How to write a PhD thesis
at Ecole polytechnique
Writing a PhD thesis is a colossal task… If you are setting out to write one, than you have no doubt been working on a piece of research for several months if not years. You have no doubt devoted your life to your subject: now it’s time to start putting all your hard work down onto paper. To make it worse, it will be critiqued and marked by a jury of experts in your subject. No pressure at all! All the more reason to know how to present your research in its best light.
A PhD dissertation has a page count in the region of 200-300 pages and will take no less than three months of your time to complete. Even the bravest of us are intimated by the idea. Planning, writing, editing, illustrations, figures, proofreading and supervisor feedback are just a few of the mountains you will have to climb. How do you get started? And what make a good thesis dissertation?
Last month, we sent one of our science writing coaches to the prestigious Ecole polytechnique to train nine PhD candidates how to write a thesis dissertation in English. Designed for an international audience, this training course incorporates all the skills required to effectively complete the document. PhD candidates learnt how to identify the expectations of their jury, plan for the months ahead, pick out the characteristics of a good thesis, write efficiently about complex ideas in English, successfully edit or proofread their own work and much more…
This three-day course is packed full of techniques and custom-built exercises to help participants write and re-write certain parts of their manuscript. Participants enjoyed a range of different examples and extracts from existing theses to learn how to make their own work better. Now, they have all the skills they need to produce a polished final draft in several months’ time.
So yes, writing a PhD thesis is a daunting task, especially when English is not your first language – but with correct organisation and the right method, anything is possible!