PhD Update: 3 months to go!

Wait… but it hasn’t been 3 months since your “6-months-to-go” update?! No, it’s only been 2 months (and it feels like it’s only been about 2 weeks!). I promise I can count! It turns out that the “what’s next?” part of my plan has changed a little, and so I need to submit my thesis early. So although I my funding doesn’t run out until mid-January 2019, and I had hoped to submit just before Christmas, I now plan to submit my thesis in November – eek! My supervisors and I decided that an end-of-November aim was feasible, and if I can finish earlier then that would be a bonus!

So how’s the thesis going?

In my 6-months-to-go update, I shared an overview of how the structure of my thesis would look. This was something I only really finalised in the past few months, and throughout most of my PhD I had no idea how the final thesis would look – I was quite content focussing on the broad aims of my thesis and seeing where the research went!

Abstract, acknowledgements, contents (all that fun stuff!)
Chapter 1 – Introduction (motivation, aims & objectives, context)
Chapter 2 – Paper #1, review paper containing much of my literature review
Chapter 3 – Additional short chapter containing literature review not covered by the topic of paper #1
Chapter 4 – Paper #2, links between El Niño and flood hazard globally
Chapter 5 – Paper #3, setting up a global scale seasonal river flow forecasting system
Chapter 6 – Paper #4, comparing results from papers #2 and #3
Chapter 7 – Discussion & Conclusions



2 months ago, I had Chapters 2 and 4 finished, and Chapter 5’s paper was under review for publication. Since then, I’ve revised paper #3 and it’s been published (yay!), which I wrote about in my previous blog post.  I also wrote the introductory chapter of my thesis, which ties together the 4 papers and additional chapters that make up my thesis quite nicely!

Which means I now have 4 of the 7 chapters finished, and I’ve started drafting two more chapters. Luckily, the chapters I’ve already finished are going to be the longest ones, but it’s pretty daunting to have 3/7 left to finish in the final 3 months, plus abstract/references etc.! So far, my thesis stands at 120 pages / 30,543 words (not including my references, since Mendeley does all the hard work on that front!) – it’ll be a fairly small thesis (so I’m told! Plus the word limit at my University is 90,000 words) compared to a “traditional” thesis (that is, one that’s not a collection of published papers).  My guess is it’ll be around 175 pages once it’s done…

How am I feeling about finishing everything?

Up until now I’ve been feeling pretty on top of things, as I have almost all the results I need to write up my final experiment and I’ve had a really productive summer of coding and statistics and data analysis. This past week as I’ve sat down to start writing my final paper, though, I’ve started to feel a little daunted about how much writing I still have left to do! But I think that’s pretty normal for a PhD student, so I try to ignore it – luckily for me, I quite like writing up my findings. I also used the bank holiday weekend to re-vamp our spare bedroom into a really cozy little study where I can shut myself away and work on writing up my thesis. It turns out the sound of pouring rain on the skylight is the perfect background noise for a productive day! Oh yeah – and we have another adventure coming up in October – which when we booked it, felt like it was a long way from the end of my PhD! At this point I’m hoping it will be a well-timed break (where my supervisors can read what I’ve written while I go off exploring a new country 😉 ) with enough time to finish off the final bits of writing once I get back…


My new home office!


So for now I’ll get back to writing up those final chapters, and I’ll be back with some more updates on what’s next after my PhD, and at the 1-month-to-go mark!

Any words of advice for me in the final 3 of months of my PhD? Are you also at the same stage, or recently submitted? Let me know (and keep me motivated!) in the comments below 🙂 


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