Endocrine Abstracts (2006) 11 S105

PhD/MD Thesis: a recipe for success

DRE Abayasekara

Royal Veterinary College, London, United Kingdom.

In all probability, a thesis is the longest single document that anyone is likely to write as a scientist. It requires much planning to ensure that the thesis gets written and submitted on time. To begin with, plan the overall outline of the thesis. With some variation, most theses begin with a comprehensive introduction/literature review. A chapter describing the materials and methods invariably follows. The subsequent chapters contain the material you have sweated over i.e. your life’s work to date! The content of these results chapters tends to define the thesis and therefore requires much thought. Most theses usually end with a discussion placing the main findings of the thesis in the context of published work. The order in which you tackle the writing of the chapters does not need to follow the sequence described – in fact it is best to start with the easiest one, which often is the Materials and Methods chapter. The outline of the thesis should be discussed with your supervisor(s). They will make suggestions, which you will ignore at your peril! The next step is to set a realistic timetable, which includes deadlines for submitting draft chapters to your supervisor(s). Getting started is the hardest part of writing a thesis. The fact that you have an outline of what you aim to include in the chapters will help. However, the most important thing is to make sure that you write SOMETHING – it is always easier to improve on it at a later date. The following quote regarding the writing of a thesis captures the very essence of the task awaiting you: “When you are about to begin, writing a thesis seems a long, difficult task. That is because it is a long, difficult task” - Joe Wolfe of the University of Sydney.

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