The irony was that I actually created this life for myself because I thought that getting a PhD degree was the road to a better life and a career that I would be passionate about.
As I had expected, I could only use a very small portion of the data I had collected up to that point in my thesis.
My supervisor assigned me a new project, and I had to learn how to use three new instruments that I had no prior experience with. In order to meet this ambitious deadline I decided to extend my hour days to hour days and learn the methods I needed for the new project. After 5 months, I was finally able to generate some reproducible data with my new experimental setup.
I still had to run hundreds of samples through my system, but I finally had hope that I might be able to graduate that semester. The problem was the thesis deadline was only 3 months away and I had no idea where to start. Eventually, just as I was burning out and spinning into a dark cycle of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness, I finished my thesis.
Over the next few years after finishing my thesis, I started studying the process and creating a more effective system for writing a thesis. This may seem obvious, but so many graduate students fail to define their overall hypothesis before beginning their thesis. You must be able to summarize your thesis in one sentence such as: Some PhD students spent 8 or 9 years full-time in graduate school working on many small projects because no one project was viable enough for an entire thesis.
The only reason their thesis committees let these students graduate is because the students had been in school for so long. Your question will probably evolve over time, but the more clarity you have about the purpose of your thesis, the more efficient your research will be. The details of each stage will vary slightly depending on your field, but for most thesis writers the stages are, first, idea collection, second, editing and data analysis, and third, polishing.
Perfectionists like me will particularly benefit from dividing their writing into discrete stages. The purpose of the first stage of writing is to get as many ideas as possible on paper, without judging, editing or formatting your document.
By allowing yourself to collect your ideas without criticism, you can spark your creativity and overcome the fear of imperfection that may be holding you back from starting to write your thesis. It is during the second stage, editing and data analysis phase, that you need to be rigorous with your writing and editing. At the end of the second phase your goal is to produce a manuscript that has a clear structure and a logical flow of arguments so that you can submit it to your supervisor for review.
In the final polishing phase, you need address the feedback from your committee and fill in any gaps in the logic. Some advisors are either too busy to mentor you properly or are micro-managers who want daily updates on your progress.
The role of your advisor is to mentor you so you learn how to be an independent researcher, not to hold your hand for the rest of your life. Your advisor may or may not be a good mentor, but you need to be in agreement regarding the direction of your research because you need their approval to graduate.
If you have disagreements with your advisor, or you have a dead-end project, it may take several meetings to determine the overall direction of your thesis. The most effective way to meet with your advisor is to schedule meetings far in advance and come to every meeting with a clear agenda. If your advisor is a difficult person, continue to be proactive about planning meetings and developing solutions to your problems. Just get something down on paper. Listen to music that puts you in the mood to write.
Watch a short video that motivates you to take action. Visualize all the things you will do once your thesis is done. They may even start to form cohesive sentences and paragraphs. Overtime, your warm-up period will get shorter and shorter until clicking into writing gear becomes an automatic habit. When I started writing my thesis, I thought I had to begin with the abstract, then the introduction, then an in-depth literature search, then chapter one, chapter two, on and on all the way to the conclusion.
By definition, the abstract is a summary of the highlights of your thesis, and therefore you should only be able to write a quality abstract once you finish all of your chapters. Starting your thesis by writing the most difficult chapter first is like trying to deadlift a pound weight without any prior training. Instead, start writing your thesis by writing the easiest section first—the methods section.
The methods section is the easiest section to get started and the quickest to finish. Start here to get a few pages under your belt and boost your confidence before you try any heavy lifting. If you put this phrase in your calendar it will either lead to you taking a nap, surfing the web, or staring at a blank computer screen.
Once you decide on the order in which you will write your chapters, continue breaking them down into smaller chunks. Writing in several short bursts is more efficient than writing in a few, long extended periods of time. If you ever tried to write for several hours in a row, you may have noticed that your concentration becomes weaker after about minutes. Writing requires creativity, and it is difficult to sustain your focus for several hours in a row over the course of months or even years until you finish your thesis.
If you have a hour block of time in your calendar, resist the temptation to glue yourself to the chair for the entire period. These rest periods are crucial. Many students get sudden insights when they are away from their desks and they become more efficient when they return to work. Bad writing habits are tough to break. If you try to eliminate your bad habits overnight, your brain and body might rebel against you. A better strategy is to change your habits slowly and one at a time.
Instead, take on one, complete it or master it, and then move on to the next tip. The toughest part of writing is the beginning. The sooner you start writing your thesis, the easier writing it becomes. The fifth point matches my methodology, I always start with easy section first and then go for a hard section in ascending order. It will increase your confidence and motivate you to write more and more.
I read your each and every tip and will consider it while writing my final year thesis. Hi Sofia, I agree that writing the easiest section first is the best way to dig into writing your thesis. I also found this process to be helpful when writing manuscripts. When you start with the easiest section you can get into the rhythm of writing more quickly and also fill in any gaps as you go along. I just got all the ethics and tips jam packed into one place. It clearly seems that such tips can be only from an experienced person who went through all these hassles and know how to survive it.
This will go to help me in my PhD, I am going to bookmark this article and this website for the future reference. Thanks Dora for such amazing tips! Hi Amanda, thank you for your kind words. I am so glad that you found this article helpful. I really acknowledge you for being so proactive about writing your thesis. A thesis paper is a long paper that the student writes in the last few semesters of graduate school. It typically requires a large amount of research and work on the part of the student.
For example, someone studying criminal psychology might write a paper that looks at the number of criminals wrongfully convicted of crimes. The paper would delve into the ways that criminologists tested DNA and other forms of evidence, would examine which methods worked the best at identifying the true criminals, and might even conduct interviews with experts. Writing a thesis is an important part of the graduate program. This gives the student the chance to use the research and writing skills that he or she learned in the program.
Many students later publish their thesis papers as a way to gain a foothold in the field. In some cases, students have the option of completing a non-thesis degree program.
Those students will typically take more courses than those in the degree program, and some students find that it takes them longer to finish the program. While a thesis degree program is the best option for those interested in research who plan to complete a doctorate program later, a non-thesis degree might work better for someone whose strengths lie more in applied knowledge or in artistic non-written creation.
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determine which type of thesis you are writing early in your graduate program. Qualitative or Creative Thesis This type of thesis is the result of work done by students in a descriptive, exploratory, analytical, or creative way. Departments that encompass the arts and humanities may have. What Is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Dissertation? So the main difference between a thesis and a dissertation is the depth of knowledge you must attain in order to write the paper. A masters degree thesis is more closely related to a research paper that you would have completed during college. When beginning to write your.