Where do you start on your dissertation? The word review can start you on the following five fast tracks.
Let’s get started:
1. Learn from your peers who are a bit farther along the road than you are—read and review carefully their dissertations.
Even if you’ve been writing papers since you were a wee tot, or at least you may feel that way, a dissertation has its own discourse, structure, format.
How have other graduate students written their dissertations on topics similar to yours? Learn the language by looking at models. Take notes on how other dissertations have been structured, chapter by chapter and section by section.
2. Review dissertations suggested by your advisor.
Since your advisor is instrumental in your successfully finishing your dissertation, ask her/him to suggest completed proposals or dissertations that you can read. Emphasize that you want to see models for form and format.
3. Review specific dissertations directed by your advisor
Even if your advisor does not mention dissertations he/she has directed, it is de rigueur, absolutely required, that you hunt them down and review them carefully.
4. Start writing your literature review before you’re ready.
Many advisors suggest that you read widely on your topic, and as you’re reading widely, start writing. Evaluate each source as you read it for relevance, currency, and the author’s expertise. If the source measures up to your standards, not only should you make sure you record a complete citation, written in the style required by your discipline, but you also need to write a succinct critical note (quotation/summary) of that source.
You’ll have a head start on your literature review from your note-taking/writing at this early stage, not just a stack of copied articles or books with yellow underlining throughout.
5. Review one of the standards in the how-to-write-your-dissertation book genre.
How to Complete and Survive a Doctoral Dissertation still gets good marks in this genre, even though it was published in 1981. Read some book reviews of it and then get your own copy. This book has put many ABD’s on the fast track.
6. Bonus source for you to review: Go to my website (www.nancywhichard.com). While you’re there, sign up for my Smart Tips for Writers newsletter. As a special gift, I’ll send you right away—no waiting—5 new success strategies.
Make this a memorable week—Get it off to a great start today!
Until next time,
Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach