Sunday 23 July 2017

Harnessing Your Strengths and Overcoming Your Challenges in Thesis Writing

Harnessing Your Strengths and Overcoming Your Challenges in Thesis Writing

Understanding your strengths and challenges is the first part to your thesis success. Once you understand them, you need to make sure that you’re taking the steps to develop yourself in all of the areas where you have a lot of room for growth, and to use your strengths to your benefit.

Below are some tips to make sure that you stay on top of the work of your dissertation, and that you don’t fall prey to the difficulties associated with thesis writing.

Have a clear plan
One of the biggest mistakes that students make, especially at the start of their dissertation work, is going in without a plan. This usually results in students spending months reading work that might not fully be relevant, or being unsure of what exactly they should be doing.

Your proposal should have a clear plan for your work, but you should also have your own personal plan that is much more detailed. This could even be as detailed as describing which articles you will read on which days, or which sections of your chapters you will write and how many words you will use to complete those sections. The more detail the better. Once you have a very detailed plan, you can adjust it after a few weeks of work if you see that it’s too rushed.

It becomes very easy to get overwhelmed when you don’t know what lies ahead, and when the task feels impossibly big. But the sooner you start planning, the easier it becomes to see that the work actually is manageable.

Once you know your academic strengths and challenges, you should also plan ways to improve on your areas for growth as early as possible. If you struggle with endurance, you should make an appointment with a writing group. Many colleges and universities host writing marathons on a weekly or monthly basis, like the “Shut Up and Write” campaigns worldwide. Schedule writing goals and make sure that you attend these sessions if they help you.

If you struggle with your confidence, there are many ways that you can improve it. For example, you could improve your knowledge in the field by attending seminars or conferences, or talking to colleagues about your research and hearing about their own interests. This will boost your sense of being capable of doing research in your field. Alternatively, you could download self-esteem apps or take online courses, or make use of an Academic Coach or even a life coach. Take the steps early before your lack of confidence causes you any problems with writing your thesis. Plan how you will work on this challenge, and you’re much more likely to succeed.

In your Thesis Readiness Report, you’ll get some advice on how to improve any of the major challenges that you face in a lengthy section about developing your skills.

Journal your experiences
One of the most powerful tools to improve your skills is to journal about them regularly. This way, you can take stock of where you are at and you can have a better sense of the direction you need to go. Journaling can be incredibly useful in reaching your goals.

You could try keeping a “thesis journal”, where you dedicate fifteen minutes every day to talk about any progress, problems, goals or frustrations. You could reflect on how you are developing your skills in the journal so that you can have a record of your progress. Additionally, you could write about which of your goals you’ve achieved and which ones haven’t been met yet, and then try to reflect on why those goals are still challenging you. You could also use the journal to reflect on the articles or books you are reading, and how they add to your understanding of your own study.

Many academics keep a research journal in order to structure their thoughts and keep tabs on their work. It’s a practice that you might find will drastically improve your journey towards earning your degree.

Give yourself space for mistakes
Many researchers are very self-critical. The imposter syndrome is very prevalent with academics and students. This is a condition where, even though you might be very capable and you might be very high-achieving, you still feel like you are a fraud, like you aren’t worthy of being where you are, and that sooner or later everyone will figure out that you are completely out of your depth.

The very fact that you were accepted to your program means that you’re more than capable to do it. You have already done well in your previous endeavors in order to qualify for even working on your dissertation. It’s important to realize that many people around you, even those who you think are brilliant thinkers, writers or researchers, still suffer from the imposter syndrome because of how competitive academic work can be and how challenging it is to complete a dissertation.

This is why, when you make a mistake or have a setback in your work, you shouldn’t chastise yourself. Take it as part of your learning experience. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself another chance to get back on the horse. Being a student means that you are still learning, and in the academic field, you are a lifelong student. You’re not expected to be perfect, and you should be humble enough to want to improve but also confident enough to not see a setback as something that means you’re incapable or worthless.

These tips for harnessing your academic strengths and improving on areas for growth might help you to see the journey as more of an adventure. There is a lot of fun, fulfillment and pride to be gained from doing academic work and doing a good study. Try to maintain your perspective, keep your eye on your goals, and take the journey one step at a time, and you can reap the rewards of your research.

Review Your Learning:
      Having a clear plan of every step of your thesis writing allows you to track your progress accurately and makes the mammoth task seem more manageable
      Keeping a research journal will be useful in improving your skills and regularly taking stock of your achievements and challenges

      No researcher is perfect, and giving yourself the room to make mistakes is vital to thesis success