Why a Dissertation? Why a PhD?

I believe a dissertation is, primarily, a method for doctoral students to show they can conduct research; that they are familiar with the pitfalls of research design and the hard work involved in collecting something that looks like good data, and that they can stretch themselves to synthesize and evaluate the results in light of the previous research and the study’s theoretical framework. That is hard work and for many it is the last time they do research in their careers. Many of my clients pursue the PhD for professional reasons. In public...

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Abstract…How to write one

You are finished! Your chair is happy and your committee is ready for you to defend! Now you must whip the document into shape by adding the preliminary pages, including the abstract. Oh, no…more writing…you thought you were finished writing and revising! Take heart! There is no need to create an abstract from scratch. You already have the material you need to write the five components of an abstract. • Introduction of the problem (why it is important to study the problem) is found in Chapter 1. • Problem statement (including your scope) is...

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Dissertation advisors as coaches

Many graduate students find that the very people they think are supposed to be coaching them–their dissertation advisors–are not doing their jobs. Many students expect their dissertation advisors to check in with them on a regular basis and to read their submissions in a timely manner as part of the advisement process. Although I can sympathize with doctoral students, you have to face the hard truth—many dissertation advisors are not good coaches! Professors have a lot to do. They do not just chair dissertation committees. Some of them are...

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Committee members…how to work with them

Many of my clients get mixed messages from their committee members. Committee Member 1 tells the student she is more than ready to defend. Committee Member 2 tells her there is no unifying theme in the dissertation. That she is going off in too many directions, that she needs to look at the underlying theoretical boundaries of the topic, yada, yada, yada…Such divergent viewpoints can be a continual thorn in a student’s side as she tries to write to please several people.

However, a student should not be in this position.

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Choosing dissertation committee members

It is very important to work with your chair on who else will be on the committee. Do not get anyone who is in conflict with your chair! Do not get another expert on the topic as a committee member. Your chair must be the only expert. If not, conflicts can come up between them on exactly how to do your research.

Get the minimum number of members required. Coordinating more than the necessary number can become a nightmare when meetings have to be scheduled, papers to be signed, etc.

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