GSC Chair-Elect Fireside Chat: The Last Hurdle: Dissertation and Thesis Writing

Scheduled Time: Mon, Apr 11 - 4:05pm - 5:35pm Building/Room: Astor Crowne Plaza,

Session Participants:

Chair: Nicholas Daniel Hartlep (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee)

Participant: William C. Ayers (University of Illinois - Chicago)

Participant: Thandeka K. Chapman (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee)

Participant: Gregory Michie (Concordia University - Chicago)

Participant: Jamie Lew (Rutgers University)]

college term papers

How do you stay motivated to get through a dissertation?

  • Write to change the world – work on your passion

  • For ego – to see your name in print

  • Because I can

  • To express my anger, frustration etc. with the way things are

  • Read Orwell's Why I Write – then Representations of the Intellectual by Said

What is a common hurdle in writing?

  • Time - when and how, still have a life

  • Unbalanced life – too much focus on dissertation

  • Often cast as a novice – through you are clearly interesting and expert in your own work. Doc. students tend to spend to much citing others – focus on your own work

  • Not finding your own voice in academia – don't subsume your own work under others.

  • Using too much academic language to sound academic – clarity is more important.

  • Work with, not against your adviser

  • Stay in touch – both with adviser and other doc. students

Can all theses or dissertations be turned into a book?

  • Yes – but why? Not all should

  • Yes – but strip out the doctoral per-formative stuff

    • Read widely – poetry, in your area, out of your area, memoir

    • Sample and collage of works

    • Know your audience – answer the criticism and questions of them

      • Imagine your audience as slightly smarter them me, just not in my area

  • Think about why you want to and what it means for you

    • For some, it is like a final exam, and most feel, after the fact, it is not perfect, or even good. There is a lot of revision that needs to be done.


  • You must put words on the page – be disciplined. Good intentions don't work.

  • Read – read - read

  • Rename the five chapters

    • Turning toward the phenomenon – the better you can describe the phenomenon in a rap, the better you understand it. You are in the study – name the phenomenon.

    • The intellectual conversation – about what is already going one visible to the audience. But wanting to take part of it, you need to know what it is

    • Making meaning – defend how you are going to understand the phenomenon by describing the methods used to find and understand the data

    • Body of the Work – what you found

    • A new way of knowing/thinking – this will change the way we think about …

  • Focus on the depth of topics – not the breadth

    • We tend to try to say too much about to many things

    • Get focused on the key points, and do them well

What is your writing routine?

  • Structure day into a work schedule – 9-12 lunch 1-4 writing time

  • Have a routine! Whatever it is that works for you!

  • Find what inspires you to write.

  • Reward yourself – whatever that is for you, when you reach milestones – a page, a chapter etc.

How do you know you have accomplished something?

  • When there are words on the page

  • When a paragraph is crafted well

  • You might not know – just keep writing – as writing is a form of thinking

  • Make endings – you can always revise and revise – just end.

How do you work with committees?

  • Choose the right chair

  • stay in touch – but not aggressively

  • Keep meetings – bring snacks if meeting over lunch

  • Remember that you will be challenged – but look for support

How to deal with family?

  • Know your family - how much do they want to be involved

  • Be kind to them – be considerate – don't get too wrapped up in your own work