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Are you about to start writing your PhD thesis?

How to start writing your PhD thesis?

10 things you should know about thesis writing.

𝟏. 𝐔𝐬𝐞 𝐋𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐱, 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐌𝐒 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐝: Writing a 100+ page document in MS word can become a headache. Arranging headings, tables of content, references, etc can become a challenge. So, instead of MS word, use Latex. It will take care of all such things. Also, Latex has many add-ons available that can help with difficult stuff like making tables in Latex.

𝟐. 𝐈𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐲 𝐞𝐱𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐬: Before starting your thesis, identify 10-15 exemplar theses that is within your research area or the PhD is carried out in a similar fashion as yours. Skim through them especially the first chapter to understand how to structure your thesis.

𝟑. 𝐁𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝 𝐚 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲: During your PhD, you work on different papers that might not be totally linked in a straightforward way. Put these different pieces in front of yourself and think about how to make them link with each other and make a smooth story.

𝟒. 𝐈𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐨𝐫 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐤: This chapter summarizes your whole thesis and leaves an impression on the reader/examiner. Invest the most amount of time in writing this chapter. Amongst others, clearly mention upfront the research papers you have published during your PhD.

PhD students — How to 10x your PhD productivity?

𝟓. 𝐂𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐩 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐥𝐞𝐦 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬: Mention within 3-4 lines the concrete problem you have solved during your PhD. Also, examiners look for 3-4 solid contributions made by the PhD student. Don’t make them search for them. Present these contributions upfront in the Introduction chapter.

𝟔. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐳𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐯𝐢𝐚 𝐚 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐮𝐫𝐞:  PhD thesis is a very long document. Navigating through it can be a challenge. Include a figure in the Introduction section that shows the organization of the thesis including the various chapters. A reviewer can just print this figure and keep it in front of himself/herself to navigate through the whole thesis.

𝟕. 𝐆𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞: Don’t leave thesis writing until the very end. Depending upon the situation, at least leave 4 months for thesis writing.

𝟖. 𝐒𝐞𝐞𝐤 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐝𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤: Manage your writing in a way that each part gets reviewed. If you are running short of time, you can send each chapter separately as it completes to your supervisors for feedback.

𝟗. 𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐥𝐲 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝: One of the most common comments from thesis reviewers is to fix the typos. Proofread your entire thesis a couple of times before submission to avoid getting this comment.

Why should you do a PhD?

𝟏𝟎. 𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐤 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫: Make sure that the chapters are linked together. For example, it shouldn’t appear that when the reviewer starts reading chapter 4, it is completely different from chapter 3. At the start of chapter 4 or end of chapter 3, mention how they are linked.

Writer: Faheem Ullah
Assistant Professor
Computer Science, Australia

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