Often the culmination of years of research comes down to writing a PhD thesis. Before you embark on this mission, we have highlighted 5 tips for you to remember as you work your way through your PhD thesis.

This blog is, of course, just to highlight key points to consider when writing a PhD thesis. Please do also take on board any teaching or tutorials you have had as part of your learning to ensure that your PhD thesis is in keeping with the standards of the academic institution you are working with.

1.      Plan

The universal first point to consider is that planning is essential. No matter how long you have to work on your PhD research and thesis writing, you want to be as efficient as possible with your time.

Procrastinating drags out the process and means that you end up spending longer on what you are doing when you could be focusing on the job in hand.

Be prepared to draft, re-draft and re-write several times. There will always be improvements that are required from your first draft, and so it is wise to factor in time to re-write drafts so that your PhD thesis can be in its best possible shape when it is submitted.

Having time away from the thesis once it is complete will allow you to revisit it with a critical perspective before submission. With this critical eye, you can edit and proofread your academic project in ample time.

Remember to allocate time for all of this in the initial planning stages so that you can comfortably meet your deadline.

2.      Remember the Reasons for Research

Keep in mind the bigger picture of what you are doing when writing a PhD thesis. Remembering any hypotheses, research questions and what you are looking to find out from your research will help you to make sure you stay on track.

This is key both for your own sake and that of the reader.

You want to make sure that you don’t veer away from the point when writing up, so make sure that everything you are writing has some kind of link to the research. This will, in turn, make more sense to the reader and keep them engaged as they know that all of the content is relevant.

3.      Write Up as You Go

Another paramount point to stay on top of this is writing up all of your research as well as methodologies and findings along the way.

Just think, if your course takes a number of years, how can you expect yourself to remember the specifics of one of your initial research panels years afterwards? Take notes and write up as you go; you will thank yourself later.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, but when writing a PhD thesis, tackling it in chunks as certain instances occur will help you to make and achieve realistic goals.

Plus, you don’t have to write it all in order. Write up what you are currently working on, and when it comes to bringing it all together, you can position different parts in the right places and then write an introduction that encompasses the entire research project. Read our guide on structuring a dissertation or thesis.

It is also wise to consider any techniques or structural advice given by your faculty.

4.      Utilise Your Supervisor

On the back of the previous point, making good use of your supervisor is a great way to ensure that you are doing everything necessary when planning and writing a PhD thesis to best showcase the work you have done.

If you are lucky enough to have a great tutor who can mentor you throughout the process, then well done! If, however, this isn’t quite the case, consider reaching out to others who have recently graduated from the programme that you are on and see if they can offer any insights for you.

Writing a PhD thesis isn’t easy. If it were, we would all be doing it. Reach out to knowledgeable people, and while they cannot take baby steps throughout the whole process with you, they should be able to offer guidance and advice for success.

5.      Referencing and Quotes

As with any kind of academic project, referencing and correct citations are key. They can often be easy ways to get some extra marks, but the necessity for correct referencing is so that you are not plagiarising.

In a literature review, for example, or if backing up some of your findings with other research that has been done on a similar topic, you must correctly reference the author, publication and date of writing.

There are many different types of referencing, such as Harvard or Chicago. Make sure that you are confident with the referencing technique for your faculty and that you keep a list of publications and authors throughout your research and writing. You do not want to be scouring websites, journals and libraries for books and publications at the last minute.

Remember These Top Tips

To round up what we have recommended in this guide to writing a PhD thesis, here are some key points to take away:

  • Planning is key
  • Consider structure and referencing
  • Always link back to the research questions or intentions
  • Write up as you work your way through, and do so in detail
  • Reach out to your supervisor or tap into others’ expertise
  • Remember to reference and keep a list of resources throughout the project
  • Factor in time for editing and proofreading

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