A brief look back on thesis writing

Aug 21 2013 Published by under Late-stage PhD student

Last week, I handed my thesis in to my readers. So before I get back to my snake training, I thought I'd share a few observations on the whole process that may be helpful for those of you about to embark on this journey.

1. Check your university's thesis format. They get picky about page numbering and font sizes and where figures/tables/illustrations can go. There's also the adjusted 1.5" left margin to account for the gutter area (oopsy poopsy). Have all these set beforehand, especially if you plan on embedding figures and tables in the text. Adjusting the format after the fact will invariably bump your figures and tables and texts all over the place.

2. Of all the things I thought would hurt from sitting all day everyday, hips never occurred to me. I imagine this is what having creaky, old door hinges for joints would feel like. I knew I should have kept up with my yoga.

3. If you plan on using Word to write your thesis: bookmarks are your friends. I used them to jump back and forth between sections of my thesis when the length got too unwieldy for simple scrolling up and down. (Still dreaming of a word processor that let's you scroll through a document horizontally rather than vertically.)

Also, you know all those periods in the table of contents? If you're about to manually type all of those, let me stop you right there. Use tabs with leaders and the decimal alignment if you want it all aligned to the right side of your page. Or you can have Word automatically generate one...if you have that much faith in Word.

4. If you live near your parents, milk that. I was able to convince them to bring me home-cooked meals. I'm kidding, I didn't ask. They offered, and it was awesome of them.

5. Half of my committee wanted my thesis as a pdf, and the other half wanted a hard copy. I had the hard copies spiral-bound at FedEx/Kinko's (or whatever they're called these days) where apparently, there's a limit to the size of a document they can have bound. They told me they would try to bind my thesis anyway. If you do this, insist that they call you if they encounter any problems. The person handling my order messed up the hole-punching on ~20 pages and ended up using photocopied replacements. If they had called to inform me of this goof up, I would have gladly reprinted those pages.

6. I didn't touch my computer or thesis for 48 hours after turning it over to my committee. I won't lie, there was quite a bit of separation anxiety.

Alright, bring on the serpent!

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