How not to complete your dissertation

From 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 complete your dreamed-of doctorate.

Two types of university friends you may have never thought of (part 1)

Graduate students on the road to doctoral Oz often feel more isolated than a vegetarian at a barbecue. Especially if you have a laissez faire chair and committee, you may believe you’re abandoned and unloved. You’re not. In my work as editor and coach for struggling dissertation-writing students, I know well that many other people in the university community can comfort, calm, and care for you. Here I’ll remind you of two types who can help ease your dissertation traumas. (Next post: two more.)

Join us 9/24 for the TAA Webinar: ‘Designing Your Online Presence to Communicate Your Academic Brand’

Increasingly, PhD students and junior scholars are creating an online presence to promote themselves and their work. Academics are also designing an online presence to assist in their transition to a career outside of academia or a different academic path within the university. But, there are so many platforms to choose from. How do you evaluate which ones to use, given the number and variety of options? Join us Thursday, September 24 from 3-4 p.m. ET for “Designing Your Online Presence to Communicate Your Academic Brand”, presented by Lee Skallerup Bessette, a Blogger and Social Media Advisor, and Paula Thompson, an Academic Coach, both from Academic Coaching & Writing, for an introduction to the most popular platforms and tools to help you decide which ones might be right for you.<

How to publish an article in an academic journal: Avoid rookie mistakes

My article is based on ethnography and interviews, so the methods section is pretty straightforward. I discuss how long the ethnographic research lasted (9 months); how many interviews (83); and the case selection – why I interviewed deportees in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and why most of my interviewees are men.

Data and Analysis

This is the meat of your paper – where your original contribution lies. The main trick here is to make sure that you deploy your data to answer your research questions.
Many qualitative papers fail to analyze their data. You not only need to tell us what you learned from your interviews and ethnography; you also need to analyze each piece of data you provide. Tell the reader what it means and why it’s important.

Conclusion

I have not thus far rejected an article for not having a good conclusion – although I did receive one that completely lacked a conclusion. And, that did not look good.
In any event, a good conclusion can only strengthen your article and make it more likely that your findings will be understood and disseminated.
In my conclusion, I reiterate my findings, mention any possible limitations, and explore directions for future research.

The most useful textbook & academic writing posts of the week: November 7, 2014

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