Over half of doctoral students drop out of their program once they reach “All but Dissertation” status. This is astounding. There are numerous reasons for this including: family, financial, physical, and learning barriers. Many doctoral candidates today do not have the luxury of only working on their dissertation. They have to manage their family and work lives. Here are the 3 “P’s” to keep in mind to successfully work towards a doctorate:
1. Perseverance: Think of a dissertation is like running a marathon, not a sprint. Your dissertation may take a couple to several years to complete. It is important to pace yourself. Equally, if not more important, is self-care. During my experience as a Dissertation Chair and coach, I have seen many candidates burn out because they were not taking proper care of themselves. While working on a dissertation is all-consuming, it is important to carve out some time for yourself in order to persevere.
2. Patience: Be patient with your dissertation Chair/Mentor, IRB, review boards, and yourself. Dissertation Chairs/Mentors are often overwhelmed themselves with teaching courses, working on their own research, serving on committees, engaging in professional development, and chairing/mentoring multiple candidates’ projects. While it may be frustrating to wait for feedback, it is important to allow Chairs/Mentors ample time (within reason) to review your work. IRB’s and review boards are also often backed up with multiple requests and projects. I always advised my clients to work on something else while you are waiting for feedback from your Chair/Mentor, IRB, or review board. For example, you can work on things like: updating your literature review, reading more about your methodological approach and how to analyze your data, locating peer-review articles that use your methodological approach and use them as examples for how to write-up your results and conclusions, and taking a course or finding resources on how to improve your writing skills.
Be patient with yourself. Working on a Dissertation may be one of the most difficult challenges of your life. In my 16 years of experience as a chair and coach, I have never met anyone who is not frustrated with the process at some point. Understand that this process is not easy; otherwise, everyone would have a doctorate. Be kind to yourself. If you get stuck, seek assistance.
3. Professionalism- From the outset, it is important to establish a professional relationship with your Chair/Mentor, committee, and colleagues. Imagine your Chair/Mentor, committee, and colleagues as people you work with and for. You would not disrespect your supervisor, right? It is important to maintain the highest levels of professionalism. This will enable you to work effectively and efficiently with your Chair/Mentor, committee, and colleagues. For more information, see our Dissertation Coaching Service.