So, how do you do it? You’ve been struggling with procrastination and perfectionism. There are a million and one reasons why you still haven’t submitted your thesis, but chances are high that the only real reason is that you have no idea what to do after your PhD.

Of course, the same way of thinking may apply if you are already on your first, second or third postdoc contract – only that finishing your PhD was a piece of cake compared to the obstacles you’re facing now: constant pressure to deliver high quality research, the prerequisite to succeed in getting grant money to secure your position, the wish to start a family or the need to keep it alive and well while being unable to make any longterm plans because you don’t know if you will still be in the same place after the end of your current contract… the list goes on.

So, how do you do that? Transition from one phase of life, or one identity to another one, in the midst of constant and rising pressures?

The answer might surprise you because it’s actually quite simple and also, as a wonderful side-effect, beneficial to your mental wellbeing: peer support. If you’re sceptical how that can be true, go have a look at and listen to a conversation I’ve recently had with my friend and colleague Martina. Although we focus on quite different things (she is a scientific writing trainer – I help researchers figure out how to deal with their monsters and find a fulfilling career), we discovered that we both implement peer structures in our workshops and coaching programs.

This video is for you, especially if you’re looking for easy-to-implement changes to finally finish writing your thesis, or any other essential piece of scientific writing that will allow you to make your next move careerwise. Also check out Martina’s blog for more practical tips on writing with ease – and of course to see the second part of our conversation:

Martina’s content summary

Peer structures are a great help with scientific writing. In the last phase of PhD, they can provide support, motivation and feedback so that you can write up and submit your thesis on time — and without unnecessary suffering.

There are different options how to use peer support for your writing:

        • Text feedback: It’s hard and time-consuming to edit and improve your own text. You can progress much faster with feedback from peers. To not overwhelm your peers, pick only one page of your text and tell them explicitly what is troubling you, what they should focus on. And don’t hesitate to reciprocate the favor: By giving feedback you are practicing and improving your revising skills. 
        • Accountability for writing goals: Finishing your thesis is often a distant goal, without daily urgent pressures to write. To not neglect your writing, you can team up with one or two other researchers as accountability partners, reporting weekly on your progress. Knowing that others know about your goal helps you stay on track with it.
        • Writing groups: Whether virtually or in person, writing alongside others leads to a better focus and motivation during writing. It also provides an external appointment, a time window reserved for nothing but writing.

These peer support structures can be optimally complemented with individual strategies. For example, personal goal and habit tracking can boost your motivation during the drafting phase by tracking daily the number of words in your thesis document and during the revision phase by tracking the daily hours spent working on your thesis.

For more advice for your scientific writing, you can have a look at Martina’s blog Writing Scientist and join her monthly virtual co-writing sessions. 

Martina’s interview with me

If you want to learn more about my experience with using peer structures in coaching programmes and workshop settings, go look up our conversation on her blog.

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