How Not to Write a Ph.D. Thesis

The way to relax an examiner is to feature a sentence in the first paragraph of a PhD abstract that begins: “My original contribution to knowledge is…” If students cannot compress their argument and research findings into a single statement, then it can signify flabbiness in their method, theory or structure. It is an awful moment for examiners when they – desperately – try to find an original contribution to knowledge through a shapeless methods chapter or loose literature review. If examiners cannot pinpoint the original contribution, they have no choice but to award the script an MPhil…The key is to make it easy for examiners.

“How Not to Write a Ph.D. Thesis” by Tara Brabazon (Professor of Education, Charles Sturt University, Australia) offers a doctoral advisor’s inside look into what makes a doctoral thesis successful–or not. Many of the insights are transferable across fields, including the signal importance of the bibliography. (Times Higher Education, 28 January 2010).