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GRANE007's Photo GRANE007 Posts: 281
7/12/08 2:49 P

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Pedess,

Oh, do I know those days of self inflicted boxing matches. You know, you are the one wearing both the blue and the red shorts in the ring. emoticon

I agree that rethinking and redirecting helps get us through the rough spots. I am in teacher education with a research focus on technology related professional development of inservice teachers. This is tricky since teacher education is really about preservice teachers and so they don't often know how to take me or my topic. I am a retired teacher so my future plans are not to be a tenure professor or a big time researcher. I plan to be on the fringe with special projects and consulting. This takes some of the pressure off but also makes me look a little less motivated or interested in the academic environment. I am older than most of my professors and can be a bit inflexible when they try to push their agendas.

I like your suggestion of reading a dissertation chaired by my adviser rather than just a dissertation related to the topic. Thanks for the tip.

Best to you.

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GRANE007's Photo GRANE007 Posts: 281
7/12/08 2:38 P

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LARACAT,

Thanks for confirming my conclusions after way too many days in this endeavor. I, too, worked full time for a couple of years in the program. In fact, I worked full time as as undergrad and a master's student. When I had a chance to be on campus I was thrilled to be able to see what a college student was really like. I loved it but that didn't get the job done. I think I was better off working since though my cohort was still around we were all too busy to spend time with each other as students.

I think I finally understand that we are all really on our own but it has been rocky at times. I need and like more structure and finally got it through my head that I have to create my own. I also need someone to affirm my personal value since the profs don't always encourage and I get a sense of being the only one in the program whose paper was rejected or project was returned for a 'do over.' It took a long time to find out others were in the same boat and too personally shattered to share that information and get some support from the group.

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PEDESS's Photo PEDESS Posts: 23
7/12/08 9:41 A

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Grane,

My chair's philosophy is that at the dissertation level I need less structure and support than on the master's thesis level. And he is right - for the most part. But, I still feel like I'm lost at sea frequently and last weekend I had a freak-out moment when I was absolutely sure I would never be able to finish my prospectus by the end of September (my absolute deadline at this point in time) because there was no way I would ever be able to get through all the literature and make the lit review complete. It took a while before I recognized the perfectionistic and irrational thinking, and this message board actually helped in that process. And based on it I have reestablished my own rules for this project. The basics for me is: work on sections I haven't put in much time on, leave the rest of the sections alone for a while, don't worry about editing, and get something done every day, even if it's just one article.

And you get to set those rules for yourself and if you are doing phd level work you are already intelligent and experienced enough that you can do it. But it will be painful and frustrating. I don't know what field you are in, but one way to get an idea of exactly what is expected is reading the dissertation of someone your chair has worked with in the past.

Have a great weekend!

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LARACAT's Photo LARACAT Posts: 961
7/12/08 8:50 A

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Grane007,

It's absolutely about muddling your way through. It's the initial hazing process of the academic world. Show us you can do it on your own, even though you've never done it before. Then we'll work with you in the future.

And since I work full-time, I have even less support. Almost no contact with fellow students. I do know a few, but my initial cohort has graduated and moved away. Sometimes I realize how much my isolation makes the work harder. But most of the time I'm just stuck in it and don't realize how much asking for help would bring me.

Do you know what you want to do with your career when you finish? I'm not certain myself. Having a full-time job in a quasi-research environment doesn't give me any urgency to decide either. Some of my PhD co-workers have suggested I stay when I finish, but I'm not sure I want to (although it is a nice place to work).

Keep your head up!

'Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.'

After all, as Zig Ziglar said,"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now."
GRANE007's Photo GRANE007 Posts: 281
7/11/08 5:33 P

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LARACAT,

It's not the process or the endurance I mind so much. It's not being sure where the race is headed and how long before you reach the end. Curious - do other PhD students feel they are given little direction? Everything seems to be - you figure it out and we will let you know when you screw it up.

I just need to know what the rules are and where the bones are buried. I can handle it if I just know the basics.

Grouchy Grane007 emoticon

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LARACAT's Photo LARACAT Posts: 961
7/11/08 5:54 A

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GRANE007,

This really is a process, isn't it? One of my professors likened it to a marathon. You don't have to be a highly trained athlete (read brilliant here), you just have to have endurance to keep going through the long slog.

'Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.'

After all, as Zig Ziglar said,"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now."
GRANE007's Photo GRANE007 Posts: 281
7/10/08 2:46 P

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MEGS81,

Your suggestion for using Excel to track the writing time sounds useful. As a 62 year old PhD student I think of writing a memoir or article of this whole adventure. Using the journal and the spreadsheet might be helpful for more than one of my objectives.

Thanks to everyone for their great ideas and support. It is nice to know that we are not alone in this process. Having others who are not so close also takes the press off. No great expectations to disspell.

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GRANE007's Photo GRANE007 Posts: 281
7/10/08 2:42 P

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PEDESS,

Love the idea of tracking grad work on SP as a goal. Yet another way to remind myself that I have a goal to reach in andother area and get 'credit' for it.

Thanks for the tip.

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MUN_SILVER's Photo MUN_SILVER SparkPoints: (13,154)
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7/9/08 10:25 P

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Thanks MEGS...I think having an excel spreadsheet is a great idea. It would be more quantitative and can easily see my progress. I'll make one tonight. Thanks for the idea :)

Yes! LARACAT...I agree on having a list. My daddy actually does that...he is a Professor and has his daily work list and checks them out when he is done! I think thats real neat :)

"The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before."---Steve Young.

Starting weight: 170 lbs.
Goal weight: 125 lbs.

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/cookboo
ks.asp?cookbook=41929


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LARACAT's Photo LARACAT Posts: 961
7/9/08 7:15 A

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Since I'm more of a list maker, I prefer making a list for each day of the upcoming week, and checking things off as I complete them. One thing I learned is to leave a day for catching up, some built-in buffer time. It may not needed, but gives you some leeway if you don't get everything done one day.

I try to work for an hour or two each morning. This means I work 10-14 hours per week on average. Since I work full-time, this is the only way I can make progress. My husband is not particularly supportive, so I'm on my own for motivation. And I make more money, so I can't quit or reduce my hours as we're more dependent on my income.

Anyway, I find that working a short amount of time each day can lead to spending .25 to .5 time on my writing over the course of the week, and is not so overwhelming.

'Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.'

After all, as Zig Ziglar said,"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now."
MEGS81's Photo MEGS81 Posts: 358
7/8/08 1:37 P

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In terms of accountability, I keep an SPSS database (you can do it in Excel too) that lists the date, time spent writing, project I worked on and whether I met my goal of 60 minutes or not (a yes/no variable). You are still only accountable to yourself, but formalizing it has really helped me to meet more of my goals. (This is a technique from Paul Silvia's How to Write a Lot - if you haven't read it yet, do!) I am nice to myself and if I only wrote for 45 minutes but made decent progress, I will reward myself with a "goal met." If you are too hard on yourself, the tracking database just becomes another thing to discourage you.

It's something to try that you may be surprised how much it helps!




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TISHARAY's Photo TISHARAY Posts: 15
7/8/08 11:29 A

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Hello all. This is my first post to this team.

I am also trying to write my dissertation and struggling a lot with lack of motivation. I think accountability is key. I applaud you, Mun, for taking steps to make yourself accountable. I should do the same!

"Try again. Fail again. Fail better."--Samuel Beckett


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MUN_SILVER's Photo MUN_SILVER SparkPoints: (13,154)
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7/6/08 11:54 P

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RUTELL...This is a great idea. Yes, this would be good. I actually just started a journal on my baby step progress. Its on my sparkpage and under my community journal. I just started and am trying to write down my progress on it. I want to make myself accountable for my task and see visually how I am progressing.

PEDESS..thats a great idea. You are also getting sparkpoints for it! :)

Edited by: MUN_SILVER at: 7/6/2008 (23:53)
"The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before."---Steve Young.

Starting weight: 170 lbs.
Goal weight: 125 lbs.

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/cookboo
ks.asp?cookbook=41929


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PEDESS's Photo PEDESS Posts: 23
7/6/08 3:48 P

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I think the advise everyone is sharing is wonderful! I just had the realization that I keep looking for "the right answers" while working on my lit review for my dissertation and I had a freak-out second and really desperately wanted to email my advisor who is on vacation.... Instead I did a quick search of sparkpeople and found this thread. Thanks everyone for putting things back into place. And I actually started to track my work on my dissertation on the "Other Goals" page. It can't hurt to put a check box that I did a bit of work on my dissertation - and get SparkPoints for it!

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RUTELL's Photo RUTELL Posts: 27
7/3/08 2:39 A

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I'm working on my diss. too. I think maybe we could start a thread to post our student goals and challenge each other in that area as well as the weight loss.

My problem is that I am not accountable to anyone. I have no fellowship and my husband has a good income - so where do I get the drive necessary to finish? I started grad school right out of college and I enjoy taking my time. Plus I have a 2 year-old. I do want to finish but I'm getting tired of working by myself all the time. I miss the interaction of taking classes. I think it would help to have folks to talk to. Anyone interested in medieval french literature?

45 minutes a day, eh? That's less than I spend working out!

Don't believe the hype. -Public Enemy


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MUN_SILVER's Photo MUN_SILVER SparkPoints: (13,154)
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6/29/08 7:27 P

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LARACAT:

Thats a very good advice. I agree with it. It actually helps with small steps for each day...thanks! Yes, I realized with writing paper that I should go and write things down and think about editing later. It helps for getting out the ideas.

emoticon

Edited by: MUN_SILVER at: 6/29/2008 (19:25)
"The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before."---Steve Young.

Starting weight: 170 lbs.
Goal weight: 125 lbs.

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/cookboo
ks.asp?cookbook=41929


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LARACAT's Photo LARACAT Posts: 961
6/27/08 6:36 A

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I agree that you should write every day. You should also plan out the very small steps you need to make each week and each day. Make them small - writing a paragraph on a specific issue; developing your outline for a section, etc. That way it is easier to make some specific progress, even if you don't finish the entire goal.

Also, I learned that it's best to leave editing until the end. Just get your thoughts down. It's soooo much easier to go back afterwards and edit it to look right. Plus, you may end up changing things several times, so the first draft doesn't need to be good, or even very readable.

'Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.'

After all, as Zig Ziglar said,"The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now."
SYNCHROSWIMR's Photo SYNCHROSWIMR SparkPoints: (0)
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6/23/08 1:04 A

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Thanks, Megs and everybody else! Thanks for the advice.

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GRANE007's Photo GRANE007 Posts: 281
6/22/08 10:43 P

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Sounds like we would all agree that the trick to writing is to just plain write. I think my biggest problem was getting started. Like the beginning has to be written first and everything had to be done in order. The problem was some other parts would always be taking up that space in my head. Finally, I realized it was okay to write what I thought the end might be and then go on to some other part. The key was to just write. Then I would try creating a good outline and begin to plug in my 'random' writings. What worked was having something written and even if it never made it to the final document that small piece of writing was the stimulus for something that was usually much better.

So everyone - remember to write a little something every day.

Good luck.

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6/22/08 1:57 P

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Dear all:

Thanks for the wonderful advices you gave on the PhD dissertation writing procedure. I think you are right...a time per day set for writing should be taken, I am going to do it. Also, I found out for me sometimes it works better to stop the internet and then only work on the problem at hand...internet can distract me sometimes. For me, sometimes I need to change my study location to get back to work. I do not know why it happens but I cannot put my mind into the work, when I then goto a library taking my work, laptop then suddenly I finish up the same work in a couple of hours which was taking me ages!

Thanks again all for the advices and help. I feel I am not alone in this and it helps talking to other fellow PhD dissertation writers :)

Mun.

Edited by: MUN_SILVER at: 6/22/2008 (13:55)
"The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before."---Steve Young.

Starting weight: 170 lbs.
Goal weight: 125 lbs.

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/cookboo
ks.asp?cookbook=41929


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MEGS81's Photo MEGS81 Posts: 358
6/19/08 10:52 P

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Synchroswimr - I feel your pain - I got stuck this way on my MA thesis. I wasn't really that into the topic so it made it hard to motivate myself to work on it. In the end what happened was I took that and only that to a coffee shop, turned my internet off, and made myself stay there and work on it until I had done a decent amount. Part of it was the problem you're describing, starting a new document or starting a new piece of an existing document. When you're in that place, it often requires a little extra push to get started (like barricading yourself somewhere).

Other advice I have gotten is to write before you're ready. Even if you think you should do more prep work or should have your ideas better defined. Just write whatever comes to mind and you can go back and fix it or fill in references later.

I think the only big-picture cure may be to schedule that daily writing time. That way you just do it every day and it becomes a fact of life instead of a big deal (this happened to me with exercising too!). It can also be helpful to set goals for each day, e.g. today I want to outline my introduction, or today I want to fill in references where I've left placeholders. Having concrete goals can make it easier to sit down and work.

I forget, what do you study?

Good luck!!! (and write before you're ready! ;) )




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SYNCHROSWIMR's Photo SYNCHROSWIMR SparkPoints: (0)
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6/18/08 11:59 P

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I have also started thinking about my writing. I have been trying to write a bit every day, but I have problems actually putting words to paper (screen, I guess). I had this same block when I did my proposal and my written prelim exam -- the first paragraph to write (even though it is not the first paragraph of the document) took me weeks to write. Any ideas for getting over this block? I think I just need to write something, but...

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MEGS81's Photo MEGS81 Posts: 358
6/18/08 4:58 P

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GRANE007, you've got it right. Write every day!

Lately our lab has been using Paul Silvia's How to Write a Lot - it is a funny but very helpful guide to being productive in academic writing.

I am working on my dissertation and a couple of publications. I have scheduled writing time every day from 9:30-10:30am (it is best for me to do it early in the day and get it out of the way) and have been more productive than ever since I started doing this. As due dates get closer I may schedule more time, but for now an hour a day is working great and is a lot more than I used to write, when I would just sit around worrying and thinking I had no time, when if I took the time I spent worrying and actually wrote, everything would have been fine! The scheduling kind of takes care of all that for me.

Good luck!




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GRANE007's Photo GRANE007 Posts: 281
6/18/08 3:55 P

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I'm new to the group but thought your question an interesting one. From a workshop here is advice that has worked for other PhD stuff.

Work for 45 minutes - stop for an indeterminate time and then resume for another 45 minutes. After 45 minutes you are not productive.

Write something everyday. The workshop leader spoke of a person who was working and managed to write for 45 minutes every day thereby finishing at the same time as those working only on the dissertation.

Best of luck on both of your goals - healthy living and the PhD.

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MUN_SILVER's Photo MUN_SILVER SparkPoints: (13,154)
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6/18/08 3:46 P

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Hi all!

I have started writing my PhD dissertation and it seems like its a long way off. Anyone of you writing your PhD dissertation? I would really appreciate to get advice and feedback from all of you how you are managing time and organizing your lifestyle with your current studies, experiments, calculations and at the same time writing the dissertation.

Thanks a lot for this help.

Mun.

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"The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before."---Steve Young.

Starting weight: 170 lbs.
Goal weight: 125 lbs.

http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/cookboo
ks.asp?cookbook=41929


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