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  • Writer's pictureLucy Hatt

Reflections on the process of getting a Doctorate


In August 2015 before I started my doctorate officially, I wrote a blog post summarizing my take-aways from

Having at last found out when my Degree Congregation will be after nearly 2 years of COVID19 delay, it seemed like the right time to look back and share some advice from the book that I found particularly useful.

  • Read other people’s theses in your area of interest. They’re all publicly available at www.theses.com

  • Construct a list of research practices that characterize a good professional researcher in your discipline, test them out and practice them. This is a useful site for information www.npc.org.uk

  • Find out what milestones there are at your institution and what needs to be submitted for them (Annual Reviews or equivalent). Have a look at some to get an idea of style, content and standard.

  • Sketch out the possible chapters in your thesis early on. Typically these are; Introduction, Literature, Method, Results, Discussion and Conclusions.

  • Save consecutive drafts of Chapters rather than overwriting. This means you won’t have to re-write anything you regretted deleting. Write Chapters in separate documents first, then right at the end, put them all together in a long Word document.

  • Make a rough weekly writing plan and review it regularly to find a routine that works for you.

  • It’s usually the literature chapter that’s easiest to write first, then the methods chapter.

  • (TOP ADVICE THIS ONE) Write to your allotted time, rather than when you reach a natural break in your work. This is because you are more likely to feel a sense of urgency in returning to the work left in its unfinished state and it will be easier to pick up.

  • Book in a good number ( 2 - 3) of supervision meetings in advance with your Supervisor/s and know what you want to have done before the meeting (dates/times can always be changed if necessary). Knowing when you are meeting your Supervisor/s means you have interim deadlines. Always submit some new or revised writing a week ahead of your booked supervision sessions. Meet every 2 – 3 months.

  • Set up Google alerts so you remain up to date with the latest publications in your area.

  • Decide how long you want to take to write your thesis, and make a plan to maximize your chances of success. Here's mine:


Everybody’s different - but this is what worked for me. I passed my Viva after 4 years (part-time) 😊.

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