The Perils of Easily Accessible Interviewees

It is no wonder that you look for an easy path to access your interviewees. More often than not, you will be overwhelmed by an irresistible feeling to select those people whom you know very well such as your friends, colleagues, students, and the like. The easier the access, the more labyrinthine the interview. 

Interviewing whom you supervise

It is natural that you will have conflicts with your juniors at job. For instance, if you are a boss of a  company along with a doctoral student, you organised an interview with your employees to know about their attitude and perception toward HR policies. You might think that you have rapport with your employees, so it will not be arduous for them to speak openly. However, one of the principles of establishing an equitable interviewing relationship is respondents will never make them unduly vulnerable by participating in an interview. You have a power of hiring and sacking your employees, and this they know very well. Consequently, this will restrict them discuss issues toward HR policies frankly. 

Interviewing your students

Interviewing your own students is also not going to contribute constructively to your research. For instance, if you interview your own students to understand the effectiveness of a teaching method, your students will hardly be open to you. They know that how powerful you can be while assessing their performance in a class and assigning marks. So you should seek to interview other students who have been taught by other tutors with the same teaching method. 

Interviewing acquaintances

Sometimes you may choose your participants whom you know but not related to the subject area of your research. For instance, suppose you are going to have your participant to discuss the complexities that they face while teaching them English as another language. Instead of choosing a participant whom you know professionally, you choose the one whom you have met at a grocery shop or church. Considering a church relationship instead of interviewing relationship will limit the potential of the interview. 

Interviewing friends

You may opt for participants to organise an interview because you have a great friendship with them, but interviewing relationship in such cases can be affected by friendship. Since you and participants know each other because of friendship, chances are you will not ask them to explore assumptions and seek clarity in events, and they will be assuming you understand what is being said. Further, you and participants can take lots of things for granted that does not happen when you have enough distance from your respondents.  

So take effort to bring on a steady success to your research. Take a step forward outside your comfort zone to lend your research an increased reliability, validity and ethics. 

How to Address Procrastination to Get Your Thesis Done

Do you feel writer’s block when you start writing your thesis? You are not alone. Many scholars experience brain fog when it comes to writing a thesis. In the beginning stage of thesis writing, you will realise that you are sitting for hours in front of the screen and totally disconcerted what to write. Months pass you by and you will realise that your thesis has not made much progress, but the question to ask yourself is what is holding you back? Your habit of procrastination. 

Symptoms of procrastination

  • You are investing lots of time reading
  • Engaging in social media at the time of writing
  • Filling your to-do list with low priority items
  • Writer’s block
  • Waiting for inspiration to set off thesis writing

What should you do to overcome procrastination?

Procrastination emerges due to common unpleasant emotions such as fear of imperfection, fear of handling a big and complex project, anxiety of completing it too quickly, premonitions of what other people will say about it, and fear of success. Following ways can help you deal with the postponement. 

Recruit a writing partner

The most effective technique is to recruit a writing partner who must not be facing the same writing issues as you are. The writing partner can be the one who has been your classmate or other scholars from your PhD group. Inform your writing partner about a task you will be working. You are also supposed to share the time that you utilised to execute a particular task. Give genuine details about the completion of your tasks to your writing partner as it will help you glance at your progress report. The partner will also enlighten you on the ways to overcome writing issues that lead to delays. 


If recruiting a writing partner is impossible, another best technique to get over delays is attending seminars. PhD seminars discuss writing strategies that you can use to break the shackles of writer’s block. 

Create a writing workshop

Writing alone can also be one of the causes for you to put off. In that case, you should coordinate a writing workshop with other scholars. You can go to a seminar room or a library or any other destination where you can comfortably write. The act of writing together creates a peer pressure that helps you stick to writing. Decide your goals for a day that can be either task-based or time-based. At the end of the day, check whether or not you accomplished your goals. Consider your writing style too although you can illuminate your writing at the time of editing. Writing workshops cannot be sustained for long, but it is a good way to kick off writing, especially when writing alone is entirely impossible. 

Run intensive intervention

Sometimes a few scholars can talk well about their topics, but it becomes difficult to pen down thoughts. If you are also facing the same problem, you should make a long outline and pose a set of questions to yourself such as what you want to say about a topic, what evidence you have for the support of your point, and what essential elements you want to put forth. You will note that you are able to find answers to these questions, but unable when you have to translate your thoughts in prose. Remember that you do not have to be an erudite author. You just use your own voice to frame your thoughts in words. 

Summing up

Though all the time you cannot stave off procrastination, these ways will at least help you control the irresistible feeling of running away from writing.  

How to Develop a Regular Writing Routine

Before getting into the swing of writing, first of all you should avoid believing two myths: writing can occur only in large time blocks, and inspiration is a must to carry on writing. Writing in large chunks of time is self-sabotaging as you will not be able to spend your time productively. More often than not, you will go through your whole day or week without writing. Therefore it is not advised to prepare yourself for writing for long hours. You should develop a regular routine of writing for a moderate length of time. 

Inspiration is nice, but waiting for writing until you have enough inspiration will eat into your valuable time, and you will end up with zero productivity. Inspired thoughts can occur anytime when you are in the middle of doing something else. So you should start writing to stimulate ideas instead of waiting for impulsive moments to write. In addition to avoiding these myths, following are the things that you can consider.

Assess your schedule

The first task is to block out writing hours before they are eaten away by other tasks. Asses your weekly schedule that must have events like attending seminars, conducting experiments, personal work, and the course you teach. Give priority to your important tasks to analyse how much time is left for writing with you. 

Schedule writing times

Decide on the time which is suitable for writing. Are you comfortable to write everyday? If you do best work in the morning, utilise that time for writing and shift those tasks to the afternoon that requires less cognitive efforts. Do not dissipate your writing time to execute other tasks. You must have other routine tasks; some of them you can put off and some of them you cannot. Do remember that this time the most important task is completing your thesis. 

Do not be overambitious

Writing a thesis is very hard. It needs patience and consistency. Do not schedule your writing for long hours that are not sustainable. Writing for eight to nine hours or overnight writing can make you worn out, and your productivity will get diminished. Try to block out fixed hours for your writing and follow them consistently. 

After a few weeks of writing, you should compare your writing schedule with writing graph to examine what is working for you and what is not working for you. Revise your writing schedule and change writing habits that did not work for you. You should also share your draft with your supervisors and other writing partners. They will share insights with you and suggest tips to improve your writing and develop regular writing routine.  

Dissertation Planning: What you need to do even before you start off your research

Planning your dissertation is the most important piece of research you will undertake during your doctoral career, however, it seems a daunting task for the majority of scholars. 

While writing you can sidestep of your focal point and add incongruous elements to your research work, but with a robust outline you will be able to focus on your research and keep your task manageable. Dissertation planning may seem to be a list of things you should do and you should not, but it involves more. 

  • Choose the subject or area of your interest

Investigating a topic that you genuinely enjoys will make your research less overwhelming and demanding. Read as much as you can to ensure that there is plenty of literature to back up your ideas and arguments and to find the gap that you can address in your research. 

  • Choose a research-worthy topic  

You are not alone who is going to research on the same subject you chose for your doctoral research. So you have to decide a unique approach to give a new angle to the study. Sometimes you may wish to extend a study that has been carried out, but you need to develop an approach and analyse the idea and find out how successful it is.

  • Prepare a dissertation outline

Make a proper outline of your dissertation. Divide it into three main components – introduction, main body and conclusion. You can further break down each section into subsections. In the introduction, you will introduce your topic, current situation/problem and topics you are going to further touch upon in the forthcoming dissertation chapters. The main body will include literature sources, arguments and themes. The conclusion section will include a summary of your findings, solutions and unresolved issues. 

  • Make a list of sources required 

At the time of making a dissertation outline, note down the full names of books (and even page numbers) that can help you retrieve relevant information while drafting your dissertation document. It will also help you write your bibliography towards the end. Decide upon a set of resources; online, e journals, newspapers, white papers, journal articles, chapters of books, encyclopedias, government reports, etc. 

  • Critically analyze whether the research is doable 

Planning to do a particular research in a chosen subject field with the targeted aim is one part of the story, but actually sitting down and analyzing one’s own capabilities to complete what is required is another. Carefully check whether you have all sources handy to collect required data, knowledge and availability of data analysis tools and techniques and whether the research is actually contributing to the overall pool of knowledge of given subject. 

Your dissertation outline is just for having a clear idea about what you have to do. However, you can alter the process a bit as and when you come across a particular step of research.

PhD Thesis Statement – All about your thesis statement

When you write a text in an academic setting, in many cases you primarily will be providing information, but often you also will be proposing and defending an idea or thesis and offering a conclusion about the topic. These works are not mystery stories; you should tell your readers what conclusions you reached at the beginning of your text, not at the end.

So you must start with a thesis statement, which I define as your conclusion based upon your research. A thesis can be understood to be an assertion;this assertion must be supported by evidence that a reasonable person would accept.

You can think of a thesis statement as being similar in nature to the cases prosecutors present during a trial. During the opening statement to the jury, prosecutors explain crime and the defendant has been accused of committing what laws are involved, then provide an overview of the case they will make to prove their conclusion. In this analogy, the judge and jury are equivalent to the professors or administrators or editors who will read your text, and the prosecutors conclusion is equivalent to your conclusion-based on the results of your research-which you are previewing in your thesis statement.

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Research designs that effectively design your research

A research design is a template that defines methodologies and procedures for collecting and analyzing the required information. Although every research is unique in its own way, yet the basic problems and objectives have some common plans to resolve the same. These fundamental plans are termed as research designs that are specifically designed for various problems.
There are three types of research designs: exploratory, descriptive and causal. The choice of one or more research designs out of these three depends upon research objectives and information available on it. Traditionally, a scholar moves from exploratory to descriptive to causal research design. However, it would be better to choose the one when nest is known about it, so let’s have some look at the same –

  • Exploratory research design – Exploratory research design is used when the problem is not appropriately designed when much is not known about the problem, when a hypothesis has to be developed, and when more research is required to be done. It is done through various techniques comprising secondary data analysis, projective techniques, focus groups, and case analysis.
  • Descriptive research design – It is done to get the answers of who, when, how, what, but not why. It is basically done in two ways cross-sectional and longitudinal. Cross-sectional studies are drawn only one at a point as a sample of the population whereas longitudinal studies are repeatedly done over a period.
  • Causal research design – It is done in the terms of causality if and then. It is done through experiments by one or more variables. These variables comprise of dependent, independent, extraneous and intervening variables. Also, these experiments may be done in the field or in the laboratory.

Let’s have some key concept of variables in detail –

  • Independent variable – The researcher can not manipulate this; it acts as a changer for the dependent variable in the experiment. For example – Age, sex, gender, etc.
  • Dependent variable – The change enforced by independent variable is called dependent variable. For example – Smoking causes tuberculosis. Here smoking is an independent variable, whereas latter is dependent as it is dependent upon the cause of smoking.
  • Extraneous variables – Real-life factors are termed as extraneous variables. For example – Family member with tuberculosis.
  • Intervening variables – It links independent and dependent variables. For example – no. of cigarettes consumed daily cause tuberculosis.

Furthermore, research designs are to be discussed carefully and cautiously. Wish you successful researching with these research designs.

Paraphrasing without plagiarism is an art: learn to do it the easy way

You will be reading extensively before you start writing your dissertation. Your professor or supervisor will tell you this right in the beginning that the content for your dissertation has to be culled out from extensive reading of existing literature that you do. When you read a passage or content and wish to incorporate it in your assignment/thesis/dissertation/project you need to first understand the essence of the document as a whole before you start making notes about specific phrases or ideas.

To begin with, read the text thoroughly, not once but several times. After that look away from the source and try to remember what you have read. Pen those ideas in your own words. if at any point, you feel that you are not able to achieves success in this, the only reason can be that you haven’t understood the idea well enough to articulate it in your thoughts. Have you also experienced something like this?  Try to first explain the content to your study partner or friend verbally. It will help you to increase your understanding before you start writing the content.

If you are one of those students whose first language is not English, it is ok to first paraphrase the content in your own language and then in the second stage translate it into English. This will bring out the ideas more precisely because of your comfort level with this language.

Another technique for paraphrasing can be to break down complex sentences into simpler ones, or if the original content has short simple sentences, combine them to create complex sentences without changing the meaning of the sentences. in this process you will automatically eliminate some words or change them to alternative words or phrases. You  can  also take the help of dictionary or thesaurus to know of other word options. The  important thing to be noted here is that, when searching for alternative words, make sure the precise meaning of the word does not change. Choose simple english words, this is more true for academic content where using specific terminology is important and becomes sufficient evidence for understanding the concept of your writing.

As a writer, you do have the freedom to use the content as it is, at few places where you feel the need to quote or changing the language or words may alter the meaning or significance of the content. In such a case you need to enclose it with “quotation marks”. make sure you don’t do this often, as the originality your writing will be lost and you may get caught in the trap of plagiarism, which is another tough battle to fight for writers.

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