Completing your dissertation is one of the most significant milestones of your career. While this moment may seem far away, you’re getting closer with every day. So, how can you make the most out of the process?
Even when you’re feeling stressed and exhausted, be sure to check in with yourself to avoid careless mistakes. By doing so, you can keep your writing on track and turn in a product you are proud of. Here are some of the most common mistakes that Ph.D. candidates make while writing their dissertations. By making yourself aware of these errors, you can actively take steps to avoid them.
Not setting deadlines
From the start of your writing process, it’s . Without these guidelines, it’s easy to fall behind. Writing without guidelines may also cause you to take too long on one section and neglect the next. Solid deadlines keep your writing process on track and ensure that each portion of your dissertation gets the attention it deserves.
To effectively set these guidelines, sit down after you planned your dissertation but before you start writing. Open a calendar to mark the dissertation due date. Then determine when you want to have the first draft complete. It can be helpful to work backwards from there, or you might prefer to work forwards.
Be realistic and set a deadline for writing and editing each section. If you tend to procrastinate slightly or lean toward perfectionism, you might want to give yourself some wiggle room. If you get off track, simply refocus yourself and work to meet the next deadline.
Comparing yourself to others
Spending time with your peers can certainly help you cope with the writing process. They likely empathize with your feelings and can be a great support system. However, try to avoid the comparison game. Many Ph.D. candidates about how much they have completed. By steering clear of this conversation topic, you can avoid the feelings of panic that come when someone has surpassed you in their process.
But how can you avoid this discussion point? When interacting with peers, try to keep your questions specific. This guides the conversation in a more productive direction. While spending time with friends, you might create a “no dissertation talk” rule to keep the environment more relaxing. People may slip up from time to time, but these boundaries can help.
Not bringing in an editor
Once you finish the first draft of your dissertation, you are sure to feel relieved. With these feelings of accomplishment, the editing process can seem like no big deal. However, proper editing can take your dissertation to the next level.
Rather than relying on peer and self-editing, consider hiring a professional editing service. You can usually find a professional editor through something like a , and they can look through your work in detail, pointing out grammar mistakes, , and unclear language that needs adjustment. By taking this step, you know that you are turning in a polished product that you are proud of.
Giving into setbacks
The dissertation writing process will be full of ups and downs. You will experience highly productive days and major slumps. Letting these slumps get the best of you is a major mistake. Even when you experience a major setback, take a moment to recognize how far you have come. Then take a break, do something you enjoy, get some fresh air, and get back to work. You may even need to shut down your computer for the rest of the day. Often, it is better to accept the setback, recharge, and view the next day as a fresh opportunity.
By taking steps to avoid common dissertation mistakes, you can make the entire process as smooth as possible. And when you do make mistakes, remember that you can create a fresh start whenever you need to. All of the hard work and emotions will be worth it when you successfully complete your dissertation and launch your career.