Baxter, L, Hughes, C. How to get a PhD: This article is based on material originally published at the One Hundred Thousand Words blog, used with kind permission.
Postgraduate Study Fair, Manchester. Studying your PhD Abroad. PhD Graduate Entry Tests. Masters Degrees in Ireland. Studying PhDs in the United Kingdom. Overview What is a PhD? A thesis, on the other hand, is crafted for the completion of a Master's degree. However, the term dissertation is also used for the final project that PhD candidates present before gaining their doctoral degree. It doesn't matter whether we are talking about an undergraduate or PhD dissertation; the form of the assignment is very similar, although the PhD project is much more serious.
This guide will be useful both for undergraduate and PhD students, who are working on their dissertation projects, as well as for students developing theses for MA programs. Most candidates usually start with great enthusiasm, but this intimidating project can throw them to despair. The process of planning, research, and writing will be the longest and most complex challenge you've ever committed to.
The end result will be very rewarding, but you might go through several obstacles to get to that point. These are some of the most common problems students have when writing their dissertations:. Although the challenge seems overwhelming, the important thing is to start from the beginning and complete each stage step by step.
We have a guide that will show you the right direction. As the term itself suggests, this is a proposal for the final dissertation project, which should persuade the committee members that you're going to commit to a valuable, interesting, and complex questions.
This is a shorter paper than the final dissertation, but it's equally as important because this is the point when you'll think of a significant question and you'll set up a plan for assembling information and writing the paper.
Even if the proposal is not mandatory in your university, you should still write it and discuss the points with your mentor. These are the main points to pay attention to when wondering how to write a dissertation proposal:.
Do you want to find out more about choosing your dissertation topic? Check out our article. All these questions are important for making the final commitment.
Make sure to brainstorm and choose a theme that will be valuable, unique, and reasonable. You don't want to end up with a too complex question that would trick you in a dead end.
The question you choose should lead you to a testable hypothesis that you can prove with strong arguments. Discuss few alternatives of the dissertation title with your mentor before you start writing the proposal. If you want to make the proposal convincing, its format has to be clean and easy to follow.
Here are the points you should include in the proposal:. The dissertation research stage is going to determine the overall development of your project. It has to be methodical and effective, since you don't want to waste your time reading and analyzing irrelevant resources. Here are a few tips that will help you go through it:. It's important to find enough resources to fully understand the phenomenon you're focused on, but you'll need to stop researching at one point or another.
Many students fall into a trap: How much time do you plan to spend in the research stage? Make a timeline and stay committed to it. The point of the research stage is to show you have read around the topic and you understand the previous research that has been conducted, but you've also understood its limitations. The Internet is a good starting place during the research stage.
However, you have to realize that not everything you read on the Internet is absolutely true. Double-check the information you find and make sure it comes from a trustworthy resource. Setting up your search criteria using Boolean operators. Setting up alerts in Google Scholar, part 4.
Realize that unless you are a genius, you will probably have to revisit these nuggets of wisdom several times during your graduate career, particularly when you have a better grasp on the research. I am a big fan of saving paper and not printing out reams of articles to be read and then stuffed into filing cabinets.
I highly recommend a citation management program, such as Endnote. Find out which program your advisor uses see if he or she will let you install the program on your computer. Some departments even offer this software free of charge. Not only are all of the citations in your library searchable, but you can also file them into folders based on the subject matter Figure 6.
Filing papers in EndNote—beats a filing cabinet! As you do your literature search, you download the citations into your citation manager. Citations inserted Figure 9! You can format the bibliography later, when your behemoth is completely written—yet another convenient, automatic feature.
Think of your thesis or dissertation proposal and any grant applications as being a big first step toward the first chapter of your final document: Preparation of these documents entails a thorough review of pertinent literature to set the stage and explain the rationale for the research you are proposing. So by this logic, you should have taken a very large bite out of the first chapter of your thesis or dissertation by the time you take your preliminary exams.
In the STEM fields, theses and dissertations require a chapter devoted to methods. You know how you write detailed notes on the conditions of each experiment every time you do them in your lab notebook? This is all information that you can take even an hour per week to write up in your thesis document.
By the time you actually for-real start writing your thesis or dissertation, your methods chapter can be practically done already! Well, you have a good chunk of the intro done already, right? Your chapter 2 is practically done as well!
Be sure to check out the deadlines not only for getting your document to your committee, but also for depositing it with the graduate school. Now, I will tell you a huge time-saving tip. Before you start well, continue writing, find a colleague who has recently turned in their thesis or dissertation and still has their final word document kicking around. Ask your colleague for permission to use their document in the following way: You know the part where the clerk at the grad school pulls out the ruler and measures your margins, page number position and other random stuff while you hold your breath?
Why re-invent the wheel? Just use the document as a template—delete ALL of the text and leave the margins and other formatting alone. Of course, check over everything carefully before you deposit your document! Also, before you get down to the serious writing, sit down with your advisor and come up with a plan of action. I like using a story board approach to planning papers: Next, agree upon deadlines: Can you do a chapter per week for each of the remaining chapters?
Put the deadline in your calendar, and stick to it. Then, based on how much time you are still expected to spend in the lab, decide a set number of hours per day that you will spend on nothing but writing.
I would suggest asking your advisor for blocks of time to hole up at the library, or wherever it is that you do your best work. You will be working weekends, no doubt, but try to work steadily and avoid all-nighters. Adjust as necessary—you may need to have an additional meeting with your advisor to request more time away from lab.
Do have a colleague read your document installments before you give them to your advisor. Run spell check and do all the basics before you offer up your baby to the red pen of death.
Work on the text as your PhD takes shape, remember that all writers need editing, and help yourself by using these basic tips to make life easier. Read what great writers say about how to write before you start, and take their advice to heart.
How I wrote a PhD thesis in 3 months. August 13, How to write your PhD thesis, Part 1: The fundamentals of academic writing. 5th/6th September Click here for details. I took the time to think about what I needed to do and get myself in the right frame of mind to come back and deal with the problem.
1 How To Write a Good (no, Great) PhD Dissertation Priya Narasimhan Assistant Professor Electrical & Computer Engineering Carnegie Mellon University. GUIDELINES. FOR WRITING A THESIS OR DISSERTATION. CONTENTS: Guidelines for Writing a Thesis or Dissertation, Linda Childers Hon, Ph.D. Outline for Empirical Master’s Theses, Kurt Kent, Ph.D. How to Actually Complete A Thesis.
Finishing your PhD thesis: 15 top tips from those in the know Write the introduction last “Writing the introduction and conclusion together will help to tie up the thesis together, so save. How to Write a PhD Thesis. How to write a thesis? This guide gives simple and practical advice on the problems of getting started, getting organised, dividing the huge task into less formidable pieces and working on those pieces.