How not to complete your dissertation

Woman heroFrom my longtime academic coaching and editing practice guiding doctoral candidates through the peaks and gullies of completing their dissertations, I have noticed that women in doctoral programs can easily become diverted by compassion for others in trouble. Well-meaning decisions and actions may result in calamitous consequences to a dissertation.

Although my experience has been primarily with women, if you are a man reading this, you may recognize some of these scenarios. In these stories of doctoral candidates (names and identifying details changed for their protection), you will see that tender-hearted consideration at the wrong times dangerously waylaid dissertation progress. If you are a doctoral candidate writing (or not writing) your dissertation, perhaps these tales will confirm decisions to let no major interruptions prevent the completion of your dreamed-of doctorate. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: January 26, 2018

"If writing didn't require thinking then we'd all be doing it." ~Jeremiah LaabsJeremiah Laabs reminds us that “If writing didn’t require thinking then we’d all be doing it.” This week we have a number of articles to get you thinking. For textbook authors, you may be thinking about the disruptive opportunities within the market seeking to solve the problem of high prices, you may be considering options for digital textbooks, or maybe you’re thinking about OER. Both textbook and academic authors with blogs may be thinking about how to repurpose blog articles into a book.

Academic authors may also be thinking about choosing the right dissertation topic, new opportunities in journal publishing, research impact factors, quantity vs. quality concerns in publishing, and roadblocks to accessibility. Whatever you’re thinking about, we hope it leads to better, more productive writing this week, and that these articles may help you think clearer. [Read more…]

Timesaving tech tip: Customize and create styles for consistent, instant document formatting

I’ve got my own writing style. I’m sure you do too. Regardless, you likely have editors, publishers, and/or teachers who insist on specific style requirements that can be quite tedious and time-consuming to apply on a document by document basis.

Timesaving tip: Customize and create styles for consistent and instant formatting. [Read more…]

The most useful textbook & academic posts of the week: November 17, 2017

"Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on." ~Louis L'AmourAs we reach the halfway point of Academic Writing Month (AcWriMo) 2017, the posts this week reflect an increased awareness of the disruptive nature of Open Access in academic publishing, ways to increase diversity in scholarly writing, tips for productive reading and distraction resistance while writing, ways to beat your fear of writing, tools for academic writers, improving your use of comparisons, strategies for quickly tackling a writing project, and how to market your academic journal articles. Whatever you are working on this week, remember the words of Louis L’Amour and “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” [Read more…]

For doctoral students – Your relationship with your chair: Too chummy or too distant?

relationshipIf you’re at the dissertation writing stage, your most important relationship (other than the one with your chocolate/peanut butter cups stash) is that with your chair/advisor/first reader. Your chair can be your best friend or worst nemesis. But there’s no getting around it; if you want to get done, finally, and graduate with those proud letters after your name, you need your chair.

When your chair is friendly, forthcoming, and responsive, you may be tempted to become friends. When your chair is too formal and standoffish, you may be tempted to ignore him or her entirely, or as much as the required paperwork allows. Either extreme is a mistake, and you’ll likely regret it later. [Read more…]

Friends – How to deal with their negative responses to your academic projects

friendsNote: This is the second of two posts on dealing with friends who may not understand your commitment to your academic project.

Friends are, well, friends, and we have every right to expect their support and encouragement. Most of the time they are for us, but sometimes, to our shock, they turn in the other direction after we share our academic aspirations, goals, accomplishments, and next projects. [Read more…]

Friends – How to keep them but keep them away when you need academic immersion

friendsNote: This is the first of two posts on how to handle your friends so you maintain their friendship but hold them off when you need most of your time for your academic project.

The piercing voice of Kathryn’s best friend on the other end of the phone threatened to puncture her eardrum. Penny screamed, “You’re never around anymore! Why is this damn project so important to you anyway? You think you’re too good for me!”

Kathryn mumbled an excuse about the doorbell ringing, hung up, and started to sob. For 18 years, Penny was her best friend, confidante, and supporter. [Read more…]

Call for Proposals: Textbook and academic authoring conference

TAA’s 31st Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference will be held at La Fonda on the Plaza, Santa Fe, NM, June 15-16, 2018. The conference is attended by authors and aspiring authors of textbooks, journal articles, and other academic works, as well as by industry professionals from across the country.

TAA invites the submission of presentations relevant to authoring and publishing textbooks and academic works (journal articles, books, and monographs). [Read more…]

How to field those horrible questions about your academic project

Fielding questions about your academic projectWhether you’re writing your dissertation, or post-dissertation, sweating through the first article from it, or a book chapter, or an entire book, at least one person always turns up among your family or friends who shamelessly asks those questions that make you squirm. They’re right up there with the in-your-face “How come you’re still single?” or “When are you going to have kids?”

To help you field the equivalent questions about your academic project, maintain your self-respect, and even jab a little in return, here are several of the most common questions, and variations. I’ve collected these from my academic coaching clients who are agonizing through writing their dissertations, articles, and books. [Read more…]

Your life A.D. (after dissertation)

It always seems impossible until it's doneA motivational truism proclaims that the most dangerous time is when you’ve reached a goal. This is why many doctoral candidates experience Post-Parting Depression (PPD). Consciously and unconsciously you’ve been pushing hard for so very long. Preoccupied with the intensity and innumerable details of the work itself, you may have lost sight of the larger purpose of the dissertation and degree. After graduation, you no longer have to spend every moment you’re not eating or bathing on the dissertation.

In my dissertation coaching and editing practice, most clients I’ve helped graduate experience this void. For a year or usually more, they say, they’ve wished for nothing but to finish the durn thing. Now that they have . . . inexplicably they miss it—and get depressed. [Read more…]