Sunday, 25 December 2016

It's been a while...

Since starting my PhD back in October 2013, I've managed to keep up a steady stream of posts. The last four months of my PhD did not make for great blog posts, however. I wrote chapters, handed them to supervisors, waited, and then made corrections and sent them back. The process was steady and uneventful. Having said that, there were events in my life that sometimes made writing and motivation difficult. I had to move house, a friend died, unpleasant events from the past reared their ugly heads. Of course these things will happen when you least need them to, so you have to be prepared for them by planning and being organised. Happily, I handed in my thesis on the 31st of October.

A few tips:
  • Give your supervisors as much time as possible to read stuff, as they have other commitments aside from you.
  • After sending your supervisors things to read, regularly remind them politely to read your stuff. Don't leave it till the last minute and then blame them or get all huffy and disrespectful.
  • Do the corrections one at a time, as they come back, on your working copy. You can occasionally (not too often) send around a revision. If you wait until you have all comments back before applying them, you will delay your submission date!
  • Let your supervisors know if there is any part in particular that you would like feedback on.
  • A completed thesis is a big file - don't compile chapters until you really have to!
  • Warn the printers that you will be printing your thesis, so that they can advise you if they are expecting a big workload on that day.
I took the advice to start writing early, and have been writing regularly since the start of my PhD. That includes writing for fun, writing blog posts, and writing science communication articles. I think that has helped me to get into the right mindset, and not procrastinate too much or be afraid to write.

This blog has been helpful in consolidating my thoughts, and logging my progress. Many of the posts now seem silly: I was so worried about aspects of my progress, not making enough progress, procrastinating too much. None of that mattered in the end. Of course, my thesis hasn't been marked yet, and I haven't defended it, so the outcome is still uncertain. But I managed to produce within 3 years and 1 month a thesis that my supervisors are happy with - despite the fact that I procrastinated, travelled, had issues, had a life, had hobbies and interests. In fact, I will dare to suggest that taking time out to do healthy human things assisted the process of writing. I have really enjoyed doing my PhD. My only regret is that I wish that I had collaborated more on projects with other researchers, but one must set up quite a few collaborations in order to increase the likelihood that some of them work.

I will add to this blog when I have defended my thesis, but until then, adios!


  1. Thank you for sharing such a informative information with us. Keep on sharing the blog like this.

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    1. Thanks for your comment - it's been a pleasure keeping this blog, though I'm not sure how much further I can go with it. I hope it has been useful for some folks.