to do it — to spend lots of time planning on your own, researching, changing the structure, writing explanations on why your structure is this way and not that way. All fine, but you will only lose time this way. Do brief research, draft a structure how you see it now, and immediately address your supervisor. There will be changes and a lot, and it is better to receive them earlier than later.

Plan the volume according to your institution requirements:

These requirements differ from one institution to another and you need to receive a full list of instructions from your supervisor. He or she may say that “oh, just check it online, later we will do some changes if needed.” Don’t fall for that! There is no such thing as minor changes when it comes to a Ph.D. thesis, first of all, because some works are 300 pages long. Get your guidelines before you start writing.

Start writing from where you want:

There is no rule stating that you need to write in chronological order — you can start from whatever place you want. It can be anything — you can write some part of a conclusion section if you know what should be there. In the beginning, just follow your inspiration on what to write and you plan on how much to write.

Use additional online services for help:

You can do it on your own. But do you actually want to? There are lots of online services designed to help you do your job. First, there are lots of online project planners, Trello, Basecamp, and more. Second, you can use proofreaders such as Grammarly, Ginger, Hemingway, and all the variety of citation generators. Third, when you get seriously stuck, you can address professional PhD thesis writers for help. You don’t need to order the whole paper  — you can just ask for assistance with some section, like methodology or annotated bibliography. This way you will not overpay, write your own Ph.D. paper and deal with the difficult part faster.

Address issues not addressed before:

It is some sort of a rule when it comes to Ph.D. — not only your major topic but your other findings and ideas should be fresh. These are the issues that were not previously addressed in your field, note some of them down and check with the list from time to time.

Apply time-management techniques:

There are lots of business time-management techniques that can apply to Ph.D. thesis writing. It is pretty obvious that the one that you can apply right away without long reading and planning is a Pomodoro technique. Write or do research for 25 minutes, take a break for five, and take a longer break every 4 cycles. That’s easy. Read more about 9 Steps to Write Efficient Lab Report on Any Subject.

Stay in touch with your supervisor:

Supervisors have other work to do, and you feel like you don’t want to distract and annoy them. You are writing something, compiling your research and analysis, and you feel like it is the best strategy. NO! The best strategy is to have a plan when you write to your supervisor, confirm it with them, and follow it strictly.

Forget about perfectionism for this period:

You don’t need a perfect Ph.D. You need a working Ph.D. Tune down your perfectionism, because the second name of perfectionism is procrastination. There is also a third name to perfectionism — missed deadlines. While you endlessly polish something that is already good enough, your time just flies by.

Allocate enough time for proofreading:

When we said about cutting on perfectionism, we didn’t mean that you need to forget about proofreading and editing. Allocate enough time for it, as you will find lots of mistakes and there will be many abstracts which style you will hate.

The trick about these tips is simple — if you apply them, they work, if you don’t, they don’t. Simple as that. Do we believe you don’t expect to lose weight if you keep eating hamburgers and ordering pizza at night, at the same time reading about a healthy lifestyle? You don’t. The same with tips on academic writing. Many students just scroll through several articles, think “we know all about it already” and make the same mistakes as others on the way to a Ph.D. thesis.

It is true, nothing of what you have read here is new or revolutionary, but tips to eat fewer carbs and train more at a moderate pace are also not something new. Routine, banal things are routine and banal because they have been tried and proven for decades by thousands if not millions of people. Give yourself a better chance to deal with a Ph.D. thesis — actually, apply some tips that will help you to do it better. We hope your Ph.D. story will be the one with a happy ending. Good luck!

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