I wrote something nice and it disappeared after I fiddled with it. 🙁 Oh well, here’s what I meant to say, in a less lyrical style.
Phillips and Pugh (2002) wrote a book on how to get a PhD and an extract was published online (Guardian News and Media Ltd, 2011). Although written from a British vantage point, several of the barriers to PhD attainment are not foreign. I was informed by the examples they gave on how and why some students withdrew from doctoral programs. Of note is one point of caution for the final stage of writing up:
Doing a PhD is an intellectually demanding enterprise, and this is true at all stages of the work. It is especially true of the final stage of writing up. Most students radically underestimate the amount of time and effort that this stage will require. They somehow think that having surveyed the field, designed the study, collected and analysed the data, it is downhill from then on to the presentation of the thesis. It is not so. Writing up demands the most concentrated effort of the whole process —
The only job it is possible to do, perhaps one which you are doing already or have done before, is one which allows you to operate in ‘intellectual overdrive’.
They go on to elaborate on the point. I appreciate the advice. To me, doing a dissertation is both emotional and intellectual labor, but definitely more the former than the latter. 🙂