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November 04, 2010

Dissertation Helpers



.rev3 by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

November seems to be Dissertation Deadline Month for many graduate students, judging by the inbox at styleexpert@apastyle.org. If you’re writing a thesis or doctoral dissertation, APA has some tools that may help lighten the load.

First on the list is the APA Publication Manual (6th ed., 2010). Although its primary purpose is to provide guidelines for writers submitting manuscripts to scholarly journals, many graduate programs mandate it for students as well. You’ll find it a helpful guide to writing for the behavioral and social sciences, including the all-important reference list. However, many universities have their own preferences for the format of the title page, table of contents, and other items that are particular to academic papers, so the manual doesn’t cover them. Check with your dissertation advisor for the specific format prescribed by your institution.

Another excellent resource is Dissertations and Theses From Start to Finish: Psychology and Related Fields (2nd ed., 2006), by John D. Cone and Sharon L. Foster. The authors guide you on how to define your topics, select a faculty adviser, schedule time to accommodate the project, and conduct, analyze, write, present, and publish research. You’ll find answers to questions you may never have considered before, even after taking academic research courses.

Unfortunately, many writers get stuck in the Thesis Repulsor Field somewhere along the path to a PhD. If you can relate, you might need Finish Your Dissertation Once and for All! How to Overcome Psychological Barriers, Get Results, and Move on With Your Life (2008), by Alison B. Miller. Combining psychological support with a project management approach that breaks tasks into small, manageable chunks, Miller shows you how to overcome negativity and Get. It. Done.

Finally, even if you’ve already grabbed the golden ticket, there’s a high probability that you’ll need to do more writing in your chosen profession. How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing (2007), by Paul J. Silvia, puts readers firmly on course by deconstructing and flogging the behaviors that keep readers from achieving that goal. Silvia also shares detailed advice on how to write, submit, revise, and resubmit articles, how to improve writing quality, and how to write and publish academic work.

You can order all of these publications directly from our website (http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/) or the usual retailers (Amazon.com, Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc.).

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