The Fast Dissertation: Tips to Finish Your Doctoral (PhD) Dissertation without Stress and Anxiety | Duncan Koerber | Skillshare

The Fast Dissertation: Tips to Finish Your Doctoral (PhD) Dissertation without Stress and Anxiety

Duncan Koerber, University Professor

The Fast Dissertation: Tips to Finish Your Doctoral (PhD) Dissertation without Stress and Anxiety

Duncan Koerber, University Professor

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55 Lessons (2h 4m)
    • 1. Course and Instructor Overview

      1:28
    • 2. Introduction to the Course

      2:02
    • 3. What is Expected of You

      2:05
    • 4. Topic Selection

      2:00
    • 5. Begin with Databases

      2:00
    • 6. Consider your Interests

      2:35
    • 7. Find and Join a Conversation

      2:15
    • 8. Find your Contribution

      2:05
    • 9. Narrow it Down

      2:28
    • 10. Find a Preliminary Thesis

      2:09
    • 11. Don't Worry about the Competition

      2:00
    • 12. Find the Holes

      2:12
    • 13. Literature Reviews

      2:00
    • 14. Have an Opinion, Eventually

      2:10
    • 15. The Abstract is Your Friend

      2:09
    • 16. I just need One More Book

      2:13
    • 17. Choose the Right Notetaking Method

      2:39
    • 18. Use Bibliographic Software from the Start

      2:45
    • 19. The Trouble with Keywords in Searches

      2:04
    • 20. Mine those Bibliographies

      2:17
    • 21. Be a Book Miser

      2:01
    • 22. Bringing it all Together

      2:06
    • 23. Research Collection and Methodology

      2:19
    • 24. Careful Design Matters

      2:12
    • 25. Vital Software

      2:43
    • 26. Choosing a Suitable Method

      2:06
    • 27. The Right Methodological Fit

      2:19
    • 28. Explaining the Method

      2:20
    • 29. Explaining the Why

      2:08
    • 30. The Size of the Sample Matters

      2:45
    • 31. Writing about Methods and Data

      2:26
    • 32. Useful Graphics

      2:12
    • 33. What Help can You Get to Make Life Easier

      2:07
    • 34. Statisticians and Study Groups

      2:06
    • 35. Literature Review Assistance

      2:01
    • 36. Coaching

      2:04
    • 37. Writing and Citation Assistance

      2:07
    • 38. Working with the Dissertation Chair

      2:06
    • 39. Expertise is Vital

      2:21
    • 40. No Retirees Please

      2:14
    • 41. Chairs with History

      2:03
    • 42. Complementary Interests and Methods

      2:15
    • 43. Stay in Control

      2:20
    • 44. Time Management

      2:05
    • 45. Do Enough but not Too Much

      2:40
    • 46. Avoid Distractions

      2:04
    • 47. Time-consuming Methods

      2:02
    • 48. Scheduling Concerns

      2:23
    • 49. A Procrastination Solution

      2:12
    • 50. Writing Tips to get Done Faster

      2:56
    • 51. Find the Right Place and Time

      2:11
    • 52. Organizing the Project

      3:22
    • 53. Take Breaks for your Mind

      2:20
    • 54. When You've got Another Job

      2:19
    • 55. Just be Good Enough

      2:03
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About This Class

Are you struggling to finish your doctoral dissertation? Do you need a push to get to the finish line? Do you need a clear roadmap to get it done sooner? 

The Fast Dissertation is a complete course full of insider tips from Dr. Duncan Koerber and Dr. Justin Bateh on how to avoid failure – and wasted tuition money – and get your dissertation done fast. 

Dr. Koerber and Dr. Bateh have supervised and helped many graduate students, and, of course, completed their own dissertations. Learn from their experience and the experience of their students in this course. 

In this course, learn how to

  • find a topic you enjoy and narrow it down;
  • join an academic conversation and make a worthwhile contribution;
  • find and review literature quickly and accurately;
  • choose a useful methodology;
  • ensure your data is sound;
  • select the right dissertation chair;
  • manage your time effectively;
  • use the latest technology to make your job easier; and,
  • deal with the effects of the dissertation work on your life.

Follow these lessons, finish your dissertation sooner, and make a stronger impact on your academic community. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Duncan Koerber

University Professor

Teacher

Dr. Duncan Koerber has taught writing and communications courses for the past 10 years at six Canadian universities to thousands of students.

Currently a full-time assistant professor at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, Duncan Koerber worked for nearly 10 years in reporting and editing roles for the London Free Press, the Mississauga News, and the University of Toronto Medium. He has freelanced for magazines and newspapers, including the Toronto Star.

Oxford University Press recently published his writing textbook, Clear, Precise, Direct: Strategies for Writing (2015). Available on Amazon, the book considers the seven most common errors (interfering factors) in writing and how to improve them (enhancing factors). His second book, Crisis Communication... See full profile

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1. Course and Instructor Overview: are you struggling to finish your PhD dissertation? Do you need a push to get to the finish line? Do you need a clear roadmap to get it done sooner? The Fast dissertation is a complete course full of insider tips from me, Dr Duncan Kerber and Dr Justin Battle of research methodologies dot com. We show how to avoid failure and wasted tuition money and get your dissertation done fast. We've supervised, helped many graduate students and, of course, completed our own dissertations in this course learned from our experience and the experience of our students and ask questions of seasoned academic professionals. In this course, learn how to find a topic you will enjoy. Join an academic conversation and make a worthwhile contribution. Finding review literature quickly and accurately ensure your methods and data are sound. Select the right dissertation chair for you. Use the latest technology to make your job easier and more. The course moves through all the key parts of a dissertation project. The course has meant for PhD students, beginning or in the middle of their dissertation. Follow these lessons and finish your dissertation sooner and make a stronger impact on your academic community. Thank you for your interest in our course. Try a free preview of the lectures. We hope to see you in the courts. 2. Introduction to the Course: are you struggling to finish your PhD dissertation? Do you need a push to get to the finish line? Do you need a clear roadmap to get it done sooner? The Fast dissertation is a complete course full of insider tips from me, Dr Duncan Kerber and Dr Justin Battle of research methodologies dot com. We show how to avoid failure and wasted tuition money and get your dissertation done fast. We've supervised health many graduate students and, of course, completed our own dissertations in this course learned from our experience and the experience of our students. Learn how to find a topic you will enjoy. Join an academic conversation and make a worthwhile contribution. Finding Review literature quickly and accurately ensure your methods and data are sound. Select the right dissertation. Share for your interest and methodologies. Use the latest technologies to organize yourself and make your life a lot easier. Fit the dissertation into your busy life with a job and a family, the course moves through all the key parts of a dissertation project. This course also provides advice on finding people to help you with statistics, literature reviews, writing style, grammar citations and editing and coaching. of course, has meant for PhD students, beginning or in the middle of their dissertation. Follow these lessons and finish your dissertation sooner and make a stronger impact on your academic community. We recommend you go through this course in order, but if you have specific pressing concerns, turn to those videos right away. We also encourage you to post questions in the Q and A section the discussion forums and make the most of your experience in this course. With that out of the way, let's begin. 3. What is Expected of You: before you begin your dissertation, it's vital to understand the expectations of your school and your program. Read all the documents from your graduate program about this dissertation process every last one. These documents will explain all kinds of things, like deadlines for proposals, limits on how long you can do your dissertation, ethics policies for working with humans or animals, formatting rules, content expectations, citation rules, submission procedures and so on. Becoming an expert on these documents will save you time and also help you determine the major due dates. For example, ethics policies for working with humans or animals may require an extensive proposal first , and you may not get approval or any response to your proposal for many, many months, so ensure that you've got enough lead time built into your schedule. Based on these deadlines, I found that knowing the deadlines and expectations gave me a little bit of a push. If you don't know those rules and deadlines and expectations, sometimes you can go blindly into your dissertation. Another example is it's really good to know the formatting style of your university, whether they want a P A or M l. A. Style before you get started. That way you could get the style right from the very beginning of your dissertation. Then you don't have to spend a lot of time converting citations reformatting the document when you're done. And remember, there are a lot of administrators at the typical college or university level, and they love to point out the rules that you haven't followed. So you don't want to get stuck on a technicality right at the end when you're trying to submit that dissertation and have to spend another couple of weeks just figuring out reformatting and solving problems. So go and find those documents now study them the way you're going to study your dissertation topic. 4. Topic Selection: choosing a topic fair dissertation can be challenging. You may feel like there's this wonderful breakfast buffet full of topics, and how can you pick just one? I didn't choose my dissertation topic until after I did my courses and did my comprehensive exams. And then I settled down with my supervisor with a couple of ideas. I knew I wanted to do something in the area of media and journalism history, but my ideas were very general. One was. How did the telegraph change politics in the 18 hundreds? And the other was, How did the newspaper spur on political parties in early Canada? As you can see, both topics were fairly general. I mean, I really hadn't gotten into these topics much at all, But I had done some reading during my coursework, and I felt like those were two interesting topics to me. The problem is, when you have a lot of choices, a lot of options, it actually makes us feel worse. Psychologists show that having too much choice presents us with too many difficulties. Which one should I choose? Which path should I take? And even when we make a reason choice, we may feel unhappy because we had to turn away some other choices. I knew that whichever topic I chose, I was gonna be stuck with it for at least three years, maybe four years. So a wealth of topics certainly exists. I'm sure in your mind, and your interest may be brought. It's important to consult with your dissertation chair or supervisor to find a workable topic to zoom in on something that you can achieve in 34 years in this section of the course. We provide some suggestions for finding a topic that will engage you through the long and challenging dissertation, research and writing process, So let's begin. 5. Begin with Databases: a good tip for getting started is to begin with online databases. As a registered student, you should have access to all kinds of databases online. And if you don't have that access, make sure you get it set up right away as you gonna need that for your whole dissertation career. One useful database in topic selection is proquest. Often it's called proquest dissertations, so you can go into Proquest and look for previous dissertations that have been completed on your topic. For example, if your topic is leadership styles and their impact on workers job satisfaction, you define that. It's been done numerous times before. Leadership styles on bank managers, tellers, police commissioners, police officers and so on. But don't fret. Just because somebody's done your topic doesn't mean you have to choose another. You can always find a very unique angle of your own to go with on that topic. To make it original, you just have to change the variables and the populations. Perhaps you look at leadership styles of academic administrators at a community college in southern Georgia and the impact on its faculty Well, if you did that, you'd have a unique topic and You also have several dissertation models with examples of leadership and job satisfaction, surveys, sources and methods. And make sure that you mind the big biographies of those dissertations to see what common sources they're all using. That may lead you to other dissertations on the topic, and then maybe you can position yours within those proquest should give you that initial spark, that feeling that you're on the right path towards some sort of topic selection. You may want to send some of those dissertations to your chair or supervisor to see what that person thinks about the quality of the approach, the methodology of these other sources. 6. Consider your Interests: It's well known to teachers that if you can allow students to choose topics that interest them, they're more likely to do better at it. This idea is not just useful of the elementary and high school levels. It's also useful to remember that you need to be very interested in your topic as well. You're more likely to succeed at researching and writing your dissertation if you choose a topic that fits with your personal or intellectual interests. I ended up choosing the topic of how the mass media well, the newspaper created political parties in early Canada. Now, to my brother or my father or other people, that might seem like a really boring topic. But I've always had a personal interest in history. It's with its local history, national history, even if it's not academic history. I was still interested in it, and I also have an interesting politics what's going on in my country, my province, my city. So studying media history and politics of early Canada was perfect for me. It was something that would sustain me for many, many years. Don't pick a topic simply because it's popular these days, and I'm looking at you social media communication. Twitter, Facebook scholars don't pick a topic simply because it's the favorite of your dissertation chair or gives you a chance to work with a very eminent scholar. You're the one who must live with this topic every single day for many years. So choose one that you'd think about even if you weren't doing a PhD. First and foremost, it must engage you. Now there is some debate as to whether your topic should be one that you like or one that you absolutely love. If it's a topic you love, some people believe that you'll never complete it. You'll never find the perfectionism that you expect out of such a topic. If you only like the topic you're doing, you will get it done eventually, because you will not obsess over it as you would with a topic that you love. I'm a believer in liking your topic. I liked my dissertation topic. I didn't love it, but that sustained me through four years. You'll also dig deeper, I think, into a topic, if you like it or love it, and that will result in a very detailed, specific dissertation where you're the expert 7. Find and Join a Conversation: this topic selection process shouldn't be long. You should spend a few weeks, not months generally reviewing the literature on your topic. Remember the ones you actually start on your topic. You still have to do a literature review, and that's gonna involve very in depth review of what's been written on your topic. So there's no sands wasting too much time on research right now. The document you have to submit US party proposal. It will not be that long in most cases. So just skim some articles from your online databases you have through university. Get some books out of the library that air general amazon dot com has some great features, such as Look inside the book where you can look inside a lot of academic books, at least partially. So you want to get a general overall feel for what other scholars have researched and written, and you'll constantly be narrowing down your topic, getting more and more specific the more and more you read. Certainly you want to cover enough in a few weeks to know that you're not repeating another published study that's out there but depend upon your dissertation share to tell you what studies toe look at also whether your topic is original. We'll talk about chairs and supervisors more later in this course by hopefully you've chosen a chair supervisor who is an expert on what you're studying. Their expertise will provide a shortcut for you in terms of getting your topic set. And really, all you're doing at this point is you're entering a conversation in your field. Your project needs to fit into a sort of flow. A conversation. Imagine a flowing river and you are trying to fit into that river and flow comfortably down . If you're not sure what's been written. Generally speaking on your topic, you don't know what conversation you're entering. It's like walking in a doorway, toe a party and catching somebody right in the middle of telling a joke. You don't know why it's funny you haven't heard the set up. So in this initial stage, survey your topic, find a conversation and join it 8. Find your Contribution: after you've done a quick survey of the literature over a few weeks, it's time to find your contribution. What is your contribution toe? Whatever academic conversation you've discovered, you're not trying to change the conversation drastically and trying to change the world in your dissertation topic. Instead, think of yourself is trying to add a very small but worthwhile contribution to that conversation. Most great insights in fields come not from one person necessarily, but come from an incremental growth of thought over the decades. You may decide that you want to apply Ah, unique methodology, for example, something that you you have used before in your coursework. In your master's degree. A few years ago, I turned away from media history, and I moved into the field of crisis communication. Now there are some similarities there, so crisis communication often has a political element. It's obviously a communicative thing, which is my PhD, but I started to see in crisis communication Ah, hole that I could fill in that conversation and that was simply the application of the idea of community, which is obviously so common in the study of communication to crisis. Communication politics are the anyone had applied this to crisis communication, so that was my unique contribution to the field. So you need to sit down and think about what are your unique insights? What can you bring from your background, your scholarly background or personal background your professional background to this topic that people have already been discussing for many years? And by bringing in that unique perspective or methodology or theory, or whatever you're bringing to it, you know that you'll be doing original work. You won't be plagiarizing or copying because it comes from you. 9. Narrow it Down: a big problem in the writing of undergraduate students is choosing too big of a topic. I once had an undergraduate student for a five or six page, double spaced term paper. Try to write a complete history of NHL hockey. As you can imagine, that was probably the most general paper who could ever write. It was not dealing in any specifics at all. But this is a big problem with PhD students as well, and that is choosing a very, very, very broad topic. Maybe it's because you're expected to write 200 pages, 300 pages, 400 pages, that you choose such broad topics. But this doesn't mean that your dissertation should be that broad, even if you've got hundreds of pages toe work with. Actually the best dissertations. Take a really small slice of a large pie and examine it in great detail. So instead of doing a dissertation topic of the history of the printing press in North America and its effect on the political systems of the United States, Canada and Mexico, you might zoom in on a specific region of North America. For example, the East coast of the United States and you're gonna look at Onley party newspapers, not commercial newspapers, and you're only gonna look at newspapers between 17 76 and 1800. Think of this narrowing process the same way you would think of putting limits on a search in Google and your job. Then it zoom in as far as you can on the topic, find that little slice and then deal with it in such great detail. It's that great detail that will fill out the 300 pages. And if you zoom in on that little slice in your research, you probably eventually exhaust all the books, articles, archival research, whatever it is. And you'll feel pretty confident at the end that you've overturned all the sources you need . And there isn't one more book that you have to read or one more archival document. You'll be both an expert on this very, very specific angle of your topic, and you'll have a general understanding of the broad contours of that topic as well 10. Find a Preliminary Thesis: I said in a previous lecture that undergraduate students often take on very big topics for short papers. Well, there's another problem of the undergraduate that PhD students still have problems with, and that is with finding, Ah, preliminary thesis. Most undergraduate papers don't have a thesis or an argument or whatever you want to call it. They have a topic. But remember, a topic is not a thesis. A thesis is much more specific. It makes a point of argument that we can say yes or no to based on the evidence. If my topic is newspapers in early Upper Canada, that obviously can't be debated. So it's not yet a thesis or an argument. But if I say I think the newspaper in early Upper Canada created the first political parties based on my evidence, that's a feast. Stats an argument. A thesis also helps you to decide what to include and what to exclude in terms of your research. If you don't have this thesis of mind, you're going to write an encyclopedic dissertation, one that has no point but has a lot of information. A thesis really only needs to be one sentence, and I remember in journalism school. They told me whenever I was pitching an article, What am I gonna work on? They said, Tell it to me in one sentence. But remember, this is only preliminary. You're not wedded to this thesis. And actually, you might have an ah ha moment during your research during your writing where you realize the whole purpose of your dissertation is something else than you originally thought. And I speak from experience. I remember when I was writing up my dissertation, there was a point that it hit me. What I was actually doing was a little bit different than I thought. So that allowed me to go back and revise the rest of the dissertation. With this new thesis in mind, just make sure to run this thesis by your dissertation supervisor chair and make sure that they're happy with it before you take on the actual research 11. Don't Worry about the Competition: don't worry about the competition when you're starting out on your dissertation process. This comes in two different forms. On one hand, I think I felt this, that there was always a fear that I would pull out a book and find out that someone has done my exact study earlier in this course, we showed you how you can avoid that problem. Very simply, this concern for competition at the topic selection stage also comes in another form. And then is people look around and they see what is the hot topic of the day, and they do it because everyone else is doing it in my field, for example, communication studies. Many people write dissertations on social media. So Facebook, Twitter and so on because there's a hot area, right? Of course. I did the complete opposite. I did media history. I studied dead media, dead people back anything. I went in the opposite direction. And yes, if you choose the hot topic, there might be a lot of research funding for it. But this also means there's more competition for social media grants funding. And when the tenure track jobs come up, the deal with social media communication. There's gonna be a lot more applicants, people who are fully qualified and have a lot of journal articles and books on the subject . So just pick a topic that interests you. Don't be swayed by the trends, even if that topic involves, I don't know, analyzing changes in Bible cover designs over the centuries. And I actually knew a professor back in the 19 nineties, and that's what he did. I mean, he was a tenured professor, and he studied the changes in designs of Bibles. There is a space. There is a market somewhere for just about every possible topic. Ignore the competition. Become the world expert on changes in the cover designs of Bibles, and you can still be successful. 12. Find the Holes: I hinted at this in an earlier lecture, but it's important in topic selection to find the holes. Has your surveying your literature on your topic? You'll probably have questions. Why is nobody studying this? Why is nobody studying that? Why is nobody using this methodology or this theory these air holes, and maybe you can be the one to fill them in? This attitude of filling holes also means that you're not repeating what's already been done, but you're contributing to areas that other researchers think are important to investigate . An easy way to find the holes for a potential topic is to simply look at the back of journal articles and books right at the end. In the conclusion is where scholars will often say, Look, there's other things that could be examined. The researcher feels that these topics are important, but they're outside the scope of their book or their journal article, and they'll explicitly say further research should examine X Y and Zed. Just make sure that these journal articles or books are current. They're very new, because otherwise somebody might have already filled that hole in the subsequent years. There's one caveat about the theory of filling holes as a way towards finding your topic. It's very easy when you're doing your initial topic selection. You're serving the literature to have a lot of questions and say, Why is nobody studying this? You pull out book after book after book and you see that hole always and it amazes you why it's still there. It's possible, though, that the reason that whole still remains is because other researchers think it's not worthy of study. Other researchers have looked into that hole, but just felt it wasn't important to study, and they have moved on. If you still find that it exists, talk to your chair or supervisor or maybe even email Ah, very important scholar in your field and ask them if they think it is worthy of filling. 13. Literature Reviews: At this point, you've got your topic in mind. You've narrowed it down and you're ready to move on to the literature review. The literature of you is your survey of the major journal articles and books related to your specific topic. You're looking for the key ideas of other researchers, the methods they've employed and their conclusions or findings. This can really be a consuming process for you. I hope you're coming at the literature review with some background and you're not completely starting from scratch. This background could come from your comprehensive exams studying. When I studied for my comprehensive exams, I had to review above 50 60 articles and books. I also had reviewed a lot of articles and books and taking notes during my coursework. Those coursework, notes and exam notes really went a long way to making this part of my dissertation process a lot easier. If you're like me, then you should be moving through this fairly quickly. That might be a semester or term so four months, maybe six months, and you're not gonna look at everything over those 46 months and remember, you can still get more books out during the research process even during the writing process. Just do enough of a literature review to get your proposal done and get you going on your project. A lot of writing instructors actually say that you shouldn't load up and do all your literature view of the beginning because you haven't developed a lot of your ideas yet. So consider this just a initial literature review, and you're going to be looking at books as you write as you do research for the next few years. Now let's turn to some tips for doing the literature review efficiently and effectively. 14. Have an Opinion, Eventually: When beginning of literature of you, it's often hard toe, have your own opinions. The opinions of very eminent scholars abound, and certainly beginning scholars feel intimidated by those big scholars. It's fine to have some healthy respect for those scholars at first. Remember, they've had years and years and years to do research and think about these things. Many of those scholars air also tenured professors, which gives them the luxury to study topics in depth. And those scholars at one point were in your position, so they were just starting out. They were just apprentices. Like an explorer of a new world. You must have first survey this scene and understand the currents of thought. And for a while it may seem like everything's been said. There's nothing else to say on the subject, but as you read more and more, you'll start toe, have your own opinions. You'll start to disagree with some of those scholars, which is perfectly fine, and at some point you have to stake your claim. You have to say what you believe about this subject matter. When does this happen? Well, it could take months to get to this point. I felt confident that my literature review initially at least was done when I really could describe the key points of many of these scholars, and I'd read enough to see the holes in some of the arguments, and that's where my own opinions could start to form. I also found it helpful to actually start writing out some of those ideas myself, because you can take notes forever, just notes upon notes. But when you're forced to synthesize it in your own words, that's when your own opinions come to the surface. One of the things I used to do after reading a journal article or book was to write up some notes inward file and then put some little comments and questions at the bottom of that file when I felt like I've done enough reading, I took all those comments and questions and that formed my own opinions. Each student comes to this kind of realization in his or her own time 15. The Abstract is Your Friend: most journal articles include right at the beginning and abstract. This is simply a very short summary of the article in its findings. Almost every journal requires authors to submit an abstract. And books, of course, have a book jacket description on the back. These abstracts and descriptions are absolutely vital for doing an efficient and fast literature review. But I didn't know this when I was doing my PhD, but I didn't realize the importance of the abstract for the description until I read a book by a professor named Wendy Belcher Writing your Journal article in 12 weeks. She writes about a case study of some eminent researchers and how they do their literature review. And I was shocked to see how much those eminent researchers simply read the abstract. They don't read the whole article or the whole book unless it's a key work. They just keep note of that article, maybe write a few things from the abstract. They might even site that article, even just from a reading of the abstract. The abstract also helps you make a decision. Should I read this or shouldn't I? Even if you read the abstract thing you liked the article and you want to read it, You might just look at the introduction, the findings and the conclusion. This should provide you enough information for Citation and for direction now. It wouldn't do this for every single article in book that I come across. Of course, there are always some key works that you just have to sit down with. And however long it takes you two hours, six hours, 10 hours, multiple days to read. You read those line by line because you need that deep comprehension of those key works to really think about your ideas and develop your ideas. But this would represent a very small segment, maybe 10%. Maybe 20% of all the literature you might come across most literature can be skimmed, could be moved through very quickly. 16. I just need One More Book: There's a tendency during the literature review stage toe. Want to read everything about your topic? This is natural. You're trying to become an expert on the topic. So you want to know every author, every research, study, every method. I think there's also a fear there a fear that you're gonna miss something. Maybe some other academic has studied the exact same topic. Or maybe one more book will solve my theater radical problem. This is natural because we know that we're gonna have to defend our dissertations. We want to make sure we cover all the ground. This, however, is a mistake. The need to find just one more book on the topic can cause you to extend the literature review indefinitely. And you never get beyond this stage if you take that attitude and this idea simply comes from my own experience, I remember thinking you need to get more books on this. I need to get more books on that. Finding more books was like finding hidden gold, finding hidden treasure somewhere. We're often perfectionist, so it can become a compulsion to want to take out more and more and find every single piece of writing written on the subject or keep up to date on every single article that was just published in every journal in my topic area are really academics is an ongoing process. There's always gonna be more to read. You're never gonna stop. You're never gonna read the last book on your topic, even when you're a professor at a university or college somewhere. So you need to read enough toe, have an opinion and understand the currents of thought. But you don't have to scour the Earth for every last article in book. When did I feel that I had read enough? It was when I started seeing the same things written by different authors. They weren't plagiarizing each other. They were just talking about common ideas. And those were the common ideas that I needed to know. And there were diminishing returns. Taking out another book, spending another few hours at the library wasn't gonna help me anymore. When you feel that way, it's time to stop the search. For now, 17. Choose the Right Notetaking Method: It's important right from the beginning of the literature review process that you have a really good, effective note taking method. Some people still use recipe cards. Some people have graduated to the latest technology that has databases. You need to find what works well for you, but it has been shown that if you hand write your notes, you have better comprehension of those notes than if you type them up initially on your computer screen. For many years, I used to handwrite notes of the articles and books I was reading, and months and years later I could turn back to those pages of handwritten notes. And I could remember where I was sitting when I read those books and articles. And this memory technique is amazing because I was a nomad. I didn't have one place where I worked. I worked in all kinds of different libraries all over the place. I can still remember sitting in a local library, a community library in my neighborhood in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, taking notes about what culture is from an article by Raymond Williams. I was struggling with the article and I was taking very detailed notes and eventually I figured it out, and even now, when I pull those notes out of an old file that I have, I can still remember sitting at that table that wooden table in that library, even though I haven't been there for so so many years. Another tip, I suggest with note taking, is to write everything in your own words, unless the quotation is absolutely wonderful and then you want to write it down verbatim. This is because when you put somebody else's ideas in your words down in your own handwriting, you have to process those ideas. That process tests you. It's like doing a hand written exam question. Test you to see if you really understand it. It's also a good way to avoid plagiarism because you're not copying down the exact words. Just remember to record the details of page number and author publisher year that kind of stuff because you may not return to that note for months or years. It could be annoying in time consuming to recover. In a really interesting old note that lacks any Biglia graphic details, use a note recording piece of software like Evernote or one note to keep track of these notes. 18. Use Bibliographic Software from the Start: when it comes to keeping things orderly during the literature of you, you really need some sort of Biglia graphic software. I didn't have anything when I started my dissertation process. I just typed Bibi. Graphic details into a Microsoft word file, but you'll find with a dissertation that it's such a big project has so many moving parts. It has so many citations that a word file isn't enough. I've always hated Microsoft Word because it's just this one long, massive file is really weak search capability. But about 34 years into my PhD, I started to discover some software. A lot of this suffers easy to install. It can integrate with Microsoft Word. Many of these programs will actually stripped the details off of amazon dot com pages of books or even go into your library database online and take out all of the big league graphic details from those entries and put them right into your database on your computer. I wish I had had this from the very start of my dissertation to keep myself in order. The names of some of the software include and note ref works. Sotero sent a whichever program you choose. Do it from the start and you'll keep track of have easy access to all your sources at the click of a button. A big headache that comes during the writing process and also the end of the process is formatting those citations. I used to absolutely dread this part of the writing process when I had to sit down and follow some style guide M. L. A or A P A and get it absolutely perfect and find all those details for every source. But then I got to tear. And then after that, I started using sent A, and I realized that I could just embed these little data points of citations throughout my Microsoft Word document. And when the time came to produce the bibliography or the work cited, all I had to do was just click a button and the citations were done. It was great if I was submitting, that's a a chapter to a journal, and that journal required a completely different citation again. Just press a button and style changed. These programs are often integrated with Microsoft Word through a plug in, and they saw that huge headache at the end of the writing process of finding those missing details and formatting the bibliography or reference page 19. The Trouble with Keywords in Searches: When you're searching for journal articles or books on your online databases, you obviously need keywords. It can be helpful before you begin searching to brainstorm as many keywords as possible. If you only have one key word to keywords and you spend lots and lots of time searching, you may actually be missing a lot of good sources. One problem that arises for PhD students during the dissertations, though, is you may not know what are the right keywords for what you're studying. For example, in my dissertation, I was searching on a few select keywords. For example, one was community formation, but in my field media and journalism history, that didn't bring up a whole lot of sources, and at one point I felt like there really wasn't enough literature to do what I wanted to do. But then I found one source was an interesting book, and I looked at the keywords. I was like, What? What are the other keywords on this entry? And one of those keywords was political socialization. And that wasn't in the field of media history or journalism history that was actually in sociology. Ah, field that I really knew nothing about But when it created a new search and searched political socialization, suddenly I got a wealth of sources that dealt with the media. The dealt with community formation politics, and I had enough sources to start doing some good work. So the lesson here is to mine those Biglia graphic entries in your library database for additional helpful keywords, and that list should grow that keyword list over time. Eventually, you'll have enough T words that you can see your whole topic in those words. Keep this list handy when you move off to other databases like Google Scholar or Proquest, the right keywords will unlock a huge number of sources that will be helpful to you. If you're still having trouble, talk to your supervisor chair to get some more keywords to find more sources. 20. Mine those Bibliographies: the fastest way to collect a list of key sources is to mine the bibliography ease of often cited articles. You can determine what articles are often cited just by going to, For example, Google scholar Google scholars shows how many other people have cited the source, and that's usually a good indication of whether that source is a key work or not. With 5 to 10 often cited journal articles in front of you on your topic, you can then skim through the bibliography, ease and look for other repeated citations. There would love to be a common set of sources in your topic area that almost everybody is citing in one of my current research areas, which is crisis communication. Almost everybody in journal articles, sites to authors Ben Wa and Coombs because they're just foundational authors. They're everywhere in the field. So when you're looking at those big biographies, looked for those commonly cited sources, and those are ones you're gonna have to look at, and this can create a kind of domino effect where you find another source and another source another one just by looking at all these big Viagra fees. When I was starting out with crisis communication. I actually had two undergraduate students do a similar project for me. So they were attending my crisis communication course, and we had a set of about 30 journal articles to read. So I had them basically cut and paste all the big biographic entries into a word file. And then I had them find kind of the next round of Bibi a graphic entries. Think of it like discovering your family tree of history. In the end, those students came up with the word file of about 300 sources. And because it all began with those Route 30 articles, the final list of 300 sources probably represented a good proportion of what's out there in the field. This is a great way to get started without actually having to read any of those articles beyond the abstracts. If you do keep the abstracts in the file, you could actually go through and sit and read all those abstracts over a week or two to get a whole sense of the main currents of thought. 21. Be a Book Miser: It's important when you're doing your literature of you to be a book miser. But what does that mean? In most fields? That means focusing on journal articles, which are easily accessible, usually three or library databases. But when you do visit the library looking for books, you have to be very careful. There's a tendency amongst many students, and I see this often with my undergrads, and that is to take the whole shelf off and bring it home, because that's easier than necessarily standing there and going through each book. And you don't have time to read the whole book right there in the aisle. But it really is a bad practice. First, you'll probably forget the due dates, and I did this many, many times. I'd forget the 20 books that I have sitting on my floor or do, and then suddenly there would be a 50 cent fine per day on each one, And those finds can add up very quickly and in some schools actually can't graduate unless you pay your fines. But maybe more importantly, when you take out all these books out of the library, you end up having a pile of books and that can look daunting. And it creates stress because you see how much you still have to read. My advice is simply to read the books at the ill or bring a few over to a desk and skin them and see if they're important. And on Lee, bring home the absolute essential texts those books that have page after page of useful information. If you don't have much time for no taking on the spot, then photocopy the few pages of each book. That's interesting, plus the copyright page. Of course, you don't forget the details and bring those pages home for later review, and your back will probably thank you for not lugging home all those books in your backpack . That's the physical benefit of being a book miser. 22. Bringing it all Together: well, you may try to find everything about your topic to put into a proposal or a literature review chapter. Remember that the literature of you is not an encyclopedia article. It's a very focused review of the literature that matters directly to your topic and to your specific argument or thesis that you have hopefully already developed. If you don't have a preliminary thesis or argument, you have to stop the literature of you right now and focus on that. Your thesis or overall argument will help you decide what to exclude and what to include in that final literature review chapter. For every source you come across that you like and you want to include, ask yourself, How does this contribute to my thesis? If you can answer that question or it's just because you want to put it in, then it should be removed. Many graduate students have his big, balky literature review that covers so much ground. But as I read it, I keep thinking, Why does this matter? Why are you telling me these things is everything in that review has to support the argument or thesis that's already been told to the reader and this process involves an act of weaving, so you're not just dumping or downloading all of this information about these sources on the page, you're weaving argument and source, argument and source back and forth through the document. You cannot survey all kinds of articles outside of the argumentative context and obviously having that argument or thesis in mind before you do the literature of you saves you time because you'll know exactly what sources toe look at that are directly relevant to what you're doing and you won't look at any extraneous sources. 23. Research Collection and Methodology: I'll admit research methods and methodologies are not the most interesting subjects for most of us. When I did my PhD a thing, Research Methods was my least favorite class. But that was my mistake, and I only realized the importance of really sound research methods when I was doing my PhD dissertation. And then later, when I did a Journal article in my dissertation, I had to look through old newspapers. So of course I had to decide how many of these old newspapers should I look at? I was doing a discourse analysis and so ahead of a sample, and I had to prove why that sample was so important. And you could find in a lot of books about discourse analyses from various arguments for why you should choose a certain number of documents to review over another. Another research method that I worked with was content analysis and again that requires an effective sample. And you've gotta prove things to show why you chose this and why it matters and what conclusions you can draw from it. When I submitted a journal article once, I was arguing how a certain method of writing teaching helped students But the arguments I was making about how those students changed were more qualitative, and they came from students own observations. Rightfully so. One of the peer reviewers of the article said, Why didn't you do Ah pretest before these students encountered the method and then test them again after to see if a change had been made? Well, my answer to that if I could talk to the Pier Revere was I was probably sleeping when my research methods class dealt with that. So I'm just giving you a piece of advice from my mistakes is to really have sound methodologies up front, and then your collection of research will be much better and your conclusions will be that much stronger in the following section of this course. There are tips for ensuring your data collection is sound from the very beginning of your project and tips on setting up a strong foundation for your theories. 24. Careful Design Matters: carefully designed research methods will ensure that the evidence upon which the theory sit his sound. It's also protection for criticism later. One of the easiest criticisms of the external examiner of your PhD dissertation is on the area of methods and your research collection. For my dissertation, I remember the external really critiqued some issues with my methodology. And why was that? Well, I had written a kind of narrative PhD dissertation, so it wasn't your traditional scientific or social science style, and I had put a lot of those methods details into footnotes. So as is the case with a lot of external reveres, they hadn't actually read the footnotes, so he assumed I hadn't put down any sign of what I had done for the methodology. So at the end, when the committee decides on revisions and I had minor revisions to do, he demanded that there be in appendix where I really explain all the stuff. So I simply took those notes and put them all together into an appendix file. Now my methods weren't faulty. They were presented badly, I think, because of the style I chose, but you don't want an external reader attacking your methodology or questioning your data analysis. Of course, your committee should be the one advising you on these things. They should tell you whether you're going wrong or not. But sometimes they get really, really busy. They don't look at the fine details. So it really is up to you to make sure you've got it right. The danger, of course, is the faulty methods could undermine your whole project. And when you get to the defense stage, you just want to be done. You wanna have minor revisions or no revisions? Get out of there, get your degree and move on. You do know wanna have to go back and do major revisions or rerun a study. But more importantly, having sound research designed sound methodologies means that you can state claims that air stronger and bolder. This means in the end, your dissertation will have more significance to the academic community. 25. Vital Software: when I started my PhD dissertation, there really wasn't much software available to help me get through that process more efficiently. But now, 10 years later, there's just so much out there to help you. When you work on a big project like a dissertation, it can be easy to lose track of data sources and so on. When I did my Masters degree, I had to write a 40 50 page paper for one of my courses, and I could survive with Microsoft Word documents. So I had a document for my ideas at a document for research I was finding in early Canadian newspapers, and I would combine all that into a final word file for submission. But as dissertation research gets more and more complex, you can't rely simply on handwritten notes or Microsoft Word files. Nowadays we have software like Evernote and one note. Another piece of software is Devon. Think pro, and these air just databases that can, in varying ways, record your data, make it searchable store things. I'm quite fund of Evernote simply because I do a lot of Web research for a Journal article that I've been working on. I've been using Evernote to record articles from the Web. There was a court case going on for the last two years, and I wanted to collect the articles, the newspaper columns as they happen. So he set up a Google Alert to tell me whenever this person's name was in the news, and then I would go to that article and press a button and ever know would save that completely save the whole page for me exactly as it looked at that moment into its database . So now I've got every article from the newspaper. I've got videos saved to the cloud ever know sinks everything to the cloud so I won't lose any of that information. I also sometimes can pop up a new note in Evernote and just type in some ideas. Maybe they've got an idea just flashed across my mind, and I throw it in and I won't forget about it. These databases allow you to work on your research just day by day, a little bit here, a little bit there, but it's accumulating within the cloud, and when you feel like analyzing it, you've got that information there. So some piece of research software should be used from the very beginning of the research collection process to keep track of every last bit of data. 26. Choosing a Suitable Method: So what methods should you choose for your dissertation? Well, that's going to depend on what you're trying to get out. You know, what are you trying to prove? So you should work with your dissertation chair to determine which methods will best serve your purposes from your literature of you. You should have some sense of the methods other researchers typically use in your topic area. In some fields, people are using quantitative methods exclusively in other fields. People are using qualitative methods examine those methods to understand what they can and cannot prove in the humanities. Qualitative methods like semiotic or discourse approaches are used to analyze meanings behind texts and provide a sense of beliefs, opinions, emotions and so on. In the social sciences and sciences, quantitative methods measure information and provide objective data. Four conclusions. Of course, there's overlap between fields. You see quantitative methods like content analysis. You sometimes in the humanities and the social sciences will use qualitative discourse. Analysis, for example, toe understand the common sense, meaning circulating and communities and texts. In my dissertation I was in, I guess you could say social sciences, but I was also moving over a swell to the humanity side of things. I chose primarily a discourse analysis, although I had archival research method. But the discourse analysis was based on a sample, so that's a quantitative element. And I had to argue why that sample was sound and that sound sample made my discourse analysis conclusions stronger. There may be multiple methods employed in your dissertation, so keep that in mind, too. I did discourse analysis, but I also did archival had a little bit of content analysis in mind, too. 27. The Right Methodological Fit: In addition to choosing the right method stance of the questions you want answered, you should also consider the right method illogical fit for your abilities and interests. Do you like working with numbers, or do you prefer analysing texts or images for meaning? I have to admit I'm not a numbers guy was never a math person in school. But in one of the research areas I'm into now, which is crisis communication, there's a real trend towards quantification of everything. And a lot of the journal articles have page after page of mathematical calculations that I just don't understand that doesn't keep me out of crisis communication. It just means I need to find a method or an approach that I'm more comfortable with, so I tend to analyze crisis communication from a theoretical side. So what are the underlying theoretical concepts that are problematic in the field? And I don't need any math for that. Maybe you're like me and you're not a numbers person. And the thought of using quantitative methods with lots of mathematics worries you. In that case, maybe you prefer ah, qualitative approach because you're more comfortable reading and analyzing images or texts Now, some people would say, Don't shy away from the numbers side of things. There are statisticians who will help you and you can work through that. But I also had a real strong interest in history, So I did in archival method as well, going into archives and analyzing old documents. I had a lot of patients in time for that. But I recognize as well that a lot of people would just hate to have to read the handwriting of settlers in the 18 hundreds. That's a method that wouldn't work for them in the way that the numbers methods just don't work for me. If you can find a symbiosis between what you want to answer and your own personal method a logical interest, then that will be a really powerful force that will drive you through your dissertation. Research, collection and analysis 28. Explaining the Method: It's important that some stage early on that you explain your method clearly when you're working through the books on methodologies and you've decided on something, it can make a lot of sense in your head. But maybe not a lot of sense to committee members or general readers. One thing I like to do is actually write it out in full sentences. What I'm gonna be doing, what approaches I'm taking. What sample sizes or what not. You don't want to leave out a step or assume anything. B is explicit as possible about every step of this method. A logical process. By doing that, you can actually see if you are falling into any traps. Fallacies, for example. That may lead to problems in data collection. Down the line, a few pages written up will suffice, and also you can use that later. Just copy and paste it into your methods chapter by being explicit about every step of the process. That way, you can defend yourself against any concerns or questions. External reviewers during the defense often will pick apart any step of the methods and data collection because that's an easy target, and it's supposed to provide the foundation for the whole dissertation. If an external review er can pull apart that foundation than everything else that it's built upon falls down now, I find that most people trust that you got it right. But there are those moments like the defense, when scrutiny is very high and you want to be correct. For those moments in particular, another way of looking at what you need to do in explaining the method is imagine if someone wanted to replicate your study. Do you have enough detail there for them to do that? To replicate that study? Also, people who particularly like your findings in your approach and your methods may want to borrow that and actually use it to come up with other conclusions. 29. Explaining the Why: it's not enough to outline the method and the details of data collection. You also need to explain the why the philosophy and practical concerns behind the choice of method. In an earlier video, I said that you need to know what you want to find out and choose a method that is suitable to come to those conclusions here. You're going to simply explain that connection between what you wanted to find out and why you chose this method to do it. This answer provides a justification that leads to your theoretical foundations. So you're combining everything. You're bringing everything together. This right up doesn't have to be long, are extensive. It could be a few pages. Perhaps it just has to make that logical connection here. You can also mention other researchers in your topic area who have used that method successfully. Maybe your dissertation is about working through a method determining its usefulness. That might be the why. Also, you may want to explain in the short few pages why you didn't choose other methods to answer whatever questions you have. This is an exclusionary tactic that's really useful not just here but in theoretical parts of the right up, and it's particularly important in methods. If you are not using the usual method that people in this topic area use and you would know what those methods are from your literature review, right? Surely other readers will have that simple question in mind. Why didn't he or she do this or that they may believe and rightfully so, that some other method would have produced better or more sound data or more relevant data and so on. That's why explaining the why is so, so important. 30. The Size of the Sample Matters: If you're choosing a quantitative method, remember that the size of the sample matters. Generally speaking, the more data you have, the better off you are. I struggled with this very same question when I was doing my discourse analysis. A part of my dissertation looked at the language used and the shifts in that language over a number of Canadian elections. From about 18 20 to 18 40. I was interested in seeing how the names of political parties were born and how they changed over those 20 years. I want to know what language people used about politics in the 18 twenties and then how that may be changed as we got near the 18 forties. But we're looking at one election. Be enough? Of course not, because I need to see change. But what about two elections? What about three? What about five? What about six? And within those elections, I wanted to look at newspapers on each side of the political divide, but would I review one newspaper on the right and one on the left or two on each side or three or four? These are all the basic questions of sample size of the populations you're gonna have in this. The size of the sample population you're analyzing will determine the reliability of the numbers and by extension, your conclusions. So you can see how important attention to this sample sizes now bigger is not always better , depending on your method, some humanity's methodologies. They allow you to interview just a handful of people. For example, a very small sample by any account and still make conclusions. I know one person who did an ethnography of a population of teachers who were working at an elementary school. So we're talking a population of about seven teachers, and that was it. That was the population, mainly because the student actually worked at that school and was using that whole environment as part of her dissertation. But those conclusions will obviously not be big ones. They won't be generalize herbal to the whole teacher population in the whole world. But she was clear about that, and she wasn't trying to make such grand conclusions. Just ensure that if you do have a small sample size and it's on purpose that you don't later stretch too far from that sample to make overarching conclusions or overreaching conclusions, 31. Writing about Methods and Data: earlier this course, I suggested you write up your methods step by step so that you have that information available and you can just drop it into your methods chapter. But there's one mistake that's so common to M athe sees Ph. D. Dissertations. And that's a tendency in some students to drop in whole datasets and surveys the methods Chapter is not an encyclopedia of all the data from your research process. Keep the methods chapter tightly focused on the key points, and I emphasize key points of methodology and data. But leave the big data sets and surveys for the end of the dissertation in the appendix. So if the reader really cares about those little little details about the data, they can go all the way to the back. They can review that at their leisure, but putting it in the Methods chapter just kills the momentum of the chapter. It often really kills the narrative or the forward movement of your chapter. It's sufficient to simply summarize that data and key points into tables and charts. For example, if you used a survey method, maybe you surveyed Cem undergraduate students. You would place the results of those surveys into a table in the chapter, and then you put a sample copy of the actual survey in the appendix. Within the chapter, you'd simply remind the reader that the survey can be found at the back of the dissertation . In my own dissertation, I had a discourse analysis, coding sheets, one that I had invented. I had designed it, so I put that at the back in the appendix. But I didn't include the actual coding sheets that I had written on that I had used during the data collection process. There were hundreds of those sheets, and I just could not include them in the dissertation at all, Of course, is a level of trust there because they don't have all of those coding sheets in the dissertation. But, of course, the samples that I pulled out of those sheets can be checked with the sources provided 32. Useful Graphics: dissertations often end up being huge blocks of text. This is a necessity, for the most part, but it's not very pretty. Graphic designers know that sometimes a graph or chart or an infographic says a whole lot more than text or numbers in a text. If you find yourself writing sentences full of numbers, for example, then you may want to consider turning that data into a graph for a chart. So your sentence has simply become analysis or a summary or a reference to those numbers found elsewhere. But what if you're not a graphic designer? Well, Power Point allows you to make charts and graphs, and there is a way in power point to output that into a graphic file that you could bring into Microsoft Word. There are websites like online chart tools dot com that will allow you to make thes in a very nice way on denim. Put them into your text. Microsoft Excel can do this, and that could be exported, although again, that's a bit more complicated than some of the websites. Or you can hire a designer on a site like up work dot com, and they will design these for you. But whatever source you use to get these graphics made, the point is simply to consider converting large blocks of text into something more attractive. This will allow your readers, particularly those really tough Defense Committee members and the external reviewer, to better comprehend what you're getting at, and it'll make more sense to them. So these graphics are also useful later on. So Post Grad, if you're submitting your dissertation as a book manuscript to a publisher, it will help them understand your project or if you're going to cut it up into journal articles and send those off the journals, journals air definitely fond of these kinds of graphics. 33. What Help can You Get to Make Life Easier: doing a dissertation could be a really lonely endeavor. You can be alone in libraries and archives for hours upon hours, and you're always worried about plagiarism and having to do everything yourself. And you're not supposed to get any help from anybody. At least that's kind of the common assumption. I don't do your dissertation alone. That's a recipe for failure. Many experts are available at any time to help you with all stages of your dissertation process. Often the best dissertations are done with the help of editors, statisticians, reviewers, coaches. It's worth every penny to seek out the help of professionals for a second opinion, maybe some assistance on the very challenging and often tedious aspects of dissertation research and writing. Many schools even recommend outsourcing. Ah, lot of that work by hiring a statistician or an editor. This can save you a lot of time. It may save you even six months out of 234 years that you would spend on this dissertation , and this could give you more time to think about the important thing. So the analysis of data, the analysis of readings getting this help is not plagiarism. It's not gonna get in any trouble, and I know some students think that they think that they have to be loners. But look, it tenured professors who get a lot of research grants. They don't sit around and do all the work themselves. Even they have editors. They have graduate assistants who are being paid to do research for them. So don't feel bad that you need to ask for help or you want to go out and get help at any stage of this process. In this section of the course, I show some possibilities for assistance to help you get that dissertation done sooner. 34. Statisticians and Study Groups: If statistics are not your forte or you want a second opinion or don't have the time to run your own study, it's helpful to turn to a trained statistician. Trained statisticians, such as those at research methodologies dot com, can assist you with the design of your quantitative study i R B applications, research questions and hypotheses and sample sizes. Statisticians can also coach you to understand when to use Parametric and non Parametric analyses. Help you describe data collection and management techniques. Assist in reporting and presenting your results. Assist in instrument development and evaluation, help you prepare results, tables and even assist in the interpretation of discussion of your results. Another way to help you get your dissertation done sooner and make life easier is to form a kind of helping a group of PhD students. When I was doing my PhD, actually, one of the students, who was about a year two ahead of me, invited all of us to his house one day and we just talked about issues with the program with doing our dissertations, and that was a great experience because it gave me a chance to learn from these veteran students. You could form a group online where you just meet through some sort of software and chat, or you can meet in person at a local library or at your school campus. The website research methodologies dot com actually has a Facebook group where students can chat about issues related to finishing ones. Dissertation. Whether it's online or face to face these groups can really help you to solve problems, to share ideas, tips and so on, and you're all help each other get done faster, creating relationships that may last throughout the rest of your academic career. 35. Literature Review Assistance: the literature of you can be a particular bottleneck during the dissertation process. When I started out, I was actually new to a lot of the literature, and it seemed like a huge mountain to climb a mountain of books and journal articles and often difficult, wide ranging theories. This course earlier on has given you some tips on doing the literature of you. But that may not be enough, and it's not unheard of for PhD. Students actually quit at this literature review stage. It certainly is the first major hurdle that you have to jump over. But there are actually literature review coaches like the ones at research methodology ist dot com With years of experience, they have gone through this process. They can counsel you on finishing it successfully and moving on to the data collection v data analysis and the writing. Ah, good literature review Coach can help you choose what literature to review. To narrow that search down, analyze, critique and interpret that literature, organized the review around and related directly to the thesis or research question and synthesize results into a summary of the aspects known and unknown. Identify areas of controversy within the literature. Those are the areas you really want to look at and delve into. And finally, they can help you formulate questions that need further research. Turn to these experts. Don't be alone. Don't worry about this mountain to climb. These people can assist you in getting over that hurdle as quickly as possible. 36. Coaching: sports athletes have coaches around them everyday, pushing them to achieve more and more great things on the court field or ice. Sports teams will have a coach just for the defense. To have a coach for the offense that have goalkeeping coach is there's a lot of specialization in coaching. So why shouldn't students have the same dissertation coaches at services like research methodologies dot com coach students to achieve their best and also avoid debilitating procrastination that leads to extra semesters, MAWR tuition fees and possibly, if people go to long D enrollment. Yes, I know your dissertation supervisor or chair. It's supposed to be the one coaching you, but they have a lot on their plate there, teaching courses there, often doing service to the university. They've obviously got their own research projects, and they've got a number of other students that their supervising It's unreasonable to expect them to be involved in great detail in every part of your dissertation. So professional coaching goes above and beyond what a typical busy dissertation chair or supervisor can provide. Coaches offer a wide range of services from guidance on developing ideas to advice on getting work done, tow listening to your weekly frustrations like a psychiatrist to sending motivational emails, researching and writing a dissertation can weigh you down to the point of frustration or even debilitation. Hiring a coach can push you to achieve what you did not think was even possible. So go online, check out the services of coaches, check out the prices and pick one that works for you and even just try it at a certain stage of your dissertation. 37. Writing and Citation Assistance: Once you've got your manuscript ready, or even just a few chapters or 60 pages of ah mess, it's helpful to turn to writing and citation. Editors. Writing and citation editors have keen eyes for details. Provide them with the name of the citations style required by your school, whether that's M. L. A. A p, a Harvard or something else, and they'll insure complaints to every last detail. They can help you avoid getting bogged down in the details of writing formatting and citing , for example, do you really want to waste time studying the a p A handbook to determine the format for different levels of headings? Do you have time to study the grammar book and find out about punctuation rules for the various uses of a semi call on websites like up work dot com and fiver dot com, Professional writing and citation editors are ready to work for a reasonable fee to get your ideas and arguments into shape. Suggest grammar and style changes and correct in text citations and references or bibliography pages. I've done this kind of editing for years online, and I've had students who had awful awful draft versions of their dissertations that we massaged into shape and they successfully defended. In other cases, I've simply had to do a final check. You know, for those lingering airs, typos and making sure they're formatting style fit the style guy they were using. This editing also prevents stylistic criticism during your defense, meaning you'll have fewer post defense revisions to make to the manuscript costs for these services range. But they're usually pretty reasonable, and it just gives you that peace of mind that your dissertation writing is in very good shape. Since this is a major work and milestone in your life, you might as well make sure that it's off the highest quality at the end. 38. Working with the Dissertation Chair: The relationship between the PhD student and the dissertation chair can be fraught with challenges and difficulties, but it also can be thoroughly rewarding. I think I was one of the lucky ones who got a great dissertation chair. I chose him because I had taken a course with him during my coursework, and that was indeed my favorite course of my graduate career. The topic was his expertise, and it was just an area that I had a lot of interest in, which was at the time, media and journalism history. He was very keen teacher. We had some great discussions in what was a very small class. He didn't realize it, but he was auditioning for the role as my chair supervisor. He also supervised my comprehensive exams. So by the time I had to actually pick a topic which was done after the comprehensive exams , I was absolutely certain that I was gonna work with him. Through his advice, I came up with my topic and he advised me for the next about 3.5 years, and I don't think I could have had a better supervisor. And why was that? Well, first of all, He was an expert at the exact topic area that I was studying. He was even published in this research area and really, you was an expert. He knew all the readings that I had to do, and he advised me on what to read. He was also very enthusiastic about the topic and what I was doing when I had chapters for him to read. He read them very carefully, gave me great comments to make them better, and the almost felt like a partner in this endeavor. So if you can have that kind of relationship with your supervisor, your chair, that I think you'll be in good hands and you will finish successfully. 39. Expertise is Vital: the decision of who to choose for your chair, position or supervisor position is an important one. You should consider yourself interviewing candidates for this position. Of course, you want the best that you can get. This may sound kind of strange because you are dealing with these eminent scholars, and you may feel somewhat intimidated. But you are interviewing them. You want someone you know that you can work well with. That's not just a matter of someone who has it. Same topic, but I like minded person. But of course, matching your topic with the topic area of the chair is also vital for success. If your chair is a proven expert on your topic, then you'll know you'll get excellent advice and a detailed peer review of your chapters. The challenge can be, however, finding an expert in your department out of necessity from slim departmental pickings, many PhD students to supervisors who are not experts. This results in weak peer reviews because the person doesn't necessarily know the complete , detailed literature that they need to know. The person may not catch fundamental airs in theory or approach, and this says you a badly for the final defense. If the chair lets you down, you are going to bomb at that defense because there'll be so many concerns by the external reviewers. And remember, the other committee members are not necessarily experts. They're probably generalists. So they're gonna offer general comments and they're not gonna notice detailed errors that come up. In my case, my supervisor read everything as I went along. But the other committee members on Leigh read the manuscript at the end before they signed off on the defense. So this reality of expertise makes the choice of your chair or supervisor that much more important. 40. No Retirees Please: academia is facing a crisis. Today, there are fewer and fewer tenure track job appointments. So many tenured professors are staying in their positions. Long past reasonable retirement age there really needed to fill administrative positions in departments with dwindling faculty members there needed to supervise graduate students and often graduate programs are being expanded. So there's way, way more students. This presents a dilemma for the dissertation student looking to choose a good chair, avoid choosing a dissertation chair who was near or past their usual retirement age. You certainly don't want them to retire while you're doing your dissertation. And it's possible, though, if it takes four years now, they could still serve in many schools as your supervisor, even as a professor emeritus. But sometimes they can't and maybe they just won't be as interested anymore once they retire. It's really best to choose a mid career tenured professor who will not be retiring in the time it will take you to finish. The only challenge with these mid career professionals is that they could suddenly leave. They're not really settled yet at the university, and they are on the up and up. They make get lured away by another university. Now, if that mid career person was lured by your university and they've got an entrenched research program at your school, then it's unlikely they're gonna leave. In that case, there the absolute best choice. They will make great references when you graduate and you're applying for academic jobs and you need the reference of someone who's right in the thick of, ah, hot topic. It's best not to choose someone who is on the 10 year track because they're busy trying to win tenure within five or six years, and they may not be is focused on you as you like. 41. Chairs with History: you'll want to pick a chair who has a history of graduating students on time, students who have successfully moved into the workplace. See if you can get into touch with former students and ask him pointed questions about the chairs abilities. You can check proquest dissertations on line to find out which students worked with this professor and many programs keep a list of completed dissertations with the names of supervisors and committee members. If you can't get a whole of those students easily, check Google or linked in to research those students and see what they've achieved since graduation. Just be careful when choosing a chair who is already supervising many graduate students. Many professors just can't say no or they take a lot of heavy supervising load because they're helping out the department. This can lead to divided attention, particularly when it seems all students are asking the professor for help at the same time . The's dissertations, of course, are very long, so at any given moment the person might have two or three of these to read. That's 200 to 300 pages long, and you definitely don't want to be fighting for attention and you don't want the chair to be skimming through a number of pages. Other professors in your department may have, ah, lighter supervision load and may be able to give you a dissertation full attention. So there's a complication here. Somebody who was a great chair is obviously going to get a lot of attention from grad students and take on a very high supervising load. But that's kind of person you want. Maybe you need to find the hidden gem in your department. The person who is on the up and up but who hasn't been noticed, maybe doesn't have the same notoriety as the other person. 42. Complementary Interests and Methods: it can be helpful to choose a dissertation topic that fits very closely with the research interests of the chair. And that's not just because of what I said in another lecture, which was that you want an expert I to remove airs from your dissertation. Choosing someone who has complementary interests also provides opportunities to piggyback on projects that share is already working on. This person may have research funding that they can give to you to do some graduate assistants. And when you finish the dissertation, you may find opportunities to Cole author, journal articles or even books with the chair particulate early. If the person is a stellar researcher with a long list of peer reviewed academic publications, the chair may also be able to introduce you personally to other researchers in your topic area. So there's a kind of networking function here in your choice of the supervisor or chair. Also, you want to choose someone who has complementary methods. We already discussed the importance of careful research, design and appropriate methods. Check to see if your chair in his her publications shows the use of the methods you want to use in your dissertation, whether those air, quantitative or qualitative. Many researchers have their own pet methods that they want their students to use as well, because they feel uncomfortable using other ones. I know that many humanity's researchers, for example, one absolutely nothing to do with statistical methods like content analysis, And that's for practical reasons and also philosophical reasons. Math may not be their strong suit, but also maybe they just disagree with the kind of things you search for when you use statistical methods. So these researchers may not be amenable to your preferred method, and you want to get this clear right off the bat. You want to make sure that you guys are on the same wavelength. 43. Stay in Control: Sometimes chairs can push your dissertation in two directions. You don't want to go. These professors are often very strong willed. That's how they got where they are. And they can feel like they're giving you some helpful advice because that's what they knew when they were doing their dissertation or when they were working on another research project in that topic area. Conversely, you listen to everything they say because you are the beginner. You feel like you need this expert guide. And so you're gonna take everything they say and apply it. That's natural. We look up to these people and we want to stay in their good graces further full dissertation, period and beyond. But what you need to do is actually push back a little bit When the person is trying to control your dissertation. You have to be happy with it because you're gonna live with this dissertation, not just for 34 years. You're gonna live with it for the rest of your life. And if you're chasing some research, that really you're not that interested in or some line of thought that you're not that interested in, Of course you're not going to be happy. This doesn't mean that you have to fight your chair supervisor. You should always be cordial. You should always be professional. And doing that means to position your arguments about what you want to do and what you don't want to do. Within whatever literature you're dealing with. That makes it like an academic argument, which is what you're learning to do in your dissertation itself. And I think the chair will appreciate that approach rather than some sort of hot headed approach from this student. These relationships require diplomacy. You don't want to burn any bridges, is the Oakley shake goes because this person should be helping you, not hindering you. And also you want reference letters when you're finished, your PhD, if you develop a bad relationship, you're not going to have those reference letters, and that's really gonna hurt. So make sure you're doing what you want to do, not necessarily what the supervisor or chair wants you to do, but do it right. Be careful 44. Time Management: time management for PhD students is a really strange topic to talk about because really PhD students often don't have that many deadlines. After a comprehensive exams, you probably got a proposal deadline, and then after that you've probably got simply the final dissertation deadline now at different schools, that comes at a different time, but it might be three years, four years down the road. As a result, PhD students don't feel much day to day pressure to get work done. Indeed, you can almost always push off working on your dissertation to help your family members friends. If you've got a job that comes first, and that leads to inevitable procrastination by, really, you need to focus solely on the goal of completing the dissertation. Immerse yourself in this major important life changing project. If you dabble in it, which means just a few days a week, you'll never get it done. Don't take on any other academic projects. This one is number one. Don't write any journal articles, rebut books or don't organize any conferences. These things will happen naturally when you get into your career, so don't worry about that. At this point, you can always cut up your dissertation into journal articles later to get published. And if you do choose an academic career, of course, service to the university to your field will be a part of your contract. So you need a razor sharp focus to make the most out of every day and avoid wasting time on tasks that take you away from your main goal. So in this section of the course, I'm gonna talk about some time management tips that will help you get done sooner, get Dunmore efficiently and avoid wasting time. 45. Do Enough but not Too Much: the dissertation is a marathon, not a sprint, and the secret is out. Very few students research and write for 40 hours a week, so don't expect you have to cram in eight hour days, five days a week, like you are working on a job. If you think that you will always let yourself down. Of course, you want to take this very seriously and you wanna work professionally. But that doesn't mean having to be a slave to it. In my experience, if you can work 15 to 20 hours a week on reviewing literature, writing notes, working on your research methods and writing, that's probably enough. Use your other time for other pursuits. For example, teaching. We're just resting. You'll be much more refreshed that way. A solid 15 to 20 hours with no digressions. So you're not going to Facebook? You're not watching videos on YouTube. That'll lead to, over a few years, hundreds of dissertation pages. It's also important over this time to keep track of how many hours you were working. The hours spent on a dissertation may blur with one day blurring into the next, the next and so on. I found it really helpful. When I was writing my dissertation to create a time log of the hours I was spending working specifically on the dissertation, this kept me honest and pushed me. And also it gave me a little bit of a reward at the end of every week. If I have done well, all I did was create a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with columns for the date, the number of hours worked that day and a little description, one line description of the work that I did at the end of every week. I would just tally up those hours and review the work that I had done. It felt particularly good when I done a lot of hours on some really productive work. When the week was done, I would treat myself and relax and just get ready for the next week of 15 to 20 hours, and it wouldn't really look at a finish line. I would just look at where my individual tasks are going, and this is how I came up with a 15 to 20 hour average that I mentioned earlier because at the end I just did a tally of all the hours in the spreadsheet, and I discovered I did about 20 hours over four years. So 20 hours a week over four years gets a dissertation done. 46. Avoid Distractions: It's easy in our digital age to get distracted by Facebook notifications, phone calls, emails, YouTube videos and so on. And we all know how easy it is to get distracted toe waste not just minutes but hours trolling through the Internet, trying to find the next link, the next interesting video. And if a ZAY said earlier, you don't have very short deadlines, your deadlines or years, not hours or days. It's very easy to get lost in these distractions and procrastinate. I know I have a problem with a habitual checking of emails. Even though I check it, there's no emails, and I check it again. There's no emails. I want to check it 1/3 time. If I've got Facebook on, I'll get these little notifications in my browser window and then I click on them, get an article, or I see an album of photos and end up distracting myself for 15 minutes and I come back thinking, Wow, what was working on Good scholarship requires concentration, and a multitasking mind is a distracted mind. If you need some help with your Internet addiction, well, you could just turn off the router in your home so you can't check every second or there are APS out there for your computer. They will turn off the Internet connection for 30 minutes, 40 minutes, and you just can't get back the Internet connection until that timer goes off. If that's too much for you, that's too scary to turn off the Internet. You can also find little egg timer APS for your computer, and it just involves will power. So you put in 20 minutes into the timer and force yourself to do 20 minutes of really solid work. You may also need to turn off the TV and the radio because if any news comes on, that, of course, is going to distract you as well and really have that focused environment that avoids all distractions. 47. Time-consuming Methods: the methodologies that you employ will obviously influence how long it takes to get the dissertation done. Archival research, for example, is often known as the most time consuming of all data collection methods. My dissertation, Haddon archival element. Not a huge element, but still I spent probably a year. If you compress the amount of time I was in archives, I think it would be about one full year, and I never really knew what I was gonna find Now, in some ways, that was exciting. But on the other hand, there were many many days were just felt like a total waste of time to have gone for four or five hours into the archives and come away with not even one nugget of useful information. Since then, I've actually moved into other research areas. They do not have an archival component and have just amazed at how much faster I can get my work done. And sometimes I think, Wow, I should have done maybe a different method, a different study for my dissertation, one that didn't require me to travel to archives in different cities or try to decipher the really, really bad handwriting of a settler in the 18 hundreds. Don't get me wrong. I really liked my dissertation topic. And at the time I wasn't married. I had no kids. I had so much time on my hands. So actually it was probably the right method for me at the right time. But you may have a different situation, and you may need to get this done sooner that I had to. So you might want to choose a method that makes it a little bit easier for you. So ensure that you understand the time requirements of the method you choose and probably put in some buffer periods into your schedule, just in case things don't work out because it will greatly influence your schedule and your eventual completion date. 48. Scheduling Concerns: when you're working on your dissertation. It's really easy to get lost in the day today of reading and writing days passed quickly, and the next thing you know, it's suddenly a new year. You could get lost in the small details of your dissertation research and writing process. That's why it's important to have a longer term schedule for getting work done. Think about the big picture. What do you want to have done in six months, one year, two years or longer, and then work backwards from that and say Okay, to complete this goal, I need to do all these other little things and those become your to Dube's. My program required all PhD students to submit a yearly review of what they've done and what their plans are for the next year. All admit that I almost never achieved what I said how to do in the previous years report. When you are looking at the long term goals, it's very easy to underestimate how long those goals are going to take you, but it's still a really good exercise, So work up a plan for yourself, maybe try a piece of scheduling software like a Google calendar or some other form to see many months ahead in one view and then zoom in on specific days or weeks. It's also important that you be your committee's time manager because your committee members have a lot of other things on their mind. They may forget. Inform them of your plans. And when you're gonna submit things and ask them to give you a time period for getting your pure of used on politely, check in with your committee members every few weeks to see how things are going. Because if you don't become their time manager, they'll procrastinate like anybody else and you won't hear back from them. For many months. I'm not gonna name names, But there was one of my committee members who took forever and ever to get back to me with comments on the final draft of the manuscript, and I think I should have pushed this committee member a little bit more earlier on. It was unacceptable that it would take seven or eight months to read a 200 page manuscript 49. A Procrastination Solution: If you suffer from procrastination and most people do, consider breaking up each major aspect of your dissertation into very small tasks, then complete those very small tasks, crossing them off a to do list. For example, if your next major aspect is to start the literature of you, you could list the following small tasks Monday. Go to the online database, search the keywords and download six relevant articles. Tuesday. Skin The abstracts of the articles and take notes. Wednesday. Decide on which articles to read more closely. Read at least one of those articles today and take notes Thursday. Read the rest of the articles and take notes. Friday. Summarize notes into a focus coherent 1000 word documents. Each one of these tasks is not major. They're all doable, I think, individually, in a few hours, they're not mountains decline by the end of the week. You should have crossed off all these tasks, and when you look at that list of things crossed off, you should feel like you accomplished something. And maybe more importantly, you've produced 1000 words, and that 1000 words may go really well in a chapter of your dissertation, a literature of you. This piece by piece approach makes things seem manageable. If you had had simply one task on your to do list, I want to write 1000 words about some articles. The path to that goal may not have seen very clear. And maybe you wouldn't have felt like you were accomplishing things as the week went along because you weren't crossing off any tasks. You can take any task and break it down into smaller and smaller units, and this is what I did to always feel like I was accomplishing something every single day of my dissertation work. 50. Writing Tips to get Done Faster: one of the biggest obstacles to completing a dissertation is waiting to write until after the literature review and research are done. It's a daunting task to think. Okay, I now must write 200 pages. Actually, most academic research on effective writing processes argues that students should write out full sentences and paragraphs as they go along, not just notes. This way, you work out conceptual problems. You link theories together. You make sure you understand what you're reading right as you are reading it. But most importantly, these little bits and pieces of writing that you do over 234 years eventually add up to some bigger project. So it does not feel as difficult to write that 200 or 300 pages. When you do a couple of pages every day and those couple of pages a day, they don't need any structure. They don't need grammar checking. You don't have to be perfect. You just churn out the material every single day, and then you can impose order on it or get an editor or proofreader to impose order on it. Later on, When you begin your daily bit of writing, it's important to warm up your brain. Writing is hard work, and staring at a blank page is daunting. Experts in writing pedagogy suggests you should warm up your brain and your fingers just like you warm up your car in the morning before getting down to the dissertation topic of the day. I have a little free writing exercise that I give undergraduate students in the writing courses that I've taught. This could be helpful for you, so try it out. Load up a blank Microsoft Word document. Turn off or cover your computer screen with dark paper. Yes, you shouldn't see what you're writing while you're right. We don't want you to judge these things. Start writing on any subject at all or many subjects stream of consciousness for 20 minutes . Don't worry about correctness. I mean, you can't see your screen so you can't worry about correctness just right as much as you can. So the ideas come up fast, like water down a waterfall. After this 20 minute exercise, your brain and fingers should be ready to go. Also, you may consider subscribing to a brain games website like luminosity dot com. They have some really good word games that I find get my mind going. They make my mind. Think of new words and ideas, so I have to do those before I'm going to write the websites. Games can help you develop your vocabulary, particularly if you feel your language is stale. 51. Find the Right Place and Time: finding the right place to do your writing is very important as well. Sometimes the university libraries air, actually, not the best place to do your writing because of the hard chairs, the really, really bright lighting. And also, sometimes it can be even hard in some places to find a seat. That's how busy some university libraries are. I've always liked working from home when I have a quiet space, have my computer desk, my comfortable chair. I've got my computer right here. Other times I would sit outside on a patio somewhere, have a drink, do some writing that way. It can be a lot easier, I find to write when you're sitting underneath a patio umbrella and the sun is shining and you've got a beer by your side. Or maybe you're a fan of Starbucks. Maybe that's the place toe. Best write your dissertation. I like working from home simply because I've got a nice computer desk. I've got all my technology here on my laptop and a comfortable chair, and sometimes I can step out onto the deck. If, wherever you are is too noisy, then you can try some maps that will bring that noise down or play white noise. The website cough activity dot com provides actual recordings of different locations, like coffee shops, so you can almost pretend you have that light din, that white noise of a coffee shop in your ears that helps some people concentrate. You may also want to experiment with the time you do your writing. Some of us are night owls, while others are early. Birds eye indefinitely in the night owl camp. That's when my creativity comes out and my brain just does not work before 11 a.m. or new. Now, if you have Children and maybe only possible, too, right before they wake up or after they go to bed, experiment and see what works best for you. In terms of location and time of day, you'll be better off for it. 52. Organizing the Project: For centuries, writers have employed printed methods to organize projects such as recipe cards. This allows easy sorting of ideas and information, but it can get unwieldy as you get into longer and larger projects. Earlier in this course, we suggested using software like Evernote and No Devin Thing Pro and others to manage projects. It can also be helpful to sign up for cloud storage services. I'm particularly fond of dropbox dot com to keep all my documents, including very large data or video files, safe and organized in folders. If you update a word file and save it, Dropbox will sink that version of the doctor Doc. Exe file to the cloud and you can actually load up another computer. Let's say you save the file on your home computer, and then you go an hour later to your office computer, and that new version will be there for you. Every once in a while, I hear of a PhD student whose computer died and the person lost everything. They lost all their writing, all the research. Well, if you've got everything in Dropbox, you never have to worry about that, cause if your computer dies, it's still up there in the cloud service. Another way to organize a project. Another piece of additional software is something that I really like and recommend called Scrivener. Microsoft Word, which almost all of the issues is a linear word processor where it goes page after page in the exact order that you've written it. Scribbler works a different way, so you write in little chunks, maybe a paragraph, maybe a couple of pages. You give it a name, and that name shows up in a list down the left side of the screen. So as you build your document, you can see the overall outline of it or structure down the left side of the screen, and you can click on any of those names and move parts around instantaneously. I like this software because I can see the whole project. Even if I've got a 200 page book in there, I can see the overview of it every time I looked at the screen. Scrivener also has a snapshot feature where you can take a snapshot, have a version of your paragraph, change it and then you can see both a new one and the old one in case you ever want to go back? If you're looking for a more low tech option, you can do one thing that I did in my dissertation writing. And at one point when I didn't have scrivener, I was just using word I actually couldn't envision the whole project. So instead I printed out every single page of it, probably talking 80 pages of that point, and I even cut out every paragraph into its own slip of paper, and I taped those slips of paper to a big couple of walls that I had in my bedroom. And then I just stood there on my two feet and read. The whole thing looked at the overall structure of it, and I started moving pieces around. So pull off some of those taped pieces of paper and move them elsewhere. This is extreme structural editing. Scrivener is a little bit easier, and I would use that now to make those kind of large changes 53. Take Breaks for your Mind: it's important. While working on your dissertation to take breaks for your mind, you can almost go stir crazy when studying the same topic for months and years on end, you start to lose all objectivity. You often can have a one track mind after a while, so your creativity dwindles and you're just so focused on whatever it is in that moment that your study. If this is the case for you, it's important to take a break. That could be a few days a week, two weeks even. But during that break, you need to do something very different. Do not sit by the beach with your sociology of communication books. Do something radically different that could be exercising, watching superhero movies playing piano. I have played guitar for many years, so one of things I like to do was put away the books. I did not want to even read a novel after being in a library so much, and instead I would pull up my guitar and I would sing some songs, learn some new songs and do that for a couple of hours, even just to have a break. These moments provides some refreshment for brains, and sometimes the best ideas come when you're not trying to deliberately make them. For example, I come up with a lot of ideas. When I'm doing exercise. I have a stationary bike in my basement, so I'll go down there and ride for 30 40 minutes. And the idea is just suddenly start hitting me that I have to write them down. Maybe you could get the same effect. Just walking around your neighborhood, lifting weights in your basement or playing a sport with a team. Sometimes a longer vacation can be helpful. But if you go on vacation, don't bring your phone or at least turn your phone off. Because if you've got your phone and you've got your Internet connection, often you will go and you will look up things. You will think about things to do with your dissertation. But really you need to cut all the connections so fresh in your mind. Forget about anything to do with your dissertation. It'll be there when you get back, and when you do come home, you will feel that much more energized, refreshed and ready to go 54. When You've got Another Job: In a perfect world, we would all be full time students. We have all day to study, to read, to write with our tuition, paid by scholarships or mom and Dad. But today many people are completing their PhDs while also working full time. I didn't have my PhD paid my dad, but I did. Work is a full time student. I did get funding so I could focus completely and totally. I could sit down and read whole books over multiple days and just spend lots of time working on my dissertation. But I know that's unusual these days. People's full time jobs don't just pay for school, but they also provide for their families, their families, their number one. If you're working eight hours or more a day in a regular job, you've got to carve out times toe work on your dissertation. Since work comes first, obviously your boss won't let you take time off, and your family is so important. When you come home from work, you've really got to make a concerted effort to carve out those moments of opportunity to get work done on your dissertation. This is not going to be easy. Maybe you have to work at lunchtime or before work on the train or bus. You may have to work on weekends when everybody's I would. Having fun. Try not to go too many days without working on your dissertation. When you've got a busy project at work, you can easily push off the dissertation. The problem is, when you do get back to it, you'll forget what you were doing. You'll forget your line of fun. You'll have no more forward momentum. But to get those times to work on it outside of your job, you probably will have to explain your family why you're spending time away from them. This can be a big problem. Families the year off on weekends, working on your dissertation while they're sitting at home, where they're out doing family things. Explain to your family the importance of the PhD, what it may mean later, and then this work isn't gonna last forever. 55. Just be Good Enough: The final point I want to make about doing a dissertation is that you only need to be good enough. A mentor of mine in academia once wrote an article above teaching writing, and he called it the good enough teacher. That means a teacher doesn't have to be perfect. They don't have to be the greatest teacher ever. Just good enough to help students. Well, it's the same with your dissertation. You are doing an apprenticeship. You're an apprentice academic. You're learning how to do research and write it. You're learning about a vast field in a very specific topic. You'll make mistakes. You look back upon those is learning experiences, and when you finish your dissertation, as I found, it won't be perfect. You'll look back 10 years later and you'll say, Jeez, I wish I would have done this. I wish I would have done that. Scholarship is always a work in progress, and you're always growing getting better and learning. So the main goal. If it's not to write the perfect dissertation, it's to write a dissertation that's good enough to pass the gatekeepers and the gatekeepers are on your defense committee. You'll have many years ahead of you to improve the research and get published and make a name for yourself in the field. The good enough dissertation is much, much better than the unfinished dissertation, and you might surprise yourself. Maybe the work that you feel is not that good that needs improvement is actually still very high quality. But often we sake ourselves out before we even reach the gatekeepers. And we keep perfecting and perfecting in perfecting what we're working on. So you want to have a high standard for your work. I'm not saying Submit garbage because that obviously won't pass, but I don't think you have to do the greatest dissertation in the history of the world because that's impossible.