From Dr. Wendy Carter of TA-DA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished

A Good Thesis or Dissertation Is a Done Thesis or Dissertation

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Spring Break Challenge (March 19-26, 2006)

If you are wondering if you should try and get anything accomplished over the break, my answer is YES!!!!

Let's take a page from Gina Hiatt, Ph.D.'s book and challenge ourselves to get something accomplished over Spring Break. You will be surprise what you can get done in just one week. Even if you're not on Spring Break, join us--don't do it alone!

I'd like to offer a Spring Break challenge to anyone who would like to take me up on it.

Post what you'd like to work on (if anything) over the break, and the maximum amount of time you would like to spend on it daily.

Each day you should do "something" to move your dissertation forward. Some items can take as little as 15 minutes to be completed.

Please be realistic by trying to keep your time limit reasonable and low unless you're trying to defend in April/May or might have a more pressing deadline.

You can check into this post either daily or just at the end of the challenge (March 26, 2006) to let us know how well you were able to accomplished your goals. Feel free to share with us what problems you had or just check in to encourage or commiserate with others.

Post Summary:

What will you work on?

How much time will you spend daily working on it?

Tell us how much progress you are making, or problems you are having

All comments posted on this blog will be forwarded to my email. You are invited to correspond with each other for encouragement and support. I will post, comment, and encourage you along the way. Ready, Set, Go!

Remember a Good Dissertation is a DONE Dissertation


  • At Saturday, March 18, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…

    I am planning on getting my Table of Contents(TOC)finish for my book and have a paragraph written in each section of the book.

    I plan to spend at least 2 hours each day.

  • At Saturday, March 18, 2006, Blogger Dan said…

    This is terrific. I'm inspired. Now I just need a plan.

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger RHH said…

    Spring Break only means so much since I work full time... But Chall-ahnge, you say????

    I have a lit survey that I must have done before the 29th. Sunday I plan to spend four 1.5-hour blocks on it. Rest of the week I'm going for two hours a day.

    Guess that means I better get some sleep!


  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger DrM2B said…

    Well, Im kinda doing things out of order. I have finished my required CITI courses my university needs, officially established my committee chair and waiting for approval for the rest, Outline will be finished this weekend...and have started to piecemeal the rest of the proposal together.

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger Melissa said…

    Dr. Carter,
    Thank you for the motivating ideas.
    My goal is two part. First I am attending a conference within my disciple in New Orleans the 23rd through the 26th. Before I leave my goal is to complete the transcription of my second interview. During my time in New Orleans, I plan to network, network, and network. As my reward I get to enjoy the city.

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…

    Today is the day to get started.... even transcribing can be done with breaks in between. Melissa, when you get it done, you can go to New Orleans guilt free.

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…

    working on a dissertation never has to be done in a linear fashion. I always believe in doing what you know first, then tackle the tough stuff; when you do it that way you are building confidence as you go.

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger johonna said…

    I take my 1st comp this Mon.-Wed. It's a 72 hr take home; have to write about ~30-40 pages. lots of notes already; more to write 2day.
    Plan: 10-12 hours/day on it. Reward: Thursday, museum? movie?

    feel free to leave me encouraging comments to FOCUS!! at
    Thanks Dr. Carter and everyone!!
    (I'm inspired I won't be the only person working during spr break)

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…


    as you can see that earlier comment was meant for you...I am sooo not a morning person that I get confused...but

    rhh I say get some sleep and be rearing to go when you jump out of bed...maybe some coffee first...I feel you pain with the full-time work thing...welcome to the club

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…


    Best of luck on your comps!!!!yikes
    It's always good to know that you are not alone..Estamos aqui para a ti(We're here for you)

    that's the only spanish I know

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger RHH said…

    Good start so far. Up a little before 8, downloaded JabRef (great tool for organizing bibtex references and notes), and started going through a survey paper of one of my sub-topics until about 9:40. Already seeing places where my sub-topics can merge. It's exciting to have start feeling the pieces come together in my head.

    Only fell into the Freecell trap for one game (and it was an easier game, so I finished in a couple minutes) :D

    Eating breakfast now and washed a few dishes. Probably get back at it around 11.

    Hey Dan! Looking forward to seeing that plan of yours!


  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger RoniCL said…


    During this spring break I plan to read, read , read. I have found that I need to set time aside to quietly get into the knowledge from the inside out. I need to do this in order to really personalize it and gain some expertise in the subject matter. Thanks Dr. Carter for all your encouragement!

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger ufc said…

    I am rewriting chapter 1 and finishing chapter 2. I have begun chapter 3, but have no idea what I am doing. I will work 2 hours a day and try to finish l and 2 this week. Chapter 3 needs to be finished asap, but I am really afraid of it!

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger Maryjane said…

    I have two things that I planned to do during "Spring Break"

    1.I am planning on learning how to use (Microsoft Word)to correct numbering on my dissertation template.
    2. I will need a statistician to explain in layman's terms "statistical analysis" and "data analysis" so that I can submit my three chapters to my mentor.

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…


    Beyond "Insert" "Page Number" then selecting the "Page number" and "Alignment". What else is there? Most of us know Microsoft Word. If you have a specific question, Post it..perhaps someone can help you.

  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger RHH said…

    The second of schedule four 1.5-hour sessions wasn't quite a focused as the first (got distracted by lunch, some people recruiting for their religion, and a difficult section of the paper) but still fruitful. Finished the paper and took all my notes down.

    Study break turn out well: napped through GM upseting UNC, and saw UConn, my designated Duke-killers, pull out a close one.

    Think I'm going to spend the third session changes how I'm going to organize the survey.


  • At Sunday, March 19, 2006, Blogger Maryjane said…

    Well..between the time I posted and a few hours later, I was able to conquer"the beast." I am a visual learner and sometimes I think I'm also audible learner as well. My son tells me that Word has a HELP button, if I need help. I think it's because even though he's computer-savvy, he gets a little frustrated with me.
    So I have one obstacle that is standing in my way and as soon as tomorrow comes, I will call the local university and ask for help from a previous research teacher.

  • At Monday, March 20, 2006, Blogger poiu said…

    I've been busy editing my Chapters. I intend to finish editing my last Chapter and send it off to my advisor.
    I also intend to get my TOC and abstract done..Plan to spend 2 hours every day. But there's no luxury of a spring break because I have a full time job.

  • At Monday, March 20, 2006, Blogger RHH said…

    So ran into some personal limitations... late afternoon/early evening has NEVER been a good time for me, so probably ended up putting a disjointed hour. Did get in a somewhat useful hour later Sunday night. So call it 3ish useful ones out of my four scheduled sessions.

    Anyway, getting back on the ball tonight!

  • At Monday, March 20, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…

    piou and rhh

    Thanks for checking in today. Keep editing. How is that TOC coming? RHH maybe you are a midnight owl like myself. Enjoy your afternoons and just work hard at night.

  • At Tuesday, March 21, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…

    Hey Melissa

    How is the transcription going? Are you done yet? is it almost done? Let's get it done before you leave. Two more days-- did you break it up to spread it over 4 days? You should have 75% of it done by now....

    Enjoy your evening!!!! get a good night's rest so that you will be ready for that exam... do prepare your workspace before you go to bed tonight...wear your lucky T-shirt or sweatshirt..whatever works to get the good karma going for your exams...

  • At Wednesday, March 22, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…

    I have problem sending email to the "take me to the spring challenge break blog". Anyway I haven't yet start writing. But I desperately want to start writing. My problem are many, I have done some readings and find that my infos are all scattered around. I find your research template very good and convenient in systematically collecting info but now I have this problem of arranging those inputs I have gathered. Another problem of mine is that english is my second language, I have this doubts that I can write a scholarly paper. How do I overcome this problem and begin to start writing. You see, I am worried as I feel that I can't even write a single good and scholarly paragraph what more writing one page a day. Hope you can shed some light in overcoming this problem. Thanking you in advance.

    Best regards,

  • At Wednesday, March 22, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…

    I am posting this response just in case any of you are dealing with writer's block.

    Thank you for contacting us at TADA . On our CD we have some suggestions for overcoming writer's block. Your email was written quite well. Here are my suggestions to get you writing again. If you have not written a proposal I suggest that you do so. Check the archives of my newsletter for tips on writing a proposal. If you have written a proposal remember that your dissertation is an EXPANSION of your proposal. So you are not writing your thesis/dissertation from scratch.

    I suggest the following for writer's block:
    Read old papers that you have written in the past where you received good grades/passing marks
    Outline your chapter
    Focus on the points you want to make in the paper rather than the paragraphs
    Speak what you are trying to say into a tape and then type it out.
    Write it in your own words and edit later or write without editing or type with the computer screen turned off so that you won't edit along the way
    Write in your native language first, translate later, or hire a translator.
    Keeping a daily journal also helps clear your head especially if you write at least 3 pages without editing first thing in the morning
    Don't write in a linear fashion start writing whatever chapter you know best and build confidence from there...
    Hire an editor at

    About the research Template
    Your first step is to combine like studies i.e. which studies focus on the same--- research question? same findings/results/outcomes? same methodology? write about how similar they are ---so for example some studies focus on the same research question but the methodology might be different, or the results could be different,
    How are these studies different?
    How do they relate to your research question?
    Why is your study better? What is new about your study i.e. what is your contribution to this academic field?
    I hope my suggestions gets you going...

    Dr. Carter

  • At Thursday, March 23, 2006, Blogger johonna said…

    Hey Dr. Carter and everybody!
    Amazingly blessed by God, I finished my comprehensive exam (2 essays)!!!!I feel great about them too!
    finished 12 hours b4 deadline yesterday eve., but ended up a photo finish anyway cuz I fell sleep and ended up editing and finishing the bibs this morning(as I had to e-mail essays out by 9:40 a.m.)

    I thank God for Dr. Carter's blog 2 b/c as a result of the idea and having to sign up to post here, I created my own in which friends and family members as well as rhh, have encouraged me throughout the process, providing much needed and used support.

    This was my first comp exam and it was a challenging, yet great process and experience that taught me a lot abt getting writing done in a very short time. For real.

    Much Encouragement to all of you still working! Also, my work doesn't stop here. 2 more goals for this week: 1) finish my rdg list for my next comp in May.
    2) write an assignment for my AMST 201 students

  • At Thursday, March 23, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…


    Well done on getting those exams done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Way to go!!!

    It's coming down to the end of the week does anyone else have good news to share?

  • At Thursday, March 23, 2006, Blogger johonna said…

    Useful Writing Strategy

    Altho no Dr. Carter, Now that I'm finished the biggest part of my work load, I have time to suggest tips for others : )

    Here's one: Freewrite!

    Use this to start work sessions when you just need to get started and focused or moments when you have writer's block. Give yourself 10-15 min or so and make yourself write or type without lifting your pen from paper or fingers from keyboard (whatever comes to your mind, related to your research or not.)

    Freewriting helps you: 1) get focused b/c it clears your mind of stuff you're thinking about instd of work 2)helps get in mode of writing 3) get ideas flowing -- often contains kernels of ideas, even if just a sentence or two, you can expand on in whatever writing-related task at hand.

    Moving On From the Free-Write:
    Read your free-write, find a sentence that's interesting or useful and expand on it. If nothing related to your work, try to draw a parallel between something you've written and the task at hand, even if it's only a word of encouragement. E.g. If you wrote, "I'm so broke." Reflect, "Finishing this ______ is one closer step to graduating and getting a job that pays the bills." Motivation and inspiration is the key. Enjoy!

  • At Thursday, March 23, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…

    Thanks Joanna for the Writing Tips.

    So how are you going to celebrate? We at TADA always recommend that you reward yourself AFTER you have cleared a major hurdle.

    What's your reward? Spa? Movies? New Shoes? Doing Absolutely nothing for the next 3 days?

  • At Thursday, March 23, 2006, Blogger RHH said…

    Well, I'm no johanna, but I've made a bit of progress over the past few days. Been more or less keeping my 2 hours per day commitment, either early before work or while burning the midnight oil.

    So the pieces are starting to fall into place. Been utilizing one of my favorite writing tips: "Ask the question, and then answer it"

    Once you identify the question, then either you know the answer and have direction for your writing, or you don't know the answer and have direction for necessary research. I realized that a couple of my questions weren't well defined... :-\

    Oh! Wonderful technology! Found out that my phone has a recorder on it, so I've been giving two- and three-minute mini-lectures to it on the way home. Great way to get the thoughts out in a low-pressure situation!

    Hope everyone's coming along, even with spring break just determined to be gone as fast as it can...

  • At Friday, March 24, 2006, Blogger Shannon said…

    Hello from Australia!!
    I've been reading your (collective) comments, and wondering if any of you have young kid(s)&husband as well as money work and PhD? I just feel exhausted all of the time. I find I sit down and I just can't settle because I'm occupied by so many different things. Any strategies?

  • At Saturday, March 25, 2006, Blogger LMA said…

    Hello all - I am very late in joining the challenge but better late than never right? I work full time too so spring break isn't as meaningful to me. I just returned last week from a business trip to Asia and am finally fully recovered from the jet lag.

    I have a meeting with my advisor on Monday and I'd like to have a rough draft of my thesis proposal finished.

    I plan to spend 3 hours on it today (Saturday) and two more 3 hour sessions on it tomorrow. Start the clock.

  • At Saturday, March 25, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…

    LMA welcome to the Spring Break's always better late than never....

    We expect that rough draft to be accomplished by Sunday!!!!

    Keep working we still have 2 days!!! is that chapter going? Melisa have you gotten Microsoft down to a science yet?

    drm2b is that outline done?

    rhh I liked that idea about talking in to your phone sending yourself mini lectures...excellent.

    Now the rest of us have no excuses especially if you hate writing.

    Send yourself a lecture and transcribe later.

    Hang in there folks

  • At Saturday, March 25, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…


    I was a single parent when I was in graduate school. Many others have a full-time job, kids and a spouse.

    My TADA users know my approach is to work at least 12 MIN. a day...Stop looking for hours in your day to work on your dissertation. Look for 15 minute opportunities to do so..

    Create a space where you can work. Break down your tasks into small manageable bite size pieces...Create a list so that you can cross off when you complete them.

    You can create your own list or use ours on our TADA CD..We created a list of 12 minute task that people can do to move their dissertaton forward.

    We get many orders from Austrialia every day. TADA also lets you know what you can do when you don't feel like writing. Check out my past newsletters (Archives) on staying motivated and how to keep going...Check out what other students have to say about TADA as well.

    Try doing something for 12 minutes and let me know what happened. You can create your cover page or an outline in 12 can do some references in 12 minutes...etc.

  • At Sunday, March 26, 2006, Blogger LMA said…

    Hey again everyone - I hope things are going well.

    I spent the morning working from home and then came to the library this evening to do a little more article hunting on my topic - in hopes of fleshing out my lit. review a bit more.

    I am starting to PANIC now b/c I am realizing that there are some articles on my topic that I had not found initially; these new articles are making start to doubt the necessity or the intellectual value of my thesis (originally I thought this had not been done).

    Now I feel like I am back to square one and still trying to committ to a topic for my thesis.

    Has this happened to anyone else? Thoughts?

  • At Sunday, March 26, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…


    Many students spend a considerable amont of time on their literature review hoping to get it perfect. I constantly warn students not to fall into that trap because, new studies come out everyday. The lit review that you wrote for your dissertatin proposal will be slightly different than the one in your final dissertation.

    In my workshops I always say that your job is to " add to the existing literature" not invent it.

    Since you are familiar with the literature, I am sure that if you look closely at those new articles you can see something wrong with them. Something that you can do better or something that needs fixing. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Read those articles with a critical eye.

    I hope this helps.

  • At Sunday, March 26, 2006, Blogger LMA said…

    Phew. Okay thanks. I'm breathing again. I guess if absolutely nothing had been done on my topic then that would be worse - the fact that people are already researching and writing on this area only confirms that there is value in it. I need to continue my committment to this direction and just keep trudging forward. After all, this is only a master's thesis - it's not like I'm trying to actually out-do the research of NSF, U.S. Government and American Society of Engineering Education (all who have written on my topic).

    Thanks Dr. Carter. I may actually be able to sleep tonight!


  • At Sunday, March 26, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…


    Sleep well.

    To all of you who participated in our Spring Break Challenge--Thank you. You made it interesting. It ends at Midnight. Please check in and let me know what you were able to accomplish!!!!!!!!!!

    My TOC is done...

  • At Monday, March 27, 2006, Blogger RHH said…

    Congrats on your TOC, Dr. Carter!

    Well, my spring break was productive, but can't claim the unilateral success that I hope the rest of you can!

    Needed to do more of a lit survey than I anticipated, but (I think) that's more or less done at this point. So if I can get a good amount written over the next couple days and proofread while I'm at the conference, I'll be in reasonable shape.

    It's been a learning experience in any case!


  • At Monday, March 27, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…

    Thank your for your participation. Let's all get back to our real lives. I am headed to the NSBE conference in Pittsburgh, PA....I am giving my workshop "Practical Steps to completing a Master's thesis or dissertation."

    Best of luck to all of you.

  • At Thursday, July 06, 2006, Blogger junglee said…

    I am planning to complete my dissertation proposal this summer, before the beginning of November.

    I plan to spend at least 1-1.5 hour each day.

  • At Wednesday, July 26, 2006, Blogger Dr. Carter said…

    Hello All, I am checking and sharing with you my email to let you know that it can be done....

    Dr. Carter,

    I just wanted you to know that with the help of TADA, I have completed my dissertation and it has been approved. All I have to do now is schedule the conference call.

    Thank you so much for all you have done and especially offering such useful materials to get through this somewhat daunting task.

    Maryjane Kirby

  • At Monday, March 19, 2007, Blogger Priyanka said…

    I have my comprehensive exams for the next two months and I still don't have my reading lists for all the subjects. I need to get my reading lists in order and read everyday and atleast get some writing done.

    First, get reading lists done and send it to professors for approval.

    Second, read at least few chapters everyday.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home