Reflections On My Dissertation

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Every single ‘top ten pieces of advice for Ph D students’ type articles says something about using a reference manager. It’s advice that’s easy to ignore when you’re starting out because you’re already trying to learn a million and one new things, but heed my warning from the future – not using one is currently very painful.

When your goal is to produce an 80,000 word thesis, it can be tempting – and at times sensible – to measure your time and productivity in terms of how many words you’ve written.

Each day had tasks written down that accounted for all of my time in that day.

The problem with this – as my colleague pointed out – was that my schedule was too tight – it didn’t allow any ‘wiggle-room’.

You’ll lose motivation, you’ll lose confidence in your work, you’ll sincerely believe that your whole project is irredeemably flawed and you will want to give up.

If you haven’t experienced this then I’m very happy for you, but I think that those who don’t experience a slump are a minority (or a myth).

If nothing comes up that week, great, you can catch up on reading, emails, or better yet – have a break.

At some point in your Ph D, very often during your second year, you will have a slump.

Follow Natalie on Twitter: @nmullenhist Reflecting on my Ph D journey as I reach the end of my third year and gear up to submission, I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed my Ph D experience from start to finish.

Although there have been ups and downs, I would definitely do it all over again.


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