PhD thesis book writing guideline from Prof. Dr. Iain Jackson

PhD thesis book writing guideline from Prof. Dr. Iain Jackson

Prof. Dr. Iain Jackson is from University of Liverpool. In a post of him on LinkedIn he posted the following - 

I’ve just proofread another PhD thesis prior to submission.

Over the years I've seen some familiar issues that must be addressed.

By addressing these steps over 80% of the PhDs I've read would be dramatically improved. The core content is *not* the issue - it's telling the story and thinking about the reader that needs attention.

Most are around 100,000 words long.
🔴 Most don’t need to be. 

Cut out any unnecessary words and get to the point. Some students see it as a badge of honour to have a stonking PhD thesis propping open their office door. It’s not. Cut to the chase. John Nash’s PhD was only 26 pages long and only had 2 citations (1 was a paper he’d published).


Always difficult to write and forever a source of problems. They shouldn’t be a potted history or context for the project - instead set out your findings, how you did it, and what this means. Max 300 words.

Method and Methodology:

🟢 The Method is What and How. The Methodology is Why. The Method should be easy to follow and clearly set out what you did. It’s not the place for theory.
The methodology is about positioning your approach to answering the questions you’ve set for yourself. There will be many ways to answer your questions - so set out why you’ve decided to tackle the problem this way…


🟢 Are such an important part of a PhD - you can use them to help explain your points, ideas, and findings. Timelines, methods, thought processes, theories. You should be able to express your entire PhD through a diagram. [I’m a visual person so I enjoy this approach - but if you’re not, just sketch it out then use an app such as Canva to help you.


The conclusion can be thought of as an extended abstract. You must set out what you have found out based on the interpretation of your data. This might seem obvious, but many PhDs extrapolate their conclusions way beyond what their data tells them, or even include things that have not been discussed in the thesis before. 
🟢 Keep it simple - use easy to follow language - and tell us what the data means; 
and what are the wider implications; 
and what is the impact of this work .

I’ve probably read a lot more of these documents than most people. It’s a privilege and I get to read about all of the exciting new finds uncovered by some really smart thinkers. 

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