My can do attitude slipped this week and turned into intense frustration at my Thesis.
Current thesis word length: 78,572 so just a bit longer than Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone!
The Discussion Fights Back
The plan was to concentrate on getting a results chapter finished off. It started off well I added in the new data and wrote up the results sections, no problem. Then I got to the discussion…
This chapter already had quite a nice discussion, but it was written before I had the new data. The new data complicates things. The theories I had before don’t quite stack up. This is good in a way, the extra data collecting has ruled out my previous hypothesise and ideas. But what am I left with?
Confusion, utter confusion.
First I try a mind map to get all the data on one page to see if this gets me to see a link of some sort.
It helps straighten my thoughts but every possibility I think up, ends with me ‘disproving it’ or considering it highly unlikely due to another piece of data I have collected.
This process goes on and on. Arguing with myself about what to propose is happening.
I decide the answer might be in the literature and start searching but none of the situations I find are quite comparable to my findings. I even consider if it’s possible that a final experiment might be needed to work it all out!
The time is passing by and no writing is happening.
I take a break and go for a walk (catch a few Pokemon) and think things over.
After this I came to the conclusion that it’s fine not to know for sure how the process you are investigating works. A PhD is not long enough to work out everything for sure. The best I can do in this situation is outline concisely the variety of theories that my results support with the pros and cons. I will have to pick one theory to suggest as the most likely in the end but that can be decided on at a later date.
So my advice for a tricky discussion is:
- Do a mind map to get your thoughts in order
- Looking through the literature is useful but set your self a time limit before you start to make sure you aren’t searching forever
- Going on walks are helpful for pondering ideas
- Don’t be too tough on yourself
I didn’t manage to take my own advice….
Over the next few days I struggle to take my own advice. It was the hottest day of the year and I was a hot and frustrated PhD student! Not a good mix, so I abandoned the discussion and worked on methods instead.
I also got tempted back into the lab! None of the experiments I set up worked- on the surface this was really annoying however it had an unexpected effect- it transferred my frustration against my thesis back to frustration at failed experiments. Which freed up my mind enough to start looking at the discussion again.
- If the section you are on is too tricky and nothing is getting done allow yourself to change onto an easier section
- Its difficult to write your thesis when you are frustrated at it, try and acknowledge the frustration and let it go (or like me become frustrated at something else instead!)
I hope everyone else’s discussions are behaving.
Typing away till next week, going on a Thesis Boot Camp so will report back on its effectiveness.