PhD Binding … dilemmas and reflections

Time is a wonderful phenomena as it’s passing allows a healing felt impossible at the time of trauma. The trauma I refer to here is the build up to my submission.

After three days straight of working on my thesis with a total of five hours sleep across 72 hours, not knowing if I would, could, should continue writing … I finally managed to get my thesis to as near complete as it will ever be at this stage.

The binders I had spoken to had indicated a 1 day turn around with two separate quotes on binding, with printing and without. Yet in my haze of anxiety and general brain death I hadn’t processed this information.

Predictably, the final submission required the print and bind option and needing two soft copies, this amounted to a phenomenal cost that could have purchased me the latest iPad. Still, I promptly emailed the thesis across in a haze of surrealism and relief.

The emails that followed to and fro between myself and the binders thereafter were short of ridiculous. I finally managed to get a correctly formatted copy to them by their deadline of 12pm, but this was not without angst, despair, and some silent tears. Things I’ve learnt from this experience:

1. Never assume! I had assumed that the university thesis guidelines were in line with WORD default formats. This was not the case! Check, check, and check again! A tip to avoid dramas like mine would be to ensure that the initial draft of your thesis follows the correct format from the onset with no room for error.

2. Try and leave enough time so that you can print your thesis out yourself. Getting the binders to do it may buy you some more time but is ghastly in cost.

3. If opting for the binders to print, be mindful that they use specific software that counts colour and black and white pages. These counts will nearly always be much higher than your own estimations. For example,  I had counted 6 colour pages. I was informed that there were 46!!! – because apparently grayscale also counts as “colour”… if only this was the case in life!

On reflection, the self set deadline of three days before actual submission worked well for me. This not only eased my anxiety in the long run but gave me some wiggle room for if I really needed it. I treated this self set deadline as genuine and therefore didn’t need to use the leeway in the end. A good tip is to ensure that you’re not working on your thesis right to the final day. It’s too risky and binders aren’t always as reliable as we would like them to be. Give yourself some breathing space and aim for a couple of days in advance.

I hope you found these reflections/tips helpful and whatever stage you’re at, good luck!