7 Tips to Completing your Doctoral Thesis

Gaining a doctorate degree is the pinnacle goal of many wide-eyed students entering their first year of university. Over the years, many of them have fallen away, choosing areas of study which might be more to their liking or deciding the sciences were too difficult. But you are still here, hoping to graduate with your doctoral degree. But there’s still one giant obstacle separating you from reaching your Ph.D.: the dreaded doctoral dissertation.

Alliteration aside, the doctoral dissertation basically represents your entire university career in one single overarching paper. So, you may see why it is of absolute importance that you put all your efforts into making sure it is of the highest standard. All your research you’ve done and all the data you’ve generated needs to be put into a story, which becomes your thesis. Below we will go into some tips on how to complete it from conception to defense.

Tips for Completing your Dissertation

  • Plan it Out
  • Good Writing Style
  • Keep time on your side
  • Organize your mind
  • Don’t Neglect Images and References
  • The End is Near
  • Defending your Dissertation


Plan it Out

To create a successful thesis, it is important, at first, to plan out the steps you want to take. You must consider how much time you have until the given deadline to turn it in. A completed thesis can take anywhere from three to nine months to finish. Remember also that most theses can be up to 80,000 words. A good goal might be writing 400-600 words per day. Even so, the number of words written per day might change depending on workload. So, it is also important to set personal goals for certain dates leading up to your submission date.

Create self-enforced deadlines such as when you start, when you finish your abstract, when you want to finish the first draft, how long you want to revise, and when you want to print off the final copy. However, you should NEVER wait until the final day your thesis is due to fully print off your final copy in case technical difficulties arise. That is why it is important to plan to finish your thesis before the final date.


Good Writing Style

As you go about writing your dissertation, you have to make sure that your writing style makes sense for a thesis. How you write your thesis is almost as important as the content within. Your thesis must strike an acceptable compromise between technical language with an explanation of what is occurring in your research. Avoid overly superfluous language and instead focus and explain clearly in scientific terms exactly what your research and data represent for the scientific community.

You need not explain your research in layman’s terms, as those who will read your dissertation understand the science at hand. But, trying to impress them with your verbiage rather than the research within does nothing to assist your cause. That’s why the best theses use clear and concise language to explain the research. Click to go to a Stanford online class on writing in the sciences. It will help you better understand the best style to use when writing your thesis.


Keep Time on Your Side

You’ve already planned out your self-enforced deadlines on what you want to accomplish in a certain amount of time. Now, you must follow them to completion. The worst thing you can do is allow time to get away from you. If this happens, it will increase your stress and anxiety, more than what is usual when writing a thesis. As well, when you’re behind in your writing and feeling rushed, it is more likely to write something that is of lesser quality than if you were in complete control of your time.

One of the best ways to keep up on your deadlines is to set guidelines on how long you will write each day. You can change it as necessary depending on how close the deadline you are. If you are within a few weeks from the deadline you might have to increase your amount of time working each day. Either way, you must not lose track of time or else your dissertation will be in danger of not being finished before the final date.


Organize your Mind

Finishing your thesis can be one of the most daunting tasks you have faced in your academic career. It can be hard to wrap your mind around how best to accomplish the tasks necessary to complete your dissertation. The best way is to break it up into smaller pieces based on chapters, research, explanations, and the like. This is helpful when trying to organize your thoughts toward how you plan on writing your thesis.

What most people have trouble with when writing is understanding how to stay completely focused and not distracted. If you write for too long, it’s harder for your brain to work and the more unfocused it can become. One effective method to staying focused while writing for an extended time is to apply the “Pomodoro technique” which you can learn more about here. It is characterized by increments of time set for work, such as twenty-five minutes for example, with short breaks in between. These breaks help your mind relax for a time to allow it to refocus and continue onward through your writing.


Don’t Neglect Images and References

One might look at tackling a thesis and think only about the writing. Unfortunately, that’s only part of the issue. Alongside your writing, you must provide images, graphs, and references to other papers. Images are necessary to show your procedure and could possibly be the hardest to generate. These are extremely important to provide visual context to your thesis, rather than solely relying on describing it in your writing. Graphs apply here as well. They too are important for showing what your data represents.

You must also put a focus into your references to other scientific papers. These references are important for providing your research some context by comparing it to other papers already released in your field. This can help show the relevance of your research for the scientific community. The average dissertation can have around three hundred references, so it’s imperative to have them prepared sooner rather than later in creating your thesis.


The End is Near

Remember one thing when working on your thesis. The end is coming soon. When you successfully create your thesis, you will finally be able to graduate with your doctorate. It is the final goal of your education and it is closer to your grasp than ever before. If you ever feel burnt out by your writing, worried about whether you will ever finish, remember that victory is within your reach. If you ever feel that way, imagine how amazing it will feel to graduate with your doctorate. Keep this idea in your brain to fully motivate yourself to continue writing and eventually you will be finished with your thesis and ready to graduate.


Defending your Dissertation

Once you have finished your thesis, printed it out, and turned it in, you might think it is time to rest and relax having successfully completed it. Unfortunately, at that moment it is not quite yet over. You must stand in front of a panel of judges and be willing to defend your thesis against their line of questioning. Usually called a Viva, you must defend your dissertation, against their arguments. Your thesis could then be fully approved, needing revisions, or tossed out entirely, although the last is quite rare.

First, you must be confident in yourself and your thesis. You spent months writing it, shedding metaphorical blood, sweat, and tears. Now, you must be strong in order to defend your work. You know your thesis is of excellent quality. Now, it is your time to prove it. Also, you must be completely prepared. Write down possible questions the panel might ask you about your thesis, and find their answer. Go over your thesis multiple times, understanding exactly what you have written. Write down notes of points you want to make while defending your thesis. When you are put in the position to defend your thesis, you must be fully prepared for anything the judges might put upon you.


With all of that done, your thesis will then be complete. And, you will finally be able to graduate with your doctorate degree. Remember to use these steps to complete your thesis with less stress. And think of how wonderful it will be to fully become a doctor in your chosen field. The opportunities will be limitless for you. All your days and nights spent writing your thesis will finally pay off. Now, you just have to see what career options are available for you.


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