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5.1 Constructing a Plan for Writing Your Ph.D.

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You might consider that it is unnecessary at this stage to make a plan, after all you seem to have been ‘planning’ all along! However, after all the reading and note taking it is useful to pause to reassess your thinking and re-organise – it can even be a good idea to take a break at this point as your head can be so full of ideas that you lose all sense of where you are heading with this.

A Ph.D. Graduate comments: ‘When I had everything in place I suddenly felt that I needed a break. My head was swimming with a confusion of ideas and I had file after file of notes. My supervisor was happy with the plans I had and everything seemed to be going well but then I hit a brick wall. I suppose that after all that reading I had lost track of what my own thoughts were. It felt wrong to take ‘time-out’, as though now that I had been given the go-ahead, and all that faith had been placed in me, I should keep going. However, I had a talk with my supervisor and was reassured to know that this often happens at this stage. I was recommended to take a short break and forget about everything to do with my doctorate for a while. I did just that and came back ready to start again with a fresh perspective on what I had done before.’

Do not feel guilty about taking a break like this it should be part of your planning to have some time to yourself. Writing a Ph.D. is not something that can – or should - be rushed. In fact, there is no way in which such a deep and intensely developed sequence of thought can be so make breaks such as this a part of your plan then you won’t feel guilty about taking them!

The need to reform your plan at this stage, i.e. after taking a break and before you start writing your thesis is essential.

Just as you went back to your books, you now need to go back to your research proposal with particular attention being paid to your methodology.

You have discussed your method of work with your supervisor and he/she will have given you some tips on how you can sharpen this so take these ideas on board and return to your proposed methodology in order to form a plan as to how to structure your thesis, using evidence critically and analytically.

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