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Writing Dissertation for the first time? Read this guide!

In your field of study, you will come to be identified by your project and may revise your finished dissertation to publish in article or book form. But just because a dissertation hasn't been written doesn't mean it should be written. You need to justify why your proposed project is both personally meaningful and professionally important. It can be helpful to ask yourself several questions in order to choose a topic:
What scholarly ideas, concepts, or debates do I find most interesting? What issues am I most drawn to and why?
Are there distinct gaps or problems in my field that need further study?
What research methodologies and writing styles do I find most compelling?
When you are considering possible topics, it's also important to think about who will advise your dissertation. Meeting with your prospective advisor will be important for narrowing and refining the central questions of your project. Since he or she has most likely advised previous dissertations, it's also a good idea to ask your advisor to suggest a model dissertation that you can use to help realistically frame your own topic.
Researching and Writing your Dissertation
The dissertation research and writing process varies by discipline. For students in the sciences, the research process and experimental findings can sometimes be more important than the final written document produced. Students in the social sciences often have to conduct intensive field or archival research before focusing on writing in a concentrated way. Below are some general strategies to help you through the dissertation process.
Write every day
As the saying goes, even if you wrote just a page every day, you would have over 365 pages after a year—that's almost a finished dissertation!
Although this timetable is slightly unrealistic, habitual writing is important for completing your dissertation. Writing can help you generate complex ideas and process information. Don't put off writing until you have what you consider to be fully formed ideas and chapters—writing even while you're conducting research, for example, will allow you to refine your research questions and begin envisioning how your data will fit together.
Daily writing, no matter how short, will ensure consistent engagement with your dissertation ideas. Nothing is more difficult—or frustrating—than returning to your project after having spent weeks or months completely away from it.
Form a dissertation writing group
Having a group of other dissertating students in your field can create a supportive environment in which to discuss ideas, present writing, and get feedback before submitting chapters to advisors or committees. Group meetings can also help motivate you to write regularly. It's a good idea to form a writing group early in the process, establish clear expectations concerning what members hope to get out of the group, and set a realistic writing and meeting schedule.
Set regular deadlines
Set realistic short-term and long-term deadlines and construct a timetable. In order to make your project more manageable, break down your dissertation into workable chunks that could be shared with your writing group or brought to Writing
Tutorial Services for feedback. Set realistic chapter deadlines and meetings with your advisor and establish a policy for dealing with missed deadlines. Feeling stuck and missing multiple deadlines is an important reason to seek out your advisor, not a reason to avoid him or her.
Own your writing
Remember that your doctoral dissertation belongs to you. It demonstrates your disciplinary proficiency, defines your professional identity, and will likely be published. Therefore, now is the time to develop the professional skills necessary for success in your discipline, including having your work read and reviewed by peers (for example, in your writing group), learning to self-diagnose and get advice for your writing weaknesses, and, if necessary, contacting a professional editor to help with language or grammatical difficulties.
Identify your stage in the revision process
Are you in the early stages of revision or have you already revised this section and submitted it to your committee for acceptance? Have you shown this section of your dissertation to anyone else or your advisor? If so, what comments or feedback did they provide?
Bring previous feedback to your appointment
If you have feedback from your advisor, writing group, or previous tutoring appointment and are trying to incorporate suggested changes, it's a good idea to bring this feedback with you.
Be ready to explain how the section of writing fits into your chapter and the larger project
Since your tutor will most likely be unfamiliar with your work, it's a good idea to be ready to explain exactly how the section of writing you bring to your appointment fits into the larger project. Often it can be helpful to write a short paragraph or abstract explaining your dissertation's main questions and arguments so that your tutor can provide careful feedback. Doing this extra work before you come to Writing Tutorial Services will help you make the most out of your tutoring session.
Be aware that tutors can read only about ten pages of a dissertation in a 50-minute tutoring session
Trying to include more pages will leave too little time for careful feedback and productive discussion. Remember, the goal of the appointment is not to go over every aspect of the section you bring in, but rather to develop strategies that you can apply to other sections of your dissertation as well.
Revise your work between appointments
Feedback from WTS is most helpful when you incorporate it into your writing immediately following the appointment. Working between appointments will help you to focus your questions for the tutor and foster a sense of ownership over your own work.


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