(Closed) In need of encouragement – grad school thesis and defense

posted 5 years ago in College
Post # 4
2610 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2014 - Madison, WI

It might be doable but it’s a lot of work. It will really depend on your program requirements. For mine I finished everything – classes and my research in two years but my thesis took me to 2.5 years total. Basically I had to add on an extra semester just to finish my thesis.

However, for me it was because even though my writing was done – then I had to print 4 copies and hand them out to my defense committee to review. Then I had to make revisions, then more revisions, and more revisions. Once I was done with revisions I submitted it and gave my defense.  Scheduling that took a couple weeks. Once I passed my defense I had to get three professionally printed copies of my thesis submitted to the library for binding. I was not allowed to officially get my degree until every step of this process was completed.

I will say in writing my thesis I think I wrote the introduction last. Finding a place to start was always hardest for me. Mine was 150 pages long.

It sounds like your program is quite different from mine though since you say your thesis is in an area you are completely unfamiliar with…I’m not sure how that happens. But my graduate degree is in Molecular Biology, so I had to do laboratory research for my thesis…and by the time I was done I was very familiar with my own work.

It sounds like you at least have a start! So if you work hard on it hopefully you’ll get it done on time. Best of luck.

Post # 6
845 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

@Honey-Bee:  Erm, I don’t understand how grad studies work in the US but I think I am in a similar situation. I have been hacking away at my masters, then I decided to take time off – meaning that I did not register last year or this one. But the University reached out to me and they are basically supervising this thesis that I haven’t thought about for YONKS. Now suddenly it has to be done in the next two months, and we have ZERO sources on my speciality locally to interlibrary loans trickle sources to me from the states. It’s a nightmare and a HUGE part of why I moved my wedding from December to Feb, the thesis and cheaper flught tickets for HONEYMOON! Good luck to you lady, I am thinking about you. It sounds do-able but with loads of time management and elbow grease!

Post # 8
3697 posts
Sugar bee

It’s really hard to discipline yourself to sit down and crank out a thesis or dissertation. A couple of things I found really helpful were:

1) giving myself permission to write badly the first time around. It’s mentally easier to take something you’ve already written and revise it, than to stare at a blank screen and try to make something out of nothing. So, force yourself to scribble out a really crappy draft, and then you’ll at least have something you can tear apart and clean up.

2) working as part of a writing group. I used to get together with a couple of other dissertators on a regular basis. We would meet in a study room at the library and just sit and work, basically ignoring one another for a couple of hours at a shot, but we all knew that those were hours dedicated to writing (and not research, or email, or WeddingBee …) in which we actually got the work of writing done. We would also announce our goals for the day (i.e. “today I will write at least two pages,” “today I will finish revising Chapter 2” etc.) and, at the end of the session, how far we got and whether or not we achieved our targets. Really helpful for keeping ourselves on-task!

Post # 10
647 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

I’m not writing my thesis at the moment but I’m preparing to. My advice would be to sit down and write a little each night, even if it’s only 15-30 minutes at a time. I bet you’ll end up writing longer though, but if you don’t just the act of constantly tweaking and working on it will make it so that you’re always thinking about your thesis, revising it in your head. This is how I write the majority of the papers and it’s much easier/less frustrating than sitting down for huge chunks of time (like weekends) because you’ll feel a little more free to get up and walk away if you get stuck whereas if you wait to write on just the weekends you’ll feel obligated to sit until you reach x amount of pages. Good luck!


Post # 11
213 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

I wrote 2/3 of my doctoral dissertation in about 6 weeks. I was, however, extremely familiar with my subject matter. If you conducted your own research and already conducted a literature review, how are you unfamiliar with the subject? Not trying to sound rude, just trying to better understand what you have to do. You may be more familiar with it than you are giving yourself credit for.


I think @KCKnd2:‘s suggestion of allowing yourself to write a crappy draft is a good one. This is what I did and it really helped. As you write random thoughts it helps you begin to organize and synthesize your ideas, helping you to develop something more cohesive. Write a little, take a break, allowing your brain to work on it, then go back and re-read/revise it. Go through several iterations of different sections. Although you are busy, work in writing productively EVERY DAY for at least 15 minutes at a time. You will see progress. During my final months of my doctoral dissertation I was working, planning a wedding, applying/interviewing for jobs, planning a cross-country move, traveling nearly every weekend, and I got pregnant. Despite all this I managed to successfully complete and defend my dissertation. If i can do it I promise you can too!! Good luck! If you would like to talk anymore or would like any more advice please feel free to PM me. I literally just went through this so it is fresh in my mind. 


Post # 12
645 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

@Honey-Bee:  Well I literally just defended my Masters thesis (on Tuesday!). I finished my Masters program in a year and wrote the bulk of my thesis in June and July. However, mine was shorter than yours (70 pages) and I was VERY familiar with the subject area. 

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