Writing a dissertation is a long and time taking process that requires a lot of research, attention, and expertise in your field. Staying on a dissertation track is undoubtedly a challenge that most scholars face as they have to toggle between different papers and experiments continuously. Sometimes, they spend a lot of energy on one chapter but still can’t find anything relevant. Consequently, they can go off the track through a series of research papers and lose valuable hours or even days.
This situation can be perilous and requires considerate attentiveness to avoid any trouble during the whole dissertation process.
Following are some ways to keep yourself on track during your dissertation journey.
1. Clearly Define Goals:
When you enroll in a dissertation program, start selecting your dissertation topic and finalizing it at the initial stages of that program. Make sure that the selected topic is feasible and can be completed in the allocated amount of time.
After the topic selection, do some research to develop a clear statement and objectives that will help achieve your dissertation goals. If you can complete these preliminaries during the early period of your dissertation program, it will give you a lot more confidence and additional time to work on the upcoming stages.
2. Organize Your Work:
An effective way to avoid straying away from your dissertation goals is to make a well-defined roadmap to achieve those goals. First, outline the whole document by dividing it into different chapters. Then, before you start working on each chapter individually, outline each chapter so that you don’t miss any important detail.
Moreover, when you are going through a research paper, note down its critical points while reading. This way, you won’t have to return and reread the whole document if you include something from that paper into your dissertation. Just have a look at those notes, and you’ll remember what the concept was.
In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People(1989), Stephen Covey says that once you have a clear picture of your priorities – that is, your values, goals, and high leverage activities, organize around them.
3. Research and Write Simultaneously:
A common mistake that most people make during their dissertation process is doing all the research first and then writing down their own dissertation. This approach is not very effective as you can skip a lot of important stuff when you sit down to write it after a long time.
Meanwhile, you can do it more efficiently if you read about a particular topic or even a chapter and write about it just after that. This way, you won’t go out of your research track and have fresh knowledge about the topic you’re writing. Moreover, switching between reading and writing wouldn’t cause weariness while doing the same job repeatedly.
“Make writing a global task, not a piecemeal one. All parts of a piece of writing are interdependent. No part is done till all parts are done” (Elbow, Peter. Writing Without Teachers. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973).
4. Make a Flexible Schedule:
Working smarter is always better than working harder. Make a schedule that saves you from academic burnout. This can be done by working in segments and keeping sufficient breaks between each segment. You can also switch to other chores between your dissertation segments, which will relax your mind and save your time.
Moreover, keep time buffers so that if you are not able to complete a particular task within the confined time period, you can utilize that spare time without disturbing the overall schedule. But, despite a flexible schedule, bound yourself to achieve daily goals.
5. Work In a Distraction-free Environment:
One of the greatest reasons people cannot stay on their dissertation track is that they are distracted from their work. To avoid such distractions, set up a proper workspace and time. It can be your office or even a study room in your house where nobody should be allowed to come while you’re working there. Set clear boundaries for your dissertation work and maintain them. Additionally, try to avoid new commitments and responsibilities to save your thoughts from drifting away while working on your dissertation.
“There are too many potential distractions out there to ignore. In order to succeed, and to have your family succeed, those distractions have to be minimized as much as possible” (Sarah Brown, Creating a Distraction-Free Work Environment, 2020).
6. Seek Help When You’re Stuck:
During the dissertation process, a time will come when you’ll feel confused or stuck on a particular topic for days. Admit that you’re going through a research procedure and don’t need to know everything independently. You’ll always need some advice from others, especially your supervisor and colleagues. Therefore, it is recommended to discuss your concerns and confusions during your supervisor meetings openly. They are more experienced in the field and can guide you more precisely, saving you ample time.
Besides, if you don’t get sufficient help from your supervisor, you can always seek out Research Assistance Services from The Scholars Professional Editing Group LLC. They provide both NVivo 1:1 and SPSS 1:1 Research Assistance in addition to Dissertation Editing Services to scholars and help them through the stressful process of dissertation writing.
7. Join a Dissertation Boot camp:
Working alone in a closed room, cut off from the rest of the world for long hours, can often cause anxiety and demotivation. It seems like you’re stuck with your dissertation forever and won’t be able to complete it. One way to avoid it is to join a dissertation boot camp where you can work rigorously among other scholars while competing. Proper workshops are held during a dissertation boot camp, and professionals guide scholars on how to pursue their dissertation.
The Scholars Professional Editing Group LLC also offers one such Boot camp. You can access it by clicking here Boot Camp Program.
We hope that this blog will help you a great deal to stay on your dissertation track. Do let us know in the comment section below about your thoughts and experiences of your Ph.D. and what other topics you would like us to discuss.
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