Finishers’ Wisdom: Tip #5 – Create Space at Home

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 #5: Explain to partners the importance of being able to focus and have space even if they’re just being sweet enough to bring a cup of tea (and you look at them like they just slaughtered the puppies)

Even though our partners/housemates/whanau think they know what we are doing, in all honesty they really don’t, and they certainly don’t appreciate how challenging it can be to structure one sentence at times. We know they love us to pieces and they try to help alleviate the pressures of our thesis journey, but sometimes they add to the stress! It is so frustrating when you have been pondering over how to effectively capture your thoughts into a coherent sentence, when someone quietly wants to know if you are hungry or thirsty … or if there is anything they can do/get for you. Having that thinking space, that quiet room, is essential and particularly so as you begin to rework your thesis for submission. Trying to hold everything in your head takes a lot of concentration!


The tip: talk with those in your household about the need for seclusion when you are in your writing space – that means no interruptions would be appreciated.

About Anaise Irvine

Dr Anaise Irvine is the Editor of Thesislink and leads the Researcher Education and Development team at Auckland University of Technology. Her PhD research analysed how contemporary films and novels represent genetic engineering as a social justice issue. These days she works with researchers at all levels to improve their research skills, and the most obscure of her own research skills is being able to turn novels into phylogenetic trees!

4 thoughts on “Finishers’ Wisdom: Tip #5 – Create Space at Home

  1. I take it they don’t have children? No interruptions… I dream of no interruptions. I dream of less than 10 an hour!

    1. Hi Jess – very good point. It’s certainly not possible for everyone! We are lucky that we both had that luxury of time and space. Cheers, Emma

    2. Hi Jess, very true – a quiet home writing environment is not always realistic for those with children. Keep an eye out on Thesislink early next month for a post about doing research while parenting.

  2. Hi both,
    Thank you for taking the time to reply.

    Doing a PhD is isolating enough but then imagine that all the information, advice and support is grounded in the assumption that students don’t have children. I often feel isolated within the PhD community because I have two children and it gets incredibly frustrating which is why I replied!

    Maybe when you write you could add a sentence about how to adapt your advice for other students. I know a young childless PhD student in a shared house with no room to swing a rat!

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