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How to Write a PhD Thesis (Part II): Structuring and Drafting the PhD Thesis

This is the second part of our tutorial about how to write a PhD thesis. In this part we cover how to structure and draft your thesis.
Typical structure of a PhD thesis in a mind map

Typical structure of a PhD thesis in a mind map

There is lots of good literature on how to exactly to structure your PhD so we will not cover this in detail here. However, either in your literature mind map or in a new mind map you start with a basic structure such as in the picture. You can then start drafting your thesis directly in the mind map. Create one node for each heading and one sub-node for each sentence. You might wonder why not doing this directly in a word processor. Simply, because it is much easier to move mind map nodes than sentences and paragraphs in a word document. Moreover, you have all the important information in your mind map already. And, in a mind map it will be much easier for you to restructure the thesis (we guarantee that you will have to restructure your thesis several times before you are really happy with the structure).

You can also put all the administrational data in our mind map, as you see in the picture in the left half. For instance, deadlines of your PhD, important contacts and so on.

The following shows how a final mind map for a PhD thesis could look like (nodes with a circle are folded and contain more nodes). You will notice that the related work section is very similar to your literature mind map. However, it is not the same. Most likely you will not use all the literature you have read. Accordingly, your literature mind map will probably contain much more information than your final related work section in your mind map / thesis. For finally structuring your thesis these information are not important. Therefore, we suggest using two mind maps: one for your literature in general and one for your PhD.
The complete draft of a PhD thesis in a mind map (nodes with a circle contain more sub nodes)

The complete draft of a PhD thesis in a mind map (nodes with a circle contain more sub nodes)

Keep in mind that your mind map for the thesis does not only include PDF links but you can write complete sentences. Again, have a look at the picture to get an idea how your final mind map should look like.

Now, read in the third part how to finally write a phd thesis.


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