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Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis Paperback – August 15, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0805048919 ISBN-10: 080504891X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Owl Books; 1st edition (August 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080504891X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805048919
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Fifteen minutes!" you say. "That's too good to be true!" Okay, author Joan Bolker admits she gave her book the title Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day to get the reader's attention. And she admits that it's unlikely you'll actually finish a dissertation at that speed. As she tells her clients, however, a mere 15 minutes is much better than no writing at all when they're stuck. As a clinical psychologist who cofounded the Harvard Writing Center, Bolker has helped hundreds of writers complete their dissertations. She offers suggestions on how to create a writing addiction so that you feel incomplete if you don't write every day and stresses the need to set reasonable goals and deadlines for yourself to keep from getting discouraged. She also offers strategies for dealing with both internal and external distractions and for fending off writer's block. Even more important is the advice on some of the more awkward issues related to dissertation writing, such as how to choose your adviser carefully. (For example, when faced with the tradeoff between a famous advisor who is inaccessible and a less famous advisor who is willing to make time for you, Bolker advises, "If choosing a politically advantageous, famous advisor makes it unlikely that you'll complete your degree, it's clearly not worth it.") The book even includes a helpful appendix for advisers that could become the basis for an honest discussion of what student and adviser can expect from each other. Throughout this excellent book, Bolker acts as a therapist, cheerleader, and drill sergeant, all rolled into one.

While some of the book's advice is of interest only to dissertation writers, much of the information--on battling writer's block, for instance--is valuable to anybody engaged in writing. Rather than being filled with rules defining how to become a great writer, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day is about finding the process by which you can be the most productive--it's a set of exercises that you can use to find out more about you and the way you write. Along the way, you'll do a bit of writing. And that's what matters, especially when you experience writer's block--as Bolker says, "Write anything, because writing is writing." With its helpful advice and supportive tone, Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day should be required reading for anyone considering writing a dissertation. --C.B. Delaney

About the Author

Editor of the best-selling The Writers Home Companion, Joan Bolker, Ed.D., has taught writing at Harvard, Wellesley, Brandeis, and Bard colleges. She is currently a psychotherapist whose speciality is working with struggling writers. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

More About the Author

Joan Bolker, Ed.D., has taught and counseled writers at Harvard, where she cofounded the Writing Center; at University of Massachusetts, Boston, where she began The Language Place; and at Wellesley, Brandeis, and M.I.T., where she was a psyco-therapist and writing consultant. She has coached the authors of more than one hundred doctoral dissertations and is currently a clinical psychologist who works with many writers in her private practice. She is the author of Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day.

Customer Reviews

I would recommend this book to everyone who is a doctoral student and writing a dissertation.
N. J. Borrett
This book helped provide me the motivation to get started on seriously writing my doctoral dissertation.
K. D. Baxter
Writing Your Dissertation in 15 Minutes a Day is one of the most practical guides I have ever read.
Jeanmarie Boone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

162 of 167 people found the following review helpful By Cassandra White on April 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book was extremely helpful. I bought this book about 9 months ago when I had only 2 chapters of my doctoral dissertation done. Now I am done with my dissertation (500 pages!) and about to graduate with a Ph.D. in anthropology. The tips and suggestions in this book were fantastic, and the tone of the book is very positive, unlike other dissertation-writing books I've read. Whenever I didn't feel like writing, I would go to Joan Bolker's book, and usually within a few minutes of reading, I would find something that would inspire me to write again. I would recommend this book to anyone trying to complete a writing project of any kind.
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83 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leeper on March 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
The subtitle for this book is probably the more telling about the contents. This book is more of a guide to the whole process of writing the dissertation rather than the physical act of writing. Bolker discussing the writing as well as choosing a topic, choosing an advisor for your dissertation, and choosing a committee for your dissertation defense. Covered in the book are some of the psychological barriers that can hinder your finishing the dissertation, and some pitfalls to avoid (such as political battles with your advisor).
The primary thought is to develop the habit of writing. Some of the ideas may sound familiar to you, but they are no less true. Bolker states that you must develop the habit of writing everyday if you are going to build up the stamina and fortitude to completing the task. She does suggest a support group to assist in this.
The biggest draw for this book, for me, was that Bolker is an authority. She started two dissertations, one of which she did not finish. She has also worked with many students in writing their dissertations, and she knows from experience what works and what doesn't (she points out a problem that can arise from writing solely on the computer).
I would recommend this book to anyone beginning the journey to finishing a dissertation. Do not take this information lightly.
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Little Tiger on August 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
It is a required textbook for a dissertation/thesis writing class at my university. Students have to read the whole book before the class begin. Although English is my second language, I found this book is easy to understand and fun to read. No jargon or classy words are used.

The writer is a clinical psychologist whose specialty in helping blocked writers. She writes with humor and kindness. She nicely applies her experience in helping her students in this book. Her suggestions are very practical and helpful. It helps me cope with psychological problems that I believe many dissertation writers have faced. When I read this book, it always tells me that "hey, you are not alone". It really gives me a sense of supporting group.

The book gives many tactics in "how to be" persistent and resilient in working/writing toward the graduation day which is the ultimate goal for every student. It also provides many helpful tips in "how to live" your life (or survive) during this critical period of getting the degree.

It is not a book that tell you what to include in each chapter or how to pick suitable methods in your research. If you look for that kind of book, I would recommend "Surviving Your Dissertation, 2ed" instead. These two books are very worth to read together.

FYI: There are some other writing books that might be useful for you.

1) Writing for social scientists (Howard Becker)

2) Writing papers in the biological sciences (Victoria McMillan)

3) Scientific papers and presentations (Martha Davis)

***Chapter 9 of this book says, "The Best Dissertation is a Done Dissertation". It is absolutely true.***
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150 of 166 people found the following review helpful By Bonita L. Davis on July 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I first saw the book a strong urge came over me to get it. My inner critic said, what for? You're not a Phd candidate. Sure, you're writing a paper for a masters program but it isn't the same as a dissertation. Don't waste your money.
The argument was sound but the book's call was much stronger. I purchased it. It was the best investment that I had made. Whether you are a Phd candidate trying to get your dissertation done or a wannabe intimidated by the thought of having to write one, this book must be on your required reading list!
If you have successfully completed high school, college and graduate school (masters level) then you have already written your fair share of papers. You have the technical and disciplined skills to write. Well then, what is the problem in doing a dissertation?
Bolker teaches one about learning how to develop a process of writing that is best for you. Once done she moves you from the process to the basic mechanics of getting the dissertation done. It is never to late in getting a head start on learning how to finish your doctoral thesis even before you are accepted into a Phd program. Start Now! The book is a tremendous stimulator.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
As a Ph.D. student, I had been searching for this kind of book to guide me in the most daunting portion of the doctoral program--the completion of a doctoral dissertation. Bolker's sensible approach helps assuage the pain and the fear of the unknown. The title itself gives you the real key to writing a great disseration: finish one or two pages a day, and in six months to a year you can have a 365-page thesis completed. Do yourself a favor: while taking your dissertation-proposal class, read this book and share it with your fellow candidates.
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