We’re trying something new: crowd-sourced #TopTips, garnered from the Naturejobs Twitter and Facebook pages. In this first one, we’re looking at how to best to tackle the daunting task of writing a PhD thesis. It’s not something you worry about when you start: you’ve got at least three years to go, so why bother? Well, those years will go by in a flash, so it’s worth being prepared.
Plan your time. Something as simple as dividing the time you have by the number of chapters you need to write gives you an instant grasp of what your targets need to be. And be sure to involve your supervisor.
Read papers that are both in and related to your field of research, but take care that this doesn’t become an unmanageable pile of paperwork.
Starting your thesis is like going to the gym: the going is the hardest part. Once you’re there, you’re unstoppable. So just start writing. Even if it’s imperfect and jumbled, getting something on paper will help put you in the right mind-set; you can change it later.
Space and time
Everyone has a preferred place and most productive time of day. Find yourself a working place, somewhere that you feel comfortable and able to stay and work for a period of time. Similarly, whether a lark or a night-owl, identify when you best work and use it.
Don’t forget to take time off, hours in the day, and days in the week: save your sanity.
Use the right software
Your life can be make a lot easier with the right program, which will help you organise your bibliography and format your text. From the comments on social media, two platforms came up tops: Write LaTex and Mendeley Desktop. (Microsoft Word was also suggested, but only if you’ve had training on how to use it properly.)
(Here’s the link to the WriteLaTeX video: https://t.co/Gqlm5cU3h2)
Be sure to enjoy it
Yes it’s hard work. Yes it takes time. But also, with every chapter complete, you’ve achieved something major. And when it’s over: Celebrate!
Write your PhD thesis in one month or less: http://t.co/brikyzZPeI
Writing up a PhD thesis: http://www.antarcticglaciers.org/2013/10/writing-phd-thesis/#ECRchat
Surviving the PhD write up: http://www.scilogs.com/counterbalanced/surviving-the-phd-write-up/
Our next #TopTips discussion will be about getting on with your supervisors.