Trouble with dissertation


Hi everyone,

I guess I'm in trouble with my dissertation and wanted to share my experiences with you.

I've been trying to write my dissertation for the last 6 months or so, but I've spent most of time being lazy, hiding from my advisor, and finding excuses. Finally, my advisor called me in for a meeting on Wednesday, adding that he hopes that there is substantial progress on my dissertation or he will stop asking me about it.

I know about my mistakes and I know I should have worked on the dissertation. However, I really want to get back on track and earn my PhD. The problem is I have only a little more than a day and I don't think I will be able to show him a "substantial" progress- I really will hate to see my advisor slowly giving up on me.

I feel like I need some advice about how to handle this meeting. I also want to get back on track with my dissertation and complete my proposal by the end of September, and the whole thing by the end of May. I really hope I can achieve these goals.

Thanks in advance to everyone!


What would your ideal outcome from the supervision meeting be? A plan for your thesis? A schedule of dates to meet your supervisor over the next year? A set of strict deadlines that you negotiate with your supervisor? If it's just laziness and you're not having any other problems, it sounds like you need to prove to your supervisor that you've got good intentions to do the work and have a plan in place on how and when you'll be doing things.


In terms of fobbing him off over the next few days: have you been working on any publications of conference papers that would explain why you haven't been so productive on your thesis? As long as you've been doing something useful, your supervisor can't really complain too much.


If you haven't done even a tiny piece of work, then hold your hands and admit to your laziness. But, more important thing is that you should give the supervisor your plans ahead, in writing and in detail. That way at least you have something to hold on to and maybe will do some good as you both have the plan in writing. Even though this might seem a bit harsh-try not to hide from mistakes as the sooner you deal with them, the better.


Alicepalace and Sheena,
Thanks a lot for your suggestions.


Yes, I have been revising a couple of papers that are close to being accepted to solid journals. But still, I should have done more about the dissertation.

Fortunately, I have some work to show to him though it's not as much as he might be expecting. He wanted me to make sure that all of my hypotheses and experimental design and procedures are ready. I have some doubts about what I've done so far.

What's more important is I understood that I really really want to write this dissertation even though I was so afraid of facing it for a long time. I will be show my advisor a little progress, be honest, and get more disciplined!

What a great forum! Thank you!


longway74, you sound like me!!

i too did not work on my thesis, alot longer than 6 months, almost a year or so, but instead worked on papers or procrastinated ALOT ! kept avoiding my thesis all the time. until i got a letter from the uni that said submit your thesis or die! okay it didnt really say that. but said that i must submit by sept or i will fail.

i too had barely done anything and admitted to my supervisor, that i haven't done much and its all rough drafts, but give me some time to pull it all together.

i must congratulate you in wanting to do something about it. and admitting to it. you are definately not alone! alot of phd writers go through the same thing!! so don't beat yourself up about it. what's in the past is in the past, today is all that matters!! and you will be suprised how much work you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

"whereever you are, it is the place to start, the effort to expend TODAY DOES make a difference!"


i think when one is faced with an ultimatum thats when you finally realise, wait i do really want to finish writing my thesis. sometimes a deadline is all that we need to get our minds focussed.

alice and sheena have given you great advice, so not much more for me to say.

but yeh like they said, make a plan, a detailed outline of your thesis, a sort of thesis map, of all the chapters and sections and results you want to discuss in your thesis. and then just be honest with your supervisor and say you have been struggling with writers block, but here's my plan and my thesis outline. and i am determined to get this thesis done.

go in your meeting with confidence and positive thinking.


all your supervisor really just wants is some assurance that you will get the thesis written. so when you are armed with a plan of action, and a brief update on what you have done (you can even say some stuff is in rough draft, not fit to be read by anyone yet, but i will work on the next coming weeks and pull it up to first draft format and admit that although you should have been writing your thesis along with your paper, you put 100% attention and effort into the papers.).

good luck! you will be fine. welcome to the writer's club


and i agree, this forum is great, and it was such a phd life saver for me!!! the people on this are so supportive and encouraging!

might i suggest you join the acountability thread, we're all writers there. trying to work on our thesis bit by bit every day. check it out!

you log on, type in the aims you want to accomplish for the day, and then at the end of the day you tell us exactly what you did for your thesis. a sort of support group for writers and also when you know you have to update us with what you have done, it sort of gears you to actually do something!!



I can't appreciate your support enough. Yes, I will definitely be joining the club now!



Hey CJ, you're very welcome!! great about you joining the club! I look forward to hearing about your progress on a daily basis. we can support each other. i know i am the worst procrasintor there is!!