Finish your thesis at home: our winning organization strategies

Team LiGRE

April 9, 2020

Taking on a major project like a doctoral thesis is a significant organizational challenge under normal circumstances. In the comfort of your own home… it’s an even bigger challenge! Here are our tips to stay organized and finish your thesis from home.

1. Set a timeline and stick to it
Even in research, it can be interesting to use the right project management methods. After all, this is one of the major projects you will undertake over the next few years!

Begin by breaking it down into major stages. An example of this might be: planning, literature review, data collection tool preparation, data collection, data coding and analysis, and drafting. Set deadlines that seem realistic for these main themes. You can itemize the details as you go.

Then, use a tool that allows you to track your progress. You can use a colourful calendar on your desk or one of the many web-based project and task management applications. The advantage of an application is that it will send you reminders, no matter how much you procrastinate!

2. Choose multitasking!
You have determined your timeline. That’s great! However, you don’t have to stick to one section at a time. Work more efficiently and vary tasks by choosing multitasking days.

Suppose you are in the process of collecting data. You have just completed an interview by videoconference with a participant, and you have another one set for the next day. The fact that you haven’t completed the main “data collection” stage doesn’t prevent you from beginning analysis! Transcribe and analyze the interview that you just completed right away. Has this inspired you? Add a scientific article to your literature review.

By opting for a multitasking approach, you avoid wait periods and perform more varied tasks.

3. Set clear objectives for each step
At LiGRE, we try to avoid working unnecessarily, and we hope you do too! Before beginning a major stage of your project, decide right away on the conditions that, once met, will signal its completion. For example, if you would like to complete your data collection once saturation has been reached, you could simply have a question to answer after completing each interview: “Do I have the impression I could predict everything the person has told me today?”  If the answer is “yes”, this was your last interview.

Choose clear indicators that you can answer right away, and check them regularly during the stages of your research project. This will enable you to stop when your goal has been reached and to avoid duplication.

4. Begin each day with a plan
Even after creating a solid overall timeline, it can be difficult to know where to start! Beginning the day with a game plan could be an interesting option for you. To achieve this, look at your timeline and identify the subtasks that you can do today. An example of a subtask could be to codify interview number 8, annotate an article or classify non-categorized fragments in your codification tree. Then, among the identified subtasks, prioritize the ones that have to be completed, so you can move on to something else. For instance, distributing your survey online is probably a more important task to get ahead than reading your twenty-second scientific article.

Does all of this seem strangely familiar? There is no magic solution to organize your research project. The key is to choose the strategies that work best for you, and to use determination and consistency to reach your goal. The LiGRE team wishes you good luck!

Do you need more inspiration? Check out more interesting resources below.