I'm going to enter my second year in my PhD after two months from now. I start to think that I can write some chapters from now instead of waiting until the fourth year. This would help me to finish my study early is that possible or at least avoid the stress of writing in my fourth year.

However, most of my friends who are in the third and fourth year suggest not to do that because it is going to waste my time and instead I need to focus more on the literature review and prepare for the field work.

Need advice about this from students who go through this.

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    Maybe add your field to your question.
    – user2768
    Aug 9, 2018 at 13:38
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    As user2768 said, the field is important. In engineering, we tend to go paper by paper; or one contribution at time. Each paper or contribution forms a chapter. Basically, students write their chapters as they progress through their degree. Aug 9, 2018 at 23:24
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    If you've got something that's finished and ready to write, then write it. If it isn't finished, and is likely to change significantly, then it may waste time to write something that you end up rewriting. If you haven't finished your literature review or collected data yet, you may fall into the second category (but don't take my word for this)
    – Flyto
    Aug 10, 2018 at 13:57

4 Answers 4


It is probably a good idea to keep a running outline of your work as you go. Also, sometimes you get stuck for some period of time - say waiting for experiments to mature. In those periods if you can't otherwise make progress it might be a good idea to write up (and to revise) what you already know.

I wouldn't do this to "shorten" the time, however, but rather to keep myself on track and to keep an overview of the work in mind.

One advantage of this, if you have the discipline to do it, is that the thesis gets revised many times this way before you finish, rather than only once or twice.

In short, it could be time wasted or time well spent, depending on when you do it and how you approach it.


I think it really depends on individuals. I personally like doing multiple projects at the same time, for two reasons: 1) It helps me build connections; 2) It improves my research skills (e.g., study design and data analysis). However, I do feel very burned out sometimes when there were just too much for me. I also realized that I was not able to focus on my main line of research when I was also devoting my time to other projects. I think it depends on what you want, if you want to find a job in academia, then you definitely need publications, so more projects; but if you just want to work in the industry, then probably focus more on finding practical opportunities and build connections with people in the industry. The bottom line is don't burn out yourself, after all, doing too much side work simultaneously would distract you from your focus, which is counterproductive :)


While in most cases a thesis is not written until the end, there is nothing preventing you from beginning earlier. Having said that, there is possibly little that you could write now as you say there is still work to be done on the literature review. Without the literature review it may prove difficult to write the introductory chapters.

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    Writing the introductory chapters may actually serve to guide the literature review. Aug 9, 2018 at 16:20

A thesis is based upon research conducted during a PhD. That research should be in publishable form and, ideally, some of it should already be published. Thus, a thesis is based upon publishable/published research.

I recommend that you focus on publishing or, at least, preparing publishable manuscripts, rather than starting to write chapters of your thesis.

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