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Demystifying Dissertation Writing: A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text 9.1.2009 Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1579223137
ISBN-10: 1579223133
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  • Demystifying Dissertation Writing: A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text
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  • Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis
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Editorial Reviews


"Demystifying Dissertation Writing by Peg Boyle Single is a wonderful tool for assisting students through the rocky road of dissertation writing. By using a thorough and relatable writing style, having advisors and students as an audience, addressing the human topics of dissertation writing, providing visual process markers and tools, and believing in student/literature engagement, Single has written an amazing book for both advisors and students alike. I would recommend this book to anyone who works with any graduate students who are considering continuing their studies and those who are already in a doctoral program." (NACADA Journal (National Academic Advising Association))

"Any college-level library needs Demystifying Dissertation Writing, a powerful reference on dissertation writing. Humor and a converstational style may be unexpected side benefits here but they drive an informative and readable text on how to start, sustain and finish a dissertation." (Midwest Book Review)

“I was so impressed with this book that I offered to write the foreword for it.” (Rick Reis, editor of the Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter)

"Whether you’re inching towards a dissertation topic, choosing an adviser or already coping with the last stage of doctoral work, this book will be a life-saver. Demystifying Dissertation Writing is for anyone who wants to increase their writing productivity and especially for those who experience anxiety, blocking, impatience, perfectionism, or procrastination when they write. Through easy-to-follow steps, Single helps you rise above all these barriers and become a fluent writer. She has managed to package into this book her expertise as a writing seminar organizer and a writing coach and it is just what academe needs." (JoAnn Moody, Faculty Development and Diversity Specialist, www.diversityoncampus.com and author of Faculty Diversity: Problems and Solutions.)

"Dr. Single has written the definitive text on how to start, sustain, and finish a dissertation. Her book describes what she calls her 'Single System for Academic Writing.' Her system is directed toward dissertation writers in the humanities and social sciences. The text is at once practical, accessible, and, in her aptly chosen descriptor, 'streamlined.' Starting with choosing a topic and advisor, Dr. Single adeptly takes the reader through the necessary dissertation tasks of preparatory reading and note-taking, crafting clear focus statements and outlines, creating regular writing routines and overcoming writer’s block, and finally revising. I now have the quintessential writing text that I can recommend to all my doctoral students, regardless of the research genre they will be using." (Robert J. Nash, Professor & 2003 University Scholar in the Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Vermont & author of .)

"I highly recommend this book to all directors of doctoral programs. Demystifying Dissertation Writing provides a blueprint for facilitating a dissertation writing seminar. Our students and their advisers rave about Peg’s seminar and her book." (Susan Hasazi, Stafford Distinguished Professor of Education Leadership & Special Education and Director of the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, University of Vermont)

As someone who directs programs to help graduate students become effective teachers on top of productive researchers, I am delighted to be able to bring Single’s book and system to these students’ attention―and to recommend it as well to faculty directing dissertations. In a compact, practical, and engaging way, Single shares ideas that should make the writing ‘load’ of academic life that much easier for all of us. (Michele Marincovich, Director of the Center for Teaching and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Stanford University, and past Executive Director of the POD Network.)

“Written with humor in a friendly, conversational style, this book makes explicit the too often implicit aspects of successfully researching and writing a dissertation. Readers will feel that they have a guide-at-their-side (and a stern task master in the form of Peg Boyle Single in their conscience) as they learn about and acquire the habits of fluent writing–reading interactively, taking citeable notes, outlining, and writing and revising their dissertations.” (Barbara E. Lovitts, author of Making the Implicit Explicit and Leaving the Ivory Tower)

About the Author

Richard M. Reis is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing (AIM) at Stanford and Co-Exeuctive Director of the Stanford Research Communication Program. A Lecturer in the Stanford Mechanical Engineering department, he teaches an introductory seminar for all incoming Electrical Engineering graduate students. He is also editor of the Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter.

Peg Boyle Single is an academic writing coach who works with doctoral students and faculty members, and a consultant who offers workshops on writing and mentoring programs. She and has been conducting writing seminars and providing writing coaching for over 15 years. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, she was Director of the Faculty Mentoring Program and a Research Associate Professor at the University of Vermont.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Stylus Publishing; 9.1.2009 edition (September 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579223133
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579223137
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Single really does "demystify" the dissertation (and Master's thesis) writing process and provide a great deal of very useful information on how to WRITE a dissertation. She doesn't get into the research process (we get trained pretty well for that already), rather she focuses on what is needed to put words on "paper" and get this important milestone in an academic career written.

The ability to write the actual dissertation (thesis) appears to be something that is taken as a given by administrators in many PhD (Masters) programs. Perhaps it is because the students have actually made it into the program and to do so, they must have written many papers. The work required to write a (multi?) hundred page work is an order of magnitude higher than writing a class paper. Fortunately, Dr. Single breaks it down into manageable pieces. A series of ~forty page "papers", if you will. The dissertation becomes approachable and something that can be accomplished.

She also dispenses with two (IMO, fatal) "myths" that (1) you need to have a large block of time to write and (2) you should know everything about your topic before you start writing.

I have a family and between the family and other obligations, finding large blocks of time was almost impossible, thus dramatically slowing down my writing. Now I grab every opportunity to write, no matter how short. For me, the real benefit was that I am now always writing and because I am always writing, I am always thinking about my dissertation! And because I'm always thinking about my dissertation (even on a sub-conscious level), I am gaining insights and MAKING PROGRESS I was not before buying this book. I enjoy writing again!

Now, I am always writing.
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I am in the 6th year of my Ph.D. program, and I only wish I have had this book the first day when I admitted in the program. From working with bibliography program to developing outlines of your dissertation, this book is full of practical advises and clear work plans for you to move forward with your dissertation both incrementally and comprehensively. The author teaches you how to conduct a literature review, at the same time offers great tips on overcoming the psychological barriers you have on writing. She makes the dissertation process more humane and realistic by recognizing other duties we have in life and shows you how to work around that. As a mom with a 3 years-old, this book give me the confidence that I finish my dissertation in a foreseeable future. Highly recommended!
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This book is intended for graduate students preparing their thesis or dissertations in the fields of the social sciences, the humanities, and similar professional areas. The language is friendly, while at the same time the book is very informative, practical, and helpful.
The writer has chosen the book title quite appropriately: she succeeds in demystifying the process of dissertation writing by suggesting practical incremental steps to having the job done, in a balanced and productive way: how to overcome the mental and every-day obstacles, while writing your dissertation or thesis.
Dr. Single skipped the whole question of how to prepare the dissertation proposal, which was quite unexpected, as no dissertation is done without a proposal. By the content and the focus of this book, one could make the assumption that perhaps in her own vocation as a graduate research advisor, the author has seen far more people stumbling during the dissertation writing process, and leaving this work unfinished, than those who were at the proposal stage.
Nevertheless, Dr. Single offers ample practical guidance on selecting the dissertation topic, on how to work with an advisor and dissertation committee members. She urges graduate students to be acquainted with the expectations of their dissertation committee, and warns the readers about the crucial importance of a good match between these experts and the chosen dissertation topic and method of research.
In several chapters, the author gives very detailed ideas on how to organize one's outline and how to transform it into a long outline which, in its essence, is the backbone of the whole dissertation.
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I have only just begun to use the book, but it appears to be full of valuable advice. There is a considerable amount of practical advice for both the research and writing process - this book isn't just conceptual. For example, the author gives ideas on how to organized your lit-review reading and how to use EndNote (or other similar software) to organize your notes so that all of your notes are easily located and "citable." She also suggests ways to break down the research and writing process to make it less overwhelming. One student in my graduate program who is part-way through her dissertation said she wished she'd had the book when she'd started as she'd probably be done by now. At $15, it seems like you can't go wrong buying a copy of this book!
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