How to Actually Complete a Dissertation

Segmenting, Scheduling, and Rewarding

First, pick something that interests you deeply. Your interest is what carries you through the long days and nights of concentrated effort.

So you’ve picked an interesting topic. What can you do now to improve your chances of finishing the dissertation in a timely fashion?

Find a special place to write. Make it a place where you can spread out papers and get messy. Get everybody to agree that you don’t have to clean it up until the dissertation is done.

Then, use three techniques that have helped generations of students: segmenting, scheduling, and rewarding.

Segment the whole dissertation into small chunks. Tackle just one at a time. Avoid fixating on doing the entire dissertation all at once. Instead, focus clearly on just one small piece at a time.

One way to begin to segment is to write a detailed subject outline of the dissertation. Get right down to the subsection level – the part that takes only a page or two. First make a topic…

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