Writing is thesis is often the PhD student’s least favourite part of their project. I beg to differ. I very much enjoy putting things down on paper. I often write short reports on key topics I am trying to get my head round. If I can’t explain it in writing, I don’t understand it properly. It’s a useful test to get around the brain’s tendency to get a bit lazy and pretend to understand things when it doesn’t.
It is common wisdom in academia that the only people who will read your thesis will be the people who have to: your supervisors and examiners. Often the same material is available in a more manageable packed in the papers a PhD student produces. Why, then, should I care about my thesis? Because it tests the student’s ability to link up their research and place it in the correct place in the broad canvas of their research field. A paper is an easy task in comparison because of its narrow focus. PhDs are also about breadth of knowledge and understanding, and your thesis will be a flop if you do not possess this ability to put everything together, in its appropriate place, and discuss its significance.
There are plenty of guides out there for writing a thesis. A simple Google search will furnish you with more than enough of that, and I find they are often pretty similar. I find them somewhat useful, but there is only so much abstract advice that I can use. I find it helpful to learn through real examples. This post is the first in a series documenting the growth of my thesis, from its very earliest stages. The aim is to analyse my writing process as I am doing it, hopefully improving it, and in the process putting together a useful resource for others. I don’t know entirely how this will turn out. It may turn into a simple linear narrative discussing sections as they are written, or it may become a series of features on specific techniques I found useful. Much like the thesis itself, I have a rough vision for what I want to achieve, but the end result will be something different, messier and richer than I can imagine.