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Thesis related

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How to Complete your PhD Dissertation: Never Give Up

Many students become doctoral candidates, but few go on to receive their status as a doctor. In fact, “EBTD” (everything but the dissertation) is something of a running joke among post-graduate students. So what’s the issue? After coming so far in one’s education, it seems strange that this final assignment would cause so many students to fail.

Why Does it Happen?

Is the problem that students are writing poor dissertations which are failing them? Again, it seems strange that after proceeding in their scholarly pursuits to this point that students would be unable to write a passable dissertation.

And in fact, they seem to be quite capable of doing so, because it’s rarely a matter of poor quality dissertations leading to students dropping out of their doctoral programs. Instead, the largest issue facing doctoral candidates seems to be completing the dissertation at all.

How to Overcome It?

There’s a simple fix for this, if you’re facing frustrations as a PhD candidate right now: Never give up. Winston Churchill once said, “Never, never, never give up,” and that sentiment is appropriate here. The leading cause of failure is simply giving up.

How to Not Give Up

Being persistent isn’t a talent or a character trait—it’s a learned skill. Those that don’t give up don’t manage because they were born with the ability to persist; we all have that ability. Instead, we need to apply ourselves to cultivating that ability. Here are some tips for learning how to be persistent:

  • Small, Attainable Goals & Deadlines

    Your dissertation is largest scholastic undertaking you’ve had to cope with thus far, and it’s this fact that likely causes many students to give up. Break your tasks down into small—very small, if necessary—parts and assign deadlines for these small goals. This accomplishes two things: First, you’ll be making progress. Second, you’ll find the sense of satisfaction from attaining these small goals is extraordinarily motivating.

  • Put perfectionism aside

    There’s going to be plenty of opportunity to go back and refine, rewrite, and polish your dissertation after it’s written. If you focus on getting everything perfect in the moment you may find you’re not moving forward at all, and this is not only a bad thing in terms of deadlines, the sense of being stuck in a rut is extremely disheartening. Keep moving forward and never give up!