alkamid bio photo


Living in the Cambridge bubble


Day 10 Before Draft

Time management problem here. 26 h (35 h planned) in the second week of writing and 9.5 h (30 planned) in the third. Fair enough, unexpected things happened, but don’t they happen all the time?

It’s mainly a motivation issue. I am (mostly) moving out of academia and I am completely changing fields. It is unlikely that I will be checking new terahertz papers weekly as I do now. My PhD thesis will be read by my supervisor, two examiners and maybe a couple of PhD students in the future. I am determined to write and submit it, that’s not a problem, but to spend a few weeks doing only this is difficult. How to motivate myself then?

I could look at it as a duty. A job I was given and was paid for it. My supervisors have always treated me fairly, and sometimes even too nicely. They are evaluated in the community based on the quality of their students amongst other factors. Stories about failed PhDs spread quickly and perniciously. I owe them that much, especially that I regard my period in Cambridge as a foundation for what I consider a very happy life.

Secondly, the potential PhD title from the Cavendish helped me getting a great job. My contract is not conditional on getting the “Dr.” in front of my name, but who knows, maybe the next one will be?

I don’t consider my research groundbreaking (yeah, I pushed the boundary of human knowledge), but not publishing it in any form would really feel like a waste. Even in the chapter without much experimental results I think I left some valuable notes for students who want to try something similar.

Finally, writing gives me an opportunity to learn. My knowledge about photonics and optoelectronics is still, after four years, rather patchy. This won’t do for examiners. Every sentence of the thesis needs to be defendable, either with the help of references to previous work or with your own cogent arguments. This is probably the most exciting part of writing — understanding what I have done.

So yes, there are several reasons to get my head down and write. Maybe looking at this post every day will help a little bit.