For Phd Students nearing completion
Planning your writing up time

Over many years students I have found that students who try to estimate the time required to finish off get their estimates wrong. This is a recommendation to help you improve the accuracy of the estimate and also improve the quality of the work.

  1. About a year before you expect to finish you should produce a draft table of contents for the thesis.
  2. As soon as possible Create a version of the table of contents broken down into sections and subsections. If you cannot do this for all chapters do it for as many as possible.
  3. For each entry in the table of contents (section/subsection or whatever) make a note of how much is already written, and what remains to be done.
  4. Add an estimate of the time required to complete that portion.
  5. Add up all the estimates to get an estimate of total time required for the whole thesis.
  6. Redo this annotated plan every few weeks till you have finished the thesis. E.g. modify the plan each time you finish a section or subsection, or change the organisation in any way.
  7. Adjust your timetable accordingly -- adding expected completion dates for the various chapters and sections.
  8. Remember to allow time for your supervisor to read and make comments on the first draft of the thesis. After that you will need time to produce a revised draft.
  9. Allow at least a month, preferably more, to produce a revised draft: it is rarely just a matter of minor changes.

Updated: 30 Apr 2006
Maintained by Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham