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The Insiders’ Guide to Thesis Writing

We run a number of workshops on thesis writing which often feature supervisors and examiners talking about their roles in the production and examination of a PhD thesis. Early in the lockdown we noticed that our research staff were keen to share their insights and offer support to students who might be struggling to write away from their labs and offices in the University.

The first research staff led IAD Pop-Up session is on thesis writing and we hope that more will follow. If you are a member of research staff or part of a research staff society at Edinburgh, let us know how we can help turn your ideas into a development session.

This session was designed by thesis writing experts Dr Marie-Louise Monaghan, Dr Natalie Jones, Dr Marie-Louise Monaghan and Dr Antonis Asiminas, all from CMVM and all involved in one of our research staff societies.

As well as the recording of the session, this post includes the slides and a number of links that came up during the design of the session and from questions we received on the day.

Recording of the session (subtitles requested and will be included soon)

Slides for the session: Thesis writing Insider Guide

This session complements other support from the IAD. You can find useful links and a self-study pack of writing up qualitative research on the IAD website

IAD support for writing up your PhD

First some links on the formatting and regulations:

The Doctoral Education team in IAD have put together a page which includes all the codes and regulations relating to a PhD: PhD Regulations

Information Services have a guide to help you Produce a Thesis using Word 2013

All of the forms related to Doctoral Thesis Submission, including University Guidance on Thesis Binding are on the Academic Services Research Students page.

As mentioned during the session, you’ll save hours and hours of time and stress if you set up your document effectively from the beginning.

Marlene mentioned the “sentence starters” summary that she found helpful whilst writing. It’s been pinned by Jo Coles on Pinterest 

And there’s some fantastic advice from another PhD student, Bérengère Digard who is writing her thesis at the moment!

Nothing says shut up and write like a pandemic

A few weeks ago I ran a short session on productivity which might help you to set yourselves up with realistic expectations: Productivity in Unproductive Circumstances.

And remember that thesis writing is incredibly hard at the best of times. Take care of your mental and physical health whilst you are writing with the help of other important members of our community.

Our counselling service is still open

Our Chaplaincy are now running weekly mindfulness drop-ins

The University has paid for students and staff to have access to a range of online services including Big White Wall, Feeling Good and SilverCloud.

Other services and support is available – Headspace got a mention in our session.

You might also want to review Information Security whilst working from home.

The Research Data Service website is also full of guidance about data management throughout your PhD, with some specific tips for the final stages – “Approaching Completion

and their Library colleagues in Digital Research Services also offer lots of links to online training.

Or visit the Health and Wellbeing websites for

Staff –

Students –

The Covid19 student webpage includes a section for PGRs – scroll down –

If you’re concerned about becoming sedentary whilst working from home, there’s an online Sit Less Get Active course from Coursera.

Although the Health and Safety Executive has advised that there is no need during this interim period of homeworking to undertake workstation assessments, it’s important to be comfortable.
Our local Health and Safety staff have written some simple homeworking set up sheets available online at the health & safety unit website

Finally, if you are missing your local coffee shop and the ambient murmur of background noise, you can always try to recreate this with Coffivity.

(Image by congerdesign from Pixabay )

(Image by congerdesign from Pixabay )

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