Thursday, February 02, 2006

How to write your thesis in a week

Today this retired professor came by the lab to visit. He used to work in the department but the department pretty much made him retire because he was getting up there in age. The man lives and breathes science so retirement doesn't sit well with him. He comes by every so often to get his science chat fix. Some people think he's a bit whacked in the head but he means well and if you listen closely to his crazy talk he usually has some good points mixed in with the crazy ones.

Today he was asking me how my experiments were going and if I've started writing up. This of course led to the topic of writing a thesis. He proceeded to tell me how I could write my thesis in a week. Trust me, I had to use all my might to hold back the laughter. I thought I'd share his infinite wisdom on thesis writing in case you are hoping to write your thesis in a week.

Step 1 - Make all your figures and tables ahead of time and don't forget those figure legends! The making of the figures and tables isn't actually included in the thesis-in-a-week timeline. He actually never mentioned how long you should take for this step.

Step 2 - Once you have all your figures and table in a neat pile go through them and write the results based on what your figures or tables say. He estimates this should take a day.

Step 3 - Now that you know what results you are putting in your thesis write the materials and methods based on the techniques you used to get the results. Estimated time for this? He gave it a day or two stating that materials and methods are boring to write so it may take you two days.

Step 4 - Based on your results write the discussion. According to him this should take 2-3 days, no more.

Step 5 - Last but not least, the introduction. Estimated time? One day.

So that brings our grand tally of "time to write a PhD thesis" to seven days at most. Well if it was that easy I would have been done my thesis last week! I forgot to ask him though whether the week timeline included sleeping. Somehow I doubt it.

Although I think the timeline is a bit whacked I find that his logic and order for writing the thesis makes sense and seems to be the most efficient. As I said, he always has some good advice mixed in with the crazy talk.

98 comments:

Katie said...

We have a guy like that in our department as well. A very sweet gentleman who always offers sage advice. I think the advice you posted is a very good one and I will use that order. However, it is so true about making the figures. Sometimes it can take me a day just to make one figure.

NeuroChick said...

I can see using this little scheme to write a paper, but a whole thesis? That's probably pushing it. The plan for my dissertation is to have it consist mostly of paper manuscripts I've written along the way, with an introduction and discussion tying them all together. So hopefully "writing my thesis" shouldn't take more than a month since I will have been doing the large bulk of the writing as I've gone along. I'll just have to wait and see, though.

doctor T said...

Bwa ha ha. Reminds me of Crazy Joyce prof in my department -- he thinks all the PhD students should be done in two years, year of coursework and 3 candidacy exams be damned. Delusional much?

Sambit said...

Well! I googled "How to write a PhD in a Week?" and Voila!..here I am..Funnily enough, I am attempting it. Will let ya know if I am succesful!!

Jerry said...

I wrote my thesis in 5 days, basically using this method. I had all my figures and results beforehand, and I also had all my citations organized (bibtex). After that I slept about 4 hours a night and worked 18 hours a day. So it took me about 60 hours to write my 160page thesis.

potential dr lau said...

Love this!- gives me hope they i will get mine written up in time!

Anonymous said...

This is amazing! I already have all my figures and research. My last experiments will be completed by March and I'm supposed to graduate in May. I'm going to give this a whirl and who knows, I might have a spring break after all! I also know of someone who wrote theirs in 48 hours ( at once). Thanks for the help!!!

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