Writing a doctoral dissertation and running a marathon: personal reflections on similar experiences PART I

During ten months, from February to November 2006, I have been writing my doctoral dissertation at the University of Tampere. Simon Down, a lecturer from the University of Newcastle who gave a presentation in a two day seminar at the University of Vaasa in April 2006, described the PhD as the most intense period of the academic life of an individual. During those months I have been thinking about a metaphor that could describe this intensity and the various moments of alternate mood that inevitably accompany writing of a doctoral dissertation. One metaphor that in my opinion provides the best illustration of the process and its difficulties is a marathon. Both are lonesome activities. Both alternate moments of great excitement with low points where one has to find new strength. Both need training and preparation. In both cases starting does not secure the crossing of the finish line. .
My aim here to present, using the marathon as a metaphor, some thoughts about the writing process. The table below presents the three main stages as well as the sequence of the chapters. It also refers to different moments of the race to describe the mood and feelings that accompanied the process at those particular times and which are described in more details in the next sections.


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