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Dissertation Motivation Blog

By Shaun Stevenson, PhD English Student

For those of you looking for non-traditional resources to help you through the dissertation process, blogs can provide insightful perspectives, reserves of relevant articles and links to helpful information from across the web. Better yet, they are often a wonderful and humorous place to commiserate about the sometimes woeful process of dissertation writing. This article will look at three excellent blogs that you may just want to turn to when struck by that familiar feeling of procrastination.

The Thesis Whisperer: Humour, insight and helpful hints

Appearing in no particular order, let’s begin with the aptly titled The Thesis Whisperer. Hailing from the Australian National University and dubbed a “blog newspaper,” this blog compiles engaging and succinct entries from around the world. Its scope extends far beyond the actual writing process and includes posts on just about anything you could think of surrounding a dissertation, from time management skills, how to create an authoritative voice in your writing and managing the complicated terrain of ethics approval. It also contains a lot of colourful posts from good-humoured academics, including the astutely named “Academic assholes and the circle of niceness” and “How I broke up with my supervisor”. The blog prides itself on being to the point, with most posts limited to 1,000 words or less. It is wonderfully organized, and likely has something for everyone, with a nod to other like-mined blogs and websites in the sidebar. It also welcomes submissions from other dissertation-raddled academics.

The Three Month Thesis: I don’t believe you, but go ahead and inspire me

With a name like The Three Month Thesis, the next blog I’d like discuss initially had me feeling a little suspect. Referred to as “your uncommon guide to thesis writing and PhD life” by the blog’s author, James Hayton, I thought there had to be some gimmick here. Hayton explains how, after nearly giving up on his PhD altogether, he rallied his motivation and actually wrote his entire dissertation in just three months. All skepticism aside, his post “How I wrote a PhD thesis in 3 months,” is both believable and inspirational. In 10 straightforward steps, a listing-style deployed through many of his posts, the author carefully and concisely explains how his three-month thesis was possible. And while those of you in year 5, 6 or 9 may cry nonsense at the practicality of this, his tactics and tips will resonate no matter what stage you’re at. All of the posts found on this blog are presented in a refreshingly sparse, yet on-point style. I especially loved this simple but wonderfully insightful post on overcoming procrastination: “Procrastination hack: Get to zero.” Yes Hayton is a full-time “thesis coach,” and yes this blog promotes his services, but hey, quit being so jaded and take his free advice for what it is!   [Please note that the author of this blog has since contacted us to let us know that his blog has been renamed]

GradHacker: Writing a dissertation in a digital age

Third is GradHacker[now hosted by Inside Higher Ed]. Written across universities, disciplines and career stages, GradHacker was initially began with the intent of teaching other grads about technology related to graduate life and networking. It has since expanded to ‘hacking’ all aspects of grad life. While this blog contains topics similar to those of the aforementioned blogs, I highlight it for its original emphasis on technology. GradHacker’s careful attention to the increasingly technological aspects of dissertation writing set it apart from some of the more general blogs. Posts highlight software programs that help you build your own research database, how to get the best use of electronic referencing tools like Zotero, or simply what it means to be a more tech savvy graduate student. Putting theory into practice, GradHacker also hosts its own podcasts. This blog is really a one-size-fits-all resource for dissertation writing and all things graduate-related. Its focus on technology gives it a bit of an edge, and gives you all the more reason to spend time reading about writing your dissertation, rather than actually writing it!

Tell us what your favorite dissertation-related blogs are in the comments below!

Monday, June 2, 2014  |  Categories: Grad Student blogs, News, Professional Development
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Short URL: https://gradstudents.carleton.ca/?p=20440

 

The human brain is a funny thing. Even when we have a great reason to do something—a clean house, money, more free time, better health, greater knowledge—we somehow find ways to procrastinate and dawdle, preferring the easier but less preferable present to the more difficult but more rewarding future.

Writing a thesis is much the same. Even though the potential rewards are exceptional—an impressive title, greater job opportunities, academic recognition, personal satisfaction—it can be incredibly difficult to knuckle down to the hard work of finishing your thesis.

So, how do you get motivated? Here are some tips to maximise your motivation and get your thesis written:

Click here to get a list of creative ways to reward yourself when writing your thesis

Create big goals for your life

Before you even begin researching your thesis, write down a few key goals for yourself that your thesis will facilitate. Whether it is getting a job at a university, writing a book, being recognised as an expert in your field, getting the opportunity to work for a big company, increasing your salary expectations or starting your own business, you should make some life goals that completing your thesis will help facilitate. If you’re finding it difficult to write a particular chapter or if you’re in a funk, come back to those goals and then attack your thesis with renewed energy. You may like to stick these somewhere around your workspace to remind yourself of these goals.

Create small goals for your thesis

A small goal might be ‘I will write at least 1000 words per day for this week’, or ‘I will tidy up my reference list today’. You may like to add in some goals like cleaning up your workspace, exercising or filing your notes that aren’t so urgent but help facilitate productivity and add to your sense of achievement.

Create a schedule

Make yourself a schedule—actually write it out in a diary or calendar—and then (and this is the key) stick to it! If you work consistently and stick to your own deadlines, you’ll have more time to recharge and you’ll be less stressed as the big deadlines approach.

Treat yourself

Think of rewards that will make attaining your goals even better. If your goal is to write a certain number of words, give yourself a small reward to incentivise yourself. Goals and incentives work hand in hand to get you over the line of a difficult task.

Daydream, just a little

Imagine how good life will be once you attain your big goals. While most of us dream of certain goals, we usually have to do something unappealing to get there: whether it’s saving more of your income to retire earlier or doing lots of exercise to lose weight. Spend some time picturing how your life might be after finishing your PhD, and then remember that getting there is in your hands and that the short-term sacrifices required are completely worth it.

Click here to get a list of creative ways to reward yourself when writing your thesis

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