We compiled the main mistakes made by students writing PhD dissertation.
Mistake 1: Assume that all the work you did is valid
You worked hard, spend 8-12 hours per day performing experiments and may have collected tons of information. You postpone the data analysis to test 2 or 3 more variables and produce more data. This costed another 2 weeks of work. You take one day to evaluate the information and realize that it does not answer the questions of your hypothesis. Why? Because you did not have a clear hypothesis before! You will find it tough to put in a consistent story in your thesis and the committee wouldn’t hesitate tell you that your research is devoid of focus.
Solution: Right from the moment you start your research you would have clear idea in your mind about the central question you need a answer and which experiments need to be conducted to answer that question.
Mistake 2: Lack of communication with your supervisor
Most students pursuing PhD barely meet their supervisors. There may be serious conflicts regarding the approach you have taken up for your research and experiments. The thesis adviser is your GPS to guide in which direction the thesis will go and also the thermometer to test how hot the data is to able to publish in relevant journal. In some cases there may be a communication gap with the person concerned. Trying to avoid communication with the supervisor or not keeping him or her in the know of your research is one of the biggest mistakes you can commit.
Solution: Set regular meetings with you adviser using current tools (e.g. Outlook recurring meeting) in order to have a placeholder in his calendar and ensure a consistent communication. Send pre-reads before every meeting and determine a clear agenda.
Mistake 3: Creating new milestones without conquering previous ones
The fact that many students jump into conclusions without going deep into the results is common among students. The problem with this approach is the fact that you often take the wrong path by making such conclusions and after a while you have to make a U-turn. What contributes to this mistake is that many students tend to trust their own memory and not the hard data they have collected through their research and experiments. Make sure that you first have a clear answer to the hypothesis question before you move ahead: are the results of the test condition 1 significantly different from test condition 2? If yes, are you able to isolate the root cause of the difference?
Solution: Make sure you properly document your results using. Spend time to write testing protocols and ensure to save the results. Invest time in evaluating the data and verifying that the questions are fully answered.
Mistake 4: Always aiming for perfection
Perfectionism is one of the most common causes of delaying the dissertation timelines. Some students are so worried that their writing is not good enough and they spend unnecessary time on re-writing, editing and/or over-writing. Make sure to effectively allocate your time to focus on researching and consider hiring professional companies to do Professional Proofreading.
Solution: Focus your efforts on the content: what are the questions you are asking in your PhD dissertation? Are these new questions or already questions the literature has answers? Are the methods you are using appropriated to the answer these questions? Do the results answer the questions? Leave the editing (word choice, style, and formatting) until the very end.
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