33 days to go.
I spend the first part of the morning taking stock of my progress. My supervisor expressed regret that he hasn’t read my thesis yet, a fact which came as no surprise to me, but it brought home to me that I need to start thinking about the damn thing as a whole document. I compile the document as a whole for the first time into PDF form, and I am quite pleased. I’ve cut some 50 pages since I started this series of posts, current count is 143 pages with some additions still required.
Much of the remaining work is editing and compacting, with some serious reworks of words still required. I write a summary for my supervisor which I mentally call “The State of the Thesis”, and while there’s a lot of work to do I feel like I could submit it within a week and still pass with major revisions. Of course, that’s not what I’m shooting for.
I speak to my mentor for a while in the morning, who’s a nice person with the experience of the PhD already under their belt. They tell me that this point in the doctorate is the hardest part of academic life they’ve ever experienced, which I find quite comforting. They remind me to eat well, and I chuckle – eating well is never something I forget to do. We had chorizo, chicken, and bean hotpot last night. Delicious and warming.
When I return to “proper” work, I cringe. This is Chapter 6, Land of the Weirdly Inconclusive Experiments and Terrible Figures. Worse, re-plotting the figures is terribly inconvenient. Plotting some of these graphs involves some quite large volumes of data, which I process from scratch every time – it takes several minutes and I get inconsolably bored with iterating. There’s a method behind this madness, though, in that I find it’s a generally more transparent and future-friendly way to design your scripts. Future workers (i.e. me in a year’s time) can just look at the code to see what the data analysis is doing rather than relying on possibly lost or absent written explanation. This has actually saved me time and effort in the long run. I soldier on, knowing that every graph I redo saves me space and gains me a better thesis.
The rest of my day is spent in a meeting, discussing new ideas. While I love new ideas and new experiments, I feel like I’ve wasted some of the precious time I have to work on my thesis. This is a common feeling, I think.