Dissertation Advice

For doctoral students, the dissertation stage can be a significant point of uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety. This page offers a detailed guide to help you navigate my posts and get your dissertation done.

Getting Started

If you’re just getting started with your dissertation, check out my post: 7 Tips for Starting to Write The Dissertation. This post is packed with concrete advice and detailed information to help you get started. Trust me, this is not a fluffy list post.

7 Tips for Starting to Write the Dissertation

7 Tips for Starting to Write the Dissertation

You're ABD and you should start writing your dissertation. But how do you get started? Overwhelmed? Anxious? Confused? Don't worry, I have 7 tips to help you get started ... Read More

Getting Organized

The process of completing a dissertation requires managing a lot of moving parts. Getting organized makes the process more manageable.

If you’re figuring out how to manage yourself and your writing, my post on my top 3 dissertation management tools. could serve as a solid starting point.

Many dissertations involve delving deeply into various written sources. If that sounds like the dissertation you have to write, check out my post on organizing sources.

A huge part of my dissertation organizational strategy was measuring my progress. This really helped make the writing phase more manageable and I recommend reading my post the details measuring writing using words, pages, or hours.

My Top 3 Dissertation Management Tools

My Top 3 Dissertation Management Tools

I experimented with various productivity and management tools when I wrote my dissertation. There were 3 tools that were always in my arsenal. This post details my top 3 dissertation management tools and how I used them ... Read More
Tips for Organizing Sources for Research Papers

Tips for Organizing Sources for Research Papers

You've narrowed down a topic for your paper, now what? ... Read More
Words, Pages, or Hours? How to Measure Writing Productivity

Words, Pages, or Hours? How to Measure Writing Productivity

When most people set daily writing goals, they typically aim to measure their progress through words, pages, or hours. Selecting which measure to use is not always clear. This post offers considerations and insights for selecting among words, pages, or hours to measure writing productivity ... Read More

Dealing With Writing Slumps

Writing slumps will likely happen and that’s perfectly normal. It’s important to reflect on why you might be in a writing slump.

My post on 8 writing productivity methods to try out offers solutions based on specific kinds of writing challenges.

Dissertations are super challenging and an issue that we might face is that we might not know how to approach certain parts of it. My post on completing challenging tasks details the specific of an approach that could help you as face writing tasks that feel complex.

In addition to being challenging, dissertations can quickly turn chaotic. My post on dealing with chaotic writing drafts offers a fairly simple solution that helped me as I got a handle on unwieldy notes and writing in my chapters.

8 Writing Productivity Methods To Try Out

8 Writing Productivity Methods To Try Out

There are a lot of productivity methods and techniques out there. The key is to experiment. You should figure out not only what works for you, but what works for your specific writing goal. In this post, I suggest 8 writing productivity methods to try out.  ... Read More
A Method for Completing Challenging Tasks

A Method for Completing Challenging Tasks

When I was writing my dissertation, I got stuck on certain chapters and sections. This threw off all my well-intentioned writing plans. The reason I was stuck is the part of the reason many people struggle to complete challenging tasks on their to-do lists. In this post, I will walk you ... Read More
A Method for Dealing with Chaotic Writing Drafts

A Method for Dealing with Chaotic Writing Drafts

Sometimes blank pages are daunting. In other instances, pages filled with chaotic notes, thoughts, and semi-formed paragraphs can be just as overwhelming. I want to share a method that I used when my dissertation chapters started to fill up as I got deeper into writing. It's fairly simple, but it ... Read More

Helpful Hints

There is no magical hint that I know of to help you instantly complete your dissertation. Here are a few helpful hints to make parts of the process a bit easier:

5 Useful Shortcuts When Reading Adobe PDFs

5 Useful Shortcuts When Reading Adobe PDFs

Anytime I am writing an academic piece, I feel like I have at least 20 PDFs open. Sometimes these PDFs can be quite long. If you want to navigate PDFs more efficiently, this short post offers 5 useful shortcuts when reading Adobe PDFs ... Read More
3 Handy Online Thesauruses

3 Handy Online Thesauruses

Sometimes when I am writing I struggle to find the right word. Sometimes I catch myself repeating the same work too often. To tackle these issues, I regularly use online thesauruses (other plural form: thesauri). This short post offers my top 3 online thesauruses that I use when I am writing (in ... Read More
6 Resources for Improving Grammar

6 Resources for Improving Grammar

In 10th grade, my English teacher went rogue and decided to deviate from the curriculum and teach us grammar for two weeks. That pretty much sums up my direct grammar training prior to university. When I started my doctoral studies, I felt that I was a decent writer, but I ... Read More
6 Free and Easy Web-Based Tools To Help You Create Better Visuals

6 Free and Easy Web-Based Tools To Help You Create Better Visuals

This post offers 6 free and easy web-based to help you create better visuals ... Read More

When Life Happens

Most of us don’t live in a bubble as we complete our dissertations. We all encounter moments when writing the dissertation can become even more challenging. While I don’t have the experience to comprehensively cover everything, I can offer some resources on situations I have personally encountered.

Illness – Getting sick sucks. Managing chronic illness issues while completing a dissertation can be particularly draining. I wrote a post about my story with chronic pain and productivity.

Money  – For many of us, money during the Ph.D. can be a major issue. While I was fortunate to have a multi-year fellowship, I was not guaranteed funds during the writing phase.  A combination of saving my money from teaching and winning grants helped me extend the life of my fellowship. Grant writing is something we should be doing throughout our graduate career and I would recommend my post on finding grants to help you locate possible sources of funding.

Eating – During my graduate career, I found that my friends and I engaged in unhealthy eating habits. Perhaps we would eat out too much out of convenience. This would negatively impact either our wallets or gut or both. Cooking at home can be both cost-effective and a form of self-care. If you don’t know where to start with cooking on a budget, check out my post that details a resource that can help you learn how to cook and eat well for free.

Travel – There is a lot of information on the internet about travel hacking and saving money on travel. I hope to write a comprehensive post on that soon. Travelling for work or pleasure can derail writing and I would recommend my post of tips for writing productivity when travelling.

Imposter Syndrome – Imposter syndrome is the worst. Most of us deal with at throughout our graduate career and beyond. I don’t have an instant solution, but I can offer one method that I used for dealing with imposter syndrome during my graduate career.

Chronic Pain and Productivity: My Story and 3 Suggestions

Chronic Pain and Productivity: My Story and 3 Suggestions

When it comes to writing, many of us are aiming to maintain productivity. For those of us suffering from chronic pain, the pursuit of productivity can be even harder. This post offers my chronic pain story and 3 suggestions for dealing with chronic pain and productivity ... Read More
7 Tips for Finding Grants

7 Tips for Finding Grants

During the summer, archaeologists do a lot of things. Every summer, I set aside dedicated time (usually a couple days) to come up with my grant strategy for the upcoming year. This involves reflecting on what research I want to do, conferences I want to attend, and material I want ... Read More
Learn How to Cook and Eat Well for Free

Learn How to Cook and Eat Well for Free

We all need to eat. Sometimes (or most of the time) we find ourselves in situations where eating out or buying ready-made meals is not an affordable/available/wanted option. One of the best ways to reduce costs is to learn how to cook and actually do it. Cooking your own meals ... Read More
5 Tips for Writing Productivity When Travelling

5 Tips for Writing Productivity When Travelling

Whether you are travelling for leisure, visiting family, or as part of your job, writing during this time can be challenging. Even if you would prefer not to write on your trip, certain situations might deem it necessary. This post offers my 5 tips for writing productivity when travelling ... Read More
A Method for Dealing With Imposter Syndrome

A Method for Dealing With Imposter Syndrome

Simply put, imposter syndrome sucks. For those of you who are aren't familiar with the concept, it generally means you feel like a fraud or, as the terms implies, an imposter. Many of us have felt this way at some point in our lives. Imposter syndrome is rampant amongst graduate ... Read More

I hope this guide is a helpful starting point for helping you navigate the completion of your dissertation. This page will be updated as I write posts pertinent to this topic.

If there are any topics you want dedicated posts about, let me know in the comments or send me a message.

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Smiti Nathan

I’m an archaeologist that travels around the world for both work and pleasure. I have a penchant for exploring ancient and modern places and the people, plants, and foods entangled in them. I write about archaeology, travel, and productivity.

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