2nd year, so what stage should I be at?


After a relatively stress free and easy first year, where I felt I did nothing but read, I've found myself in my second year and with a large workload which includes teaching and other non-thesis activities. This has meant that I've not worked on my thesis for a while and I was wondering what sort of stage I should be at for an Arts and Humanities topic? What stage is/was everyone else at? What do you suggest I do now. I suppose defining my methodology is a good stage. Does anyone have any tips?


Hey Argh! I think since you are humanities and are not conducting experiments, that you need to get writing asap!! I think the sooner you get into writing drafts the better, as otherwise it will seem like an insurmountable obstacle to overcome!! As for balancing the thesis with teaching and other committments, I think a good way to ensure the thesis gets time, is to allocate specifc times to the other committments, say like spend all day Sunday preparing for classes and then concentrate on your thesis on weekdays except for the teaching contact hours. Also its very easy to overprepare, which I have found eats into your research time, so only prepare what you need to, as the research should always come first.


I'm trying to remember where I was at that point, though it seems ages ago now... *sigh*... where did all the time go...? I'm part-time and have also spent a lot of time doing teaching and other non-PhD related stuff, which meant I frequently did nothing for my thesis for months on end. Am also mainly arts and humanities.

If you've done loads of reading, does that mean you've written your literature review? I think at that point I'd read the relevant literature and done bits of writing - a literature review of sorts and several short pieces about my research questions and aspects of my methodology of a few thousand words each. I had a good idea of what my overall thesis was going to cover, roughly what the focus for each chapter was going to be and what I wanted to investigate for each one. That pointed towards my methodology, the theoretical approach and what data I needed to collect, so I was starting to plod through that. When you know that, you can work out a thesis masterplan and a timetable for delivering written chapters to your supervisors for feedback. It's all likely to change anyway over the years, but in retrospect I wish I'd written more draft chapters much earlier and had more deadlines set with my supervisors for handing stuff in for regular feedback. That's because I find writing tortuously slow at times and at least when you've got stuff down on paper you can work with it and amend it, plus you have to think about it when you're writing, which helps sort it out in your mind and raises other questions or reveals gaps in what you know. It's easy to carry on reading endlessly as it's really interesting, but I think I used that sometimes to postpone actually getting down to my own writing. Sorry not to be more specific with tips or whatever.