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This was especially helpful for the research manuscript. The outline helped us with our figures, although some of them started as mock figures that were completed later.
This required tracking down and reading a whole bunch of historical papers.
Then I jotted down every thought I had on the subject, producing a bullet list of elements I wanted to cover, logical connections between ideas, references, and even just catchy phrases.
But the “real thesis” was only about 180 pages, with the remainder being appendices, including my two manuscripts under review, references, and lists of figures and tables.
I spent about 6 months putting it all together, using the 4-year duration of my stipend as a hard deadline to push myself to finish.
I focused on producing several manuscript-ready chapters rather than trying to include all the research work that I did.
I first organized my data and results into a storyboard by printing all my graphs and laying them out on a giant table.D., so all I really needed to write was my introduction.I chose to put together a brief history of my field.I was quite lucky to have published two research papers and a review of my field that served as the introduction, and I was revising another manuscript that I had submitted to a journal.This meant that I only had to write one more research chapter and the summarizing discussion, which made the total time and effort to complete my thesis manageable.This strategy helped me see how the pieces fit together, which results would be in or out, the best way to display the data, and where the chapter breaks should be.It also helped me identify a few gaps that needed to be filled back in the lab.Careers asked recent graduates and current students to reflect on their experiences and what did—and didn’t—work for them.In my department, theses must be no longer than 175 pages plus front matter and appendices.My thesis had to be written in publishable chapters.I had a hard time keeping the chapters short enough for manuscript submissions, so at the time of defense my thesis—which consisted of three chapters plus an overall abstract for introduction—was 125 pages, but it ended up being trimmed after that.