Writing the dissertation proposal

Ever hear the term ABD and wonder what it meant? Well in nursing and medicine it is sometimes used as the abbreviation for abdomen and/or abdominal, abduction and more. But in the world of academe it has a very different meaning, “All, But Dissertation”, which is a short way of saying that someone has completed all of their course work for a PhD program, but did not write the dissertation itself.

I am presently writing my dissertation proposal and can see how many people fall into this place of almost completing it, but not.  Writing the dissertation is hard work and it can be a slow process. The other day I described it as walking through molasses.  This is over and above any term paper that you can imagine and certainly isn’t anything that can be written in a couple of days or weeks.  It takes time, determination and discipline.

Having a cohort or support group of other doctoral students is also helpful. Trust me, this is not a journey that you want to take alone and support is key is your success in finishing.  I am nearing the completion of chapter I, the introduction.  This is likely the easier of the five chapters to write and the most likely to be revised after I’m done with chapter II-the review of literature and III-the methods chapter.

Here are some tips that I have gathered from multiple sources. One being a book titled, Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process, 3rd ed.

  1. Give yourself privacy and quiet to gather thoughts and focus on the task at hand. Not always easy I know–I’m a single mom of two so I often have to break to tend to the children.
  2. Tackle the dissertation in small slices-working on one ch at a time is  helpful. I personally skip around at times, especially when I’ve hit a wall with one chapter. The key is to keep moving through the writing process.
  3. Discuss your thoughts and ideas with other people-cohort members or dissertation committee
  4. Establish a weekly writing schedule EVEN if it’s only 20 minutes per day. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you do this for 5 days straight then you will have written almost two hours in one week. Though it may be ideal to block out several hours per day to write it may not always be possible. When people can’t block out this time they tend to get frustrated and not write anything at all or keep putting it off until that “block” of time becomes available.
  5. Take breaks and take care of yourself. Something that I’m learning to do more of:)

If you have any strategies that work for you please post them here.

Thanks for reading and good luck!



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