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PhD Workshop:

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Kristen Cheney

on 11 September 2018

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Transcript of PhD Workshop:

(the inverse of writing)
Productivity &
Time Management
Lisa Rofel [adviser] always gave me the best writing advice. 'Butt in chair' was important...

–Heath Cabot, anthropology professor

I find that I cannot write more than 3 hours a day, but in order to write those 3 hours, I need a total of 5-6 free hours to write that day. The other hours are necessary to support those 3 hours of real writing. But beyond 3 hours/day, I do not really produce anything valuable.

–Cynthia Gabriel, anthropologist and doula

Relations with
your adviser
Schedule regular appointments with adviser but go
to these appointments with new material - it may be a good idea to discuss with adviser how often to meet and what feedback may be helpful.

–Maxwell Oteng, economist

Meet regularly with [your adviser] when you hit a rough patch & have trouble going forward...
–Betsy Taylor, anthropology professor

your writing
Sit with your advisor and make a chapter-by-chapter outline for your dissertation. Then, stick to it! DO NOT CHANGE IT MID-STREAM! All you have to do is write a long paper (20-25 pages) on each chapter topic. In your second draft, you will connect these long papers and make a through-argument.
–Cynthia Gabriel, anthropologist and doula
Writing a Dissertation that's Out of this World
by Kristen Cheney (and friends)

Setting Expectations
You must have a topic that you are passionate about and a project worth doing for the greater good - connecting to that will be important for keeping motivated to write!

–Laura Johnson, psychology professor

You have to view your dissertation as a job - and one where you will work overtime hours. So, set your schedule for the amount of hours you can work on this weekly. I was lucky enough to not really have a REAL JOB while I was writing.
–Karen Rotabi, social work professor

What would we like to get out of this workshop?
What makes a piece of writing effective?

Find an example that is very similar to yours and follow it like a guidebook...then improve upon it.

–Karen Korn, ‎Director of Education at
the School of Advertising Art
[Do an analytical meta-read of your favorite piece of writing.]
Tell Your Story
Make a list of ten things that you know you will have in your dissertation (without any other kind of data processing, which you can do separately), and use those as pathways for the writing.
Write the ethnography first - it refreshes my memory and allows me to see things I had not seen before.

–Heath Cabot, anthropology professor

Your dissertation is not a mystery novel.
–Anna Tsing, anthropology professor
Your thesis should flow from a clear argument or claim, i.e. a
thesis statement
Have a look at your favorite piece of writing again.
Find the thesis statement.
Where is it? How do you know it's a thesis statement??
Leave plenty of time for rewriting and revision. Revision is not really about correcting errors, except incidentally and at the very end… When you revise, you are preparing your text for readers who by definition have not gone through your writing/thinking process. The first time you write something you are writing so that you understand. Revising and rewriting are to make it easier for others to understand.
–Linda McPhee, writing skills professor
It's a black hole
Getting lost in the template makes it more difficult to tell your story, in effect burying the argument as well
Keep the writing
simple and succinct
- sometimes we try to sound too academic in our writings and that itself can be stressful. The first phase is a draft so they shouldn't spend too much time editing at this stage [but it's] important to keep track of
(a terrible personal experience)
–Maxwell Oteng, economist

Your adviser is not - nor should s/he be - your sole
source of feedback.
Once you have structure and content down, you should attend to grammar and syntax
Don't fall in love with your own prose.
–Dan Linger, anthropology professor
Do your proofreading aloud; have someone else read it to you
Have someone who doesn't speak you mother tongue proofread
Bringing It Home
It's not a book. It's an
exercise to display your skills
in research. Just get it done.

–Kathryn Barrett-Gaines, history professor

When they're stressed they should remind themselves that it's supposed to be stressful – transitioning from student to a scholar is stressful for most of us.
–Maxwell Oteng, economist

It's either perfect or finished. Perfect is the enemy
of the finished.
–Emily Moberg Robinson, historian and
Lee Ann Ritscher, English professor
Follow along: http://bit.ly/PhDwriting
Your thesis should have a clear analytical thread, but it's more engaging if it's organized around a central illustrative narrative.
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