My usual thesis banter is all about how to start writing. But in order to get it submitted at some point you have to stop.
Lots of you will have hard deadlines to meet and be beavering away towards them. I hear sometimes though a variation on “…but I want to be finished way before that.” There can be flexibility in any self-imposed deadline that allows you to slide it back if you want to. Beware this tendency to drag the process on longer and longer and if you can, force an end by planning a ‘full stop’ point. Maybe plan a holiday, or agree a job start date that requires you to have finished your thesis. It’s hard to write and fully commit to your work in a new role, as many people who are juggling a full time job and thesis writing will echo.
As you come towards the end, keep your mind on being done, and remind yourself:
You are submitting a work in progress. Your thesis is a status update on where you are at with the research. You do not have to ‘complete’ the research, you just have to be able to explain why you made the decisions you did. Are the gaps you feel inclined to fill, actually gaps – holes in your argument that render it unconvincing? Or are they additional work that follows up new lines of investigation?
Feeling insecure is normal. Remember that you very familiar an involved in what you are writing. If it’s not a surprise to you, or exciting anymore it’s understandable that you have become sick of the sight of it, and started to lose confidence in its value. Remember that your opinion is now skewed and you can’t objectively evaluate your work.
Literature will keep coming! Repeated last minute searching and checking for new literature won’t help you. It can feel that each time you collate an article it into your growing work, another two interesting articles appear and get on the to do list. Don’t be tempted to keep monitoring new outputs in order to add it, this will cycle, and delay you.
The doctorate is a pass or fail qualification. There’s no A+ grade available. A complete document that demonstrates what’s been done, why, and that you did it, is what’s needed. Think about what is required for a thesis, and fulfil those requirements. You can’t ‘win’ at thesis.
The end isn’t the end yet. How ever long you spend checking, proofreading, polishing, and rechecking, you will always find some small mistakes after you have submitted it. Not to worry! You can be doing these self-identified corrections in the time gap before your viva.
Remember the getting your thesis submitted on time is your responsibility and you are the person to make the decision on when to stop. It’s your call, do listen to the advice from supervisors, do compare your work to other theses that passed, but the final decision is yours.
So GO GO GO! and then STOP STOP STOP!