"I want to write an external dissertation." Easier said than done. Composing a doctorate alongside your job is tough for everyone! It has to be well-thought-out. But with a little preparation, it’s possible to finish the doctorate even faster! Follow 7 guidelines and your doctorate will be a success!
1. It is much easier to work on your doctorate if the topic interests you and motivates you.
The goal in front of you should motivate you. You should establish rewards through intermediate goals. Example: You work with employees and are interested in studying acceptance problems with new concepts. Now you have a real problem and want to work out a solution yourself. You just made a topic out of this!
2. You can only work on your doctorate alongside your job if you have a supervisor who gives you the freedom to do so.
- You cannot attend events every week when you are busy at work.
- As an external doctorate candidate you cannot work for the supervisor. That must be clear.
- From the beginning, you must have a strong and sustainable concept – a proposal for the dissertation that will not be changed x times so the supervisor is on your side.
- As long as you stay within the rules of academic writing and meet the requirements, your supervisor will be satisfied.
- Stay in regular contact with your supervisor and give updates to prevent suspicion or confusion.
3. Working on a doctorate alongside your job is much more fun when your family is involved.
- Family is your quiet place, sure. But they can also be the opposite, of course :-)
- Openness about your project and your goal is very important.
- Rituals with the family are important. Think of something.
- Presentable progress is the best, so your family can see your progress and where the working is going.
- Open communication when problems arise is very important. But of course it isn’t fun to talk endlessly about old or new problems. At some point, things have to move forward!
4. A doctorate is much easier if you have a clear plan.
Like all challenges, the doctorate comes with certain risks. So try to solve as many problems as possible in advance.
- It is best to stick to a proven procedure like the 200 days master plan.
- The motto "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" is usually misunderstood: it’s better to start by looking for a solution that has already worked for others. If you do not find one, try a new solution. But there should already be enough existing approaches and solutions for you to start the dissertation.
- Your plan is the proposal, and it’s normally about 10 pages. You will need around 9 to 12 weeks to complete this.
5. Working on a doctorate alongside your job requires much less energy if you have proper writing materials.
Don't try to make Word your best friend. It’s better to use the right templates for the proposal and the text. This saves you a lot of time, has an official character and looks good in presentations. The gaps also motivate you to fill them in.
6. Working on a doctorate alongside your job is fun if you are willing to learn all the necessary techniques.
The dissertation is a truly unique project. There's a lot to learn.
But it is clear from the beginning what you know and can do and what you do not know and cannot do.
Now you just need to know WHAT you need to learn so do it and move on.
Because it is clear that with the right techniques you can move forward much faster than with a crane on a construction site...
Willingness to learn means informing yourself what you need to do before starting the task at hand, what tools will help and what exactly you still have to learn. Then actually do it.
It's similar to operating instructions. Almost nobody reads them. They only do if they experience problems... The dissertation is much more complicated than any modern household appliance, so learning is necessary. We recommend following a proven plan.
7. Working on a doctorate alongside your profession works out if you always have and use a guide.
You are not the first person to write a dissertation. Therefore, it is better to follow a guide, the Dissertation Guide, that helps you reach the finish line in 10 milestones and 60 sprints. You can also have a coach guide you - some 100,000 people are currently working on their doctorate in Germany. But for many of them, the project has been suspended because one of the 7 prerequisites is missing. Make sure that you meet them and your PhD will be within reach.
We wish you success with your dissertation!
Silvio and the Team Aristolo
PS: Check out the PhD Guide for writing a PhD in 200 days.