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13 Tips to Help You Write a Great Ph.D. Dissertation

UL Grad School -- 10/03/2016


Writing your dissertation (or even a thesis) can seem like a prolonged and intimidating, process. We can help you through that process with a few key tips to help you tackle and survive the dissertation writing process and come out on top with a great piece of academic work.

Tips for Writing a Great Dissertation

1. Start with an outline.
Starting with an outline will help you organize your thoughts and form a plan.

2. Set deadlines early on for the entire process.
Having deadlines lets you set goals (both big and small), and goals keep you motivated.

3. Get feedback early & often.
Getting feedback in the early stages of writing means a less rigorous editing phase.

4. Get encouragement, too.
Because sometimes all you really need is a pat on the back.

5. Know what’s expected.
Read past dissertations and ask questions to get a feel for how to structure your dissertation. By seeing these other works, you’ll see that your dissertation is completely doable.

6. Make it your own.
While structure is important, this work should represent what is significant to you (well, and your committee).

7. Don’t be afraid to take breaks.
Take a breather, even if it’s just a walk in the park. It will help you clear your mind and recharge.

8. Read, read, and read some more.
But remember, reading isn’t the same as writing.

9. Find motivation in your work.
Remind yourself why you love what you do and use that as motivation to keep writing.

10. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Keep a steady, focused pace. Commit to at least 30 minutes a day or one page a day—whatever fits your writing style. And write even when you don’t want to!

11. Set small goals.
Remember the cliché 'You're not writing a book. You're writing five research papers.’

12. Be a little selfish.
Protect your writing time. Know when to say “no.” Your friends may not always understand, but sometimes you just have to buckle down.

13. Celebrate the small wins.
Remember those deadlines you set? Celebrate when you hit your goals!

You can do it.
Keeping these tips in mind will help you get through the dissertation writing process with your sanity and come out on top with something that defines who your are as a scholar.

For more advice on the dissertation writing process check out some of the resources below.

Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis

Demystifying Dissertation Writing: A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text

Complete Your Dissertation or Thesis in Two Semesters or Less

Finish Your Dissertation Once and for All!: How to Overcome Psychological Barriers, Get Results, and Move on with Your Life

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