8 weeks till Thesis deadline- Writing, Lab work and Baking

Current thesis word total: 92,000– longer than Orwell’s 1984!

Also dangerously close to the word limit of 100,000 words, which originally I never thought possible.

Most of the new writing has come from trying to blitz through my Methods chapter, this chapter is almost finished now which is great. Just have the time consuming tables of bacterial strains and plasmids left to make.

What did I get up to this week?

Well the short version is: writing, lab work, baking, boyfriends viva celebration, more writing, more lab work.

I hate combining lab work and writing, I find it really hard. Switching between the two tasks makes me lose focus and it takes me ages to find the place I was working on when I return back to my desk.

I’d be really interested to know, how many PhD students struggle with combining writing and lab work. As in the sciences I feel it’s expected that you will be able to juggle the two activities. If any of you find it easy to switch between the two I’ d love some tips!

The way I have tried to manage these two tasks is by doing Methods writing while in the lab, as this seems to be the easiest type of writing to do in pieces as its very factual.

However it is also incredibly dull, especially doing it in large chunks. If I could go back and talk to my second or third year self I would recommend writing up the methods back then in bits. It’s unlikely that I would  have taken this advice though as I was so busy experimenting at the time.

Lab work is back on the agenda due to some positive data from samples that were sent away for analysis. Which is great but now means more samples have to be generated for further analysis. With 8 weeks to go this is not the situation that I wanted to be in, but the only consistent thing about PhDs seems to be their unpredictability, so I am going with the flow at the moment.

It was my boyfriends viva this week and he passed!!! This was great news and a good excuse to celebrate and eat tons of cake! (my early morning baking session = giant peanut butter and caramel cake)

2016-08-02 17.44.28

What to get done before hand in (56 days to go):

Still to write: 20% of Methods chapter, 50% of Introduction chapter,  40% of results chapter 3 and 20% of results chapter 4

Other thesis things to do: Figures to improve, proof reading, overall conclusion, abstract, cross referencing, more referencing, do paperwork for intend to submit/selection of examiners and lots of editing! 

Lab experiments: 1 more big experiment (hopefully)

Aim this week: Finish off methods as quickly as possible and then tackle the Introduction again for the remainder of the week.

Its possible this plan may also go awry, its starting to be viva season and its a friends viva this week, so need to factor in the time for all the celebrations!!!!!


My advice

  • Start writing parts of methods earlier in PhD to avoid severe boredom at a later date
  • Keep writing concise, to save from heavy editing later
  • PhDs are unpredictable, just keep rolling with the surprises until you can’t anymore
  • Celebrate whenever you can
  • Just keep going at this point, the finish line is in sight!

3 thoughts on “8 weeks till Thesis deadline- Writing, Lab work and Baking

  1. Megan says:

    I absolutely hate writing and lab work at the same time. My office is busy and I find the mental gear shift really difficult! Did you find a way in the end or just power through? 🙂

    • ruthnottingham says:

      Glad to know I’m not the only one who finds it hard to switch! I wrote a lot at home or tried to use the uni library that was near the lab. If I was writing in the lab office I started wearing large headphones so that people would know not to bother me and to drown out the noise.
      Also I found it easier to get a large chunk of writing done with no experimenting, then come back to the lab to fill the experimental gaps. As then you already have writing/draft chapter that you can be editing or tweaking which is much easier than creating new writing while also thinking about your next experimental time point.
      Good luck writing up! It’s epic when you finish 🙂

      • DailyPhD says:

        I like the idea of working in large chunks and then going back to the lab for gaps. That was my original plan, but I seem to be stuck in a loop where if I’m at the lab people give me more lab work and it’s a never-ending cycle! Fingers crossed working at home for a bit will break that cycle!

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