Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Finishing the PhD

7. Reading. Just say “No!” (Finishing the PhD)

(Part 7 of 10)

One of the temptations when trying to finish off the PhD thesis is to continue to try and stay up with the latest reading material, and to incorporate that into the thesis. However, there comes a time when you simply have to stop doing that. To draw a line in the sand and say that the body of work you’re referencing is as closed as it can be.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t pay attention to new material in your area that’s being published. In a worst-case scenario someone else will publish very similar work to yours and you should definitely know about it (and maybe even have to rework you own work in response). But while you’re paying attention to new material, spending a lot of time on it will get in the way of the final writing and editing.

Keep track of the new material, and some of it may make it into the bibliography (depending on what’s required there), but don’t be overwhelmed by it. After submission, you should probably revisit the new material so you can talk about it in the oral defense and demonstrate that, while it isn’t in the thesis, you do know about it and can respond to it there.

Your thesis is a snapshot of the state of the field at a particular time, and by its very nature cannot include references and responses to every piece of related material up until the day of submission.

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