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Writing A Doctoral Thesis In 5 Steps


Your thesis is probably going to be the biggest and most important piece of writing you’ve done so far in your life, or will ever do. Because of this, it has to be free of errors, excellent writing, and very thorough research. Your teacher and adviser will be expecting as near to perfection as you can get, with all your best work and skills. Writing a doctoral thesis is no walk in the park, and too many students can get overwhelmed by it. If you want to learn how to easily divide the tasks of your thesis and finish the work easily and methodically, then you’re in the right place.

Step 1: Outlining

This, and editing, are arguably the most important steps. Using an outline will do many things for your thesis: save you time, organize your thoughts, get you into the groove of the process for positive momentum, allow you to focus on your passion, and structuring your work into a solid piece of writing. Make an outline by briefly summarizing chapter ideas and writing what you want in the finished doctoral thesis.

Step 2: Researching

Here’s where you hit the books (or computer). Research in every way you can think of: at your local library, school library, online, in magazines, at events, talking to professionals, during interviews, watching documentaries, etc. Gather everything together in one place and keep it tidy.

Step 3: Writing

This should be the shortest, most painless step. Many students drag their feet during the writing phase, when really all you need to do is get out the first words in your head and not worry about whether or not it’s good. That’s for the revising stage.

Step 4: Revising

I recommend you let your first draft sit for a while. Don’t touch it, for at least a week, longer if you have the time. Don’t think about it or look at it during this time and focus on other things. This will give you much needed perspective. Then, read through it and fix obvious or big mistakes.

Step 5: Editing & Polishing

This last step is for changing smaller things like proofreading, word choice, and re-ordering chapters. Get a trusted friend to read over your thesis and get their opinion on it. Even friends that have never written one can give you useful advice for how interesting and thorough it is.