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Five tips for writing your PhD thesis

A PhD is a unique experience, filled with exciting and unpredictable challenges. One of the most noteworthy is the PhD thesis, where you compile your research and arguments into one extensive document. Sounds overwhelming? It needn’t be. Here are five tips to help you hit the ground running.

A woman writing an academic thesis

Be ruthless

No writer strikes gold upon their first draft – the secret is to edit, edit and edit again. Be proactive and work with your supervisor to devise your thesis’ structure. Don’t feel you have to write in chronological order – work on each chapter while it is fresh in your mind. Look objectively when you edit your work. Furthermore, be ruthless. Take a step back and assess your writing as if you’re reading someone else’s.

Be on the ball

Don’t leave everything until the last minute. Write up your methods in the style of a thesis as you go along. Continually update your literature review with new and relevant information. Manage your bibliography from day one. If you start as you mean to go on, PhD life will be a lot less stressful.

Be consistent

Sometimes, you can have so many references to cite that you can get muddled. All references need to be crosschecked with your bibliography before submission, so it’s important that you get it right. Manage your bibliography from day one and it’ll save you save a great deal of time and stress.

Be careful

It’s important you maintain originality throughout your work. If you’re using quotes, ensure they’re accurate and paraphrase them where necessary. The last thing you want before attending your viva is to be pulled up for plagiarism.

Be aware

The viva is one of the scariest parts of the PhD process. Therefore, it’s important you know what you’re talking about. Ensure you aware of exactly what you’ve done and why you’ve done it, as well as what possibly didn’t work and how you overcame it. Furthermore, think about your audience. Don’t waffle on for the sake of the word count. Keep it concise and cut out anything superfluous.