The Study Dude – Writing a Dissertation in a Snap

There is nothing more that The Study Dude wants for you than to avoid abusive faculties and advisors.

Well, in these articles, as The Study Dude, I’ll try to give you the study tips you need to help make your learning easier. I’ll also give you straight and honest opinions and personal anecdotes?even the embarrassing ones that you wouldn’t ever dare read about from any other study tip guru.

Demystifying Dissertation Writing by Peg Boyle Single, PhD, sweeps you through the process of research from focus statement to completed dissertation with easy to follow steps. Her book almost croons in an inviting manner, dispelling the fears and anxieties that come with writing the formidable dissertation.

The Single System in a Nutshell
At last, a system arrives where we can take one step at a time on the journey toward finishing our dissertation, often leaping back and forth between dissertation writing activities, but always moving forward overall. I often wondered how I could encapsulate the dissertation research process for the Study Dude’s readership, and now that I’ve found this, I must share Peg Boyle Single’s system with you.

It has been a long time since I last wrote an essay. As I’m temporarily a computer science major, I’ve gotten rusty on the essay writing process. I recall, however, that I previously would sign out ample materials from the library, scour them for any noteworthy citations, highlight them, and then transfer them to a makeshift outline. Yet, Peg Boyle Single’s system is a much smoother process, ensuring that you can handle anything from an essay to an otherwise unwieldy dissertation.
– The system involves starting with interactive reading, followed by interactive note taking.
– Once the reading and note taking are underway, you alter your notes into citable notes that you can store on a program such as Endnote.
– After your citable notes are taken, you can create a focus statement, not unlike a thesis.
– Then, you craft a one-page outline, which will be discussed further in the next two week’s Study Dude articles.
– The one-page outline will evolve into a long outline containing references. This outline will be the lifeblood of your writing process.
– From there, you form a regular writing routine, guided by your long outline.
– And then you come to the final stage: the dissertation.
– You won’t just proceed in a steady linear fashion throughout these steps. Often, you will backtrack or jump forward, but these steps serve as a guide for getting you into the right direction.

Move from the Generalized to the Specialized
In another article, I discussed how essential it might be to research from a disciplinary dictionary or disciplinary encyclopaedia. In hindsight, I’m not so certain that these resources offered up what I had hoped. You see, I purchased a dictionary of education and found it emphasizing the British educational system, primarily for k-12 grades. I had hoped to analyze and assess higher online education, but finding books on the matter seemed either rare or costly?or worse yet, nonlocal and outdated. For instance, I found an encyclopaedia kit for education costing thousands of dollars. Another I found for less than forty dollars, but it was severely outdated.

So, what do you do when the materials for your discipline are out of reach, outdated, or nonlocal? Peg Boyle Single has some strategies for moving from a generalized topic to a specialized one with flare:

– Begin your generalized search with an introductory textbook on your topic matter or a Wikipedia search. While the textbook is citeable, Wikipedia is likely not acceptable as a scholarly resource, but both will serve as a first generalize scour of the literature.
– After that, try to find a more specialized book. When reading an introductory text, you’ll discover specialized topics from which you can branch out.
– Try to locate a review article or book. Look for review journals such as “Education Review” or “Education Bulletin”, but catered to your particular discipline.
– In the reference section of the review article, you’ll find scores of journals and books that will take you to your particular specialization.
– Your advisor will serve as an excellent resource for narrowing down and prioritizing your articles and book choices.
– Email the scholars you come across. They might be able to direct you to other sources or provide you with valuable materials. If you don’t get a response, no harm done.

What to Do If Confronted with an Abusive Faculty
At the University of Calgary, my faculty forsook providing me with the support that most students expect. My initial supervisor had a son that reminded her of me, and her befuddled relationship with him carried over to me. She criticized, harped on me, and provided me with so much misguided advice that I left her tutelage and sought out other supervisors who might have some neutrality. Miffed, to this day, she serves as a blockade to me eventually receiving a teaching position at the university.

So what do you do if your advisor has a vendetta out with your name on it or if some creepy dean starts to salivate over your new outfit or latest hairstyle? Peg Boyle Single, PhD, provides advice and encouragement to students facing abusive faculties:
– If faced with abuse from a faculty or advisor, seek out the assistance of “the director of your graduate program, the departments of equity and diversity, human resources or disability right, the graduate college, the counselling center, or the union (if the students in your university are unionized)” (pp. 32-33).
– Abuse can involve sexual harassment, verbal harassment, physical abuse, discrimination, and bullying.
– When confronted with an abusive faculty member, don’t worry. One door shut is another door open. You can always shift gears to a new advisor or, in a worst case scenario, to a new university.

So, there’s nothing to fear. The Study Dude is determined to make right for you all the wrongs I made in grad school?one A+ at a time.

Single, Peg Boyle. 2010. Demystifying Dissertation Writing. Stirling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

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