May 24, 2010

My last newsletter in a Wordle

I don't know why, but I love playing with Word Clouds.  Here is my last newsletter, which you can read here, in a Word Cloud, using Wordle.

I don't know why the word "Pussyfooting" isn't in there.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, you'll just have to read the article!

May 21, 2010

What I Wish I Had Known About Writing A Dissertation: Win a Flip Ultra Video Camcorder!

First Annual "What I Wish I Had Known About Writing a Dissertation" Contest -- ends tonight, May 21, 2010

Win a Flip Ultra Video Camera for your dissertation writing hints!

Our First Annual "Inspirational Quotes for Writers" Contest was a big success, allowing us to turn it into an ebook for you.  So we have instituted our second First Annual Contest:  "What I wish I had known about writing a dissertation."

Here's what you could win from the raffle of entries.  And you can increase your chances with high-level multiple entries!

How to Enter -- it's quick and easy
All you need to do to enter the contest is go to, and become a Fan of (or I think now you need to "Like") the Academic Ladder page, and post your favorite tips on the wall.

Note that this is not my personal page -- many of you have friended me,
but for this contest you just need to "Like" the page, .

The winner will be drawn randomly from all who enter the contest, which
closes 9:00 PM Eastern Time, Friday, May 25th. You can post up to 10 ideas, hints, suggestions, tips, of any length, in order to be entered into the draw, we ask of course that you post different items… duplicate items won’t be counted. This would give
you up to 10 chances to win.

So become a fan (or "Like") our Academic Ladder's page and share the kind of tips that really would have made a difference to you, had you listened to them, believed them, and carried through on them, when you were at any stage of the dissertation writing process (even before you became ABD).

If you're a professor, you can tell us hints from your own experience, or also what you currently find most useful in teaching your own graduate students.

Anything you think would be useful is appropriate, but here are some categories to jog your brain and get you started thinking:


Duplicates of others' entries will not be counted!

Check out the other entries on and make sure you're not repeating one that's already been given. Especially variations on "a good dissertation is a done dissertation" and "just do it." Make your suggestions specific. If you have a strange or what you think is idiosyncratic hint, let us know about it -- expand our horizons.

Duplicates will not be counted!

  • How to pick a topic
  • What courses to take to prepare for writing the dissertation
  • How to get started
  • Where to find templates/examples
  • How to keep going and not stall out and procrastinate
  • When and how and from whom to get feedback
  • How to get support (writing groups, etc.)
  • How to deal when you feel like giving up
  • How to respond to people who ask "How's the dissertation going?"
  • Tips on advisor/committee relations
  • Anything, anything at all, such as recommended books, sites, etc., that would be potentially helpful
  • Remember, these are just suggested categories; come up with something I didn't think of!!!
Important Note: Whatever signature you use after your quote will be included in an ebook we will create or in subsequent material, so don't sign your submission(or if you'd like, use a pseudonym) if you don't want your name used. We will not use your Facebook name.
If you don't have a Facebook account, my first suggestion is to open one, in order to support Academic Ladder! But I understand if you don't want that hassle. In that case, just email help @ (remove spaces from email address), and put "Dissertation Hints" in the subject line.  Or enter on my blog.
Please let us know what year of grad school you're in, or what level/year of professorship or if you're a post doc.

This time when I award the Flip Ultra Video Camera, I'm also going to buy one for myself. I keep hearing more and more about them, and they sound so cool, lightweight, and useful!


Again, to enter the contest, go to and start posting your hints. Those dissertation writers really need your help!

See you on the Academic Ladder Facebook Page!

P.S, if you don't have a Facebook Account, you can post here.  Don't forget; the contest ends tonight at 9 pm Eastern Standard Time!

May 6, 2010

You're not the only one not writing...

May 2, 2010

"You're in my dissertation acknowledgments" - 5 words I love to hear!

Elizabeth Gritter, a who earned her doctorate from UNC-Chapel Hill on Wednesday, wrote me today. She is a long-time subscriber to my newsletter.

"Though I have not contacted you individually before, I wanted to let you know that I mentioned you in my acknowledgments.  I've also recommended your web site to others." 
In her acknowledgment, she not only thanked the person who had told her about "the web site of academic writing coach Gina Hiatt," but added "I have benefited from Ms. Hiatt's advice about writing, and her generosity in making these communications and documents free."*

I have to say that this made my day. I (along with other Academic Writing Club coaches) have been mentioned in dissertation and book acknowledgments before, but usually by people we have coached directly or through the Writing Club. It's nice to know that my newsletters can be that helpful in and of themselves, and are actually influencing others' lives.

*All quotes are with Elizabeth's written permission.