Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Finishing the Thesis

Professor Leonard Cassuto of Fordham University has some helpful advice about how to finish your doctoral thesis in a recent blogpost. A few points I particularly liked (and that I am reformulating here in my own words, and perhaps departing slightly from the views of Professor Cassuto:

  • you don't have to start at the beginning. A painter wouldn't begin at one end of a canvas and then work her or his way to other other end. You work on parts of the canvas, enhancing detail in one area, leaving another to be filled in later. There is no need to begin writing your thesis with chapter 1, or the introduction.
  • the best is the enemy of the good. Get the damn thing finished. You'll have man years of academic life in which to write the perfect book or article. Finishing the doctorate is the beginning of the scholarly career. It need not be the place for the masterpiece. That can come later.
  • start writing sooner rather than later. The thesis is all about writing, and the sooner you are not only producing written work but also honing your writing skills, the better. Don't make a mechanistic divide between the research phase of the thesis and the writing phase.
Thanks to Kathleen Cavanaugh.

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