PhD Studies

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Going Back to Your Thesis Proposal

You are reaching the end of your thesis, now, and you need to go back to your original thesis proposal to ensure that all your objectives have been met. It will, of course, seem a very long time since you originally compiled this and you will have written regular reports for your academic research committee during this time (see the section in this guide on writing regular reports) but this is even more reason why you need to go back to where you started now that you are nearing the end.

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It is not simply a question of retracing your steps but of looking in detail at how you intended to construct your thesis at the start and asking yourself a series of searching questions which you must answer honestly – even if that means the painful process of more redrafting.

Ask yourself the following:

  • What was my initial proposal hoping to achieve?
  • How far have I achieved it?
  • Is my structure as effective as it could be in presenting my argument?
  • If not, how can I improve it?
  • Is my evidence strong and sufficiently apparent?
  • If not, what do I need to do to make the evidence more effective?
  • Is my conclusion sufficiently comprehensive giving a summation of the thesis, a synthesis of the thoughts contained therein and indication of possible future research?
  • Is my bibliography complete and well-presented and does it conform to the requirements of the academic institution at which I am conducting my research?
  • Are my appendices correctly compiled and do the documents contained within them truly complement and supplement the thesis itself and have I connected it cohesively to the main thesis?

It is most unlikely that if you have answered these questions honestly, you will be able to answer in the affirmative to all of these - unless you are a genius, of course – so what you need to do is to address the areas where your thesis can be improved and to decide exactly how you are going to do it.

You will need to talk to your supervisor about this, as their experience will help you immensely at this crucial stage.

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