How to write the conclusion to your PhD thesis

1.  Open a blank document.  Spend a few minutes staring at it in awe, trying to remember the last time you had a blank document in front of you. Try not to be intimidated.

2.  Type the word “Conclusion” at the top.  Put it in bold.  Change the font.  Change the font size.  Accidentally indent it.  Ctrl z.

3.  Stare at the (mostly) blank page for a few minutes.  Reminisce on five years of work.  Try to remember something other than all of the mistakes you have made.

4.  Type a few jumbled sentences about emergent themes and “important” conclusions.

5.  Realize that the words you just typed could be applied to anything from a thesis on whether people like vanilla ice cream more than chocolate to a thesis on chemical engineering.

6.  Panic.

7.  Google time: “how to write the conclusion chapter of a dissertation”

8.  Click on the first link, read the first two pages.  Stop reading.

9.  Write a few more sentences about your philosophy of science.  Promptly delete them.  Switch the order of the other two rambling paragraphs you wrote.

10.  Back to google.  Panic at the number of obviously extremely useful resources for guiding the writing of your conclusion chapter.

11.  Write a blog post about how to write your conclusion chapter instead of actually writing your conclusion chapter.

12.  Write your conclusion chapter.  If necessary, use resources (like here, here, here, here, here, here).

13.  Go for a run.

14.  Edit the conclusion chapter.

15.  Go for a bike ride.

16.  Edit the conclusion chapter again.

17.  Post your tips online for other people to follow.


8 thoughts on “How to write the conclusion to your PhD thesis

  1. I can see how this point in the dissertation makes one stop in their tracks. I find when I have to write something of this importance, I find so little I want to put in print, but if it is something like a blog post, I could go on for days. Funny too because things put on the web are forever too. I liked your humorous take on it too.

    • Thank you! It can be exhausting to try to be so precise and careful…scientific writing is a whole other beast! I guess that shows, since I would still post on my blog while I was writing up my dissertation. 😐

  2. Pingback: Traveling…and revising the top ten list | standingoutinmyfield

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