Writing Your PhD Dissertation: Dos and Don’ts

There is one word that is capable of striking fear into the heart of any student – dissertation! It is a massive undertaking which requires planning, effort and dedication. To help you get started with writing your PhD dissertation, here are a few helpful dos and don’ts to keep in mind during the process.

Do Make a Realistic Schedule

Create a schedule for when you can work on your dissertation. Include work and other commitments. Then schedule writing time, editing time and reading time. However, you need to be realistic. Give yourself more time than you should actually need to accomplish tasks. This allows for unexpected issues.

Don’t Expect Perfection In The First Draft

One of the most valuable pieces of advice that we can share with you in regards to writing your dissertation is to allow yourself a couple of crappy first drafts. You will not create something perfect on the first attempt. Just start pouring your thoughts out onto the paper. You can analyse them and edit them later. That’s what second drafts are for – and third and fourth and however many you need to get it done!

Do Be Honest With Your Advisor

Never be afraid to talk frankly with your advisor. This is an important piece of work and they are there to help. Discuss schedules for showing drafts and nail down what times they are available for consulting with you. Never be afraid to ask for help or support. Your advisor is not there to judge you, but to offer support.

Don’t Try To Go It Alone

Remember that you are not in this alone. Why not start a study group with a few classmates. Not only can you share ideas, but you can check out each others drafts and even just cheer each other on. Moral support is a key ingredient in a successful dissertation! Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!

Do Write Every Single Day

Get yourself into the habit of writing every single day and we do mean every – single – day. No excuses about being tired or not being into it on a particular day. You just sit down and you write. Even if you only manage 10 minutes some days, you have to sit down and write. You should never put pressure on yourself to be productive every day. Some days you may write for 5 hours solid, while on others you struggle to pull together even a single paragraph.

Don’t Force Yourself To Write It In Order

You will not write your dissertation in order! Allow yourself to jump around as the ideas strike. If you feel you are up against a mental block, then you should try a different section and come back to the problematic one a little later with fresh eyes.

Do Prepare Yourself For Emotional Turmoil

We are not going to sugar coat it! Writing your PhD dissertation is stressful, so prepare yourself for an emotional rollercoaster! You are going to be experiencing the whole range of human emotions during this process!

Don’t Leave References Until Last

There is a temptation to leave your references until last, but take it from us – this is not something you want to be doing. References take a lot longer than you might thinks so do them as you go and save yourself a deadline day panic!

Do Limit Distractions

It is so easy to get distracted. Consider having a trusted friend change your social media passwords to keep you off the internet!

Don’t Neglect Yourself

Your mind works best when your body is doing well too! Make sure you take some time for yourself to exercise and of course, to eat properly. Exercise is a great way to break up study sessions and it will also help boost your energy as well.

Hopefully theses dos and don’ts will help you along your dissertation journey. Just remember to stay calm and just try your best.