Writing and Presenting Your
Thesis or Dissertation
S. Joseph Levine, Ph.D.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan USA
Note #5 - Getting your project moving again
So, here we are in a new year. If you are anything like me, after a few days off you probably find it difficult to get an old project moving again. And, thesis/dissertation projects can be particularly difficult to get moving again. Why?
A thesis/dissertation project can be difficult to get moving again (or to sustain progress once you get going) because of the large size of the project…and, of course, the complexity of the project. Because of this it is very difficult to see where you are going as you are proceeding. (It's like piloting a large ocean liner from the stern without a good view from the bow.) If you can't see where you are going it can be very difficult to stay on the path and to get motivated to keep going!
With this in mind, try...
1.…establishing some short range goals that are achievable. Like enabling objectives, these short range goals can be very empowering. You can see where you are going! For instance, you may establish the short range goal of finishing a first draft of your Introduction. Or, identifying five more references to include in your bibliography. Or, sharing your preliminary findings with two fellow students.
2.…identifying the exact number of chapters your thesis/dissertation will have and creating a title for each. Your next goal could be to write at least a paragraph or two in each chapter. These are very achievable goals and can get you started again.
3.…writing yourself a note each evening (just a few sentences is enough) that identifies what you accomplished on your project that day. Writing short notes like this can be very important in helping you reflect on your project. (There is no need to create an actual diary. You already have one writing project and don't need another one.)
4.…schedule an appointment with your advisor to be held in a few weeks. As the date draws near you will feel extra incentive to make sure you have accomplished things to report/share.
5.…identifying a place that is exclusively reserved for working on your project. It should be a quiet place that is away from things that can distract you. It shouldn't be the same place you go for doing email, surfing the web, calling friends, etc. If you suddenly remember you need to do something else, pack up and leave your project place to go do the other thing.
6.…taking a long walk where it's quiet and you can better conceptualize your project, the progress you are maing, and what next steps are needed.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about how to keep moving forward on your thesis/dissertation.
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Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation