July 24, 2006

How to rework some writing that's not working

Here's how one new faculty member worked on turning her dissertation into an article. It's way better than staring at a computer screen and swearing.

I don’t want to jinx it, but may have had a breakthrough with the article I’m working on. Earlier this week/last week, I pulled out a big section of chapter 1 of my diss to serve as the introduction/lit review of my article, and I started working on trimming and condensing it (since I need it to be way shorter for an article-length piece).

But. It wasn’t really gelling. It seemed kind of disjointed, not entirely relevant to my article (but OK for the diss), and very dissertationy (not surprising, given the source).

Frustrated, I spent a chunk of Wednesday outlining the material in its current form. This is my fall back strategy when I’m stuck: I gloss the text, writing short descriptions of what each paragraph is focused on; then I compile those descriptions so I can read an overview of the whole piece and get a better sense of its focus (or lack thereof), shape, and direction.

For this piece, I went a step further: once I had the “outline,” I then recapped each section, noting what the section was currently doing, what it did well, and what wasn’t working. Through this process, I learned that I like the last section, where it was leading to and how it set up the piece as a whole. So, I started working backwards and figured out what steps I needed to take to get me to that point.

Now, I have a completely revised sketch/outline of the intro/lit review section for the article, one that draws on key chunks of the original draft but that reorders them in helpful ways and cuts a lot of the parts that made me feel the whole thing was disjointed and altogether whack.

Thanks, Dr. Four Eyes!

July 18, 2006

The Academic Brain


This is how your left hemisphere looks most of the time.


Your Right Hemisphere, on the other hand, can feel peaceful, think about the big picture, and take disparate thoughts and connect them up, in order to create new ideas.

The trick is to figure out how to get them talking to each other.

To learn more about my neuropsychological take on the academic brain, see my newsletter, coming out on Thursday morning. Be sure you're on the mailing list -- sign up on the Academic Ladder home page.

July 5, 2006

Free 20-minute coaching sessions -- limited time offer

Are you having trouble moving forward on your dissertation and wondering what it's like to work with a dissertation coach? Are you unsure what a dissertation coach does and how a coach could assist you to make significant and sustained progress to your degree?

Now you can experience the benefits of working with a coach through a free 20-minute coaching session. Find out for yourself if working with a dissertation coach is the answer for you.

For the next two weeks Jayne London, my associate in The Academic Ladder, is offering complimentary 20-minute dissertation coaching sessions. This is a fantastic opportunity for you. Read what other graduate students have said about working with Jayne:

The suggestions you made earlier this week made my work come together perfectly. It probably saved me three to five days or more of wheel spinning and over-planning.
Dee McGraw, doctoral candidate, Emory University

Jayne has enabled me to eradicate old, ineffective ways of working and develop new empowering habits. I have never felt as motivated to complete my dissertation.
Aimee Cox, doctoral candidate, University of Michigan

I heard back from my advisor today. He loved the chapters I sent him and has given me the go ahead to schedule the defense. Interestingly, he liked some of the writing that I just completed the most.
Unnamed, University of Wisconsin

When I became a Ph.D. candidate I lost my zest for the entire process and had been procrastinating on getting started writing. Jayne has encouraged me to finish by finding a way to just do a little writing each day.
DeAunderia Bryant-Day, doctoral candidate, University of Michigan

Contact Jayne at Jayne@AcademicLadder.com today!