Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Library Subject Guides

4. Writing up your Research: Home

Best advice we have ever read...

Summarize your thesis in one sentence such as: “The purpose of this thesis is to….”

  • Know What Questions You're Asking. ...
  • Break Your Thesis Into Defined Stages. ..
  • Don't Rely On Your Academic Advisor. ...
  • Realize You Will Never Feel Like Writing. ..
  • Don't Write Your Thesis Chapters In Order. ...
  • Never Write “work on thesis” In Your Calendar. ...
  • Write In Very Short Bursts.


wordy advice ..

Your dissertation may be the longest piece of writing you have ever done, but there are ways to approach it that will help to make it less overwhelming.

Write up as you go along. It is much easier to keep track of how your ideas develop and writing helps clarify your thinking. It also saves having to churn out 1000s of words at the end.

You don't have to start with the introduction – start at the chapter that seems the easiest to write – this could be the literature review or methodology, for example. Alternatively you may prefer to write the introduction first, so you can get your ideas straight. Decide what will suit your ways of working best - then do it.

Think of each chapter as an essay in itself – it should have a clear introduction and conclusion. Use the conclusion to link back to the overall research question.

Think of the main argument of your dissertation as a river, and each chapter is a tributary feeding into this. The individual chapters will contain their own arguments, and go their own way, but they all contribute to the main flow.

Write a chapter, read it and do a redraft - then move on. This stops you from getting bogged down in one chapter.

Write your references properly and in full from the beginning.

Keep your word count in mind – be ruthless and don't write anything that isn't relevant. It's often easier to add information, than have to cut down a long chapter that you've slaved over for hours.

Save your work! Remember to save your work frequently to somewhere you can access it easily. It's a good idea to at least save a copy to a cloud-based service like Google Docs or Dropbox so that you can access it from any computer - if you only save to your own PC, laptop or tablet, you could lose everything if you lose or break your device.


There are many ways of writing up your thesis

Books on Thesis Writing consult these guides if you need advice or motivation or inspiration 

Thesis Formatting Help here for applying heading styles, adding captions to figures or images, creating a table of contents for chapters / figures / images,  creating a table of contents for chapters and figures, and creating section breaks to allow changes in the page number sequences 


Copyright these issues are more complicated than you ever imagined 

we hope these books will help you get through the bad patches


How not to write a PhD thesis from Times Higher Education 

Research Support Team at UC

Left to Right (Top row to bottom row):
Dave Lane, Anton Angelo, Kerry Gilmour, Dave Clemens, Nick Scullin, Damian Cairns, Kiera Tauro, Stuart Broughton (Manager), Janette Nicolle

We guide and support our community’s data, information and publication needs throughout the research lifecycle.

You can book online for classes on EndNote, EndNote online, NVivo and Using Word to write your thesis