if you are honest with yourself you can admit that there are days when nothing gets completed. You look at your to do list and nothing has been crossed off. Sometimes we struggle because it seems as if no one cares if we complete or PhD or not. Unlike the structure of deadlines, timelines, and feedback that the coursework provides, writing a dissertation does not involve much oversight from anyone. It is quite possible for a graduate student who is ABD, All But Dissertation to get through an entire day without accomplishing anything related to the dissertation.
I recommend that if your university offers a dissertation writing boot camp don’t be afraid to sign up. If your university doesn’t offer a boot camp perhaps you can suggest that they offer one. I conduct five boot camps every year, some in MD, Pittsburgh, and in Michigan. Many students in STEM disciplines have benefited from participating in these boot camps. Whereas some students participate to get their proposal finished, others participate to complete their PhD. While the document is not completed over this four-day writing intensive workshop, students are able to figure out how to manage their time more effectively after the boot-camp is over. The one-on-one coaching sessions allow students to work on their own specific roadblocks. After years of working with graduate students, I find that their issues are quite similar despite their different academic disciplines.
As a dissertation coach much of one-on-one coaching sessions come from what I have included in my recent book, If You Can Write a Master’s Thesis You Can Write a Dissertation.
As the dissertation coach and facilitator for these activities I focus on:
- Goal Setting
- Time management
- How to manage committee members
- How to Say No to friends and family members
- How to make progress when you don’t feel like writing
- How to overcome writer’s block
- Preparing for the defense
- One-on-one coaching.
- Public Speaking….and much more
Writing a dissertation can be a lonely process . If you are working in isolation, then you might not aware of how common your inactivity is. The guilt of not writing everyday can sometimes be overwhelming. These boot camps help students confront their inactivity or help them to speed up the writing process and move on to graduation. Thus if your university is considering a writing boot camp don’t wait until you are writing your dissertation to get involve. If you are working on your proposal you can use a dissertation boot camp to finish your degree and get any writing project done. Students use these series of workshops to also network with other graduate students in their department or outside their department. They exchange ideas such as:
How to use Endnotes?
What’s the best website to get statistical?
How to use Dropbox?
What is the best software to analyze Qualitative or Quantitative data…it is Atlas ti? or NVivo?
How to start a blog?
Just because you are working on your dissertation does not mean that you have to work alone. You should find an accountability partner. If you post comments on PhDCompletion.com you will have an accountability partner built in. Nonetheless, I also see dissertation boot camps as accountability partners where you go to find people doing the same thing, at the same time, at the same place. Students that when they are in the boot camp they are afraid to waste time. They feel guilty if they are sitting there tweeting, or on facebook while the person next to them are crunching numbers, writing code, writing a chapter, editing a chapter, or something else productive. Do you need a boot camp to get your started again? Don’t be afraid to seek help. If your school doesn’t offer a Dissertation Writing Boot camp, does your counseling center offer a Dissertation Writing Group on Campus? Can you form your own? Start small. You don’t need to edit each others work, you just need to show up and write at the same time in the same place.
DR. CARTER-VEALE’S DISSERTATION BOOT-CAMPS
Across the country to combat PhD attrition or speed up time to degree a number of universities have developed a dissertation boot-camp to help their students make progress toward PhD Completion. At Maryland we refer to our boot-camp as the Dissertation House (DH) where we offer four days of campus activities for graduate students who are writing their proposal or dissertation. For four universities in Michigan, I facilitate a similar boot camp, the Dissertation Writing Retreat (DWR). Whereas the DH involves daily on campus activities from 9-5, the DWR involves a bit more intensive writing activities and one-on-one coaching from 7am to 11 pm.