counting down to #thesis completion | pat thomson

Many PhDers are under pressure to complete their research and thesis within set time frames.

In the UK where I work, studentships are generally only for three years with a fourth unpaid year of ‘thesis pending’. This roughly equates to: the first year getting ready for the research, doing courses, and literature and design work; the second year being the field work and some analysis: and concluding analysis and producing the thesis in year three.

So if you’re in the UK, it’s helpful to have this kind of shape in your head. But it’s actually much better to try to sort out the reading,…

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choosing images for slideshows | pat thomson

Most of us have to make slideshows at some point – for teaching maybe, or for a conference. We all know that there is a lot of terrible slide practice and we don’t want that to be us.

But there is help out there – you can readily find good advice about how to make effective slides – not too many words, not tiny fonts, watch the colour contrast etc – and I’m not going to repeat any of that here.

Instead, I want to talk about images. No, I’m not going to tell you how to find good images – I use unsplash but there are other free image options out there too.

So if I’m not going to talk…

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tiny texts – small is powerful | pat thomson

I work a lot with tiny texts. Abstracts. Storyboards. Story threads. Lines of argument.

Tiny texts are my academic writing tool of choice. If I had to abandon all the other writing strategies I have in my repertoire, this is The One I would keep. It’s my Desert Island academic writing Swiss Army knife.

Tiny they might be, but little texts do a lot of heavy lifting for academic writing.

Now you might call these tiny texts – summaries. And indeed they are. They are little mini-me versions of a text that will become bigger. But they are not notes. Not notes. They are instead, at their…

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getting ready to write about “the literature” | pat thomson

You’ve all heard that the doctorate is about making an original contribution To the literature. Well, that’s right, although what that means is not nearly as scary as it sounds.

What you may not be told is that doing a PhD is a lot about information management – finding information, cataloguing it, saving it and retrieving it in order to use it.  And one major slab of information that you need, in order to say how you contribute, is “the literature”. Yes think of “the literature” as a bid wadge of information and it’s not quite so scary.

Now, there’s a lot to say about “the literature” –…

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starting the PhD – learning new vocabulary | pat thomson

Scholarly work often involves learning new words. You know this right? Sometimes it even seems that in order to be considered a scholar you have to speak in words no one else can understand.

Well that’s the stereotype.

But let’s try to unpack this a bit. What words do you need to learn, why and how?

Each discipline has a dedicated terminology

An example. If you study Chemistry then words like composition, structure, properties, behaviour, reactions, bonding and so on are a very basic lingua franca. Most non-chemists have a good chance of understanding what these terms mean, as they…

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deep into writing the thesis? don’t​ forget to yodelayeehoo | pat thomson

It’s the time of the year when writing the thesis gets pretty serious for a lot of PhDers. The endpoint is there in the distance, but there is still so much to do. So many words. So many pages. So much more to sort out.

Is this you?

The timetable to completion is tacked above your desk along with your research questions. It seems clear and do-able. But… but…

Your supervisor is very focused on the text and what needs to happen when. They exercise their red marker a lot, and ask questions that seem to muddy, as much as clarify, your thinking. They count down along with you and sometimes…

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idle thoughts while reading? it may be a light bulb moment | pat thomson

Does your mind wander while you’re reading? All the books to read for that pesky literature review and you just can’t focus …

Sometimes the havering mind is “the worries”. Worries about how much reading there is and how hard some of it is. This is a moment when you need to soothe and reassure yourself. You have to tell yourself that it will all be OK, you just have to persevere, you have it on good authority that everybody feels like this and it’s not just you. You can also set up reading schedules if you’re so inclined, and daily reading targets if they work for you and help you feel…

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