1st Edition

Demystifying Dissertation Writing A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text

By Peg Boyle Single Copyright 2009
    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    Research shows that five strategies correlate with the successful completion of a dissertation:·Establishing a consistent writing routine·Working with a support group·Consulting your advisor·Understanding your committee’s expectations·Setting a realistic and timely scheduleBuilding on these insights, this book is for anyone who needs help in preparing for, organizing, planning, scheduling, and writing the longest sustained writing project they have encountered, particularly if he or she is not receiving sufficient guidance about the process, but also for anyone looking to boost his or her writing productivity.The author uncovers much tacit knowledge, provides advice on working with dissertation advisors and committee members, presents proven techniques for the prewriting and writing stages of the dissertation, sets out a system for keeping on schedule, and advocates enlisting peer support. As Peg Boyle Single states, “my goal is quite simple and straightforward: for you to experience greater efficiency and enjoyment while writing. If you experience anxiety, blocking, impatience, perfectionism or procrastination when you write, then this system is for you. I want you to be able to complete your writing so that you can move on with the rest of your life.” Few scholars, let alone graduate students, have been taught habits of writing fluency and productivity. The writing skills imparted by this book will not only help the reader through the dissertation writing process, but will serve her or him in whatever career she or he embarks on, given the paramount importance of written communication, especially in the academy. This book presents a system of straightforward and proven techniques that are used by productive writers, and applies them to the dissertation process. In particular, it promotes the concept of writing networks – whether writing partners or groups – to ensure that writing does not become an isolated and tortured process, while not hiding the need for persistence and sustained effort.This book is intended for graduate students and their advisers in the social sciences, the humanities, and professional fields. It can further serve as a textbook for either informal writing groups led by students or for formal writing seminars offered by departments or graduate colleges. The techniques described will help new faculty advice their students more effectively and even achieve greater fluency in their own writing.

    1 The Single System for Academic Writing 1.1. Developing Habits of Fluent Writing 1.2. Using Demystifying Dissertation Writing as a Guide for Writing Groups and Seminars 1.3. Data on Ph.D. Completion Rates 1.4. The Single System and Prewriting 1.5. Keeping Perspective on Your Dissertation Project 2 Choosing a Topic and an Adviser 2.1. A Set of Constraints 2.2. Choosing a Dissertation Topic and an Adviser 2.3. Additional Constraints to Consider 2.4. Entering the Conversation: Subject Matter 2.5. Examples of Dissertation Topics 2.6. Entering the Conversation: Theories and Methods 2.7. Managing Your Adviser and Your Dissertation Committee Members 2.8. Group Exercises for Choosing a Topic and an Adviser 3 Interactive Reading and Note Taking 3.1. Scholarly Reading Is the Foundation of Your Dissertation 3.2. Reading Is a Privilege 3.3. Collect Notes, Not Articles or Books 3.4. Interactive Reading in Practice3.5. Using a Bibliographic Program to Record Interactive Notes 3.6. Rules for Recording Quotations 3.7. Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement 3.8. Group Exercises for Interactive Reading and Note Taking 4 Citeable Notes 4.1. Recording Citeable Notes and Building Your Literature Review 4.2. Group Exercises for Creating Citeable Notes and Identifying Categories 5 Focusing on Focus Statements 5.1. Useful Focus Statements Are Clear, Concise, and Compelling 5.2. Elements of a Useful Focus Statement 5.3. Providing Useful Feedback 5.4. Group Exercises That Focus on Focus Statements 6 Transforming a Focus Statement Into a One-Page Outline 6.1. The Role and Elements of the One-Page Outline 6.2. Formats for the Dissertation 6.3. Group Exercises That Transform Focus Statements Into One-Page Outlines 6.4. Using the Table of Contents Feature as an Efficiency Tool 7 Long Outline With References 7.1. Multiple Purposes of the Long Outline 7.2. Transforming a One-Page Outline Into a Long Outline 7.3. Inserting Citeable Notes Into Your Long Outline 7.4. Planning and Organizing Your Scholarship and Research 7.5. Getting a Format Check by Your Graduate College 7.6. A Group Exercise for Sharing and Reviewing Long Outlines With References 8 Developing a Regular Writing Routine 8.1. A Regular Writing Routine 8.2. The Importance of a Designated Writing Space 8.3. Developing a Writing Network 8.4. What a Regular Writing Routine Looks Like in Practice 8.5. Group Exercises for Establishing a Regular Writing Routine 9 Overcoming Writer’s Block 9.1. Perfectionism 9.2. Procrastination 9.3. Impatience 9.4. Depression and Dysphoria 9.5. Group Exercises for Overcoming Writer’s Block 10 The Role of Revision 10.1. Revision at the Organizational Level 10.2. Revision at the Content Level 10.3. Group Exercises for Revision Epilogue and Enjoying the Journey


    Peg Boyle Single is an academic writing coach who works with doctoral students and faculty members, and a consultant who offers workshops on writing and mentoring programs. She and has been conducting writing seminars and providing writing coaching for over 15 years. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, she was Director of the Faculty Mentoring Program and a Research Associate Professor at the University of Vermont. Richard M. Reis is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing (AIM) at Stanford and Co-Exeuctive Director of the Stanford Research Communication Program. A Lecturer in the Stanford Mechanical Engineering department, he teaches an introductory seminar for all incoming Electrical Engineering graduate students. He is also editor of the Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter.

    "Demystifying Dissertation Writing by Peg Boyle Single is a wonderful tool for assisting students through the rocky road of dissertation writing. By using a thorough and relatable writing style, having advisors and students as an audience, addressing the human topics of dissertation writing, providing visual process markers and tools, and believing in student/literature engagement, Single has written an amazing book for both advisors and students alike. I would recommend this book to anyone who works with any graduate students who are considering continuing their studies and those who are already in a doctoral program."

    NACADA Journal (National Academic Advising Association)

    "Any college-level library needs Demystifying Dissertation Writing, a powerful reference on dissertation writing. Humor and a converstational style may be unexpected side benefits here but they drive an informative and readable text on how to start, sustain and finish a dissertation."

    Midwest Book Review

    “I was so impressed with this book that I offered to write the foreword for it.”

    Rick Reis, editor of the Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter

    "Whether you’re inching towards a dissertation topic, choosing an adviser or already coping with the last stage of doctoral work, this book will be a life-saver. Demystifying Dissertation Writing is for anyone who wants to increase their writing productivity and especially for those who experience anxiety, blocking, impatience, perfectionism, or procrastination when they write. Through easy-to-follow steps, Single helps you rise above all these barriers and become a fluent writer. She has managed to package into this book her expertise as a writing seminar organizer and a writing coach and it is just what academe needs."

    JoAnn Moody, Faculty Development and Diversity Specialist, www.diversityoncampus.com and author of Faculty Diversity: Problems and Solutions.

    "Dr. Single has written the definitive text on how to start, sustain, and finish a dissertation. Her book describes what she calls her 'Single System for Academic Writing.' Her system is directed toward dissertation writers in the humanities and social sciences. The text is at once practical, accessible, and, in her aptly chosen descriptor, 'streamlined.' Starting with choosing a topic and advisor, Dr. Single adeptly takes the reader through the necessary dissertation tasks of preparatory reading and note-taking, crafting clear focus statements and outlines, creating regular writing routines and overcoming writer’s block, and finally revising. I now have the quintessential writing text that I can recommend to all my doctoral students, regardless of the research genre they will be using."

    Robert J. Nash, Professor & 2003 University Scholar in the Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Vermont & author of .

    "I highly recommend this book to all directors of doctoral programs. Demystifying Dissertation Writing provides a blueprint for facilitating a dissertation writing seminar. Our students and their advisers rave about Peg’s seminar and her book."

    Susan Hasazi, Stafford Distinguished Professor of Education Leadership & Special Education and Director of the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, University of Vermont

    As someone who directs programs to help graduate students become effective teachers on top of productive researchers, I am delighted to be able to bring Single’s book and system to these students’ attention—and to recommend it as well to faculty directing dissertations. In a compact, practical, and engaging way, Single shares ideas that should make the writing ‘load’ of academic life that much easier for all of us.

    Michele Marincovich, Director of the Center for Teaching and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Stanford University, and past Executive Director of the POD Network.

    “Written with humor in a friendly, conversational style, this book makes explicit the too often implicit aspects of successfully researching and writing a dissertation. Readers will feel that they have a guide-at-their-side (and a stern task master in the form of Peg Boyle Single in their conscience) as they learn about and acquire the habits of fluent writing–reading interactively, taking citeable notes, outlining, and writing and revising their dissertations.”

    Barbara E. Lovitts, author of Making the Implicit Explicit and Leaving the Ivory Tower