BRILLIANT advice on thesis writing

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This single hour of talking is more helpful than my entire first year of supervision!! and a great way to make pre-festive insomnia useful...


Very helpful, Eska, thank you! (up) The sound was a bit annoying though, the interviewer was far too loud, but it was very interesting otherwise. Reassuring for me at this point to hear that it's ok not to really know what one's thesis is about until the end. *phew* I liked his idea about the PhD process being boundaried but leaky too.


Thanks Eska,
Might take a bit of time off over the break to watch this in it's entirity but fair dues for posting it. Will have to admit went looking for other stuff on youtube about 10 mins in :p Good to actually hear from someone with both experience and knowledge of the system.

Have a good Christmas and a happy new year


======= Date Modified 22 Dec 2008 13:27:42 =======
Thanks Eska. There are some very good points in this video that are relevant for all PhD students. Some of the advice on here would have been very helpful at the start of my PhD!

You're right Rubyw, the interview is annoying because of the interviewer (although she is probably just reading scripted questions give to her by the academic).


This video is excellent - definitely worth watching all the way through as I did.


I think it started off well, but was rather long and not what I thought it was going to be about! I had to roll the screen up a bit because I found his mannerisms quite off putting after a while - wish I had the time to write for three hours a day :$.


I didn't really watch it, as there's not a lot to see really. I just had the sound on and treated it as if it were a radio feature. Having said that, the disparity in the sound and volume of the participating voices was really irritating and took some getting used to - I found myself wincing every time the interviewer's loud voice chipped in - but I thought it was worth it, on balance.


Thank you Eska. It was worth watching. I got other useful youtube links through this...some really good lectures which I was looking for.


Thanks Eska. I just finished watching this and people who are at the beginning should watch this. The end half was not relevant to PhD writing in my opinion but the first half had really good tips which comes up again and again when you talk to writers, or read writing guides. Thought it might be helpful to someone the following notes I jotted down while watching it.

From Alan Macfarlen's you tube video -
"1. Do not write more than 12,000 words for a chapter, try to make them readable and shorter between 10-12,000

2. Do not write the introduction first as you never know what you will end up until the end.
-beginning should be a gripping story or interesting point to grab your reader
-at the end of that introduction you should have a outline of thesis which you can only write after you finish

3. Start with the most interesting or your best material
  -should be like starting a fire, you need best things that will burn first like things that will make you want to write.
  - then put twigs into the fire to make it burn similar to adding other parts or chapters to it, otherwise it will be like grinding stones together making it a   
4. Data organising
-sketch first a rough plan
-ideas should lead to the data rather than the other way
-WRITE FIRST-THINK LATER! (I think its so true, should be a PhD writing prayer:-x) he quoted the person who said this but didnt catch it.

5. raise the level of theory after each draft, when you read back you will know what theories could be added

6. roughly a productive 3 hour writing after the preparations should produce about 2000 words

7. Do read other books, novels and carry on with your life but keep a note book to write what comes to mind at the other times. There should be intellectually alone times to write and sociable other times-get the balance right

8. Never finish off a piece of writing at the end of a writing session. leave few notes and come back to read them when you start next. It will help you to avoid looking at a blank page with a heading at the beginning of a writing session.

Writing should not be a burden but still an effort should be made! "

Happy writing to all of you!  ;-)


Sheena, thanks so much for posting those tips. I haven't had a chance to watch the video - a whole hour on Youtube, what would be the size of that download?! It was really helpful though to read through your posted highlights, although I'm afraid to say I've broken a few of those rules! My literature review chapter is 20,000 words, and I can't do without any of it, but at least it's broken up into manageable chunks so it's not hard to read. My supervisor has been pushing me to make a start on the introduction, but I've been avoiding it. I'd rather do it last when I know what I've written in the rest of it.