Friday, 15 June 2012

Thesis forum: Approaching your final year

Ashley Dodsworth (3rd year, Politics) was the first speaker at our June thesis forum.

Ashley gave an honest talk about the doctoral experience so far and her plans for her final year. She had plenty of useful advice for those just starting out. She advised finding out what conventions your department and the University expect you to adhere to (formatting, style) and stick to these from the start. Doing lots of preparation in the early stages will save time later on. Compile a list of common abbreviations and spellings to ensure you remain consistent throughout your thesis.

Ashley advised first year students to make the most of opportunities early on in their candidature and then aim to reduce their activity, whether teaching or attending conferences, in the final year. A key piece of advice for the writing process was giving yourself permission to write badly! Your work will be re-drafted and edited a number of times, so don't worry that you need to get it perfect first time. Break down your writing into manageable sections and build up your text slowly.

Ashley highlighted the very common problem of "2nd year blues". It is entirely normal to feel like you have hit a brick wall or reached a point of crisis with your thesis. It was agreed that the best thing was to be honest with your supervisor and upfront about any problems you might encounter. There is plenty of support available throughout the University, so don't suffer in silence.

PhD Comics logo by Jorge Cham
Ashley also had some useful resources to recommend:

The Thesis Whisperer blog

Rowena Murray, How to Write a Thesis
[e-version] [Library shelves]

Dropbox for backing up files

PhD Comics for some light relief

If any current PhD students or early career researchers would like to get more involved with the thesis forum, your contributions would be very welcome. Please email Helen or pop in to the Reading Room on weekdays from 2-5pm.

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