The focus of your Ph.D. should be only your Thesis

To be successful in the doctoral programme, focus is the most important thing. The focus should be on what? It should be on nothing else, but your thesis as eventually that is what is going to get you your degree and eventually your job. Everything else is just secondary.

In the beginning of the doctoral programme, one is encouraged to write papers, as many as possible. Even if you end up publishing more than a dozen papers by the end of the first few years of your dissertation, till the time you haven’t progressed with writing your thesis, you haven’t moved closer to completion. That is for sure. Your supervisor would encourage you to write as many papers, but you need to be aware of how the academia works and start working on writing your thesis simultaneously.

There is one more concern that may creep in, if you use all your energy in writing the papers, it is a possibility that you may have a burn out before actually you even start writing your thesis. You may actually want to combine all your research papers into a dissertation but that actually is not a possibility. You would have to write it fresh and that would surely need energy, and capacity to produce the document.

At one point, while writing my own dissertation, I was so stressed and burnt out that it became difficult to even write one line for a few months. All the paper publication effort that I had put in for all the years, surprisingly did not help much, and rather did harm by exhausting my capacity to write further. I don’t mean by saying this that one shouldn’t write papers. It is important but not the only or the most important thing required for a Ph.D.  That is the thesis and you shouldn’t dilute or divert your focus from that. You must be cautious and learn from this mistake of other scholars, to not exhaust all your energy on tasks of second priority such as paper publications and teaching assignments, because if you also repeat the same, you would find yourself in an irreversible mess in your doctoral journey.  Drained physically, emotionally, and even financially, when actually your dissertation would be still left to write.

Following this advice you would see your journey smoother and simpler because consistency is the key to success in Ph.D.

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