Usc Dissertation Support Center

Thinking analytically, synthesizing complicated information, writing well, and organizing your time will all serve you well regardless of the career you begin.If you choose a career in academia, the systems of support, research strategies, work schedules, and writing techniques that help you do the dissertation will help you write books, articles and lectures for many years to come.

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When you embark on this large, independent project, you may begin to ask yourself questions about your future in academia.

After all, the dissertation is the beginning of the end of a graduate career.

Even when you are dedicated to your dissertation and have no problems with your topic, advisor or committee, you can have trouble getting your dissertation written.

Simple exhaustion, financial stresses, and family responsibilities can seem to conspire to keep you from doing the work that you need to do.

The dissertation, on the other hand, is a new kind of academic project, unlike anything else you’ve done.

It is the academic project that marks your transition from student to scholar.While you can’t do anything about many of these stresses —the rent needs to be paid, and the Grad School still wants you to know two foreign languages, for examples—you can change the way that you deal with these external concerns and minimize their impact on your psyche and productivity.Often, graduate students juggle many personal and professional responsibilities while working on their dissertations.Graduate school pundits often cite 50% or more as the attrition rate for ABD students (those who have completed All the requirements of their programs But the Dissertation). This handout will not only answer this question, but also give you good, practical advice on starting, drafting, and completing your dissertation.The Writing Center can’t advise you about technical questions (for example, how to force Microsoft Word to set up tables correctly or format page numbers the way you want), but we know people who may be able to! Why don’t doctoral candidates manage to get rolling on the dissertation any sooner, or KEEP rolling once they get started?When you finish your dissertation, you have to change your life pretty dramatically —you may go on the job market, begin work as an independent scholar, develop classes, move out of a community that you have grown to love, and so on.You may also feel like your dissertation will begin to define your professional identity.Your advisor or colleagues in your department may be able to help you if you have a good relationship with them.Other graduate students, especially those who are about to finish or have finished, may be particularly helpful.Writing a dissertation is a lot like writing a book. There are usually no weekly deadlines from professors, no regular discussions with classmates, no reading assignments, no one telling you what to do—you are on your own, writing something longer than you’ve ever written, and doing it without a net.This independence can make the process seem very intimidating.


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