Completing Your Thesis or Dissertation : Professors Share Their Techniques & Strategies book cover
1st Edition

Completing Your Thesis or Dissertation
Professors Share Their Techniques & Strategies

ISBN 9781884585210
Published January 1, 2000 by Routledge
105 Pages

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Book Description

• Seventy professors share their tips, techniques, and strategies for overcoming roadblocks to the completion of a thesis or dissertation.

• Many of the professors share their personal experiences in completing their dissertations. With hindsight, they offer advice based on these experiences. The personal nature of these essays makes fascinating reading.

• The professors’ contributions cover a wide range of topics including

· selecting a topic,

· selecting a chair and a committee,

· working with the chair and committee,

· selecting literature to review,

· writing a literature review,

· time management,

· overcoming writer’s block,

· overcoming anxiety,

· putting the thesis/dissertation into proper perspective,

· establishing support groups,

· understanding the role of the dissertation in professional development,

· and many others!

• This “in-their-own-words” book allows students to select the advice that is best suited to their situations and work styles.

• Running sidebars throughout the book help students locate information on the matters with which they need help.

• Ideal for independent reading by your students or use each of the contributions as a discussion topic in a thesis/dissertation preparation course.

Table of Contents

Dissertation Defense

Attend other students’ defenses

Have it in final form

Lay it all out

Make a friend for it



Scheduling the defense

What is expected

Getting Help from Others

Feeling a sense of isolation

Job shadowing

Join a group for real progress

Meet regularly with others

Shadow researcher

Support group

Weak member of a group

Goals and Timelines

Begin with the end in mind

Dividing it into parts

Goal-Setting Theory

Major life events

Master calendar

Allow for “wiggle” room

Strict policy

Six-step plan

Plan on it taking longer

Time orientation

Work backward

Humor (Ha!)


Butter up the committee

Committees eat elephants

Create a Dissertation Dartboard


Donuts don’t always help

Keep your advisor busy

Latent chromosomal functioning

Mom’s coffee table copy



Regular schedule

Take hours to answer

Try smoking a pipe

Words-to-peanut ratio

Outside Pressures

Being a first-year professor

Finish school first


Leave only with an approved proposal

Overcoming Self-Doubt/Anxiety

Challenge the validity of negative feelings

Don’t think “defense”

Emotional support system

Fun then, not fun now

Information is power

Seek help if immobilized/overwhelmed

Small problems

Using subgoals reduces anxiety


As a contract

Avoid vagueness

Include all components

Limit literature review

Write a mini-proposal

Write two to four of them

Reviewing Literature

Bibliographic computer program

Collect reprints of papers

Complete 90%, then 10%

Consult Dissertation Abstracts


Electronic vs. paper search

Endless search

General suggestions

Know people at the reference desk

Limit the number of references

Rule of 19 for citations

Thoughtfully selective


Rewarding Yourself

Behavioral formula

Build in time for fun

Dance to the music


Without guilt

Selecting a Committee and Chair

Ask major professor

Avoid emeritus faculty

Committee able to work together

General suggestions

Listen with three purposes

Select someone with tenure

Selecting a Topic

Avoid grandiose ideas

Avoid politically “hot” topics

Consider prior knowledge

Consider your passions

Considering the future

General suggestions

Select during coursework

Start early


Cheerfully rewrite

Courses as a sounding board

First draft not perfect

Good writing is short

Headings and subheadings

Make a model

Notes for the next writing session

One day per page

Pedantic writing

Provide a rationale

Results section

Sequence of steps

Use of the first person

Use the required format

Write introductions and conclusions last

Write a “spew draft”

Work Habits

A “real” job

Annotate everything

Avoid isolation

Daily progress

“Dissertation days”

Do something every day

Organize articles


Number of hours per day

Working with the Committee and Chair

Allow sufficient time for review

Avoid standoffs

Check with your advisor first

Create a visual presence

Get feedback early

Get to know other members

Line numbers

Prepare for the defense

Put it in writing

Seek closure

Standing meeting

Take notes

What are their preferences?

Write down your questions

Writer’s Block

Discover how you work best

Imagine a sympathetic reader

Start with what you can do

Use a tape recorder

Work on clerical

Write—write anything

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Fred Pyrczak