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” If you think too macro, you’ll feel like you’re floundering into the abyss of nothingness again. My wife happens to be a Behavior Analyst and from her I learned that if I gave myself a treat for completing a sub-section, transcribing lengthy interviews, or finishing a full chapter, I will be motivated to complete my assignments faster. Again and again, I talk to grad students who describe the pressure they feel from their advisors or an imagined community that will critique their work. Think about what you can tangibly accomplish within a 200-word limit and work from there. For example, when I completed my second chapter, the family and I took a day trip out to the beach to celebrate. A dissertation is an assignment not an encapsulation of your life’s work. And I agree that some advisors are not as approachable/helpful in their feedback but no one is going to critique/read your dissertation outside your committee. In fact, I think she believes that I am a medical doctor, which would probably explain why she gave me a stethoscope for my birthday.
In my case, if I didn’t write, my dog would look at me with an exasperated expression. Spoiler alert: Your advisors will tear your dissertation to shreds. They want to make sure that your research is up to snuff, so it’s nothing personal.
I’m guessing she was saying, “Publish or perish, Dad! I remember feeling humiliated when an advisor said that my argument was ‘overstated’ (which it definitely was) but I immediately went back and made changes within 2 weeks.
A 200-word goal is very easy to accomplish and requires maybe 20 minutes of your time.
Whenever I felt burnt out, I would just go perform and feel reenergized, full of new insights and questions that my dissertation was going to engage in. Tell yourself that you will finish on a specific date and work backwards. Even though I missed that date, it gave me a concrete date to work backwards from.
Writing a dissertation requires discipline and good work habits but it is NOT a singular measure of your academic ability. Full disclosure: This post is not meant to be a treatise on how to best finish a dissertation… Writing 200 words can also mean doing a revision, a lit review, or annotated bibliography. Every now and then when we are picking a subject or research question, our advisors tell us to think about the job market. However, really ask yourself, “Am I going to be able to obsess about this for a year?
it just provides some tools that will help in getting it done! 200 words is an easy, accomplishable goal that if performed regularly, will give you close to 200 pages of written content in 8 months. ” If the answer is no, then don’t choose that topic. My dissertation was on race and comedy — something that I did during my free time as well.
It feels crazy to type that and maybe even crazier to read it, because it’s fast by most standards. For one thing, I knew that even if it was complete, the work itself was still very much a draft; a lot of revisions lay ahead.
The craziest thing of all, however, was that finishing the draft was totally anti-climactic. But more important, I finished without having experienced any kind of race-to-the-finish or writing up-to-the-deadline adrenaline rush.
” The phrase can easily inspire fear and guilt in the most intrepid of graduate students.
And while it is often used in jest, especially in online memes frequently shared by popular social media accounts like @Shit Academics Say, the sentiment is funny because it’s true. Of course, memes are not solely to blame for perpetuating this idea; they merely reflect a broader academic culture that often reinforces toxic norms surrounding “work-life” balance (or lack thereof) and the injunction to “publish or perish.” Nevertheless, I have often heard graduate students say that they feel like they have to give up everything else or shut themselves off in some little corner of the world to get their dissertation writing done.