Dear doctoral supervisor,
“I was blissfully unaware how long it would take me to write up. To be honest I would have preferred a more clear marker from my supervisor, or from the department, saying stop doing experiments now and write! I was expecting someone to say when I had enough data, because I never felt I did, so instead I kept going much longer than I needed in the lab because I didn’t know how much was enough. I feel pretty annoyed about that.”
It’s 246 days until the 31st of October. I mention this date as we have around 1100 third year doctoral students whose theses are due on that date*. With 8 months to go, now is a perfect time to make sure that your thesis writers know it’s time to spend some time each week — an hour a day, every day? — writing. Read the rest of this entry »
Through my thesis mentoring work, PhD supervisors write to me most weeks and ask — with varying tones of enthusiasm and frustration —
“how can I support/encourage/motivate/force my student to get their thesis written?”
I tailor my reply to the cues I pick up from the emails, the context, timing, relational aspects. I ask for more detail about what’s been happening. Sometimes I coach the supervisor, sometimes I coach the student. Read the rest of this entry »
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: Read the rest of this entry »
This is a guest post from Ciara Kelly, a Doctoral Researcher in the Institute of Work Psychology
As researchers our job demands that we maintain focus on our long-term outputs despite few meaningful milestones.
This can present challenges to the best of us, and the following scenarios (or some variation thereof) may be familiar to you:
Scenario 1: The cursor blinks accusingly. You nibble on your third Anxiety Muffin of the day. You’ve exhausted the entire internet of cat pictures and you have 3 tutorials to teach this afternoon. The Word document open in front of you boasts 17 words. They are some damn fine words, obviously, but you concede that the editors of *insert your favourite journal here* might possibly want a little more. The answer to your problem is clear. Muffin number four. Read the rest of this entry »
Dr Abi Pinnock is a Post-doctoral Research Associate – and thesis mentor in the School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield.
We can start off life thinking that perfection is attainable. From an early age it is fairly easy to achieve 10/10 on spelling and arithmetic tests, but by the time you’re in high school getting anything more than 90% seems impossible and as you progress through undergraduate degree this seems to decrease. So by the time we get to postgraduate level can we ever achieve the perfection that we once experienced as normal as children?
As a post-doc who has recently completed their PhD, I have had the opportunity to mentor PhD students during their thesis writing. Read the rest of this entry »
When the Think Ahead team made the decision to start up a blog and share the writing between us, my first thought was ‘I’ve never written for a blog before, what if my writing isn’t good enough’. Writing has never been something that comes easily to me, I spend more time worrying about what to write and if it will be any good then actually getting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard so to speak). Even when I do get started on the writing, I find it so easy to be distracted away by the ping of a new email in my inbox, the buzz from a text message or an unnecessary urge to suddenly tidy my desk. The more I thought about writing for the blog, I started to reflect back to writing my PhD thesis and initially wondered how on earth I had managed to get 60,000 or so words written all those years ago…
Read the rest of this entry »
Morphing several years worth of collected data into a coherent narrative that illustrates clearly ‘what you did’ and ‘what you found out’ is a big challenge. In my opinion it’s one you’re ready for, but you have to get started on writing to really recognise that you can do it.
There are some really excellent reasons to write the thesis that extend beyond just evidencing the time you’ve spent slaving your socks off. I’ve spent some hours talking to thesis writers through my thesis coaching projects, and my following top 5 skills you’ll hone (beyond becoming a Master of the Universe in your subject area) have become well evidenced. These are easy-wins for examples for your next job application, and good to keep in mind if you’re wondering how you’ll survive the write-up phase!
Click the link to read the 5 reasons you are now more employable. Read the rest of this entry »