What thesis advice would you give to people about to start?


I'm about to hand in my thesis. I've been thinking about how I would have done my thesis with what I know now.
1)Have your references stored as you go along
2)Be wary of adding colour pictures as if you use 2 printers you will have to go through page by page adding colour pages. It will take 1-2 days, especially if you see mistakes in the 1st copy.
3)Start with the correct margins from the regulations, and work out your font/heading styles at the start, and when you are going to use capitals. If you work it out at the beginning and stick to it, you won't end up with varying styles all the way through that are a knightmare to check. Use a style sheet.
4)Open office: references are a knightmare, symbols might not transfer to Word. English UK spellchecking and the style sheet formats need to be set up BEFORE you start writing, save a template.
5)Everything will take longer than you planned


thanks cc.
i will get my stylesheets organized before i start writing! and make sure i collect my references as I go along - i do that normally anyway, as i use endnote, but sometimes i'm sloppy. it's good to be reminded from someone who's just gone through the final steps that it will be so much more work then than now!


thanks cc. this is very helpful. any similar advice about the last three months of a thesis would be very helpful! anyone else?? thanks in advance.



I would be interested to know when you started writing? I presume starting early is problably key. It is obviously a cliche yet if you write from the start of the research the thesis is more a compilation of already done work as opposed to a tremendous task at the end. Would you agree?


It depends whether you use it. Materials and methods would be good to have written down to thesis standard, and collect and store pictures as you go.
I used a tiny part of my literature review. Notes on key papers and points might be good in case you go back to it 2 years later.

I should add
5?)store files in a logical way e.g. named folders so you can find them without having to remember where they are. I've had the complication of using 2 laptops. Naming files well helps, and sometimes adding the date. You might end up with 3 versions of chapter 3 and not know which is which. I kept different versions so I wouldn't lose things I had taken out if I wanted them later.

6) make sure you have a good back-up, my partner had my thesis backed up on a server and I could download files from home/work via the internet


good advice from cc. Even though I'm not near completion, the follwoing useful tips are the ones which I wish I had known before.
1) Saving files with a date as you edit them, so you even have the first draft.
2) Writing at least one sentence,phrase that sums up the paper, report as you read, or why its important to you (in endnote using notes section or by hand in printed papers)
3)keeping a diary or blog of about how you got on with experiments, as little details do count later.
4) Have something written about what you did each year by the end in form of lit review, method, conference paper.


My tips, some of which are probably same as others (I'm starting 2nd yr by the way)

- Start writing early as possible - even if it's just summarizing literature. It gets you used to putting stuff on paper and gives you something to show your supervisor that you can get feedback on.
- Listen to feedback you get. I sometimes go into meetings and just nod my head, but don't really take feedback in - but I've found that when I make an effort to act on feedback, I'm way more productive
- I'll also say the references one - get them in some sort of order, everytime you read something, anything at all, stick it in your references in some order that will make sense to you and you can locate the reference. I personally use Refworks.
- chat to other PhD students - even if it's just youse all having a whinge