Dissertation Coaching

A dissertation coach can guide dissertation writers through many of the pitfalls and difficulties of the dissertation process. The problems are much discussed–bad committees and writer’s block perhaps foremost among them–but the dissertation isn’t, or at least need not be, a torturous ordeal of survival. E-mail today to set up a free meeting to talk about your dissertation!

The doctoral dissertation is a project that presents significant difficulties, and the large reason that ten-year completion rates for Ph.D.s are under 60% (i.e., only 3 in 5 doctoral candidates finish within 10 years). Many of these problems can be eliminated with the right approach. Others can be approached from new angles, revealing potential value. Developing, executing, and writing up a research project sufficient for a doctorate is a big task that will present many unexpected difficulties and frustrations, and yet can, and should, be a rewarding experience. I can help you unlock this value and get the best of your dissertation.

In many ways I can play a role similar to that of the faculty advisors on the committee: I can provide regular and timely feedback on the work in progress, constructive criticism on how to improve it, and help focusing on those areas where work might be most fruitful. In other ways the dissertation coach offers much that faculty cannot:

  • First of all, your relationship with a dissertation coach is predicated on the notion that the dissertation coach is there to serve you. This means that, unlike faculty, your dissertation coach should always be able to give you the amount of attention you need.
  • Second, the coach is there to help you produce the best work possible, at least in part by helping find mistakes before they go to the faculty. This means that you’re consistently delivering to your faculty work of higher quality.
  • Third, the coach provides an outside perspective. This is particularly useful if you’re having difficulty dealing with any of your faculty.
  • Fourth, the coach can help keep a schedule and help adjust schedules to the new problems that crop up.
  • Fifth, the coach can focus on you, rather than the dissertation. This perspective helps keep you on a more even keel: the coach can suggest times to take a rest and times to work harder.
  • Finally, a dissertation coach can help you figure out the best way to deal with your faculty members. Even if they’re all helpful, getting them to match your schedule and give appropriate feedback on time can be difficult.

I do not provide subject-focused expertise. That’s an area where you must turn to your committee. My feedback on content and structure is based on the internal structure and consistency of your work and the basic, common norms of research, so I will note obvious general errors like assuming that correlation is causation.

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 scheduled exchange of work and an email dialogue, or it can be structured around a review of work as it appears (this will work well for some, but a schedule is better for most).