There’s a lot about dissertation editing and writing that can leave you feeling muddled and confused. As you balance your research and work with coursework and teaching, it’s sometimes difficult to balance all of your obligations and responsibilities. The result is that, occasionally, you simple become overwhelmed by your dissertation. If you’re feeling out of control of your research, writing, and editing, take a look at these tips:
Insight from an outsider is necessary to write your best dissertation.
In academia, it’s easy to get wrapped up in portions of our research and writing that others wouldn’t notice. As you attempt to unravel yourself from the tangly web of minute details, take the time to have an outsider read your work. Bonus points if that person isn’t in your department! As they read, ask that they take a loose outline so you can see, from 40,000 feet, what the reader sees when they look at your words.
Does the outline make sense? Does it flow logically? If not, this is a great opportunity for you to do some hardcore developmental work, putting the pieces of your dissertation puzzle together and preparing for the hard work of fleshing out areas that need more work.
Perfecting your academic style is an on-going process.
Writing for academia requires a delicate balance of your own voice with a specific established style. To that end, you’re no doubt spending a lot of time with the style guide of your particular academic discipline. No matter what it is, you’re likely referencing it often (whether you’re working with the physical guide or an online version). As you work, remember to rely on your mentors and advisor for sticky style questions. They’ve been doing this a lot longer than you, so make sure you keep in line with your guide by asking questions often.
Maybe more importantly, learn more about your style by reading. Of course, when you’re working diligently on finishing your dissertation, it can feel blasphemous to pick up another book to read, but one of the most efficient ways to digest your academic style guide is to read published books that are using it. You get to see all of the rules and regulations in action.
It’s never too late to get organized.
No matter how long you’ve been working on your dissertation, it’s not too late to take a step back and organize your writing and research. Whether you need to deep-clean your office or sift through stacks of primary sources, investing time in the process of organization and writing will pay off in the end. Establish a system, pick out a bibliography software, or bring in a colleague to help you get things in order. It’ll make a huge difference as you move forward.
Consider hiring a professional.
In academic publishing, you’ll always have an editor to double-check your work. From high-level developmental questions to issues of grammar and style, when you’re publishing a book, your editor will challenge you and your work, creating the best possible book. If, as a dissertation student, you feel like you’re floundering know that there are professional dissertation editors who can lend a hand by proofreading your work, helping with style issues, and working with you on developmental issues.