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Common PhD thesis structure and organization

For any graduate starting to write a PhD thesis, the process can seem a daunting task. It is something which will consume a great deal of time and require a great deal of concentration and effort on your behalf. There are two important components in the creation of a PhD thesis and they are its structure and your ability to be well-organized. If you get the structure right and you have an excellent attitude and work schedule, you have laid the foundation for producing a first-class thesis.

The outline is vital

It is most important that you do not rush the writing of your thesis. The longer and the smarter you prepare and plan of the writing, the easier and better the finished product will be. By having an excellent thesis outline which contains such things as chapter headings and subheadings within each chapter as well as any explanation with notes and comments, you have the ideal blueprint for the development of your thesis. The idea is to start with as few words as possible in the form or headings, and then write a paragraph or two about each of these headings. You start small and increase the amount of detail by increment.

Organization is everything

It is always good for your self-confidence and certainly for your peace of mind if you have a simple, effective and able to be understood filing system. These days of course students tend to avoid handwritten cards or notes or pages and do everything online. There is no problem with that but a backup copy of everything you do, kept in a separate and safe place, is essential. One of the additional safeguards you can take is to send the file or files in your system to an e-mail address. In the case of a loss of data, you will be able to access the attachment to the e-mail.

Of course if you are a paper person and you do keep your filing system in a book or on a series of cards in a box, a photocopy of this data must be kept in a separate and safe place.

Remember that the examiners at your college or university will need to be constantly informed of your progress and part of your organization is to keep in touch with your supervisor explaining what you have done and what you plan to do.

A timetable is an essential part of the process. The ideal approach is to have an end date on which you will hand over your PhD thesis. This of course will be quite some time into the future. Now that you have the end date you work backwards. You nominate the time when you expect to finish the PhD thesis, and then you work backwards from that allowing time for polishing and revising your work. And then of course you were back from that time listing the milestones you need to pass over that period of time. List the dates in your diary and on a calendar. This timetable must be adhered to. If you find yourself missing targets or milestones, it is time to reassess your progress and as always discuss the matter with your supervisor.

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