Congratulations! At long last you have submitted your completed thesis to Research Student Administration (RSA), perhaps after attending a Thesis submission event. What happens now? Patter describes this period of time as “hand-in limbo”.
First of all, take a break. Away from your thesis, and away from your research. This well-earned holiday is both a chance to reconnect with yourself as more than just the author of your thesis, and to reconnect with family and friends that you may have been neglecting recently. Importantly, this also gives you a new perspective on your thesis for when you return to it to prepare for the next milestone in your journey, namely your viva.
After your break, here are some practical tips on how you can fill the post-submission lull productively.
One good suggestion is to run a revised literature search taken from the initial stages of your PhD. Another tip is to re-read some of the key articles referenced in your thesis and to check whether these have been cited recently (see Web of Science or Scopus).
Try checking through your references in your reference management software (e.g. EndNote or Mendeley) for background items of interest that you did not incorporate into your final thesis. Your examiners will be looking to examine the general field within which the subject of the thesis lies, so reading around the subject is a necessary part of preparing for your viva. For more advice on preparing for your viva, attend a workshop or complete the Canvas module, if you haven’t already.
The University’s Research Portal showcases what leading academics have published recently. This could provide a useful insight into your internal examiner’s current research interests. All material added to the PURE system for the REF exercise (2021) appears on the portal.
Do you have aspirations to publish an article, book chapter, or book based on your thesis research? The Think Check Submit website has a checklist of steps for choosing a suitable journal and an essential step is then to review carefully the “Advice for Authors” provided by major publishers. This blog post has excellent advice for thinking about your options for books.
The Research Skills Team in Library Services run regular face-to-face workshops, some of which are particularly appropriate at this point in your research career: Reaching your audience; and Open research. Or see the full menu of workshops. You could alternatively review the Influential Researcher online resources available via Canvas.
Of course, your mind may be turning towards your future career, whether that is within academia or without. Explore the PGR Careers webpages for advice and case studies.
What are you expecting to do after submitting your thesis? What did you do, and what did you find most useful?
With many thanks to Lynne Harris, Research Skills Advisor in Library Services, for her contributions to this blog post.