Thought Clearing

Dave Harris, Ph.D. Editor & Coach.

Do you have a writing project you're trying to finish?

Clarify your goals. By identifying your goals and understanding the many different goals in your life, including your goals for your writing project, you can find your way towards best achieving them. How do your different goals complement each other? And how do they compete?

Clarify your ideas. From the planning of the project to the development of a theoretical position, clear ideas and a clear vision of what is involved in your dissertation help you progress. Even if you know your goals, it may not be clear how to achieve them.

Clarify your writing. Sometimes ideas that seem clear slip away when you try to capture them on paper. With good editorial feedback, you can see which words are working, which aren't and you can get ideas on how to improve your work.

Get your project finished! How much time do you want to spend on that project? Don't you have other things you want to work on, too? Coaching and editing can save your valuable time.

Working with Dr. Harris while writing my Masters thesis was an honor and a pleasure. He not only possesses the ability to effortlessly and intuitively zero in on writing issues that need addressing, but he is extremely thoughtful and kind in his suggestions as well. Dr. Harris is an amazing human being who truly cares for others with his heart and spirit, as well as his mind. Working with him is an all-around uplifting experience where one walks away with dignity, a sense of pride in one’s own work, intelligent direction, and confidence that you can overcome your obstacles.
-- M.A., English Literature, U.C. Berkeley

Thank you Dave for being the best dissertation coach ever - you rock!!!
-- Ph.D., Psychology, Walden University

-- M.A., University of Sydney

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Getting the Best of Your Dissertation
Now available: My book!
Getting the Best of Your Dissertation: Practical Perspectives for Effective Research

There are a lot of good dissertation books out there, but none that I have seen take quite the view that I do. In the book, I share the insights and ideas that have helped my clients over the years. The book takes a comprehensive view--looking at the dissertation project from several different perspectives in search of insight that can guide more efficient, effective, and rewarding work processes. Tempering ideas drawn from my personal foundation in philosophy with the lessons of experience, this book offers a positive sense of direction for those struggling to find their way. The dissertation need not be an ordeal that you survive; it can be an experience that helps you thrive!

On Amazon: Getting the Best of Your Dissertation

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Coaching and Editing Services

As a coach, I work with authors to find effective ways to approach their project and their work process. You can improve your relationship with your work and work process; you can rediscover the enthusiasm and interest with which you started the project. Writing is always going to be challenging; it doesn't have to be painful. If you're feeling lost and abandoned in the midst of your project, I can provide feedback and help with planning.

After four years of wrestling with my dissertation, I sought some guidance and found Dave Harris. One year after working with Dave, I finished my PhD....I have worked with many great coaches in my life (in other arenas), and Dave would surely be a member of that group.
-- Ph.D., Romance Languages, University of Michigan, 2011

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As an editor, I help authors express their ideas effectively and efficiently. From working on structure and argument to cleaning up punctuation and spelling, there are many ways to aid the author in expressing him or herself. My primary goal in working with writers is to help them complete and submit work that will be well-received.

I was feeling stuck and hopeless with the editing of my dissertation. Dave took a big document and worked on it quickly and efficiently. He made suggestions and cleaned up my writing quite a bit. I wouldn't hesitate to work with him again if I needed this kind of assistance.
-- Ph.D., Education, University of Pennsylvania, 2009

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Frequently Asked Questions about my services.

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About Dave

Dave Harris Looking Thoughtful

I am a philosopher. To me, the "Ph" of my "PhD" is significant. Officially my degree is in Architecture: Design Theories and Methods. But what I studied was philosophy. Questions of practical epistemology--of what we know, what we can know, what it is to know, and how we can put that knowledge into action--are the ones that fascinate me the most. Whatever the field of study, we are faced with these questions, which define what constitutes good research and a contribution to knowledge.

In May 2002, I received a Ph.D. in Design Theories and Methods from the department of Architecture at U.C. Berkeley. The Design Theories and Methods program focuses on the designer's process: how does a designer move from a problem to a solution? This interest has led me to read extensively in cognitive science, cognitive linguistics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, and epistemology. My approach to understanding design and problem-solving practices is driven by psychological, cognitive issues, again related to epistemology: how does the designer think about projects and make decisions? It is this study of the process of design that laid the foundation for my becoming a dissertation coach: I have spent many hours thinking about different ways of approaching difficult projects. I have been working as a coach and editor since completing my Ph.D. in the spring of 2002.

I received an M.A. in English Literature from San Francisco State University (1996), with a thesis that used Lawrence Sterne's Tristram Shandy as a jumping off point to look at issues in eighteenth-century English philosophy and their bearing on questions of critical theory. It was during this period--studying the works of Locke and especially David Hume, as well as trying to find grounding in the world of critical theory--that my fascination with epistemology arose. Prior to that point I had largely unconsciously accepted a naive epistemological model based on an idealized vision of science.

As an undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley, I majored in Economics (B.A., 1988) and also studied computer science extensively. During and after college I worked as a computer programmer. It was in my final semester as an undergraduate that I took my first course in philosophy and was introduced to the questions of epistemology that I have been pursuing ever since.

I never married Joan Baez; that's a different David Harris.
Nor do I play linebacker for the New York Jets.

I did write a book on design theories and methods with my mentor:
The Universe of Design: Horst Rittel's Theories of Design and Planning, 2010, Jean-Pierre Protzen and David J. Harris

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Free Advice and Free Consultation


I'm happy to discuss your project with you. E-mail me a copy of your current draft and a description of the help you are seeking. I'll take a look and write back. Or e-mail me and we can set up a phone call.

Advice and Ideas

Free advice is often worth what you pay for it. On the other hand, educational opportunities are mostly what you make of them. I provide the following information in the hopes that you might find it useful.

More information

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That I have finally finished my PhD is in no small part thanks to Dave. I came to him at a point when I was stuck and not sure which direction to take my dissertation. It was immediately clear from the first draft he returned to me that Dave is much more than the average editor. His edits improved the clarity and quality of my writing and his lengthy comments helped me find the way to a successful dissertation. Dave's insights provided a useful balance to those of my dissertation committee and the process of discussing my goals and ideas with him helped free me immensely. In the course of five months of working with Dave, I am proud to say that I went from wondering if would ever complete my degree to receiving my PhD with distinction.
Ph. D., Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago -- Ph.D., Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations,
University of Chicago

I began working with Dr. Harris during my eighth year of graduate school, the last four of which I had spent trying write my dissertation. I had materials, extensive notes and various parts of chapters, but nothing close to the organized, book-length study of my topic that was required to achieve my degree. Dr. Harris helped my focus on my thesis, asking me valuable questions about my approach to the topic that I had forgotten in the years of searching for materials and note-taking, such as "Why is this topic important to you?" and "What do you want to say?" Dr. Harris suggested re-viewing and re-writing my thesis statement with these questions in mind. The suggestion was counterintuitive for me; I wanted to plow ahead and finish writing. However, by returning to and honing my thesis statement, I was able to get a better sense of how the various parts of my dissertation worked together. With this new clarity, I revised my chapter abstracts in relation to my general thesis statement. My breakthrough came when I began to see how my chapters worked together to build my argument. Most importantly, I found my purpose and I had something to say. Early on, Dr. Harris identified the areas of my work process that were preventing me from moving forward. His insights and advice helped me to reconsider many aspects of my approach to the dissertation writing process. After developing a more efficient and productive relationship to my project, I was able to complete and file my dissertation in less than a year. The coaching support that I received from Dr. Harris was integral to the completion of my degree. I highly recommend Dr. Harris as an insightful, attentive coaching professional who achieves results.
-- Ph.D., University of California, Irvine

Dr. Harris was a lifesaver for me. I was completely lost in the woods when I first located him on Craigslist. I had a pile of papers and my head was just spinning with words on the computer screen with no clue on how to get started with this thesis . Dr. Harris, with his amazing patience and masterful skill helped me come up with a plan. He coached me through the difficult parts and made me believe that I could write a thesis paper and finish it. He is astute, funny and warm with broad insight into the writing process. He was a joy to work with and I don't think I could have done it with out his help. Not only did I finish it but my graduate advisor said the paper was great and wants to help me publish it. Now that is academic nirvana! I cannot thank him enough for his generous spirit.
-- M.A., Art Education, Ohio State University

Thanks, Dave! You rock!
-- Ph.D., Anthropology, American University

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phone: 510 847 3612 weekdays between 9:30am and 5pm, Pacific time.

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