Advice about academic writing often stresses the iterative nature of the writing process; the creation of an effective final draft generally requires multiple drafts and extensive revision. A crucial corollary to a commitment to extensive revision is an acceptance that revision mustn’t be allowed to go on indefinitely. Otherwise, a certain mania can set in: any draft can always be other than it is. After a certain point, we have to ask ourselves about diminishing returns and about the very real possibility of messing up what is already working.
The top challenges participants of TAA’s August Dissertation Writing Boot Camp indicated that they were facing in completing their dissertation included time management, staying focused, writer’s block, holding themselves accountable to deadlines, and anxiety.
Boot Camp Leader and Dissertators United Chapter Chair Ashley Sanders, who is also working on completing her dissertation, said that one of the strategies she finds really helpful to overcome the anxiety she feels when working on her dissertation is to start the day by free writing in her journal.
Picture this: You’ve just finished up the last paragraph of a section in your dissertation. Now comes the time to read over the whole chapter and edit it, even though you feel that you’ve been over it a million times, so maybe you’ll be fine without editing—right? Wrong. Editing your dissertation is one of the most important things you’ll do before submitting it and earning your doctorate, so here are some do’s and don’ts of editing your dissertation.
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Join TAA’s Dissertators United Chapter and gain access to the resources you need to improve your writing, enhance your productivity, and ultimately complete your dissertation. Our resource list includes links to how-to articles, websites, blogs, books and apps that focus on:
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It is incumbent upon early-career academics to distinguish their research as mature scholarship, not student work. So as an editor who often works with junior faculty and recent PhDs, I’m always on the lookout for hallmarks of amateur writing that scholars can identify and excise.
Perhaps most academics can name some of the tics that unfortunately characterize graduate-student writing: overqualification, hedging, extensive literature review, and a high ratio of quotation to original material are just a few.