The PhD Marathon
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Friday, July 3, 2015

The PhD Marathon

The tome, draft 1.

My thesis director once told me that writing a dissertation is like a marathon. I smiled. I’d done that before, and loved it. So I figured, easy, right?

While a marathon only lasts four hours or so (well, for me) and this project has been three years in the making, there are indeed many similarities. And I feel like I am almost at mile 25. Having finally achieved my desired page count, the very first complete version of my thesis has been printed and will join me on a journey to China and Australia these upcoming weeks. I will reread, edit, highlight, scribble, and doodle all over it, polishing its very rough edges.

Thinking about doing a thesis at the Sorbonne? Whether it’s a masters or a PhD, it’s a good idea because, as mentioned before, it’s inexpensive, flexible, and often allows for time to work a job on the side. But I’d suggest training for a marathon first in order to get an idea of what it actually entails…

Like a marathon…
A thesis is constant. You never stop running, or shouldn’t, during a marathon, and you can never forget about your thesis. It haunts you day and night whether you want it to or not.

Like a marathon…
Everyone goes at their own pace. Don’t pay attention to those around you because they’re all different. I rarely talk to colleagues about their work to avoid feeling bad, or making them feel bad about my progress.

Like a marathon…
A thesis cannot wait until the last minute to prepare. On any level, masters or PhD, it can’t be written in a few weeks. Things take time, and months of preparation are required for a good result. If you’re a procrastinator, you might want to rethink engaging in a dissertation.

Like a marathon…
No one else can do it for you. Yes you have your support team and the crowds cheering you on, but no one can put your shoes on for you and finish those last few kilometers. In the same way, your director is not going to give all of the ideas and write your dissertation for you. It’s your name on it. It’s your name that gets the “PhD” after it when you finish.

Like a marathon…
You need to cross train. Marathon runners do more than just run to prepare. They strength train, bike, swim, do yoga. A thesis is the same. You can’t just write a thesis for three years and expect to stay sane. You need to work on the side, study something separate, maybe teach, or do like me and train for a marathon on the side. It works wonders!

Like a marathon…
You get giddy as a school girl towards the end, but don’t celebrate too quickly. I’m at mile 25 and I can almost see the finish line, but that doesn’t mean I’m there yet. And I want to finish strong. So even though this first draft is printed, I know there is still a lot of work to do, and very little time to do it. Gotta just keep breathing and think good thoughts. There’s a medal/diploma waiting at the end…

8 comments:

  1. Very timely post. Just starting my masters though. All the best, and good luck! :)

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  4. Thank you for this post Bryan!
    Now I'm working on my treatise too. It's about mental represantations. I think it's very important topic but not enough popular. Hope to do it well thanks to your advice.
    And, you know, the fact that you work in Sorbonne is really to the point - I'm going to enter there in two year for Master 1. Hope that I'll find here more advice which foreign students such as me are very difficult to find in Internet :)

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  5. If you're postgraduate or PhD candidate or really anything in between, you know that thesis writing is going to become a major point in your academic career sometime soon. thesis revision

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  7. The phd statement of purpose maybe teach, or do like me and train for a marathon on the side. It works wonders!This seems cool.

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  8. I think that's true. A good friend of mine is currently doing his doctoral dissertation and he says it's exhausting. If you are in your research work and you have no time to write all you need, this website http://paidpaper.net/essay-writing-services/ can help you.

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