Posts tagged ‘Editing’

January 11, 2015

Got Dissertation Blues? Tips and Tricks To Dissertation Success


GETTING your Dissertation DONE!

Writing a dissertation is tough and it should be. Surprised? It is one of the most important documents you will ever put your name on. It is your moment to shine in your profession. So make it yours!

  • Journal Everyday about your dissertation and your emotional reaction to it. This flushes out anger, resistance, being overwhelmed, conflicts with loved ones, conflicts with professors and the list goes on. Hint: It will also help you get more ideas!
  • Find Your Passion, get really creative, and then narrow it down. Your passion gives you something you’ll be motivated to write about, your creativity will make it interesting, and narrowing it down will help save you from completing your dissertation in the next century.
  • Get Started With a Brain Map. Put your idea(s) in the center of some butcher paper, get colored pens or pencils, and go crazy. Draw arrows with bubbles and squares with other tangential ideas until you’ve exhausted all the possibilities.


Buy an Ant Farm!

No really! We’re serious! After you buy your little ant farm and get your live ants in the mail, you’ll see they do a little work each day no matter what and they get the big project done. What’s their secret? Diligence! King Solomon’s Proverbs says ants do two things: they value what’s important and they plan. Make sure you really value your dissertation, your topic, and your plan.


Read great dissertations in your field of study and/or dissertations in the same format (e.g. qualitative, mixed methods, quantitative, etc.)


Outline, Outline, Outline, and then outline some more!

If you outline enough, you’ll find you’ve written most of your paper before you’ve even started! We’re being half-serious here but…if you really outline, you’ll be amazed how fast you can write your actual paper. It seems counter-intuitive but it’s kind of like artichokes: all that work to prep them, peel off the leaves, and finally get to the heart. Do great prep, get great results! Your outline can flow from your Brain Map. Think of your outline as a sort of linear brain map.


Meet with Your Chair or Readers regularly

Even if you just chat, the connection will do you good. This helps create an alliance. Dissertations in isolation take a long time to get done!

Get a Change Champion. A friend, mentor, co-worker, or partner checking in with you once a week to see how you’re doing is priceless. It keeps you going even when you don’t want to and the TV or Facebook is calling to you to take a break.

Dissertations are best done as a team.. Readers, editors, participants, consultants, statisticians, baristas, friends, family, and fellow students will all contribute something to make your paper a reality.


“Kite” your writing every day with Google Drive, SkyDrive, or Dropbox.

Save your dissertation and notes every time you work on them. Saving keeps your paper, and all that effort, safe! You can use Evernote or any similar note-taking app as a safe place for notes, etc.


Exercise 3 times a week for 20-30 minutes a day! You’ll get more oxygen to your brain—a great asset when working on your dissertation!


Getting Unstuck

Sometimes you may stall and find yourself stuck. Here are some tricks:

  • Meet with your change champion, chair, or readers: This can give you fresh ideas, break a psychological barrier and help you find encouragement.
  • Tweak your subject. Add or subtract an idea, simplify an experiment, and/or change your assumptions about your paper and see what happens.
  • Change something in your lifestyle. Increase exercise, find a quieter place to study, or only work on your paper on weekends or only on weekdays.
  • Document your work in 15 minute intervals. This helps you hold yourself accountable and track your progress. You don’t have to share it, but it will help if your change champion can give you grace for getting distracted by Survivor or pat you on the back because you got your lit review done!

Make a Post-Dissertation Fun List

Create a list of fun stuff you would like to do but cannot because of your paper. Kind of like a bucket list but planned for post-dissertation heaven. Ideas can be simple but they should be fun, interesting and most likely involve friends and family.


Like what you’ve been reading and want more? For more tips, tricks, and dissertation help please contact the ACE Team at The New Life Group. We do editing, consulting, and coaching for dissertations, theses, and reports. We also help with RFP’s, research projects, and surveys.

This material is available as a seminar or workshop we can present at your school or organization. Our seminars include more tips and tricks as well as exercises that give you live demonstrations of the concepts you’ve just read.

© TNLG – 2015


 Academic Consultation & Editing Team

A division of The New Life Group, Pleasant Hill, CA   TNLG

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