How Candidates Can Overcome the Problems Faced During Dissertation Writing

A PhD has always been looked up as a lost and lonely road to engage candidates. While many feel isolated, others feel overly motivated.

A survey conducted at University of Manchester reports that over 86% of researchers face problems with procrastination, seeking perfectionism, fear of rejection, stress and isolation. On the other hand, the annual report at Brandon University indicated that those candidates who have a routine to follow during their PhD period are tending to face fewer problems with the same.

While interacting with some research scholars at York University, we are able to find out that scholars desperately require a road map to get started with their research work and come out with flying colours. During the discussion, we have noticed major challenges and problems faced by the scholars and on analysing, we are able to say that if a scholar follows a proper routine throughout his/her journey to become a doctor, most of the problems vanishes.

1. Structure:
During a discussion with researchers at University of Western Ontario, we observed that many researchers spend much of their important time on researching and collecting data and put aside the valuable task of writing. Such scholars lack a proper structure for their research. At the end, these researchers inexorably scramble to blend ideas and thoughts on paper, and make the already stressful process (writing) even more difficult.

Researches can avoid the pressure of writing if they set realistic daily, weekly, monthly and yearly deadline to themselves and stick to it.

For example:
1-3 Month:

  • Choose field of study
  • Select a unique topic that adds value to the existing body of knowledge
  • Time table for Supervisory meeting and report

3-6 Month:

  • Agreement of dissertation work plan, research method and time table
  • Arrangement of further required study material

6 Month:

  • Update research plan with progress report

6-9 Month:

  • Prepare first rough draft of proposal
  • Get it reviewed from the supervisor
  • Work on the comment received from the supervisor
  • Prepare the final draft of proposal and submit

And like this, you can prepare a complete structured plan for the entire dissertation process.

2. Procrastination:
Mr. Dylan Roy, a researcher at Department of Genetics, York University, says that procrastination becomes a trap and turns you from a well-functioning procrastinator to being a paralysed one. He added that we, research students, often have this misguided idea that only motivation is required to get through the PhD and underestimate the whole idea of structured work during the years of academic journey.

We suggest researchers to take their PhD like a full-time job, even for those who are doing it part time. Getting started is the hardest thing to move with the dissertation writing process. A weekly check on progress is required and it would be fruitful on if you revise your completed work and make changes or edit the completed work done in a week. It will save the time you are going to spend during the editing process. Set your working hours and assign short, medium and long term targets to self. Breakdown your work into manageable small tasks e.g. if you are at the proposal writing stage, you can assign 3-4 week to work on the proposal, now you can check what all are included in a proposal such as introduction, research objective and aim, research plan and references. From these 3-4 weeks you can assign the first week for researching the background and writing the introduction part, dedicate your second week in finding out and writing the research objective and aim. The third week will give a proper research plan and you’ll be working on the references during the 3-4 week. See you are done with the proposal.

3) Stress:
A Research shows 79% increase in the stress level of scholars from the first year of their course to the final year. Researchers may experience stress at different stages of their course. Another research indicated that the primary reasons for stress are not meeting the deadline and the constant fear of rejection.

We recommend a two hour outdoor game session with fellow researchers every day for killing the buzz of stress. This will help in terms of social interaction and will give you fresh vibes. During this game session, you can share your experience with fellow researchers and exchange your ideas too.
Go for any geeky, sci-fi movies and let entertainment take control of your mind once in every 15 days and STARWARS is always at your rescue. A little enjoyment does no harm in fact it helps in terms of concentration. Go for a comic con once in a week.
Having a daily routine can help researchers in beating down the stress. We suggest researcher to try and keep set number of hours devoted to their research and social interaction, and then reward longer period of concentration with a proper break from work.

4. Dealing with Assignments:
The course assignments are considered to a barrier which keeps the candidates jam packed all the time. During an interactive session at University of Kent, we discussed the assignment issue with research candidates, and over 82% of candidates accepted the pressure of meeting assignment deadline. It was evident that the students were desperate to meet the assignment’s deadline, leaving them bereft of energy to focus on dissertation writing

We totally understand the importance of assignments and will not recommend leaving your assignment untouched but you can give a dedicated time slot to assignment work.
If you give 2 hours per day to your assignment, you’ll have adequate time to focus on dissertation writing.
You can give it a weekly trial and see how things are going with assignment and dissertation. You can either give 1 hour in the morning to your assignment and 1hour in the evening or you can give 2 hours during morning time. This will decide the amount of time you are spending on assignment and can judge your progress.

5. Problem with Supervisor:
It is the most common hurdle that comes as a free package when enrolling to a PhD. Many scholars are having conflicts with their supervisors and this is due to the lack of communication, change in supervisor, absence of supervisor and avoidance from supervisor.

We suggest scholars to prepare a draft of their work on weekly basis and then reach out to their guides; identify the areas where they are lacking, discuss with them and come out with a solution.
Suppose you are out for vacation, from there also, you can work on journals through kindle and send it to the supervisor for suggestion. This will give an impression that even if you are not physically available, you are dedicated towards work and academics.

Hope the above mentioned piece of advice will help you sail the dissertation boat!
For more suggestions, leave your comments below.

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