10 Wise Steps in Writing a Dissertation

Step 1

    • Ask your department chair if you can skip the dissertation and get a Ph.D. solely on the strength of your winning personality.
    • Okay, so it’s never worked before. It’s still worth a shot, isn’t it? Think positive!
    • Or, if not your winning personality, some previous work, work experience, body of work—anything at all!
    • Okay, so that rarely works either—but it does and has worked for some people, depending on the strength of that previous work.


Step 2

  • Make a plan and stick to it!
  • Plan to spend more time finding a manageable dissertation topic than researching that topic, and more time researching it than actually writing the dissertation.
  • Plan to spend more time revising the dissertation than writing it, and more time writing it than researching it.
  • Spend more time researching it than finding out what your topic is.
  • To help with the organization of your thesis, consider hiring a logician. I did.

that's the plan dr. horrible neil patrick harris

Step 3

  • Make sure you and your thesis advisor are on the same page.
  • Make sure to tell your thesis advisor what page that is.

matt bomer always on same page

Step 4

  • Abandon all hope of reading everything that’s germane to your chosen topic. Eventually you’re bound to discover that somebody has already said everything you want to say, and in the very words you were going to use. Scary!
  • However, don’t be alarmed by this. Remember: “There is nothing new under the sun,” and “Of the making of books there is no end,” and “So, the heck with it, what’s one book more?”

silver linings playbook throwing book out window

Step 5

  • When you’re ready to write, strike while the iron is hot.
  • If the iron is not hot, heat it. By … any … means … necessary!
  • If you don’t know what the iron is, forget about a career in academia. Consider becoming a professional golf caddie, instead. (“Here’s your 5-iron, Tiger.”)

jim carrey bruce almighty typing


Step 6

  • Be sure to follow all of your department’s specifications for formatting your thesis, no matter how difficult they are.
  • When in doubt, hire a reputable editing service to do this for you.



Step 7

  • Prepare for your thesis defense as if your life depended on it. As a matter of fact, your career does.
  • Anticipate every possible question. Now is the time to do the research I told you not to do back in Step 4. Quickly, quickly.
  • However, on the day of the defense, relax. You’re as ready as you’ll ever be. There’s nothing more you can do.
  • Try to enjoy your defense. If you have some ability to make people laugh, make your committee members laugh. If they’re having a good time, the defense might be a breeze.

 i've got the power boom bruce almighty jim carrey

Step 8

  • Answer each and every one of their questions politely and thoroughly.
  • If, after 45 minutes of politely and thoroughly responding to each and every one of their questions, they still maintain that you’re talking gibberish, remember your Samuel Johnson. Say, as haughtily as possible: “Sirs,  I am required to furnish you with an explanation. I am not also required to furnish you with an understanding of it.” (This will sound twice as impressive if you happen to be wearing a powdered wig.)

samuel johnson book perplexed

Step 9

If at some point you find yourself at a complete loss for words, quote the lyrics of some Broadway or Hollywood musical. I have found that there are surprisingly few things in life, academic subjects included, that have not at some point been made the subject of a song. A comforting thought, no?

Step 10

Okay, here it is, my final word of advice, the fruit of my years of experience as a dissertation editor: take pride in writing your dissertation and do the very best you can do. It’s a reflection of you. So cherish, respect, and enjoy the entire process for it should be a labor of love. If it’s not, then you’re not doing what you should be doing with your life. Tough love words, I know, but the absolute truth of the matter.

big bang theory sheldon that's how its done

Why Play Golf?

Golf is one of the most widespread, popular sports in the world. Easy to begin, yet always challenging, it has a lot to offer everyone of any age, degree of fitness and level of skill. If you have never tried the game and wonder why it attracts so many others, consider some of the benefits it offers you and your community.

A drive through most colonized regions of the developed world will testify to the popularity of the sport of golf. Vast tracts of prime parkland in urban, suburban and rural communities are dedicated and meticulously maintained as fairways, greens and clubhouses. Devotees to the links will work their careers, domestic responsibilities and social life around their tee times. Weather will not daunt them and they will take advantage of every hour of daylight to fit in another round.

If you’ve never tried golf, this obsession may seem a bit baffling. Not everyone sees the attraction. Mark Twain, for one, defined golf as “a good walk spoiled.” Another has quipped “Golf can best be defined as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle.” So what is it about golf that continues to entice players?

The Benefits of Golf

The many facets of the game of golf combine to offer you a wide range of physical, mental, emotional and social benefits.

Physical Fitness

The average walking circuit for a round of golf is about four miles, or six kilometres, which is an ideal distance done weekly to maintain relatively good physical fitness. If you walk briskly, you will increase your cardio-vascular and lung capacity. Normally, a person’s heart rate while playing golf does not elevate above 120 beats per minute, so the exercise does not qualify as a “cardio” or aerobic workout, but it is perfect for steadily burning fat. If you pull your clubs or carry them, you’ll burn even more calories each round. Swinging the club conditions your upper body and back while bending down to handle the ball helps keep all your joints and muscles supple.

A round of golf burns about 300 calories in a 150 pound individual who plays for 1 hour while carrying clubs. If you choose to ride in a cart, the same round of golf will burn 230 calories. The driving range burns about 200 calories per hour.

The fact that golf involves hours outside can also be a benefit. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, regulating the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. It also helps regulate the growth of skin cells. While you can eat some foods that are high in vitamin D, your body can actually produce its own vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. What more enjoyable way to do that than an afternoon on the course? Don’t forget to use sunscreen with the right UV protection.

Mental Acuity

Golf offers a challenge to your mind. You are always thinking when you play golf, whether it’s counting shots, working out your score or calculating yardages and club selection. Strategy, decision making, visualization and intense concentration are natural aspects of the play and the cerebral exercise will benefit your mental performance even off the course.

Skill Development

Golf develops our complex motor skills and dexterity. Since the game is based on finesse rather than brute force, it hones our control, muscle memory, balance and hand-eye coordination.

Stress Relief

There’s a fine line here. Scenes of golfers throwing or breaking their clubs after a flubbed shot are standard comedy fare. Obsessed competitors can send their blood pressure soaring in the quest for perfection on the course. Like any sport, golf can be an excellent stress reliever or it can become a nemesis to peace of mind; it all depends on your reason for playing.

By nature, though, golf is suited for stress relief. A quiet stroll in the open air with friends, unhurried play, mild exercise and the reward of a shot well placed goes a long way to dissipate the irritations of the work-a-day world at the office. Studies have shown that golf can trigger the release of powerful, natural, mood enhancing endorphins and hormones such as serotonin into the bloodstream. Their calming euphoric effect lasts for hours after the game.

Social Interaction

Golf is a social game; a chance to get to know your golf partners better. The etiquette and rules of golf encourage care and respect of others and the course. A round of golf can take up to four hours where individual differences disappear as playing the game becomes the common focus. Most often golf isplayed in pairs or foursomes, and even if you have come to the course alone, it is common to be invited to join others you have never met before.

One reason golfing creates a sense of social harmony is that it is a great leveller; the handicapping system of golf is designed to enable the beginner to play competitively against the highly skilled. There are not many sports where you can compete fairly against the super star.

Interaction on the course is usually marked by the telling of jokes, sharing stories, conducting business and simply getting to know one another. All of this is conducted in a non-threatening environment of friendly competition.

Appreciation of Nature

One of the best things about playing golf is you have the opportunity to walk on some beautiful courses, enjoying the scenery and fresh air. Manicured grass, lush trees, water features, birds and even small animals contribute to the pastoral atmosphere. In many urban settings, the only green space found for miles are the golf courses and they are often paired with parkland and recreational trails, so even those who do not venture onto to course still benefit from the grounds.

Community Service

Increasingly, golf is making a wider contribution to the community. Golf and country clubs host many tournaments in support of charities. This not only raises thousands of dollars to meet community needs but is also raises awareness of important issues and worthy causes.

No matter what your age, degree of fitness or skill level, it is hard to beat golf as an excellent way to spend leisure time. If you have never tried it, you owe it to yourself to give it a go.


Avoiding Email Disasters

face palm

A few years ago I promised myself I would never send another email with a typo or spelling error. The story begins when I was applying for a new job. I carefully constructed my resume and was ready to apply for this new position. My decision was to use the body of the email as my cover letter and so I wrote a very nice paragraph, attached my resume, and pressed “send.” I was certain that my cover letter and resume was so well crafted that I would certainly get a phone interview. A few days passed and I had not heard from my potential employer and so I looked back at the email.

Horror. Embarrassment. Shock. My face turned red, my pulse quickened, and I almost wanted to cry. There in the letter were at least two mistakes. In one case I meant to write the word “from” and somehow typed “form.” In another sentence I wrote the word “manger” and of course wanted to use the proper spelling of “manager,” but failed to catch that mistake.

So the sentences read like this: “My skill sets have been honed form quality education and project success. With my qualifications, I am certain that I have the skills for the position of manger.”

This was an email sent for a professional reason and, in less than 100 words, I had two typos. No wonder I never heard from the potential employer. At that moment in time, I devised a system for making sure I never sent another professional email with errors again. Sure, if I am writing to a friend or Aunt Ruth, an occasional typo is not a problem.

Here are the three surefire methods I use to keep those typos from torpedoing my professional emails:

  1. Change the color of the text. Our eyes are very accustomed to reading black text. Change to green, blue, or some other color and it will make you pay attention.


    1. Change the font type. Use a font type that is more difficult to read. This will force you to read more slowly and pay attention to each word. With more attention to each word, it gives you a chance to catch those errors.


    1. Change the font size. If you increase the font size, it puts fewer words per line and, most often, you read more slowly. By reading more slowly, your brain has time to look for those errors on the page and it keeps you from skimming your own emails.


Be safe when emailing and follow the three suggestions I have shared with you above. These help me keep my sanity so that I avoid sending poorly written emails. As you all know, spell check does not catch every typo. I hope these above suggestions save you from email disaster and embarrassment.
Safe emailing friends!