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How to PhD students struggle with Doctoral Thesis

Fred Holt

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Too often PhD students struggle with writing of scientific articles and their doctoral thesis, because there are no straightforward instructions on how to do the work swiftly and efficiently. There is no need to learn all the related aspects from scratch, as one can learn from others and learn together with others.

The university environment has a tendency to over-complicate matters, either intentionally, or unintentionally. It is true that all matters have a number of dimensions and deeper, more detailed information is always available. It is also true that a PhD student must learn to think from different perspectives. However, from the perspective of a PhD student, it is vital to obtain an adequate understanding on how to successfully write scientific documents. For this purpose, one may benefit from a certain amount of advice, but overly detailed information and unnecessary snobbery with related terminology will result in inefficiency.

This document aims to provide tips to PhD students for doctoral thesis writing, and for writing scientific articles. The central focus is on how to conduct the work effectively and speed up the process. Our intention is to enable researchers to rationalise their graduate studies and the writing of their doctoral thesis, while maintaining high scientific standards.

The authors formed a three people research group some years ago and completed their doctoral studies in three years. These three years consisted of fragmental starts and finishes of projects, worries over the continuity of funding, required graduate studies, writing of 15 Journal articles and doctoral dissertations. In our opinion, the decisive factor for the success of our dissertation projects was working as a close group. Currently, the group works for a project, at the University of Oulu, aiming to improve the efficiency of doctoral studies, including tangible hands-on guidance.

Our group had strong experience from industry, where in order to succeed, one must be effective. In our experience, a newcomer who starts working in a University has to start too often from scratch and tends to make the same mistakes others have made before them. Too often, graduate studies and the writing of a doctoral dissertation are inefficient. We do not try to be all-inclusive, but aim to present the main factors we believe may be beneficial for others to consider. We also aim to bring to light ways of working that tend to slow down the work and progress of many doctoral students.

The authors’ own experience from industrial engineering and management combining technology, economics and social sciences, provides a good base for understanding the research methods of various disciplines. This document is continuity for a document “Vinkkejä väitöskirjaprosessin nopeuttamiseen” originally published in Finnish. This English version is more advanced and includes acknowledging the received feedback from multiple scientific disciplines, as well as the feedback from the cases we have personally guided. A reader should note that there are numerous guides for writing doctoral theses in written and online forms, providing help for doctoral students. For example, the University of Oulu, Finland, has an online Toolbox created specifically for this purpose. This document simply aims to complement these guides from the point of view of effectiveness. The document contains the authors’ opinions and is based on their own experience.

Fred Holt, M. A. (English) from University of New Jersey, specialized in teaching academic writing. He is skilled in MLA, APA, and Chicago manuals of style. His work included writing, thesis writing , term paper writing, dissertation writing, essay writing, buy essay, buy dissertation etc.


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