The Right Way to Write a PhD Thesis

Scholars are at time in confusion about how to where to start a thesis this clears all those doubts in a nut shell.

By DrSubramonian Shanmugham
Published: Mar 11, 2014 04:21 AM GMT / 
Updated: Mar 11, 2014 04:21 AM GMT

For most scholars, writing their PhD thesis will be one of the cumbersome and complicated task they have ever faced.What I find in common is mostly scholars adapt a last minute approach to prepare their thesis.They only start thinking about the thesis when their supervisors put pressure on them.Although it works it generally leads to a very stressful few months of writing and preparation.But it need not to be that way, with the right approach you can make the whole process much easier – here’s how:

1. Accepting full responsibility for your work from day 1. It is your responsibility to become an expert in your area, produce good quality research and write a competent thesis. Your supervisor is only there to guide and mentor you, no matter what you, or he/she, might think.

2. Maintain good and accurate records. Good records are the foundation stone upon which your research is built. Keep your lab book detailed and accurate, and maintain good records of your samples. See here and here.

3. Prepare and maintain an electronic journal. Five minutes spent writing a bullet point summary of the work you have done each day will build up into an invaluable record. From it you can look back on your thought processes on a given experiment or pick up small, useful pieces of information that would otherwise have been lost in the ether.

4. Prepare yourself monthly progress reports. I would say this the most useful habit you can get yourself into. At the end of each month, you are in a much better position to accurately summarize and reflect on your work during that month than you will be at the end of your studies. A series of well-written monthly reports will build into an easily accessible but detailed account of your work and ease the thesis writing process greatly.

5. Have the habit of reading every day. Whether you chose to read one research paper or spend an hour reading every day, over the course of your studies this will build up into a significant amount and contribute massively to your knowledge and abilities, allowing you to become a world expert.

6. Summarize papers as you read them and keep a record of the summaries. Months (or hours in my case) after reading a paper, you will have forgotten many of the details. Keeping short summaries of each paper will allow you quickly refresh your memory without having to re-read the original publication.

7. Construct a bibliography. Every thesis needs a bibliography. You have two choices – enter all publications and books you read into bibliography software as you go, or spend hours doing it all in one go at the end of your studies (hint: I’d do the former).

8. An early start. Even though you will be unsure of exactly what your thesis is finally going to contain you should begin writing what you can, as early as you can. The bulk of the introduction and methods sections can, and should, be written fairly early as a lot of the information included in them is unlikely to change. For writing the main chapters you can begin early on with an outline of chapter titles, with bullet points of likely topics to be included. Over time this skeleton can be built on with work as it is done. This is useful even if a chapter is not complete since writing a chapter from a rough or incomplete outline is easier than starting from scratch.

9. Refer other people’s theses! Many actually do not read a PhD thesis until they were well into writing their own. This was a big mistake and one I would advise you not to make.

10. Tune your mind.Be ready at your best.

11. Give yourself peace of mind. Setup an auto daily back up so that you never have to worry about losing your data.

12. Get your head out of the books regularly. Take your own time to think about your regular life, get a social life and exercise daily.


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