If you want to write a dissertation, it is not a walk. Anyone who agrees is aware that he is committed to several years of hard work. It goes without saying that there are hard times when you would like to throw it out. However, a few tips can make the writing of the dissertation easier and save the author some trouble.
Creation of a timetable for the dissertation
In every motivational guide you can read that big tasks only become feasible if you break them up into small tasks. And the dissertation is a real mammoth project, which should be divided into several small steps, which also follow a clear timetable.
Without deadlines, it can easily happen that the submission of the dissertation shifts to infinity. This means that even at the beginning, even if it is difficult, you should specify concrete work steps and timeframes. The time frame does not yet have to be exact, it can serve as a guide. First of all, defining different work packages and their duration makes the whole dissertation much more feasible.
Acquisition of a literature management system
The variety of resources needed for a dissertation, if poorly documented, can quickly become a trap for the doctoral student. In addition, an incomplete bibliography does not only testify to a lack of professionalism, but in the worst case can even lead to the dissertation failing in a plagiarism check. Therefore, a system for organizing literature should be available from day one, so that the doctoral student can file each source meticulously and provide a reference for a direct quote. Above all, “Copy and Paste” is a major source of error. Many quotes are then inserted, but not immediately marked accordingly. This creates the great danger of simply losing track of your own and foreign words.
Many literature management systems are even available free of charge, good examples are for example Mendeley or Citavi. And another note for doctoral students on the sources used: It should be valid, so come from a named author and over a longer period of time to see or be available.
Looking for a suitable doctoral father
A doctoral supervisor is not only an expert on the topic of the doctoral thesis, he is also a motivator and sometimes a coach. Whatever role he plays, he plays a major role in the PhD student’s doctoral process and should therefore be chosen with care. A few tips: Doctoral students should read a publication by the professor of their choice, or perhaps attend a lecture. Afterwards they should find out at a personal meeting, if they can imagine a care by the corresponding professor. There should be a basic sympathy, as well as a common ground regarding the scientific question of the doctoral thesis.
Avoid write blockers by pauses
Of course, writing a dissertation requires good self-organization and motivation. Nevertheless, nobody can work without breaks without interruption! Anyone who works also has at least 24 holidays per year available. And also doctoral students should necessarily take regular breaks from the dissertation to recharge the batteries and to clear the head. This can be a regular sports class, time with friends or a short weekend break. The time-outs should be built directly into the above-mentioned schedule for postgraduate students – for example, after milestones such as a completed experiment – and then really stick to it. It’s surprising how much new impulses and new motivation can come from a short break!
Regular creation of back-ups
In the heat of the moment you sometimes overestimate the reliability of electronic devices! The biggest nightmare of any doctoral student is certainly the crashing or broken laptop. That’s why: PhD students should always, always, always do a back-up of their work. Be it on a USB stick, in the cloud of your phone or by sending yourself the dissertation by e-mail. After all, nothing is worse than losing months of work within seconds. Also, studies, experiments and audio files, for example of interviews should always be backed up twice in order not to lose irrevocably important material for the dissertation due to a stupid technical error.
Carrying out a final review
Ideally, doctoral students read through their work during the writing process to expose gross errors and also to determine if there is a common thread. Nevertheless, a review of the dissertation in front of the Abagbe is a must! In any case, enough time should be planned for this. Since one automatically automatically becomes blind to some mistakes at some point – quite naturally, if one sits for years at the dissertation – the review should ideally be carried out by a third party. Particular attention should be paid to: inconsistent citation, inconsistent abbreviations, missing footnotes or image numbering, grammatical and orthographic errors, and inconsistent or incorrect formatting.
The submission of the dissertation
For the dissertation applies, as well as for the bachelor thesis and master thesis: The levy must be made on record. This means that the responsible deanery must be open on the day of submission in order to confirm the acceptance of the dissertation. Doctoral students should therefore keep an overview of the semester break, so as not to stand in front of closed doors. It makes the most sense to arrange an appointment by phone or e-mail with the secretariat. Those who do not live close to the university and send the dissertation by mail should do so by registered mail. The following applies: The postmark is considered the delivery date. Also important before submission: Check again whether the given number of versions is available and whether a digital edition of the dissertation – by CD or USB stick – must be submitted. Additional information can be found in the article Dissertation drucken.
The defense of the dissertation
It would be nice to be able to lie down directly on the lazy skin after delivery. And doctoral students should really take a few days break. However, it is important to give full throttle again and to prepare for the defense of the dissertation. Is a presentation required? What kind of defense will take place? What questions about the analytical methods or experiments could the examiners ask? These questions can already be asked by doctoral students. If a presentation is required, it makes sense to present it before friends and acquaintances before, to get a first feedback. In general: Better short and crisp than too debauched.
So there are many stumbling blocks that can get in the way of writing the dissertation. With these little tips and tricks, however, doctoral students can manage to make time easier and more problem-free. And one should always keep in mind: many others have already done it before one!