Dissertation Coaching

Fewer than three in five doctoral candidates finish their degree in under ten years, and the main reason for that is the dissertation. Dissertations have such a bad reputation as a painful rite of passage that people write books about how to survive them. But with good dissertation coaching, you can transform the ordeal into an opportunity to grow and develop a solid practical and theoretical foundation for a rewarding career, either professional or academic. E-mail today for a free consultation to talk about your dissertation!

Dissertations are difficult, let’s not dodge that. But let’s also acknowledge that many good things have difficulties. The question is: Are the difficulties worth it? The answer to that question depends on your ability to work effectively, to minimize problems, and to take advantage of opportunities. Dissertation coaching can help you shift this balance: find a few more benefits, move past difficulties a little easier, and your efforts will feel much more rewarding.

Dissertation horror stories feature unreasonable faculty advisors, long hours of unpaid work, the study of esoterica unrelated to normal people, the isolation of the writer, and other problems. It becomes easy to focus on these horror stories and to forget the main reason that people pursue careers that require research degrees: careers in intellectual pursuits are rewarding. With the right approach, many of the rewards of an intellectual career are available to doctoral candidates.  I can help you unlock these rewards and get the best of your dissertation.

What Does a Dissertation Coach Do?

Dissertation projects are big and difficult. They have many different dimensions, and people can get stuck in many different ways. There’s theory, and research design, and all the problems of research and scholarship.  There’s the need to please your dissertation reviewers. There are myriad personal issues that can interfere, such as jobs and family and medical concerns. And, of course, there may be some writer’s block.  Dissertation coaching can help you manage the different dimensions of the project, recognize potential problems, and find effective, practical responses.

The Role of the Dissertation Coach vs. The Role of the Dissertation Advisor

In many ways I play a role similar to that of a faculty advisor: I can provide regular and timely feedback on the work in progress, constructive criticism on how to improve it, and suggestions for working more efficiently. Realistically, many people who seek a dissertation coach do so because their relationship with their faculty advisor or committee is not providing the help they need.

With my strong foundation in the philosophy of science and design theories, I can provide insight into the design of research projects. I provide general guidance on identifying good research questions that can lead to successful projects that can be finished in a reasonable time. My guidance is not topic specific, but rather based on fundamental philosophical and logical concerns.  Expertise in your field of study is a matter for you and for your faculty advisor.

One crucial difference is that as your coach, I would be working for you. We’ll make a schedule that works for you, and I’ll keep it. I won’t be over-scheduled and focused on my own publications (though I do write). My guidance to you will not be shaped by my personal scholarly agenda, but by my desire for you to successfully finish your work. My outside perspective can also help you recognize and alter the patterns established in your relationship with your professor(s).

How Does Dissertation Coaching Work?

Depending on your needs and desires, the relationship can be structured around meetings (on the phone or in person in Portland, Oregon), or it can be structured around a exchange of work and an email dialogue.

Different people have different needs, and our relationship will depend on those needs.  To work on writer’s block or to discuss problems with difficult professor, it’s best to talk together. At other times, written feedback and editing of your writing are more useful.  Sometimes, effective revisions can eliminate problems with professors. Sometimes, receiving better feedback on your writing can resolve a lot of problems. My coaching and editing services are often intertwined.

Coaching works best if you make a commitment to a regular schedule. If you’re struggling to make progress, a regular schedule is crucial. Weekly telephone meetings of 30 to 60 minutes are suggested, as well as weekly writing targets.