One of the most common pieces of writing advice is to “just get words down on the page; don’t worry about detail, and don’t think too much”. But sometimes it’s necessary to be a little bit perfectionist.
The best researchers are driven by curiosity. Feynman described it as “the pleasure of finding things out”, and it seems to be a good way to stay engaged and interested in your work.
If, like me, you have a habit of procrastination, here’s a little trick you can use to get yourself going. When you procrastinate, you probably find yourself engaging in some kind of substitution task. You’ll suddenly think of something else that needs doing (like checking email for example) which you’ll find a way to rationalise. […]
Here’s a quick tip that could save you a lot of pain.
You’ve probably tried to be more productive at some point. If you aren’t getting the output you want for the effort you put in, then it makes sense to look at ways to improve your productivity. So you can try; Being more organised Managing your time better Setting goals and deadlines Optimising your processes There […]
Are there any old ideas you chose not to pursue in your research? If so, are the reasons why you chose not to pursue them still relevant?
It’s that time of year again, when we pause and reflect on the year gone by, and look forward to the year ahead.
It’s that time when we think about what we want to do and the positive changes we want to make.
New year’s resolutions can be really positive (if you stick to them), but why only do this once per year?
Last weekend, I challenged myself to spend an entire day offline. No email, no Facebook, no news websites, no YouTube.
The results were more profound than I expected…
Many believe that pain is necessary to succeed, that you have to suffer your way through a PhD. No pain, no gain, no PhD. Is there any truth in this?
This entry is part 9 of 9 in the series Writing & EditingFor the purposes of this course, I’ve defined writing as a form of communication. In the context of a PhD, this usually means the written thesis you submit for examination or papers written for publication. You are writing for somebody else, with the […]
How to stay focused and get things done
It’s not what you might expect, it’s impossible to learn, but you might already have it…
Technology has undoubtedly made life easier for academics, but is this same technology making some PhD students lazy?
There is a lot of advice for writers, and while it varies, some ideas seem to be universally accepted.
One of these is the fear of the blank page, but it’s time we got over this fear…
This is so true, especially in the field of advice for students. The truth is, none of us have discovered “the secret to end procrastination” and there is no perfect system for time management, no perfect system for working with literature, and no single approach to writing.
Writing is fundamentally a form of communication, and so the aim is to successfully transmit information and ideas from your brain to that of the reader.
This is difficult to do, because the information stored in your brain is not stored in a logical order…
For a start, your PhD thesis will probably be the longest document you ever write, at somewhere between about 50 and 100 thousand words.
Not only is a PhD thesis long, it is also complex in structure. It involves communicating multiple complicated ideas and arguments, each of which is difficult to explain in themselves, but is somehow connected to all the other ideas and arguments, and of course all cross-referenced with the literature.
The simple answer then is to first give a broad view without giving fine detail, and then to zoom in on specific areas…