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“JUST DO IT”: SOME PRACTICAL TIPS FOR TIMELY SUBMISSION OF A BETTER THESIS. Dr Stephen Harrington

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Presentation on theme: "“JUST DO IT”: SOME PRACTICAL TIPS FOR TIMELY SUBMISSION OF A BETTER THESIS. Dr Stephen Harrington"— Presentation transcript:

1 “JUST DO IT”: SOME PRACTICAL TIPS FOR TIMELY SUBMISSION OF A BETTER THESIS. Dr Stephen Harrington

2 Intro:  We tend to focus on:  The intellectual ‘terrain’ (i.e. the ‘discipline’)  Originality  Methodology  Mechanics  Emphasis on the intellectual journey, rather than the practicalities of ‘doing’ a research higher degree.

3 Who are these tips for?  Mainly for those doing a ‘classic’ PhD thesis.  But, will also be useful for any research higher degree student.  To help address the common pitfalls of the experience, and speak about the underlying cause of many incompletions.

4 So, what are they?

5 The 8 tips: 1. Choose a topic you’re interested in. 2. Find a good supervisory team. 3. Know the ‘shape’ of your thesis early, let the fine detail come later. 4. Treat your research like a ‘normal’ job. 5. Teach, where possible. 6. Communicate and disseminate. 7. Believe in yourself. 8. Just do it!

6 1. Choose a topic you’re interested in.  Most simple of the 8 tips.  If you’re going to spend 3-4 years of your life doing something, try your best to ensure it is something that you want to do.  Is a very common cause for waning motivation.

7 2. Find a good supervisory team.  Assemble a team you can work with, and who wants to work with you. Personality is more important than you think!  Aim for a set of clear, shared expectations.  Should be ‘balanced’.  Experienced, knowledgeable.  Listen to them!

8 3. Know the ‘shape’ of your thesis early, let the fine detail come later.  Try to know from the start what your thesis is about, and what it isn’t about. You’ll save lots of time!  But don’t expect to know what will be in the final version until the day you submit it.  That’s the whole point. It’s a journey.  This helps you to organise non-linear thoughts.  Be flexible, but not liquid. Be open to evolution, but avoid revolution.

9 4. Treat your research like a ‘normal’ job.  Work regularly!  Be organised.  Work to deadlines.  Don’t get distracted.  Try not to work from home, if you can avoid it.  Know when to take a break.  Have a social life.

10 5. Teach, where possible.  Can help to deepen knowledge of your own discipline, or others.  Broadens your horizons, exposes you to new ideas and perspectives.  Keeps you grounded.  Especially important for those seeking academic work upon completion.

11 6. Communicate and disseminate  Communicate with other academics/leaders in your field. Often leads to bigger and better things.  Makes you visible to the intellectual community in which you’re operating.  Gives you deadlines and feedback for/on work in progress  Keeps you in the writing habit.

12 7. Believe in yourself  “It’s just a PhD”. Good advice…  A thesis is not your life’s work, masterpiece, or magnum opus.  A first draft is a first draft. Don’t expect otherwise.  You are not a ‘fraud’. You ARE smart enough.  “Note the uselessness of [X]% of academics” – David GauntlettDavid Gauntlett  If you are, why stop now!?

13 8. Just do it!  “Don’t get it right, get it written”. Great advice…  Stop reading at some point.  Don’t get distracted. (Tip no. 4)  You can’t get a degree because of great ideas  This is less a test of your intelligence than it is a test of your level of motivation, willingness to learn, and ability to put in the hard work.

14 8. Just do it!  “Stick to it, and it will all fall into place” – David GauntlettDavid Gauntlett  Stop talking about it, and just do it!!


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