It’s October and the year is
almost over. I don’t mean to scare anyone, but truly if
you haven’t started working on your thesis or dissertation
or aren’t currently actively working on it on a daily basis — let’s
face it, you will most likely not finish it by the end of the
year. That’s why you have to establish several mini-goals
for the end of the year and start working towards them.
What is it you want to cross off
your to-do list this year instead of rolling over to next year’s
resolution list? Perhaps you are looking forward to making significant
progress on your thesis or dissertation before the end of the
year. Be specific. How many pages/chapters would you have to
finish for you to feel like you have made significant progress?
At TADA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished™ we believe
that a good thesis or dissertation is a DONE thesis
or dissertation. TA-DA!™ provides you with
the tools to make that happen.
The biggest misconception about finishing
a thesis or dissertation is the belief that writing is the key
component to completion. The real key
to finishing is effective time management. This is particularly
true given the fact that, for most students, writing the document
must be completed in tandem with numerous other important tasks,
such as preparing for the job market; moving to or starting a new
job; preparing for graduation; or working a full-time job. If time-management
is not your forte, let the TA-DA!™ CD help you manage,
structure, and organize your time to maximize your efforts.
To help better manage your time, enlist
your network of friends and family to assist you with completing
tasks that don’t require your intellectual capital. Most
loved ones are more than willing to be supportive if they only
know what they can do to help. In response to my request, for example,
my friend flew out to Wisconsin to help me pack up my house while
I worked on my dissertation. He also got up at 2:30 a.m. to help
me format tables, make copies, and drive me to Kinko’s, because
my exhausted brain was simply too numb to be able to complete those
In addition, it is imperative that you
give yourself ample time to complete your thesis or dissertation.
I can’t emphasize enough that you should NOT wait
until your coursework or qualifying/preliminary exams are finished
to begin thinking about getting an early start. In fact, you should
be thinking about a possible topic on your first day of graduate
school. Let your interest guide you regarding what courses
to take. Pursue a possible topic in one or two of your graduate
seminars; these will force you to adhere to a strict deadline,
and will also provide you with insightful feedback from your course
If you haven’t followed this advice,
and have already finished your coursework and exams, all is not
lost! Keep in mind that you aren’t actually starting from
scratch. Think of this document as an extension of your proposal.
Pull out your approved thesis/dissertation proposal and begin by
reading, editing, and formatting it based on your university’s
required specifications. Be sure to update your literature review
by including any new studies that address your research question.
Regardless of what stage you are at in
completing your thesis or dissertation, the following tips are
designed to help keep you going when you feel you simply can’t
write anymore. Remember: the key to finishing is to keep moving
the project forward, and it is critical to spend at least 12 minutes EVERY
DAY working on your document. Your goal is to make consistent,
incremental, daily progress. And, even if you just can't contemplate writing some
days, there are still a number of required tasks that you can accomplish.
Find something from this list you can do right now!!!
1. Transfer important semester
deadlines to your TA-DA! Calendar. Missing some of these
deadlines can cost you time and money.
2. Get a copy of the format manual. Colleges
and universities often have a book or brochure that provides information
on the required format of all theses and dissertations. The manual
includes detailed specifications for margins, page number locations,
minimal font size, spacing and a host of other formatting rules.
Pick up a format manual from your graduate school office/secretary,
or download it from your university’s website.
3. Get your hands on ‘Depositing
and Defending’ guidelines and deadline materials. Again,
these documents are typically available through your graduate
school office/secretary, or from your university’s website.
4. Do some field research. Visit
the library and look at other theses or dissertations in your field.
Make a note of how many chapters they contain, and be on the lookout
for those in which your advisor served on the committee.
If you find a thesis or dissertation on a topic similar to yours,
be sure to photocopy the bibliography.
5. Nail down the format requirements. You’ve
already gotten yourself a copy; now thoroughly review the format
manual and become familiar with all of its contents. These requirements
are not “optional,” so be sure you get them right the
first time. Begin formatting your proposal and by creating
a format template that reflects all of the requirements.
6. Have the tools you need in
place. Making sure that you have – and have ready – tools
such as your methods journal, binder, and the correct software
settings. Being prepared will make your path much easier!
7. Create your title page. Be
sure to set it up according to the format requirements!
8. Complete your approval page. Remember:
every committee member will sign this, so it’s important!
Again, be sure to set it up according to format requirements.
9. Develop your abstract. Even
if you have only the energy to write the word “Abstract” on
the page, do it. It will help as a page reminder that you still
have to create an abstract.
10. Produce your “Dedication
and Acknowledgements” page. This is your opportunity
to thank your best friends and family for supporting you! Completing
this page might even inspire you, and rekindle the energy you
need to continue moving your thesis or dissertation forward.
Email Question of the Month:
Q: Is there anything I can do to prepare
for my defense?
Your thesis or dissertation defense should take about 2-3 hours. In the defense
you are considered the most knowledgeable person (on your thesis/dissertation)
in the room. You have been working on this document for years or months.
Come to the defense prepared to answer a whole host of questions about your
thesis/dissertation. An answer of "I don't know" is not expected.
Take some time to repeat the question and breathe before answering it. Even
if you don't know an answer you should take note of the issue/point and consider
it for future research.
a 1-2 minute talk on why you came to graduate school, why you
chose to pursue your topic and what the overall findings of your
• Get a good
night's rest; you need to be well rested to be ready and alert.
• Read your
thesis/dissertation from cover to cover the night before.
bind ($2.50 at Kinko's) your copy of the document so that you
can gain a psychological edge (by easily turning to the requested
pages of the document) and calm yourself when the committee are
firing questions at you.
• Be aware
that you know more about your thesis/dissertation than they do;
On this matter/research YOU are the expert.
• If your
committee argues with each other during the defense do not interrupt;
it is to your advantage to let the clock keep ticking away.
• And finally,
know that your committee would not have scheduled the defense
unless they thought that you would pass.
What TA-DA!™ Users
Have to Say...
If you're still wondering whether or not
TA-DA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished™ can help you — don’t
take our word for it. Take a few moments to read what some of our
customers have told us.
See how TA-DA!™ helped them...
Ph.D. Doctoral Students…
• The calendar
really helps to outline my goals for the week, and see it in
front of me. I absolutely love the newsletters that come every
month. The information is very useful. Lynette; Philadelphia, PA
help was that it walked me through the process and helped me
budget my time and expenses. It gave me a full picture to view
ahead of time. This surely helped getting my ducks in a row.
TADA saved me a lot of time by helping me with upfront planning.
Biggest help was that it walked me through the entire dissertation
process and created a time and expense budget for me. It painted
a complete and detailed picture of the entire dissertation process
and left no room for surprises. This surely helped getting my
ducks in a row. Now I know exactly what I need to do and when
I need to do it to finish up my dissertation in time. I can already
hear the final TADA! while still on the start line. Ahmad; Franklin Park, NJ
helped me to set goals for my chapters and give me some practical
strategies for finishing. Also I believe it's good to list your
finish date. It gives you something to strive for rather than letting
the thesis become nebulous. Martha; Albany, CA
explains the dissertation process and lifts the curtain to a
process that seems impossible to accomplish. It provides strategy
for selecting the committee and provides timelines that enable
accomplishment of the dissertation within a specific time frame. Randall; USMC Jacksonville, NC
• The program
helped me to understand the dissertation concept much better.
I am a visual individual; the tutorial was a great help. Deborah; U.S. Army
helpful suggestions for how to proceed as well as suggesting
disciplined and reasonable timelines for completion. Lawrence; Philadelphia, PA
Master’s Thesis Students…
has helped with the fact that my graduate school does not have
a formal format for the proposal. The Journal has helped a lot. Talia; Naranjito, Puerto Rico
is a great tool for those who will be starting either their Master's
Degree or Dissertation. I highly recommend it. Teresa; Naguabo, Puerto Rico
that I set a goal date for finishing, kept me focused and it
was the first step in accomplishing the task. Also, I kept remembering
the words; a good thesis is a done thesis. Gladys; NY, NY
guided me to a fair start. Gracias! Jess; San Francisco, CA
About the Author: As a single mother, professor
Wendy Y. Carter, Ph.D., completed three masters' degrees and a
PhD. Her motto is a Good Thesis/Dissertation is a Done Thesis/Dissertation.
She is the creator of a new innovative interactive resource tool
on CD—TADA! Thesis and Accomplished. To learn more and sign
up for her FREE tips and teleclasses, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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