If you are struggling with your doctoral dissertation you need to get help from professionals. Why is it that so many students are able to start their dissertation, and yet struggle to keep it going after they have started? Because writing the dissertation is a new experience that is far greater and more independent than previous writing.
Up until this point, graduate students have really just extended their earlier academic life. In fact, many people who have always been good at school and hardly needed to study are the ones who continue on to graduate school because it is something that allows them to enjoy success and a self-confidence boost. The reading, the tests, the papers, and the labs that have been previously assigned have not varied much from undergraduate course work. They have been quite similar in fact. But the dissertation is an entirely different type of project, one that is unlike anything you have ever done. It is the project responsible for marking your transition from a student to a scholar.
Not only is the dissertation a new project, but an independent one. It mirrors writing a book in many ways. By definition it is a process that is self-regulated. It lacks weekly deadlines, regular discussions, assigned reading, etc… You are not told what to do. You are instead on your own, able to do whatever you want. This level of independence can seem not just a drastic change from the norm, but also quite intimidating.
When you set out to begin this big and independent project you may start to question yourself and your future in the world of academia. After all, this particular writing assignment is what marks your transition into the real world. Once you are done with the dissertation, you have the freedom to move from the regular job market and begin a transition into the academic market. You can develop classes and work as an independent scholar. You can define your professional identity. You may feel as though your future research and influence may all hang on this first piece of writing. Whether or not this is true, it will nonetheless result in you questioning, continually your commitment to the chosen profession or topic.
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