During the two or three years of doctoral candidates’ course work, caring professors nourish, encourage, and help them with dissertation editing, offering dollops of mentoring advice laced with positive comments on the students’ ability and persistence.

Much like the hometown experience of small town wannabes preparing for American Idol auditions, the students soak up the ladled rays of hope, pack their metaphorical suitcase crammed with novel ideas and pages of notes, and trek to the Idol studio, the office of their newly-appointed dissertation chair.

An ominous enclave, the professor’s sparsely furnished office reeks of intellect, dark, heavily oiled wood, and tome after tome with the professor’s name on the spine and frame after frame of degrees and commendations wallpapering the paneled walls. Slightly distracted by the piles of his own work and the eighty-three other dissertation candidates he is supervising that term, the professor smiles and welcomes the student who timidly and obediently takes center stage and begins to ‘sing.’ During the process, the student may assume originality, while the professor may yawn, frown, or check his email.

If the student survives that hurdle, it is on to … THE COMMITTEE … three or four people with the student’s life in their hands. Inevitably, like the American Idol panel of judges, one oozes praise and one receives the work with a Cowell-ish sneer, while the third maintains neutrality. One committee member insists on changing syntax and another deems it better in its original form. One detests this word; another recommends using the word frequently. One suggests deleting all intrusive and irrelevant commas; a second reviewer insists that commas must sprinkle liberally throughout. Another may suggest seeking aid from a professional ‘coach,’ a dissertation editing service, which may be the most productive suggestion.

Although, by the time the student arrives for the dissertation defense, he or she may be a brain-ravaged mass of hysteria, it is all part of the process in securing a pass to the next round, large venue contracts, and a future level of competition, possibly the pursuit of tenure.

Written by Dr. Joyce

Educator, author and editor, Dr. Joyce is the lead instructor for a stand-alone service-learning program at a Tennessee university. She has written professionally for over twenty years. In addition to Edit911, she performs book editing and proofreading for a publishing firm in Northern California. She holds a Masters degree in English and a doctorate in Educational Leadership.