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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

September, 2007 spacerVolume 3, Issue 9

In This Issue:

The start of the academic year can provide a sense of a new beginning. I look forward to meeting the students at Purdue on September 11, 2007. Let's start the academic year off right by envisioning the completion of that thesis, proposal, coursework, or dissertation by the end of the academic year.

10 Mistakes Graduate Students Should Avoid:
Mistake #7: Assuming Your Advisor/Principal Investigator Knows More about Your Project than You

Success in graduate school requires a certain degree of confidence and maturity. You will need to be able to defend your ideas and take constructive criticism — of your writing, working style, your experiments, or your ideas. Let's face it, you and you alone are in charge of your program and the degree that you will get has one name on it, yours. Expect and demand to be treated like an adult and a colleague; act like one and you will be treated like one.

Particularly when you start a Ph.D., you may believe that your advisor should be the authority on everything … but that’s not practical or possible. That doesn't mean that an advisor can't be a fantastic resource for teaching you how to integrate your work into the big picture.  Although it’s natural to want someone to tell you exactly what to do, your advisor expects you to be a mature person who can direct your own life. Your ultimate goal in grad school is to learn how to think for yourself.  For example, what do you think about your own work? How do you feel you can better focus your project?  Avoid falling into the pitfall of assumptions: “If she/he didn’t think this would work, he wouldn’t have been awarded a $500,000 grant”; “I’m sure someone would tell me if this strategy, method, approach was not right”; or even “This $50,000 piece of equipment must be the right tool for this job, because he wouldn't have me using it or wouldn’t have spent so much money on it.”

One of the most common mistakes grad students make is backing down from an advisor when their research and convictions are telling them they shouldn’t.

Always remember that you are more familiar with your work than your mentor is.  As an independent scientist and thinker, you need to be prepared to defend your position and fight for your ideas.  As such, your first and most critical advisor should be you … and only when you are completely comfortable with the strength and relevance of your work should you seek another point of view from your advisor.  And, while it’s important to listen and absorb any constructive criticism offered, it’s equally important to have faith in yourself and your work. Remember, you must be responsible for your own research ideas and progress.

Research is about finding new answers or asking better questions.  After trying the same experiment over and over again to make sure the results are consistent, or rewriting countless drafts of the same paper for your professor, YOU are the person most likely to identify an unproductive direction, an insoluble analysis problem or other mis-steps. Ultimately, it is up you to get the project to work. While taking classes is straightforward and familiar, research can sometimes be more ill-defined and messy. Your task is to create some structure out of apparent chaos.  So what if the first set of experiments, statistical models, or design doesn’t work out? Make the necessary adjustments and move on.

Keep in mind that your mentor isn’t the only source of praise you should have in graduate school.  Get additional positive reinforcement and feedback by broadening your circle of friends and professional networks, and bouncing your work and ideas off of them.

If your major professor can’t advise you on your thesis or dissertation topic, then it is up to you to get the help you need.  If you need advice, help, or expertise ask for it: if you want to pick somebody's brains, you'll have to go to him or her, because they won't be coming to you. Use your professional networks that you have developed. Don’t be afraid to talk to other committee members, your undergraduate advisor, other graduate students in your lab, people you have met at conferences, authors whose work you find interesting, or faculty in other departments or universities.


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:

Dr. Carter,

It’s your fellow SH resident and Dissertation House participant. I’m writing to let you know that I’ll be defending my dissertation proposal in 2 weeks. I’m really excited at having met my goals, in large part because of your seminar, but I do have a lingering concern that I’m hoping you might be able to assist me with.

I’m still not entirely happy with my methodology. I took your previous recommendation and attempted to contact Dr. O, twice, but have not received any response. I’ve also tried Dr. H to the same effect (no response). Either people are really busy, or I’m pursuing them the wrong way. Either way, I’m really at a loss here. My advisor likewise admits he has no idea who I might seek out for assistance with my methodology. Would you have any suggestions you can offer me?

Thanks in advance for your consideration!
G.M.

A:

Hello G.M.

Congrats on the defense date being set.  I would recommend that you attempt to attend these two professors' office hours especially if they are teaching a class this semester. Generally students do not visit professors until there is an assignment due. If you contact them via email send them a 1 pager about your project and an outline on the current methodology that you have selected; ask them specific questions you have about sample size, validity, reliability, snowball sampling etc. Be specific enough so that they know that you are looking for a specific answer instead of them thinking that you want them to teach you statistics via email. Show them what you know already so that they can fill in the gaps your in knowledge.

The quickest option is to visit The Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Consulting (CIRC)a consulting service on mathematics and statistics provided by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics on campus. Established in 2003, CIRC is dedicated to support interdisciplinary research for the campus community and the public at large. They provide a full range of consulting services from free initial consulting to long term support for research programs.

Dr. Carter


TA-DA!™ Graduates —
Congratulations on Your Success

Thanks for the Dissertation House. I successfully completed my dissertation proposal defense on Aug 27, 2007. See the LLC WebPage link below: http://www.umbc.edu/llc/index.html
Chik T

Lisa M. from Electrical Engineering at Morgan State passed her defense with one revision!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She knocked it out from proposal to PhD in just over 1 year.


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 #7: Assuming Your Advisor/Principal Investigator Knows More about Your Project than You

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 #8: Looking for a Friend When You Need an Expert



 



Dr. Carter's
Recommendations:

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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.

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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
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