When your professor muscles in: Your topic and coauthorship

frustrated academicAs an advanced graduate student, you face many hard situations: finally writing the dissertation, trying to explain to your family why you can’t spend any time with them, and breaking up the fistfights between your chair and committee members. In my work as academic coach and editor, and especially with clients who are at any of the torturous stages of their dissertations, I’ve noticed two other scenarios that can cause students great anxiety. The first is the professor’s suggestion of a dissertation topic. The second, later, is a professor’s offer to collaborate on a research article. [Read more…]

Choose your best dissertation chair

matchedIt is impossible to overestimate the significance of the student-advisor relationship. . . . This is both a personal and professional relationship that rivals marriage and parenthood in its complexity, variety and ramifications for the rest of one’s life. (Zhao, Golde, & McCormick, 2007, p. 263)

These wise observations were made by a new “doctor” in the study by Zhao et al. (2007) of how the doctoral students’ choice of chairs and their behavior affect the students’ satisfaction. The candidate quoted above echoes what many doctoral students learn, with ease or agony, during their dissertations. Your relationship with your chair (sometimes called advisor or supervisor) is absolutely the most important in your entire doctoral haul. [Read more…]

11/7 TAA Webinar, ” Writing Your First Book: Developing Your Dissertation Into a Manuscript”

Margaret PuskarPublishing your first book is imperative for many early-career scholars, but turning your dissertation into a book can be a confusing and difficult process. Join us Thursday, November 7, from 10-11 am ET for the TAA Webinar, “Writing Your First Book: Developing Your Dissertation Into a Manuscript”, where presenter Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz of MargaretEdits will discuss practical strategies and tips for bridging the gap between completing your dissertation and writing a compelling book manuscript. She will also share some of the most common mistakes that she’s encountered in her years as an academic editor and writing coach, the importance of staking a claim that you can defend consistently throughout your book as well as developing your scholarly voice.  [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: October 25, 2019

“Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.” – Carl SaganAs we come to the close of Open Access Week 2019, having been faced with the challenge of considering this year’s theme, “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge”, the words of Carl Sagan seem even more appropriate. “Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.”

This week’s collection of articles from around the web begins with some relevant discussions on open access including an MIT-developed framework for negotiating contracts with scholarly publishers, the future of open access business models, discussion about ownership of research, and the first 100 books from Johns Hopkins University Project. We’ve also included some other hot topics for academic authors on grant writing, being an older student, and being a minority in academia.

Wherever your writing takes you this week, whether publishing open access or traditional, consider the audience you can reach and the shackles of time you can break as a result of your efforts. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: October 4, 2019

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” – Stephen KingThis week’s collection of posts from around the web is full of advice on a variety of topics of interest for academic and textbook authors. Topics include: creative thinking, co-writing, starting a PhD, starting a research network, dissemination of research, research feature creep, dissertation committee service, open access ethics, research data sharing, and academic book reviews.

As varied as this topic list may seem, collectively it represents some of the many questions and challenges faced by academic authors daily. Stephen King once said, “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” The same is true for your answers to these questions and challenges. If it doesn’t naturally fit your academic pursuits, it’s not the right path for this stage of your academic career. This week focus on the words that fit best for where you are in the process. Happy writing! [Read more…]

Musical chairs…and committees

In your dissertation trek, you may have a chair and committee who are steady, consistent, and infinitely supportive. If not, my condolences.

Students frequently describe their committees as just wanting to push those dissertations through, get their pittance, devote their time to revising and publishing their own (hard-won) dissertation, and jockeying for tenure. Graduate students also make the frequent mistake of thinking that their committees are reasonable, logical, well- organized, prompt about returning phone calls and manuscripts, and enjoying a balanced life, happy in their work. Rarely. [Read more…]

Are you whirling in the infinite loop of dissertation revisions?

If you’re writing your dissertation and have submitted your drafts to your chair and committee, you may have experienced a version of the infinite loop of revisions. The revisions may drive you crazy, but it’s actually possible to approach and handle them so they don’t erode your confidence (even more), deepen your depression, and thoroughly destroy your sanity.

A chair or committee’s cry for obsessive revisions can stem from one of two main motivations. Some professors can be perfectionist, vindictive, petty, and competitive, and their insistent revisions reflect less-than-healthy motivations. Other professors push you for revisions because they genuinely want a quality work, for you and for them (by reflection). Their comments are not personal, and they’re not out to get you. In fact, they likely see a publishable spinoff in your postdoc future. [Read more…]

For lagging doctoral candidates: How to finish your dissertation and keep your family

work from homeIf you are in the throes of your dissertation, you probably realize that, other than yourself, your family is most affected by your dissertation, and they most affect your progress. It can be hard for family members to understand what you’re going through and must continue to endure for several years.

A poignant example from one of my dissertation coaching clients: Ava wailed to me, “I get calls daily from my mother, my three sisters, and my two cousins! They all say they’re tired of me not coming to the family events. I had to go to the reunion!”

Like Ava’s relatives, family can start squeezing you. [Read more…]

Can I help you in any way? Dissertation

Can I help you in any way? Dissertation“Hello, thank you for visiting. Can I help you in any way?” If you’ve browsed our TAA website, you’ve likely seen those words in the chat box that appears on the screen. We’re often asked by visitors if we’re “real”. Then those who realize that we are, and that we are there to help, ask questions that you may have as well.

In this series of “Can I help you in any way?” posts, we’ll highlight some of the questions people have asked through the TAA Live Chat feature of our site and the responses we have for those questions. In this post, we’re focused on questions about requirements related to writing a thesis or dissertation. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 31, 2019

"A person is limited only by the thoughts that he chooses." ~James AllenThis week’s collection of articles from around the web provides insight into a variety of ways that academics can improve their success both in their individual academic efforts and those that require collaboration or presentation of work to others.

We begin with advice on managing the isolation that often exists in academe and balance that with tips for collaborative writing. We then look at creative ways to reach new audiences, how to avoid a bad first impression, and different tactics for presenting at conferences. Finally we explore concepts of showing up, working on your own timeline, and preparing for the next steps in you academic efforts.

As James Allen shared in his book, As a Man Thinketh, “A person is limited only by the thoughts that he chooses.” This week, be limitless. Happy writing! [Read more…]