Dissertation troubles & the importance of knowing oneself


Ph.D. is a long haul & often a tiresome journey. Knowing oneself well can make the process fun, quick & worthwhile

I audited a wonderful course on doing a dissertation with Prof. Nick Smith in the department of education at SU. A small part of the course was about methods, theories, and other academic paraphrenalia that make up the dissertation. Instead, his main concentration was to prepare us mentally to do the dissertation well and enjoy it. If there is one lesson that was central to the lectures, it is “know yourself”.

Knowing one’s body rythms, when we feel like writing, what our writing blocks are, what tends to put us off, planning the financial status, friends, exercise, etc. are as crucial to our progress as knowing the techniques and having the information. Support from family and friends, having a circle that shares your interests, having someone to goad us to write, and taking the occassional break may well help us finish our Ph.D. in style and smiling.

To check his book, How to prepare a dissertation proposal, click here.  For a note on how doctoral students tend to put off writing that we discussed in the course, click here.


About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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