Quality dissertation writing guides right now: Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant to your research. By the end, the reader should understand the what, why and how of your research. Not sure how? Read our guide on how to write a dissertation introduction. Before you start on your research, you should have conducted a literature review to gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic. This means: Collecting sources (e.g. books and journal articles) and selecting the most relevant ones; Critically evaluating and analysing each source; Drawing connections between them (e.g. themes, patterns, conflicts, gaps) to make an overall point.
Your thesis is the culmination of several years of research and capstone of your PhD. Your best dissertation guides will be your supervisor, committee, and fellow graduate students, but here are a few tips to get you started: Make a Schedule. Set yourself deadlines for when you want to complete each chapter or section and figure out how many pages you need to write each day to meet those deadlines. Then try to get yourself into a writing routine. Choose work hours that correspond to the times when you feel you work best. If you’re a morning person, start writing bright and early. Likewise, if you really hit your stride in the evening shift, your hours so you do most of your writing during your peak time. See additional information on dissertation writing help.
Fight the urge to walk away from writing when it gets difficult. Having encouraged you to move to another section when you get stuck, it is also important to add a balancing comment to encourage you to fight through the tough spots in your project. I don’t mean that you should force writing when it is clear that you may need to make some structural changes or do a little more research on a given topic. But if you find yourself dreading a particular portion of your dissertation because it will require some mind-numbing, head-on-your-desk, prayer-producing rigor, then my advice is to face these tough sections head on and sit in your chair until you make some progress. You will be amazed at how momentum will grow out of your dogged persistence to hammer out these difficult portions of your project.
But say yes sometimes too. As I said above, taking breaks is essential. Next time someone asks you to go for a beer, close your computer and say yes. Carve out little bits of writing time. As I mentioned in my previous post, dissertation writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Writing often happens in little bits spread out over time. No matter how busy you are, take the time to write for half an hour a day. You can find half an hour somewhere. Get up early if you have to. If you write about a page a day, you can finish a chapter in a month.
Write continually. So, don’t stop writing. Of course, you need to continue to read and study and take notes—I will talk about this more in a moment—but it is best if you keep the gears from grinding to a halt. Keep your mind working and your project moving. Your assignment is not to turn in a hundred pages of notes to your supervisor—you must produce a dissertation with complete sentences and paragraphs and chapters. Keep writing.
Take time off when you need it. As Katy Meyers mentioned in her post last week, taking time off is important to personal happiness, and you should do so as guilt free as possible. Dissertations take time, and you will need to take breaks and recharge at some point. There will be times where you have to focus your energies elsewhere: teaching, the job market, writing publishable articles, sitting on committees, taking care of your family, watching cartoons. It is important to understand that short breaks in writing will happen, and you can take those breaks without feeling guilty.
Go on walks. It has been said recently that walking promotes creativity. I agree. Whether you like to walk among the trees or besides the small coffee shops along quaint side streets, I recommend that you go on walks and think specifically about your dissertation. You might find that the change of scenery, the stimulus of a bustling community, or the refreshing quiet of a park trail is just the help you need. Make use of a capture journal. In order to make the most of your walks, you will need a place to “capture” your ideas. You may prefer to use the voice memo or notepad feature on your smartphone, or, if you’re like me, a small 2.5”x4” lined journal. Whatever your preference, find a method that allows you to store your ideas as they come to you during your walks or as you fall to sleep at night. I wonder how many useful ideas many of us have lost because we failed to write them down? Don’t let this happen to you. Resolve to be a good steward of your thinking time and seize those thoughts.