12. Focus your research very specifically. Don't try to haveyour research cover too broad an area. Now you may think that this willdistort what you want to do. This may be the case, but you will be ableto do the project if it is narrowly defined. Usually a broadly definedproject is not do-able. By defining too broadly it may sound better toyou, but there is a great chance that it will be unmanageable as a researchproject. When you complete your research project it is important that youhave something specific and definitive to say. This can be accommodatedand enhanced by narrowly defining your project. Otherwise you may haveonly broadly based things to say about large areas that really providelittle guidance to others that may follow you. Often the researcher findsthat what he/she originally thought to be a good research project turnsout to really be a of research projects. Do one project for yourdissertation and save the other projects for later in your career. Don'ttry to solve all of the problems in this one research project.
17. The major myth in writing a dissertation is that you start writingat Chapter One and then finish your writing at Chapter Five. This is seldomthe case. The most productive approach in writing the dissertation is tobegin writing those parts of the dissertation that you aremost comfortable with. Then move about in your writing by completing varioussections as you think of them. At some point you will be able to spreadout in front of you all of the sections that you have written. You willbe able to sequence them in the best order and then see what is missingand should be added to the dissertation. This way seems to make sense andbuilds on those aspects of your study that are of most interest to you at any particulartime. Go with what interests you, start your writing there, and then keep building!
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29. Now it's time to write the last chapter. But what chapter is thelast one? My perception is that the last chapter should be the first chapter.I don't really mean this in the literal sense. Certainly youwrote Chapter One at the beginning of this whole process. Now, at the end,it's time to "rewrite" Chapter One. After you've had a chanceto write your dissertation all the way to the end, the last thing you shoulddo is turn back to Chapter One. Reread Chapter One carefully with the insightyou now have from having completed Chapter Five. Does Chapter One clearlyhelp the reader move in the direction of Chapter Five? Are important conceptsthat will be necessary for understanding Chapter Five presented in ChapterOne?
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33. It's important that you have the feeling when entering your defensethat you aren't doing it alone. As was mentioned earlier, your major professorshould be seen as an ally to you and "in your corner" at thedefense. Don't forget, if you embarrass yourself at the defense you willalso be embarrassing your dissertation director. So, give both of you achance to guarantee there is no embarrassment. Meet together ahead of timeand discuss the strategy you should use at the defense. Identify any possibleproblems that may occur and discuss ways that they should be dealt with.Try and make the defense more of a team effort.
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32. I hope you don't try circulating chapters of your dissertationto your committee members as you are writing them. I find this practiceto be most annoying and one that creates considerable problems for thestudent. You must work closely with your dissertation director. He/sheis the person you want to please. Develop a strategy with the dissertationdirector regarding how and when your writing should be shared. Only afteryour dissertation director approves of what you have done should you attemptto share it with the rest of the committee. And by then it's time for thedefense. If you prematurely share sections of your writing with committeemembers you will probably find yourself in a situation where one committeemember tells you to do one thing and another member says to do somethingelse. What should you do? The best answer is not to get yourself into sucha predicament. The committee meeting (the defense) allows the concernsof committee members to surface in a dialogical atmosphere where opposingviews can be discussed and resolved.
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What a terrible name - a . It seems to suggest somesort of war that you're trying to win. And, of course, with four or fiveof them and only one of you it sounds like they may have won the war beforethe first battle is held. I wish they had called it a dissertation seminaror professional symposium. I think the name would have brought forwarda much better picture of what should be expected at this meeting.