Is your doctoral thesis in jeopardy? Do you want to give it all up? Even though you have been working on it for several months or even years? Then you must be suffering from one of ten dissertation crises. These tips will help you to overcome them fast!

1. The focus crisis of the dissertation

Problem: I cannot narrow my research question enough.


  • Find models, especially graphic ones, and build on them.
  • Brainstorm the relevant factors.
  • Build your own model using the research question.
  • Keep improving your model (by iteration).
  • Talk your supervisor through the model.
  • Consider the current status as the CONCLUSION of the first phase. Take an inventory and start working on the second big phase, your dissertation 2.0 so to speak.

2. The status quo crisis of the dissertation

Problem: Every author writes something different. So what?


  • Follow the most recognized experts. They have several published works  on the subject and which are usually the most frequently quoted. In addition, they have the most studies and most cited studies on the subject.
  • These author’s arguments should be the most obvious to you.
  • Create a thorough literature review with the Review Matrix. Then you’ll have the overview.

3. The data crisis of the dissertation

Problem: How can I finally collect the data I need?


Find useful answers to these questions:

  • Who has what data?
  • Where can I find the people with the data?
  • How do I address them?
  • What is a good plan to get the data?

4. The Citavi crisis of the dissertation

Problem: You found so many useful arguments in articles... And all are nicely stored in Citavi…  How do I write a compelling text that incorporates everything I’ve read?


  • Make the outline as detailed as possible. Follow our sample outline for a dissertation.
  • Assign the passages from the sources to the chapters.
  • Set dates = deadlines (no more than 3-5 days!)
  • Analyze chapters in the text with your own insight.

5. The findings' crisis of the dissertation

Problem: I think my findings are too banal.

Here are five questions to overcome your doubts… LINK

6. The writing crisis of the dissertation

Problem: This writing is never ending...


  • Formulate ALL chapters of the outline.
  • Assign ALL content to the chapters.
  • Plan specific time units and deadlines for each chapter.
  • Build in rewards and follow-up projects.
  • A great writing assistant: dictate and let Dragon Naturally Speaking write.

7. The dissertation's money crisis

Problem: I’m out of money.


  • This is actually good because it will motivate you to finish.
  • Plan your time like this: Part time everyday job and part-time for the doctoral thesis.
  • Set a real deadline for the whole PhD project. Find a motivating follow-up project.

8. The time crisis of the dissertation

Problem: I have already done so much but there’s simply no more time.


  • Make the presentation for the defense NOW.
  • Learn the Aristolo writing technique for five pages of good text per day.
  • Omit everything unimportant!
  • Follow the Aristolo Master Plan for the dissertation, set daily rituals and task packages.
  • Power working with power sleeping is the method of choice.
  • High-Speed Writing is possible with Dragon Naturally Speaking.
  • Formulate your set of theses NOW. These become your framework for the text writing.

9. The social crisis of the dissertation

Problem: Everyone's bugging me.


  • There are libraries, cafés, hotel lobbies, etc. where nobody knows you…
  • You surely can find the off button on your phone…
  • Put signs on the door: "Do not disturb - research in progress"...
  • Surely you have friends that will prevent others from disturbing you.

Admittedly: these are trivial tips, but they help in the same way that washing hands in hospital reduces the risk of infection by 95%.

10. The thesis crisis of self-confidence

Problem: I'm too stupid to write a dissertation.


  • You started this project, so…
  • YOU had already convinced a professional supervisor that you are NOT too stupid…
  • You're the one who pushed through your first concepts with the supervisor, so…
  • You're always down until the next sense of accomplishment, so…
  • You're in good company. Every great explorer has said after a discovery: Am I stupid! Why didn't I think of that much sooner??

It’s better to get your doctorate fast. This is the best thing for EVERYONE, for YOU, your social environment, the university, science and future employers.

We wish you success with your dissertation!

Silvio and the Aristolo Team

PS: Check out the PhD Guide for writing a PhD in 200 days.