Dissertation Project Plan

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Establish your list of final figures and which chapters they will appear in.

Give yourself plenty of time to write drafts of each major chapter/section and enough time to edit them as well.

Writing a dissertation can be, and quite often is, the biggest academic undertaking that many of us have experienced.

Grant applications, manuscripts, and literature reviews pale in comparison to the size of the average dissertation and writing one can be an incredibly intimidating goal.

Map it out with concrete dates: Once you’ve established what you are going to write for your individual chapters, set actual dates for the completion of each major milestone.

Set these dates into whatever type of calendar works for you so that you have a concrete, visual outline of what you need to accomplish each week to submit your dissertation on time.There are a few resources for students, which I mentioned on Twitter earlier today (October 5th, 2018), many of which are listed in the thread that will appear if you click anywhere on the tweet shown below.Thanks to everyone who responded to my query, though I think many of them were professors describing their own process, which is not the same as having a doctoral dissertation (ONE GOAL) to finish in X number of years.Have no fear though, as writing a dissertation is a manageable task if you approach it correctly.One thing that helped me immensely in preparing my own dissertation was making a writing plan and sticking to it.While I’ve suggested that people read one (or more) of the books that I’ve digested myself (check my Writing a Doctoral Dissertation page), one of the main things I teach my students is how to apply backcasting techniques to develop a project plan.I was trained as a project manager, and I worked in that capacity for a number of years, so I understand exactly the kind of work that needs to be done to develop good project plans.I had been planning to write this blog post for a while, since this is the one question I get asked the most by doctoral students (“ I had to rush to get this blog post done because my student is 2 years away from the deadline her university has imposed for her thesis defence, which is why I sat down with her last night to show her how I do things.I have two other Ph D students at exactly the same stage (2 years to defense) so I figured I might as well finish this blog post.Anyone pursuing a graduate degree has experienced the feeling that a project will go on forever.Thankfully, pursuing a graduate degree does have an end date but to get there you have to write everything into a dissertation first.


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