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The saga of the thesis...

The culmination of your PhD into that one document: The Thesis

The task of thesis writing is excruciatingly painful. And I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that each stage is increasingly more difficult than the previous one.

Obstacle 1: Connecting seemingly unconnected, unrelated topics under one common heading:
Yes, this is exactly what you have to do! That's because you have worked on various topics (read anything that caught the fancy of your advisor) and in the end you really don't know what the connecting point of all your work really is, 'coz there is nothing. So now, you have to be creative and connect the topics somehow, anyhow. At one point you will get frustrated and simply write down all the topics of your research and connect them together with the "and" clause. By some stroke of luck though you'll manage to find something that is really broad and encompasses everything that you have worked on.

Obstacle 2: The actual writing process:
Before beginning to write anything, you might think that it is actually very easy as all you have to do is write the Introduction and then just include all your papers. But, that is where all the trick lies. The introduction is the most difficult piece of writing as it has to provide a brief background of what you're really going to discuss in detail in the thesis anyway. And so, you don't just have to write the introduction to chapters, but to the thesis, as well, and also one to the introduction itself which will compose of random statements about the field that you have worked on, trying all the time to make it sound really interesting. You will then end up writing lots of sentences with the words "interesting", "significant", "important", "large", "difficult", "challenging", and so on, in them.

Obstacle 3: Your advisor:
This is the phase of your thesis writing that you really have to brace yourself for, but you have no idea when or how it is going to strike. Your advisor is not going to like anything that you have written so far. So, he is going to make you rewrite the entire thing, thereby making you change not just the content, but the title, the theme, the structure, basically just about everything. This is where you have to keep your cool, which is the real challenge, and continue writing as many times as he/she makes you. Of course, with each draft, the process will become easier, but, it will still be exasperating not knowing when it will finally end.

Obstacle 4: The wait:
 It is not necessary that your advisor too gets into the "thesis checking mode" when you get into the "thesis writing mode". And this then becomes a test of your patience. There will be days on end when you will have nothing to do but wait. And then, there will be days when your advisor will correct and critique an entire chapter making you work without break for the next 12 hours. But of course, if you slack during these stretches of work, your advisor will slack even more. And so, you have to make sure that you have enough work ready for him every day until the time that you are done with your thesis. It is almost like playing mind games with him which has its own element of fun. In my case for instance, when I had nothing to do for several days, I simply started goofing around during office hours (like sleeping or facebooking in office) after a point. This sort of frustrated my advisor and instilled in him a fear that I might be setting a bad example for others. He then gave me corrections on my drafts even faster. So yeah, patience and a cool mind really help in this phase of thesis writing.

Obstacle 5: Acknowledgments
This is the sweetest of all the obstacles and is the most enjoyable part of the whole process. It throws you into the past right into the time when you first joined the institute and the years since then. This is where you want to give credit to each and every person who has made your life better but putting everything into words sometimes becomes really difficult. This is also the phase when you start thinking about how you're going to celebrate once you're done. 

You feel euphoric in the phase when you're readying the draft for print, like something big is finally going to happen. But, like my English teacher had once said, it is the anticipation of the kiss and the few seconds before the kiss that you feel all the emotions. Once you are into the act, the feeling gradually dies down. The same thing happens when you have finally submitted. You no longer feel the urge to shout from the top of a building or to dance wildly. You are just relieved, relieved that it is all over and that you did the best you could.  

-RS

Comments

  1. Great publications Rati; very impressive! Especially liked the path integral one on reaction dynamics. Keep it up !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank u so much! :) By the way, have I met u? :)

      Delete
    2. Look at the comments in your previous blog on "Resilience" :-)

      Delete
  2. Look at the comments in your previous blog on "Resilience" :-)

    ReplyDelete

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