Knowing when your thesis is finished

There will always be more research that you could do, a new journal article to read and a chapter that you could re-write. However, remember that your thesis will never be perfect and that you have the opportunity to develop it further after your doctorate if you want to publish all or some of it.

To decide whether to submit ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does your supervisor think? Have you explicitly asked ‘will it pass?' and ‘should I submit now?'
  • What institutional, personal and financial deadlines are you working to?
  • How does it compare to other recent theses? In theory it only has to be good enough to pass: it doesn't have to be better than the best
  • What else could you do? If your ideas for improving the thesis all involve months more work, they probably aren't realistic

Ideally plan to finish your thesis before your doctoral period ends. The more you have to do after you leave, the harder it will be and the less likely it will be that you submit your thesis. 

Many doctoral researchers start a new job before they have submitted their thesis. How do you then find the time and motivation to finish your thesis? Make sure you keep in touch with your supervisor(s) and try to get your thesis written up as soon after you leave as possible.

People tend to find it useful to set aside chunks of time for writing, eg by taking some annual leave. Your new employer may allow you some time off to write up so it is worth discussing the subject with them.