5 PhD Thesis Writing Myths That May Be Holding Researchers Back

by Elizabeth Oommen George
5 PhD thesis writing myths that may be holding researchers back

Many PhD students and early career researchers go through anxiety and self-doubt when it comes to PhD thesis writing. Their misplaced sense of inadequacy often stems from deeply ingrained misconceptions about thesis writing that spark fear – the fear of not being able to write well, the fear of not being able to structure the thesis correctly, and the fear of missing key information or making errors in citations. Most importantly, the fear of what distinguished scholars will think about them and their research. Looming submission deadlines only make things worse. This article takes a look at some of these myths and seeks to dispel the misconceptions associated with PhD thesis writing.

Myth #1: My research needs to be completed before I start writing my thesis.

FACT: Delaying thesis writing by spending too much time as ‘a researcher’ can create challenges that may be difficult to resolve. You tend to lose precious time that others may use to release work similar to yours, new literature may get published that changes the perspective on your study, or supervisors may not be immediately available for reviews. Postponing the writing process clearly does not offer any benefits. A good strategy instead would be to make notes as you research and share bullet-point outlines of each chapter with your supervisor and request their feedback. This would not only ensure that you stay on course, but also help you gain valuable feedback on your research.

Myth #2: My thesis must be written exceptionally well and should be outstandingly presented if I am to impress my supervisor or get published in journals.

FACT: Not true! PhD thesis writing usually involves submitting multiple drafts to your supervisor. Many early career researchers waste time trying to perfect their first draft. It is important to remember that thesis writing is a collaborative process. Supervisors and reviewers will offer feedback and input that you can use to create a report that is truly submission ready. The most important thing is to get started. Online tools like Paperpal are especially tailored to detect complex language and grammar errors and make real-time suggestions to help students become better academic writers.

Myth #3: My PhD thesis will not be accepted if I use simple language or if it is not lengthy enough.

FACT: While some universities do have guidelines on the basic length and structure expected on a thesis, it is not necessary to try and fill in hundreds of pages.It is better to ensure that the key focus areas of your study are captured effectively and explained succinctly using simple, accurate language and syntax. This helps make your PhD thesis easy to read and understand. Using smart tools like Paperpal for Word, which is designed for academic writing, can empower academics to improve how they write in real time, which in turn helps them deliver a high-quality PhD thesis faster!

Myth #4: My PhD thesis writing style should be similar to that of papers published in leading journals.
FACT: During the course of your research, you may be reading and analyzing articles from different journals, which is good. However, it is important to remember that the tone of a thesis should be different from that of a published paper. Experts suggest using an active voice when writing your PhD thesis and keeping the tone less impersonal. It may be a good idea to read other PhD theses so that you get a sense of the style of writing and tone of voice to be used. If language skills are not your forte, you could make use of available online tools like Paperpal that can not only help to identify inconsistencies in sentence structure and word choice but also highlight technical inaccuracies that may be easy to miss.

Myth #5: My PhD thesis must address an original problem and prove a valuable addition to the literature in my discipline.

FACT:  Most early career researchers and PhD students do not have the necessary financial resources or the time to be able to make a completely novel or landmark contribution to their area of study. Many choose to work on small modifications of earlier studies or work on research that has yet to find resolution, which is as important to the advancement of science. Instead of wasting time trying to identify an ‘original’ topic, it may be better to choose a topic that interests you – one with readily available data that can help you complete your thesis and get your PhD quicker.

The PhD thesis writing myths mentioned above have held back or delayed countless young researchers from achieving their goals. While taking the first step toward writing your PhD thesis may seem daunting, it is not as insurmountable as it looks. The single biggest obstacle to completion is psychological. Take small steps, and use AI writing tools like Paperpal to help ease your work and quicken your journey to success.

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