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Do Not Leave Graduate School Before You Get Your Degree | FinishLine, Tips Tools Techniques for Completing a Thesis or Dissertation from Dr Wendy Carter

July, 2007 spacerVolume 3, Issue 7

In This Issue:

July 4th is over. What will you do with the rest of your summer? No more excuses. Join us in our three week (July 9-27, 2007) TA-DA Summer Break Challenge which begins today. Join our on-line writing group. Check in daily or weekly. We at the University of Maryland will be meeting daily from 9-5pm to work on our proposals, theses, and dissertations. 

10 Mistakes Graduate Students Should Avoid:
Mistake #5: Piling Up 'Incompletes' on Your Transcripts and/or Taking Too Long to Complete Your Work

Before you enter a graduate program you should know what the average length of time it takes to complete the program. Generally, the more structured the program the less time it takes.  Unlike professional graduate programs such as law, medicine, and business, no degree is guaranteed at the end of several years of coursework.  Traditional graduate degree programs with a required thesis or dissertation component have been characterized by less structure, fewer formal classes, more self-motivation and independence.

In spite of an academic environment with less direction and more responsibility, your goal from the very first day of graduate school is to build a professional career.  In graduate school your measure of success is not grades; getting all A's doesn’t mean anything if you have not developed excellent research skills. First and foremost, the PhD is a research degree — as a good graduate student you are responsible for conducting your own research (in conjunction with your advisor), presenting your work at professional meetings, writing grants to fund your research, and publishing your research results in a timely manner.

Are you a workaholic who is never satisfied with the quality of work you are able to produce within the timeframe of a semester?  If so, have you piled up a number of “incompletes” so that you could take the time to improve your work before turning it in?  If this describes you, stop now!  Taking too long to complete your coursework is frowned upon in academia, and in the eyes of most faculty, a “B” is a much preferable mark to an “Incomplete.”  Moreover, a build-up of “Incompletes” may be viewed as a harbinger of things to come … and prospective advisors or committee members may be reluctant to take on that kind of risk.

Piling up a number of incompletes signals to professors that you cannot finish what you start. If you cannot complete your assignments within a semester, professors become leery that you will ever be able to finish your degree within a reasonable amount of time given that you have to set your own deadline.

The six burner stove approach

While you should definitely aspire to turn in your best work all the time, don’t get tripped up and slowed down by always trying to achieve perfection. Andy Spencer on Science Career Forum website (www.ScienceCareers.org ) suggests that you not spend weeks getting ready to do “The Big, Enlightening Experiment" when six little experiments would be far more efficient. Some refer to this as creating an excuse for putting off an experiment until all of the pieces are in place, similar to gathering wood to build a campfire. It's important to realize that “Science isn’t a campfire; it’s a six-burner stove.”

At TADA we believe in the “six-burner stove” method; you should be able to still move your Master’s thesis or dissertation forward even if you are experiencing writer’s block. Is your cover page, acknowledgement page, signature page, etc., done? Keep working even if you don’t feel like writing. Recently, a mechanical engineering graduate student took my advice and made sure everything else on his thesis was done even before all of his experiments were completed.  When his experiments were done all he had to do was to put the results into the tables he had previously created. See his comments in the “congratulations section below.” 

Networking and sharing the workload

In graduate school expect your workload to be substantially more than any one person could complete. The reading requirements can be sometimes overwhelming and burdensome. In addition to the required readings, in the syllabus you might find supplemental (recommended) readings as well. Don’t waste time complaining to the professor who assigned the reading; he/she fully expects you to come to class prepared to discuss the readings. Find creative ways to cover the reading materials for the course.

For example, in graduate school I was able to familiarize myself with all the readings by forming and participating in a class study group. We would divide the readings amongst ourselves and provide a summary for each reading. The summary included the abstract, the research question, the methodology, limitations, and the findings. Using this method allowed all of us to participate in the class discussion. In class it is always better to make any contribution on something than not to participate at all. Remember silence in class is viewed by professors as lack of knowledge — Sometimes class participation involves making a preemptive strike; raise your hand and volunteer an answer on something that you are prepared for before you are called upon to answer a question you don't know the correct answer to.


101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life

Have you had a chance to check out the new book, “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life: Volume 3:? It is a compilation of 101 articles with practical, solid advice on how you can take action and improve your life. I am extremely excited to be a part of this, and am equally excited to be a contributing author along with Ken Blanchard, Les Brown, Mark Victor Hansen, Byron Katie and many other leading Self Improvement experts.

This book is the third volume in the “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life” Series. Volumes 1& 2 include secrets from Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Jack Canfield, Dr. Richard Carlson and many other people living a successful life. If you haven't seen Volumes 1 & 2, check them out. Right now the publisher is offering, a special discount plus great bonus gifts If you purchase the three volume set together.

To get more information or buy a copy, just go to: http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/?Clk=1815028

 


Email Question of the Month:

Q:

Well thanks very much for your help but I would suggest that I get any copy or sample of dissertation and i compare because i have failed to begin. Stellah

A:

Hello Stellah

Sample dissertations are available in your campus library or your department's library; the only problem is that you cannot check them out of the library. Some college/universities have dissertations available online.

I typed in "Sample dissertation proposals" in Google and this is the link that I found. You could have done the same thing.

https://webspace.utexas.edu/cherwitz/www/ie/sample_diss.html

Cut and paste this link into your browser and you should be able to find samples of dissertation proposals at the University of Texas Austin.

Best of luck.

Dr. Carter

 


TA-DA!™ Graduates —
Congratulations on Your Success

Hello Dr. Carter,

I did it!!! I am now a PhD candidate!!! My defense was at 10:30 today and I got my response by 1:30pm. Thanks for all your help and support. We will be in touch shortly. I am so happy!!! The proposal experience has been a great learning experience and gave me a clearer idea of what my research is all about. –
Geriel UMBC

I was at a crash and burn point on the dissertation before I found your program. I was totally debilitated by panic attacks from putting pressure on myself. After I got medicated, I found your program and it helped me tremendously to get work done while overcoming my anxiety. Lots of credit to you for getting me through that! Thanks for your tremendous help—I wrote, defended, graduated and walked!
Christine C, Ph.D, Seattle , WA

I successfully defended my dissertation three weeks ago, I am a PhD! TA-DA was an amazing eye-opener and the FinishLine newsletter kept me on the track while writing my dissertation, especially in the final months that seemed interminable ... I mostly appreciated your suggestion to work on something else (tables, references etc.) when I was not feeling like writing or I had a writer's block. At the end of the day I felt like I still did something toward completion of the dissertation instead of chiding myself for not writing. Thank you very much!
Claudia, UMBC

Dr. Carter,
I would like to thank you for all the technical and motivational help you provided me throughout my thesis writing process. You don't have a Magic wand but you made do one with every 15 min I had "nothing better" to do! The fact I was on time (for writing and editing) to defend my thesis was in part due to your advice:(paraphrasing) ... do what you can do (i.e. dedication, formatting and so on) now so it is out of the way. Oh yes! Once I had my results, I was writing like driving on 495 on Sunday morning because there was nothing in my way. Please accept my heart felt gratitude from my family and me. I know you are going to say, take a break but don't forget the revisions, yes I do read your monthly letters. (MS defended, TA-DA it is done, that means the thesis is good!) Very grateful,
Yared A., UMBC


101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life

Have you had a chance to check out the new book, “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life: Volume 3:? It is a compilation of 101 articles with practical, solid advice on how you can take action and improve your life. I am extremely excited to be a part of this, and am equally excited to be a contributing author along with Ken Blanchard, Les Brown, Mark

This book is the third volume in the “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life” Series. Volumes 1& 2 include secrets from Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Jim Rohn, Jack Canfield, Dr. Richard Carlson and many other people living a successful life. If you haven't seen Volumes 1 & 2, check them out. Right now the publisher is offering, a special discount plus great bonus gifts If you purchase the three volume set together.

To get more information or buy a copy, just go to: http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/?Clk=1815028.


What TA-DA!™ Users Have to Say...

If you're still wondering whether or not TA-DA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished™ can help you — don’t take our word for it. Take a few moments to read what some of our customers have told us. See how TA-DA!™ helped them...

Ph.D. Doctoral Students…

•  I am just beginning my doctoral coursework but I wanted to get a jump on this thesis stuff so I purchased your product just about the same time I enrolled in my classes! Darlene G

•  Hello Dr. Carter, I met with you a few months ago. I had an impossible deadline to meet: to complete my dissertation proposal in 6 weeks time. I just wanted you to know that I successfully defended the proposal on October 3rd!! Thanks for your help and encouragement! All the best, Harriette W.

•  TA-DA provided me with some useful ideas for how to use short amounts of time that would normally be unproductive completing small tasks that move the dissertation forward. Donnell B.

•  How it (TADA) Helped: In many ways but I will mainly highlight two areas for now. 1. The TADA Calender. The main problem I faced before was how to get down and do my work. But with the TADA Calender, I have made a committment and I everyday I have the motivation to fulfill this commitment. 2. The 12 Minutes Tasks. I was never even aware of some of those requirements. Now I feel more confident since each day I know exactly what is expected of me and I can make an exact plan of how to accomplish them. Dear colleagues in Thesis/Dissertation writing. Anybody wanting to have a peace of mind and confidence in whatever she/he does during the whole Thesis/Dissertation writing, you have no choice but to buy the TADA CD. I won't explain what wonders it will do to you, but buy it and experience it."   Connie, U.K.

•  The commitment to a deadline and to working 12 minutes a day actually reduces stress. I can always do 12 minutes--even if I'm tired, sick, uninspired or grumpy. Facing a deadline makes it feel like I will actually get done! "I have to do my 12 minutes" we say in our house these days. I've been progressing steadily on my dissertation by committing to 12 minutes, and my husband has covered huge amounts of material for an upcoming professional exam. My friend has committed to completing the annulment papers she has procrastinated on for 10 years, and my father-in-law has started studying Spanish 12 minutes a day. Thanks!
Christine, Seattle, WA

•  It helped me to set goals for my chapters and give me some practical strategies for finishing. Also I believe it's good to list your finish date. It gives you something to strive for rather than letting the thesis become nebulous. Martha; Albany, CA

•  TA-DA explains the dissertation process and lifts the curtain to a process that seems impossible to accomplish. It provides strategy for selecting the committee and provides timelines that enable accomplishment of the dissertation within a specific time frame.
Randall; USMC Jacksonville, NC

•  The program helped me to understand the dissertation concept much better. I am a visual individual; the tutorial was a great help.
Deborah; U.S. Army

Master’s Thesis Students …

•  It has helped with the fact that my graduate school does not have a formal format for the proposal. The Journal has helped a lot.
Talia; Naranjito, Puerto Rico

 •  This is a great tool for those who will be starting either their Master's Degree or Dissertation. I highly recommend it.
Teresa; Naguabo, Puerto Rico

•  Requesting that I set a goal date for finishing, kept me focused and it was the first step in accomplishing the task. Also, I kept remembering the words; a good thesis is a done thesis.
Gladys; NY, NY

•  It guided me to a fair start. Gracias!
Jess; San Francisco, CA


 

Sincerely,

Wendy Y. Carter, Ph.D.
email: drcarter@tadafinallyfinished.com
www.tadafinallyfinished.com

About the Author: As a single mother, professor Wendy Y. Carter, Ph.D., completed three masters' degrees and a PhD. Her motto is a Good Thesis/Dissertation is a Done Thesis/Dissertation. She is the creator of a new innovative interactive resource tool on CD—TADA! Thesis and Dissertation Accomplished. To learn more and sign up for her FREE tips and teleclasses, contact us at info@tadafinallyfinished.com. Privacy is our policy. TADA™ Finishline does not give out or sell our subscribers' names or e-mail addresses.

Published monthly.
To subscribe to FinishLine, see below.

Inside This Issue:

10 Mistakes Graduate Students Should Avoid: Mistake #5: Piling Up 'Incompletes' on Your Transcripts and/or Taking Too Long to Complete Your Work

Email Q & A of the Month

Congratulations Graduates

What TA-DA!™
Users Say

Dr. Carter Is Co-author of a New Book


Next FinishLine Features:

10 Mistakes Graduate Students Should Avoid: Mistake #6: Dismissing the Power of the Administrative Staff



 



Dr. Carter's
Recommendations:

Getting What You Came For...
The book explains the entire process of completing graduate school, from selecting and applying to a graduate program to obtaining a teaching position. Selected chapters provide overall practical advice on selecting an advisor, managing the committee, selecting a topic, writing a proposal, writing the dissertation, and preparing for the defense.

Getting What You Came For...
Buy

The Dissertation Cook Book
The authors uses a cookbook metaphor define the ingredients of a dissertation. This book provides useful information on each section of the five-chapter dissertation common in the social and behavioral sciences. It also contains practical tips, hands-on exercises, and checklists dealing with getting started, choosing a topic, types of research instruments, statistics, sampling, and analyzing data. Most of the information is relevant for writers at the proposal stage.

The Dissertation Cook Book
Buy

The Artist's Way
This book by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan leads you through a comprehensive twelve-week program to recover your creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, replacing them with artistic confidence and productivity.

The Artist's Way
Buy



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