A PhD update: 1 month to go!

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🎢It’s the final countdown!🎢

🎢Do do do do, do-do do do do!🎢

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Writing about having 8 months left, 6 months left and even 3 months left of being a PhD student, I always felt like I had loads of time left. But where the hell has all that time gone!? I am now just 4 weeks away from having to hand in an actual physical copy of my PhD thesis. The achievements and progress of the last 4 years of my life all bound into one single document! So, in this final PhD countdown post, I thought it was time to share another quick update with all of you about how I have spent the last two months and also my plans for the last month of me being a student before actually having to adult for once!

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How am I feeling?

Such a mixture of emotions to be honest with you. Anxious that my time as a student and studying for my PhD is shortly going to be all over. Panic about what the future holds. Stress about wanting to make this thesis as perfect as I possibly can and with the time pressure I’ve had over the last two months. But actually excited for it all to be over now I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Relief that I’ve started to get back into a more normal routine and I’m starting to get fitter and be healthier again. And actually quite relaxed about this whole writing a thesis thing!

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So what have I been up to?

So my last update shared that I had finished everything in the lab – all my experiments were done! Since then it has been 2 months of a flurry of writing, reading and editing to create and refine my PhD thesis.

But 9 chapters down and I nearly have a complete first draft of my entire thesis! A stage that has taken me longer to reach that I thought it would have considering I had tried to be as organised as possible during my final years in the lab and prepared as many of my graphs and figures as I went along. I felt like I had quite a strong starting point when I began writing full time but reanalysing data, splitting chapters in two and reading the literature to justify my experiments and explain my conclusions has taken much longer than I thought it would. Perhaps it is just the sheer volume of data I have to read and write about, but another contributing factor is definitely that my PhD supervisor declared that they were taking the whole of September off.

Now I do not begrudge them taking time off at all. They work extremely hard and deserve a well-earned break. But the selfish part of me thinks that the timing couldn’t be much worse. I have to submit my thesis on 28th September and so getting any feedback from my supervisor about my thesis has definitely affected how productive I have been. Having a whole month less to read thoroughly and send them extracts of my thesis for them to read over and give feedback on really stressed me out. I wanted to get feedback on as many different chapters as I could from them, so I was writing for quantity over quality. What I gave my supervisor was not my best work, which I think ended up frustrating them after they were a bit off with me during the last few meetings we had, but I was panicked about what I was writing so wanted to show as many chapters as I could. Something that in hindsight was probably not my best course of action.

But that extra time pressure probably does mean that I have got almost a complete first draft of my whole thesis. We are not quite there yet – a bit more reanalysis of data and a few additions to the introduction and discussion – but we are currently standing at 467 pages and 99,591 words strong! And yes I have had to order in extra large spiral binders ready for submission!

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Aims for the last month

Once again, this is simple. Finish my thesis, submit it and get one step closer to becoming Dr Soph!

I need to complete my first draft, then go through and refine each chapter and read more in areas outside of stem cells to support my conclusions. Get as much feedback as possible from whoever is willing to read what I’ve written. Then just print, bind and submit!

How difficult can that be eh?

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Wish me luck for this last PhD stint I am starting! Does anybody have any advice or top tips to share about finalising a PhD thesis? Or any tips for anyone writing a thesis at any stage to help them out? What helped you write your thesis?

Science love.

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