All posts in Dissertations

Dissertation Writing Pt. 2

This post is a continuation of the discussion on dissertation writing. In this post I will go over the tools and resources that I used to get started. Let’s open with pre-writing, which I deem to be getting the thoughts, ideas, and concepts on paper. There are a few methods; some better than others, left to one’s personal preference.

Freewriting is just what it says; just write whatever comes out of your head on the topic sort of like a “mind dump”. No need to worry about structure, punctuation, grammar, etc. Let the energy flow from your head to the paper and do this for about five to 10 minutes. Look at what has been written in terms of themes, patterns, and logic if any.

Brainstorming, which is very similar to freewriting,, still jotting down all the ideas as they come to you based on the topic but they are usually put in a list form, whereas freewriting is done basically in a paragraph form. The main goal of both is to get the ideas out and onto paper.

There is one more style that I looked into since I like to do things on the computer more or less is mind mapping. Since I like to stay organized in most of the things that I do, and I am a visual person, I found that mind mapping allowed me to do that with my ideas. Mind mapping to me is an artistic way of getting ideas in a graphic form. Mind mapping uses pictures, color, lines, etc. to organize the concepts and thoughts as one sees it in their head. It can be done freehand or software can be used.

Once this has taken place, thoughts sorted out, then one can begin to start the writing process. Make sure to take your time to use what was gathered, follow the patterns and put it together like a puzzle. There are a few books that I used as well, “The Literature Review” by Lawrence Machi & Brenda McEvoy, “The Courage To Write” by Ralph Keyes, “On Writing Well by William Zinsser, and “Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day” by Joan Bolker. Each of these books viewed dissertation writing from different angles and perspectives. These books were used as tools and references to assist with the mystique of writing especially if you are not familiar with particular terms, concepts, styles, and structures.

Now that you have these sources of information it’s time to start implementing them to the gathered information. I gathered and sorted my articles according to the themes that I wanted to write about. Now some may want to use End Notes, Zotero, RefWorks, etc. to create a running bibliography but I started out the old fashion way, printing articles. I then took those articles and put them in file folders, via labeled Pedaflex, subject matter order, and in crates (I know, terrible but it worked). If, I had to do it over again I would have kept everything on my laptop/iPad in folders, DropBox, Evernote, keeping it mobile and accessible at all times, but I did finish up this way.

Organization is a critical key to writing for you will want easy access to your materials for notes, references, and overall general information. If you start out organized it will make things easier as things become more time constrained and pressure driven. The last installment of dissertation writing will discuss how I put my articles and chapters together to form the actual dissertation. There is a pot of gold at the end of the writing rainbow so be ready to get on the roller coaster to get there. Until next time!!

Dissertation Writing Pt. 1

The Learning Curves and Preparation for Writing the Dissertation

As I stated in my first blog, I was not the traditional student. It had been over 20 years since I had been in school when I returned to finish my Bachelor’s degree. There was limited writing in my undergraduate program and the writing that took place the papers was very short in length. I then made the decision to embark on graduate school, and that is where the lack of experience became very real. I was not prepared to write graduate school, academic quality papers but I quickly learned.

Read more

The Mechanics of My Online PhD Program

Since I have just completed an online doctoral program, I have taken a bit of time to reflect on the process. When making the decision to attend an online doctoral program one must do their homework. Look at all the programs, see how they are facilitated, ask if you can see a past syllabus, etc. just to get the feel of the class. When entering an online PhD program I highly advise one to have a plan of action for you only have seven years to complete the “entire” program (at least at Capella), which is from the first class within your course work through the final dissertation. Find out what the policies are in terms of taking a leave of absence for whatever reason. Understand the dynamics of the asynchronous classroom and the expectations of the instructor for they can vary from class to class and program to program.

Read more

The Dish on Online PhD Programs

Hello followers! I am the new blogger for My name is Ila Allen, Ph.D. and I looking forward to giving and receiving information on All Things Dissertation via the online experience and the process that comes along with it. I am not the traditional student for I started late in life with education but have made a full circle in completing the course that I set upon. Education is for anybody who has the tenacity, discipline, and age should not be a stipulation by no means.

Read more

20 Best Sites for Helpful Dissertation Tips

If writing a dissertation was as easy as making a grilled-cheese sandwich, no one would write about it. But, search engines show thousands of entries focused on dissertation tools, tips, and guides. You’ll also find dissertation writing groups as well as psychologists who are willing to help you get that writer’s block removed from your head. The dissertation is the most important component of the doctoral process, including the proposal, the proposal defense, years of research and writing, and the dissertation defense. You can find sample papers online, including sample proposals, and we’ve included a link for the latter in this list. The blogs, articles, and tools listed here are the twenty best tip sites for helping you write your dissertation and what to expect from your PhD program.

Read more