It’s not easy to write, especially if it is something very long and technical like a dissertation. So if you are facing difficulties now, know that you are NOT the only one. Many doctoral candidates regularly deal with such issues at the start, middle, or even towards the end of their research.
So read on to get some tips to common dissertation struggles.
1. You don’t have a topic
Because a dissertation is expected to be more complex than your Master’s degree, it is normal to feel the weight of finding a topic and the corresponding research questions. The solution, however, is to keep reading. As you read, take note of what has been done and what hasn’t. It is the latter that should pique your interest since those are possible topics.
Once you’ve found a general area to focus on, narrow your questions down so your topic is not too broad. Then read some more to ensure you have enough literature to back your study up.
2. You are losing motivation
All of that reading, thinking, and writing can really drain you. Should this happen, remember the bigger picture: your work will contribute to the academic body of knowledge, and you will finally get your degree.
Once you’ve recalled those two goals, consider viewing your dissertation as necessary work. There are days we don’t like work, but we know we need to do it. So find a way to write or revise something each day. You will find that each small step forward eventually brings you to your end goal.
3. You are stumped
Because of the complexity of your research, it is also normal to hit snags. These may be issues on how to conduct the research, how to better organize your thoughts, or a realization that your data or literature is not complete. In such situations, ask your advisor for help. But should you find your advisor is often very busy, consider getting a co-advisor who might be more available.
4. You have major doubts about what you have done so far
Another issue is that you start doubting your work. This often occurs past the midway point of the paper, and for many, right towards the end. Similar to being stumped, consult your advisor and co-advisor about your worries.
One other option is to find a third-party editor you can hire to take a look at what you’ve done. Many Ph.D. candidates do this to get a more objective view.
5. You discover that someone has done what you are doing
Sadly, you can have everything planned when you suddenly discover a research just like yours. But don’t panic! Consider the differences in their research to yours. If the variations are big, not only can you continue, but you also have something to compare your research against.
However, if the research is nearly like yours, consider how you can alter your research so that you explore something more in-depth, or you can view the problem from a different angle.
Writing a dissertation is a challenging journey. Almost everyone experiences frustrations and setbacks. So do consider the tips above to address your worries.