- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (June 15, 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312396066
- ISBN-13: 978-0312396060
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 36 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #577,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How to Complete and Survive a Doctoral Dissertation
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From the Back Cover
Mastering these skills spells the difference between 'A.B.D.' and 'Ph.D': refuting the magnum opus myth; coping with the dissertation as obsession (magnificent or otherwise); the fine art of selecting a topic; writing the dissertation with publication in mind; when to stand your ground and when to prudently retreat if the committee's conception of your thesis differs substantially from your own; dealing with obstructive committee members, and keeping the fences mended; how to reconsider 'negative' findings as useful data; reviewing your progress, and getting out of the 'dissertation dumps'; defending your paper successfully - distinguishing between mere formalities and a serious substantive challenge; exploiting the career potential of your dissertation; and much, much more.
About the Author
Dr. David Sternberg has been advising graduate students on this subject since 1969 as an integral part of his professorships at New York University, Washington State University, and in his present position as professor of Sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York.
Top customer reviews
1. This book *is* about survival. Of course, Sternberg could spend more space discussing formatting and other gritty details. This book is more concerned about cutting to the chase -- how to get a Ph.D. in the minimum amount of time, with the minimum amount of damage and the maximum amount of personal and professional growth.
2. It communicates very effectively to us that the process is typically lonely, dangerous, and costly. The process frequently ends badly. Sternberg focuses on practical solutions that carry us through.
3. He anticipates many barriers to completing a dissertation, and provides valuable advice for getting past them. For instance, he discusses issues such as (a) difficult members of the committee, (b) sexual harassment, (c) difficulties staying motivated, and (d) effective (and ineffective) ways to get support from friends, faculty members, and professional counselors. His advice isn't always politically correct (e.g., tolerating sexual harassment), but it reflects the voice of a strongly opinionated, experienced mentor who is aware of worst case scenarios and ways to survive them. In my own case, he was dead on, in various ways. I needed to stay focused on completing my work while tolerating and minimizing the damaging effects of my committee-member-from-hell. I needed to make sure my work was "good enough" while dispensing with the "magnum opus" myth.
I didn't take all of Sternberg's advice. He generally seemed to recommend weeding people out of one's life who were not particularly understanding or supporting of the dissertation focus. He seemed to recommend maintaining a constant focus on getting the work done--just keep working. In my own case, I moved forward when I budgeted plenty of time and psychological energy away from the dissertation. When I conquered workaholic tendencies, the time I actually spent working was much more productive. If I allowed myself time with friends and family who weren't particularly concerned in my dissertation, it was quite energizing. In other words, this is akin to "incubation effects" that one reads about in introductory psychology classes. (e.g., Crick and Watson took plenty of time off to play while discovering the DNA double helix...)
If you feel that your dissertation effort is on the skids despite all your work, I might suggest finding a good dissertation coach (or therapist). Several years ago, I heard a presentation by a dissertation coach in the San Diego area who seemed to be on target. Her site on the web was something like "dissertationdoctor.com" or some such... I'm sure there are others out there.
I wish that Sternberg would publish a new, updated edition of this book, especially now that there are newer competitors on the market.
Final note: If you are shopping for a book on this topic, then get this one. Lots of people have found it to be very helpful; some haven't. For [the money], or so, it is worth the gamble.
This is well written and of value not only to the dissertation writer but also to all those who have no idea what we're doing (but lots of opinions about our activities, just the same!