Getting your Ph.D. takes time. It is something that you can often forget when you’re busy pumping out chapters of your dissertation every day or frantically trying to meet deadlines. Researching, interviewing, and writing are all hard work, and there’s a chance that you’ll find yourself with stress levels at their peak if you have to keep doing this for months on end.
So how can you successfully finish your dissertation on time? Well, we’ve put together a few hints and tips which could help you meet your deadlines or even manage to get it all done early!
Be prepared to work hard
Getting your Ph.D. is hard work. According to BestEssayHelp, there’s a lot of background reading to be done, research projects you need to be involved in, interviews, writing, and editing….the list goes on and on. But the more prepared you are, the easier it’s going to be.
Take a look at what other students have written about how they dealt with problems (and believe us, there’ll be problems!) when writing their dissertation. Their advice might save you time, money, and mistakes by showing you how they dealt with certain problems or got past certain issues.
It’s also a good idea to find your very own process (the more unique it is, the better) and stick to it. It might be something as simple as working on your dissertation every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or something more complicated like having a number of stages in the process (idea generation, researching, writing…). Whatever it is, the key thing is that you follow this process as closely as possible, so you don’t end up getting confused about what needs to be done next.
Set yourself deadlines
We know this one’s obvious…but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t follow through on this. Setting deadlines for your dissertation is an essential part of the process, whether you’re writing a chapter or editing the whole thing until it’s perfect.
It could be as simple as giving yourself a week for each chapter, or you might set yourself more random deadlines (the day before Christmas Day is always a good one!). Whatever it is, make sure you follow through on your deadlines and that your dissertation stays on track.
Learn to say no
One of the hardest things about being a Ph.D. student or researcher is that you need to juggle lots of different requirements simultaneously. University work, academic conferences, research meetings, teaching….it’s all a part of the academic life, and sometimes it can be hard to fit it all in. As a Ph.D. student, you’re going to be asked to do heaps of things….sit on this committee, contribute a chapter to this book, give a talk at this conference….you get the idea. Sometimes, it’s easy to say ‘yes’ when you really should be saying ‘no.’
One way you can stop yourself from feeling overwhelmed is by saying no. You don’t have to volunteer for every project or event that comes up, so if you feel that there are too many demands on your time, tell people no. It will make you feel better, as well as freeing up some time and space for you to work on your dissertation.
Get plenty of sleep
This one’s simple….if you don’t get enough sleep, then there’s a chance that you’ll be mentally and physically exhausted. And if this is the case, then there’s no way that you’ll be able to do everything which needs to be done on your dissertation.
The recommended amount of sleep that you should be getting is 7-8 hours a night, so make sure you’re aiming to get this much. If you can’t seem to fall asleep, then try reading something to help you relax (a biography or light-hearted novel) or try some light exercise before bedtime.
Take regular breaks
Taking regular breaks is another good idea. There’s a chance you’ll run yourself ragged if you’re constantly slaving over your dissertation, and this will make the writing process even harder. By taking regular breaks (going for a short walk, having some lunch or chatting to your friends in the canteen), you’ll tend to find that you have more energy and are better able to concentrate on the task at hand.
This is an excellent way to refresh your body and mind, so try to make sure you’ve got regular breaks built into your writing schedule.
Write the introduction last
This is something which might work for some people, but not others. If you’re one of the people who find it easier to write the introduction last, then it’s best to go down this route. You don’t want to be trying to write the introduction simultaneously as all your other chapters; it’s too much work.
Instead, get the whole dissertation written first and then go back and write the introduction. It will mean that you’re heading towards the end of your dissertation without being hampered by an introduction that still needs doing.
Use a mind map to visualize your dissertation
This is a perfect idea for anyone who doesn’t tend to follow the traditional order of things. Instead of writing the introduction, then the body, and finally the conclusion, you might find it easier to get your dissertation done differently.
One way of doing this is by using a mind map (also known as an organizer or spider diagram). Instead of writing everything out in paragraphs, you can piece it all together visually appealing to this method. Mind maps are beneficial if you need to get some ideas down quickly or you don’t have a clear idea of the order in which you’ll be putting your ideas forward.
You can make your mind map using any number of free online tools. This is also reasonably easy to do on your tablet or smartphone, so this means that it’s easy to work on mind maps wherever you are. It means you can use your breaks to develop some of the ideas for your dissertation and then flesh them out later when you’re sitting at your desk ready to write.
Don’t be afraid of asking for help
If you have trouble getting started on your dissertation or getting it finished, it’s an excellent idea to ask for help. It doesn’t mean that you’re weak or stupid; it means that sometimes we all need a little bit of extra help when working on such a complex piece of writing.
If you’re stuck, there are plenty of ways to get help. Your leisure center might have a manuscript service that can work with you to help with writing your dissertation, for example.
Not sure what you need for your dissertation? No problem!
If you’re not sure what you need to do before you get down to writing, then take a look at our free dissertation planning and structuring guide. It’s all here so that you can get started on your dissertation.
Of course, it’s always worth looking on the internet as well, as there are some excellent tips and hints to help with writing a dissertation.