Dissertation Writing Tips

Dissertation Writing Tips-14
The Writing Center can’t advise you about technical questions (for example, how to force Microsoft Word to set up tables correctly or format page numbers the way you want), but we know people who may be able to! Why don’t doctoral candidates manage to get rolling on the dissertation any sooner, or KEEP rolling once they get started?Partly because the dissertation is a completely new experience that is much larger and more independent than your previous academic work.Read dissertations completed by students they have worked with before.

The Writing Center can’t advise you about technical questions (for example, how to force Microsoft Word to set up tables correctly or format page numbers the way you want), but we know people who may be able to! Why don’t doctoral candidates manage to get rolling on the dissertation any sooner, or KEEP rolling once they get started?Partly because the dissertation is a completely new experience that is much larger and more independent than your previous academic work.

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One of my biggest stumbling blocks while drafting came from receiving negative feedback on a chapter.

My fragile ego interpreted the critique as a condemnation of my viability as a scholar, and I moped around for several weeks, wasting time assuming I was worthless. I have the bad habit of working furiously to meet a deadline and then riding the endorphin rush of finishing the work for weeks.

At a time when I needed encouragement, hearing any criticism, no matter how constructive, hurt my productivity. Find out what your committee wants and expects from your work. Don’t get distracted by small feelings of accomplishment: finishing one page means that you are now ready to write the next one, after all.

Knowing yourself and the kinds of feedback you need as you write is important on a project like this. Following the advice about feedback above, find out what kind of writing your committee expects.

Send partial drafts to anyone willing to read them.

This will not only prevent feelings of isolation as you write, as it will keep you connected to your committee and other writers, but it will also help prevent situations where you have to rewrite entire chapters. There may be times when you don’t need actual criticism, and instead just need to write, or to have someone say something encouraging. If you’ve set early deadlines, you should be able to move things around without throwing off your schedule. The sooner you can be communicating with your committee about your writing, the smoother your editing stages will go.Sit with your advisor with just a rough outline of the chapter and find out if it works.To this point, being a graduate student has been, more or less, an extension of your earlier life as a student.Many people, in fact, go to graduate school because they have always been “good at school,” and want to continue with something that brings them success and self-confidence.It is important to understand that short breaks in writing will happen, and you can take those breaks without feeling guilty. Graduate school pundits often cite 50% or more as the attrition rate for ABD students (those who have completed All the requirements of their programs But the Dissertation). This handout will not only answer this question, but also give you good, practical advice on starting, drafting, and completing your dissertation.In the sticky, sweltering heat of late summer, I wrote a little post called “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dissertation,” which translated my writing struggles into a therapeutic list of writing tips.This post was written as I despairingly grappled with many of the negative emotions that can accompany slogging through a long form project like a dissertation (guilt, self-loathing, and a healthy dose of In the sticky, sweltering heat of late summer, I wrote a little post called “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dissertation,” which translated my writing struggles into a therapeutic list of writing tips.The reading assignments, labs, papers, and tests you have been assigned as a graduate student may not have been so different from your undergraduate course work.The dissertation, on the other hand, is a new kind of academic project, unlike anything else you’ve done.

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