Creating a Minimum Viable Thesis

When Apple create a new iPhone, they don’t spent years perfecting it. They’re not busily anticipating the needs of all their customers, hoping everyone will love it immediately. Instead, they create a Mininum Viable Product (MVP) and get it to market as soon as possible. They know there are thousands of people who’ll queue overnight …

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Should You Quit Your PhD?

At a recent business networking event, I met no fewer than three people who’d quit their PhD. Although they believed it was the right decision, they still felt a sense of failure or defeat. Estimates vary, but it’s likely that around 40% of PhD students leave. The figures are much higher for part-time students and …

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Dealing with Darwin Days

In 1861, Charles Darwin wrote in a letter: “But I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everybody and everything.” Ever had a Darwin Day? Yep, me too. It’s frustrating when we’ve put aside some time for deep work, then our brain refuses to cooperate. There are a few options to consider, though: …

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Should You Hire a Professional Proofreader for Your Thesis?

Proofreading is perhaps the one activity I dislike even more than housework. This stage is unbelievably tedious, but absolutely crucial. Typos creep in all the time, especially when you’re stressed and frantically editing the text. The only way to approach proofreading is calmly and systematically. And you need to do this right at the end, …

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Implementing Feedback from Your Supervisor

Does this sound familiar? The long-awaited email lands in your inbox — it’s the feedback on that piece of writing. Your stomach ends up in your slippers and you feel slightly clammy. You open the document and start reading. Disaster! Your supervisor clearly hates this piece of work. It’s a sea of red comments and …

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Organising and Annotating Research Photos with Tropy

If you’ve been rummaging in the archives, you probably have a lot of digital images. They can be quite tricky to manage, especially when you’ve got more than a few dozen. Although tools like Zotero are great for bibliographic data, they’re not really suited to archival material. Fortunately, the Zotero developers have also created Tropy. …

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Protecting Your Assets by Backing Up

Laptops get stolen, memory sticks seldom survive an accidental boil wash (I’m on my third), and Word can be relied upon to corrupt your most important document. Unfortunately, most of us don’t realise the importance of backing up until it’s too late. If you’ve spent many years working on a research project, then your data …

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To Write More, You Need Less Time

We often tell ourselves that it’s impossible to write unless we have a completely clear day. But that’s nothing more than self-sabotage. An uninterrupted day is a rare occurrence, so we ensure that those conditions are never met. And no writing happens. Introducing constraints can be the answer. In Zen and the Art of Writing, …

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How Tomatoes Can Help you Finish Your PhD

It’s no exaggeration to claim that my PhD was completely transformed by the Pomodoro Technique. I still use it most weeks, and talk about it almost daily. If you’re not familiar with it, hold tight. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato, and it refers to those novelty tomato-shaped kitchen timers. Here’s what you do: Choose a …

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Improving Writing Accountability with Focusmate

One of the biggest challenges with academic writing isn’t necessarily the writing itself, it’s actually keeping ourselves in the chair. As soon as we hit a tricky part, there’s an overwhelming urge to wander off and tackle an easier task. We tell ourselves, “This is far too difficult today. I’ll come back tomorrow and it’ll …

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