The Challenges of Dissertation Writing
Dissertations are huge projects. They are often the biggest, most extensive undertaking that a graduate student has been tasked with completing up to that point of his or her academic career. It is no surprise, then, that completing a dissertation can be challenging. Many graduate students take many years to finish a dissertation—or they may never finish it.
A while back, Professor Renata Kobetts Miller wrote an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education looking back on her experience finishing a dissertation. The article gives some helpful tips to graduate students working on their dissertations from someone who has successfully completed her’s. Here are Dr. Miller’s main points:
1. Feeling Uncertain Is Normal
Everyone feels insecure and, at some point, everyone feels like he or she does not belong. However, Miller insists that this is not only normal, but that the feeling will largely fade once you have completed your dissertation.
2. The First Chapter Is the Hardest
Writing a dissertation for the first time can be difficult because it is a new form of writing. When you begin writing you have to give yourself time to adjust to the new medium—to the ‘dissertation form.’
3. Be Aware of Your Habits
Miller puts it this way: “observe the pattern of your work…and remind yourself of that pattern when you hit a low point.” In other words, give yourself a break; no one works in the same way, or at a perfectly consistent pace. Recognize when you need a break or your work slows down, and realize that its part of your normal working cycle.
4. Use Writing Groups. Or Don’t.
If you find writing groups useful, use them. If you don’t find them useful (or you no longer find them useful) don’t feel guilty about keeping to yourself. The dissertation writing process is a long one, and you may find yourself needing people more or less at different stages along the way.
5. Put Off Revision
This may sound counter-intuitive, but Miller encourages graduate students to sometimes wait to revise their dissertation work. The longer you work on your dissertation, the more you may come to understand the work as a whole and, thus, be able to revise more effectively.
6. Be Realistic About Your Timeline
Don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself. Miller stresses that creating a timeline that is both challenging, but do-able, is crucial for finishing a dissertation.
7. The Dissertation Is for You
Miller concludes her advice by reminding graduate students that completing a dissertation is “an adventure and a feat of endurance that provides a sense of accomplishment.” You are doing this for yourself, just like a person might “climb Everest, or run a marathon.”
See the full article here: http://chronicle.com/article/Finishing-the-Dissertation/45136/
Miller’s article provides a lot of helpful guidance for successfully completing a dissertation, but she doesn’t mention one very important piece of advice: get help editing. Dissertations are challenging, and they require a lot of attention to detail in content, formatting, and typographical related issues. While you work on your dissertation, get help from our team of PhD-level editors. Contact us for a free consultation by calling 1-857-600-2241 today! < Go on the Job Market - Without a Finished Dissertation? Online PhD Programs - Pros and Cons >