How to write a PhD thesis: avoiding common mistakes

When writing a PhD thesis, there is not necessarily any right way to do things; however, there are common mistakes that many people make which can be avoided. By being aware of these mistakes, it is easier to complete a PhD thesis to a better standard, as well as making life easier.

Choosing a topic that is not right for you

A very common mistake is using a topic that is not right for you. Indeed, it is not just that the topic is not right to you, but may be that it is not appropriate for a PhD thesis at all. If you are unable to use a topic to write enough for a piece of work which is required for a PhD thesis, then it is best perhaps to leave it alone. Equally, if it is not something that you are interested in or at least have some decent knowledge of, then maybe it is best to think of another topic instead.

Using research that is not useful or relevant

There can be a danger of using research in a PhD thesis that is not relevant or useful. It is important to be strict with yourself so as to rule out any research that you have done which is not worth using, even if it is take up a considerable amount of your time to complete. Sometimes it can be better just to omit something rather than include it simply because you spent a lot of effort on it.

Failing to observe the correct format and citation methods

Considering the amount of information that is available about how to correctly format and use citations in a PhD thesis, it could be surprising how often people fail to observe the correct methods and specifications. However, it does occur and can result in the quality of the work unnecessarily being reduced.

Not keeping to the allotted word count

Even with a wide range for a word count, people may often end up writing too much or too little. It is important to meet the word count; however, this should not be done by filling it out with unnecessary fluff. Equally, it can be hard to do, but it is important to not go over the word count, which means being strict to remove extra words so as to satisfy the requirements.

Handing in work that has not been properly proofread or edited

Frequently, students hand work in that is not properly proofread or edited. In reality, there is actually no reason for this to occur; however, it often does and results in students dropping marks completely unnecessarily, despite having potentially put in a great deal of work into what could otherwise have been an impressive PhD thesis.