Some sources of graduate student stress are not external—instead, they come from within.
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Competition is rampant among graduate students. Departments often hold meetings in which graduate students are ranked in order to determine who should be given funding or teaching appointments. This competition can lead to a cut-throat atmosphere that encourages hostility and fears of inadequacy and also inhibits much-needed personal support. But what can you do if you feel that competition within your department is hindering your ability to get work done? Remember that you are not in competition with the students in your department.
Your only competition is more than likely with the graduate students at other universities who will be applying for jobs in your field at the same time you are. After all, if two people are writing dissertations on political theory in the civil rights movement, they may be in initial competition for jobs, but once they get jobs, they will be far more likely to work in a collegial way. If you are having problems with competition in your department, you can try to transform the sense of competition into one of cooperation.
Try working on some collaborative projects with students in your department like co-authoring a conference paper with a student doing similar research.
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Or form a writing and support group—the Writing Center can help you do that. Many graduate students report feeling like a fraud at some time during or through most of! It may be helpful to find a person who is AHEAD of you in the process maybe a friend who has defended to serve as support and to urge you to keep moving. Gathering wisdom from those who have gone before and passing it along to those who are coming up can foster a marvelous spirit of collegiality in a department and help everyone get more and better work done.
Come by to see your advisor. Stay in close contact with your committee. Meet bright, generous people in other departments. Let the Writing Center help you start an interdisciplinary writing group. Go to conferences and meet interesting supportive people on other campuses who will e-mail with you and share your joys, rather than trampling on them. People procrastinate for a lot of reasons, some of which you already know. The key to beating procrastination, though, seems to be figuring out why you are procrastinating, so that you can develop strategies for stopping it.
The University Counseling and Wellness Services sometimes sponsors a dissertation support group, for example, that allows students to meet with a counselor in groups to work through dissertation problems. Not a word is coming to you. Many people use rewards, feedback, and punishments as motivators in the dissertation process.
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Here are some examples:. One of the most important parts of becoming a scholar is feeling like one. The transition from student to scholar is a huge mental step toward completion. Here are a few tips that can help:.
The dissertation is a marathon, not a sprint, and it will take endurance, determination, and perseverance. Developing and sustaining the will to complete a complicated, long-term project is a habit that will serve you well in other areas of life. Take time to laugh at the process and at yourself. Figure out who would play whom in the movie version of your dissertation or of your dissertation defense! We consulted these works while writing this handout. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using.
For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback. Becker, Howard S.
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, Becker draws on his experience as a sociologist and as the leader of a course on writing for graduate student. He focuses on the process of writing, from developing a writing persona, to getting started, to editing. His tone is generally humorous, but some may tire of the sociological examples he uses. Bolker, Joan. New York: Henry Holt and Company, Joan Bolker, a clinical psychologist and writing counselor, does not, in fact, tell you how to write your dissertation in only fifteen minutes a day.
She does, however, explain how starting with fifteen minutes of work each day might lead to a habit of work that will lead to the successful completion of a dissertation. She offers suggestions for handling all sorts of roadblocks. Some may find her suggestions to take out additional loans or hire help with cleaning or child-care unrealistic, given their finances and the job market, but on the whole she offers useful advice. Burka, Jane M.
They also describe how people become procrastinators.
In the second section, they offer concrete advice for resolving problems with procrastination and explain how to set goals, schedule, improve timing, set up support, and so on. The book offers great insight into a very common problem. Secrets for a Successful Dissertation. Written in an inviting, often humorous style, this book deals with the mechanics of writing a dissertation how the process works, how to organize literature reviews, and so on as well as the more intangible aspects, such as the development of support groups and personal organizational strategies.
The appendix provides a list of action words to introduce quotes, a list of suggested items for inclusion in a research proposal, a statistical decision tree, a list of general action verbs, and an impressive annotated bibliography of books on writing, research, confidence, public speaking, computers, and more.
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Mauch James E. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc. The authors offer a no-nonsense approach to planning your project, conducting research, writing, working with your committee, defending the dissertation, and developing it further. The book includes a number of charts, forms, and checklists to help you along the way. The book seems geared toward the dissertation writer who knows what he or she wants to do, and just needs some solid advice on form, planning, and strategy to move them in the right direction. Peters, Robert L.
New York: The Noonday Press, Peters covers graduate school from deciding to go in the first place to completing the degree, offering valuable advice at every step along the way. The book is based on interviews with graduate students, faculty members and counselors, and the real-life experience of the interviewees is particularly helpful.
Peters offers a friendly and encouraging style, sound and realistic advice—and a sizable dose of humor. Sternberg, David. New York: St. A sociologist and advisor to many graduate students, Sternberg focuses on moving the student from ABD to Ph. On the whole, his suggestions tend to center around developing a plan for completion and adhering to it despite doubts, rather than exploring the doubts themselves in great depth. Some of his advice may seem dated. Advice on Research and Writing : Lots of links on writing, public speaking, dissertation management, burnout, and more.
Thus you will need to explain your reasons and methods for collecting and analyzing the data. It may be useful if you use evidence of your chosen methods being successfully used in other empirical studies. Your dissertation proposal timeline section is very important and helpful to you. The purpose of this section is to ensure you have a manageable project for the amount of time you have.
When your dissertation proposal project does not seem manageable you may have to complete a rewrite of your dissertation proposal. Now you will need to plan out the times in which you would like to work on your dissertation proposal writing.
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Remember you can complete your PhD proposal writing in blocks of time or in order of your dissertation proposal structure. Your dissertation proposal timeline should include the due dates for various parts of your dissertation, that you have determined yourself. For example, you may want to complete the outline of your dissertation proposal structure two weeks after having your dissertation topic approved. The last and final section of your PhD proposal is the bibliography list.
As you are completing your dissertation proposal writing you will use many different resources to help prove your research topic and your research questions. The committee or supervisor asks to complete this section in this way so that you can write or create a more critical reflection of the literature that you used to prove your dissertation.
Planning and conducting a dissertation research project — University of Leicester
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