Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Difficult conclusions

When is it ready, when is it good enough? I suppose every PhD student battles with this question. After numerous drafts, revamped structures and re-written sections, a final version has to emerge. At some point, you just need to let go, resist the urge to go through it one more time, change the word order, polish the grammar.

I'm nowhere near this stage yet, but I'm already aware that when I am, letting go might be a major issue for me. Currently, I'm having difficulties in making some of those decisions that will be "final"; in the way that once they are made, I can't go back and change them. I wrote about this earlier, when describing my experiment preparations. I've lately discovered that this is a more common issue in my work than I've realised. I often find myself procrastinating before taking a step that will finalise a relatively meaningless little step of the work. Perhaps it is the feeling that everything has its consequences, and I'm now on the "final lap" and there will be no "next time", no second chance to go back and do things differently. Last experiments, last analyses, last literature reviews and last revamps of the theoretical framework... And each small decision weights a lot more than it used to a year ago, when everything was still "in process", "just a draft", "a penultimate version", "a suggestion" or merely "a digress which may never lead anywhere". And also, there are no excuses, since I should have learned my lessons already and be the expert of the field...

The new CEO of Nokia, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said recently in an interview that he has always been quick in making decisions. As a PhD himself, he probably developed some of these skills when getting through this process. I find some comfort in the thought that if someone is able to make big decisions concerning 57 000 employees and millions of customers, I should have no problem with getting on with the nitty-gritty issues of one small PhD thesis.

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