For many things in life, you need a plan. You can plan to take a holiday, or go shopping on a whim. When it comes to writing your dissertation, you really need a plan. Actually, if you have several plans that’s even better. You can’t just write your thesis statement or dissertation. Yes, the dissertation can be a nightmare, but it’s nothing more than a very complex writing plan. You’ll have a template to follow and it’s your job to fill in the blanks. It can be a scary feeling to sit there staring at a blank screen waiting for the ideas to flow. You are the only one who can do it – your dissertation won’t write itself. But is a writing plan enough? What other kind of plans do you need?
The world of academic writing is a strange one. In graduate school, you’re expected to “know” how to write. But your writing habits may be stuck in undergraduate mode when you wrote essays or research papers. College taught you the basics of five standard essays that 1) tell a story (narrative), 2) analyze (expository), 3) compare and contrast (comparison), 4) convince the reader (persuasion) and 5) related events/conditions (cause and effect).
Your dissertation is a book: it’s five chapters of your research idea, explained and supported by data that justify your conclusions and recommendations. It’s one of the hardest books I’ve ever written, but there’s a weird logic to it all. But what is it? Is there a simple way to write your dissertation? What are the smart tips to ease your writing experience?
This week’s blog is about advice from a seasoned academic advisor (SAA). I wondered how that advice compared to advice Dr. Patti and I share on this blog. While the dissertation process (SAA calls it dissertating) feels like a mystery, it isn’t. When you start the process or when you’re deep in the bowels of it, you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know what questions to ask, what ideas are important, what a good research project looks like. And that’s the real mystery: When do you know what you know? When does the light goes on and your thinking starts to flow? When do you feel like you’ve got this?
I’m sitting here with my best buddy, Oscar. He’s a rescue cat. A few years back, I had a young rescue cat, Mr. Bean, who suddenly stopped eating and was not his usual self. He crouched in dark corners, didn’t play much or enjoy socializing. His condition was never fully diagnosed, but I gave Mr. Bean medication to comfort him.
Recently, I heard from a friend working on his dissertation. Last I heard from him was several months ago. At that time he was excited because he submitted his prospectus. An approved prospectus means that you can officially start your dissertation.
Welcome! Doctor Tales is a new blog to help doctoral students succeed during and beyond their academic journeys.
Welcome! Doctor Tales is a new blog to help doctoral students succeed during and beyond their academic journeys. We are Dr. Bessie DiDomenica (PhD) and Dr. Patricia Mason (DBA), two doctors who took the journey. We earned our doctoral degrees in 2015 and offer our strategies for other doctoral candidates to succeed.
Three years on, we are still write and encourage adult learners to pursue their educational dreams.
2018 updates: Dr. Patti’s research on electronic health records implementation (EHR) is a hot topic in the world of healthcare! She is in demand as an expert in EHR in rural health clinics. This year, Dr. Patti received her Reiki Certified Master/Teacher certificate. She will write more on the value of relaxation for anyone pursuing their academic dream.
Dr. Bessie is exploring a writing business for scholars and adult learners. She will facilitate a panel discussion on mobile food markets at an urban farming conference, and is working on several book projects. Dr. Bessie is very excited about her plans to create a foundation to help older and special needs cats and dogs.
Dr. Patti and Dr. Bessie are also writing a book for adult learners and graduate students. We’ll post more updates as things develop.
We truly embrace our new roles as scholar-practitioners, and encourage others to take their education beyond the classroom.