Recent doctoral thesis finishers Emma Kelly and Wendy Moore got together at the latest AUT Postgraduate Writers’ Retreat to collate their 10 top tips for working on a PhD thesis. ThesisLink is publishing their insights over two weeks in our latest blogging event: Finishers’ Wisdom! Enjoy.
Tip #4: The first draft is for you; the second is for everyone else
I had convinced myself that getting to the end of the first draft was nearing the end of the journey. The supervisors had signed off each individual chapter so putting it together should make it nearly finished surely! Unfortunately this is just not the case. After getting feedback that my first draft required a lot of reworking, I had to walk away for a few weeks. I had hit rock-bottom. I talked with lots of colleagues and kept hearing the message that this was ‘all part of the journey’. It wasn’t going to finish itself (so my husband told me!) and I had invested too much time to walk away now, so I picked myself up and began to work through the feedback offered by the supervisors.
Within a few paragraphs I could see what the supervisors had seen so clearly – I had written as if as if the reader could see inside my head and knew what I meant by phrases or elements of my research. After voicing this to a very experienced researcher, she offered these words of wisdom: the first draft you write for you, the second draft is for those who are going to be reading it – your audience. Often we think our thoughts are stated/explained/discussed explicitly but they really aren’t, much more depth and clarity is needed for someone else to read and understand it.
The tip: don’t panic if your first draft gets a lot of feedback; the reworking will make your thesis better for your examiners and subsequently anyone else who reads it!
– Wendy Moore