I had published several papers, so I reorganized them into one coherent and logical story—writing a general background introduction, a chapter introducing my research topic more specifically, a description of the common instrumentation and data analysis, several adapted chapters presenting the original work of my research, and a general conclusion.
Altogether, my dissertation was approximately 150 pages.
D., so all I really needed to write was my introduction.
I chose to put together a brief history of my field.
My thesis had to be written in publishable chapters.
I had a hard time keeping the chapters short enough for manuscript submissions, so at the time of defense my thesis—which consisted of three chapters plus an overall abstract for introduction—was 125 pages, but it ended up being trimmed after that.
Altogether it took about 1 year, including a couple months of maternity leave in the early stages, to write the whole thing.
I decided to write my entire dissertation from scratch. I wrote up my scientific results in four different chapters, with additional chapters for the introduction, materials and methods, and conclusion.
This strategy helped me see how the pieces fit together, which results would be in or out, the best way to display the data, and where the chapter breaks should be.
It also helped me identify a few gaps that needed to be filled back in the lab.