Earning a doctoral degree takes several years, with graduate students often living on meager stipends, and sacrificing their social lives. Despite their arduous labor to complete their coursework successfully, many PhD candidates never actually finish their dissertations and end up becoming ABD’s (All But Dissertation) instead of PhD’s. Why is this? They, certainly, have the content for their research covered by
their coursework, literature reviews, and careful selection of dissertation committee members, who know the criteria for a well designed study and publication of the manuscript. So, the inhibiting culprit isn’t lack of knowledge, but rather, the process of completing a doctoral dissertation inhibits many from actually getting their doctorates. Researching and writing a dissertation involves a very stressful and time consuming process. Good coping skills and effective time management are two necessary criteria for finishing the dissertation and achieving the degree.
The Role of an Editing Service in the Dissertation Process
Although it may appear that an editing service helps solely with the content of the delivery of the dissertation manuscript, perhaps a more important role involves facilitating effective coping with the dissertation process.
Psychological research on stress has identified a number of very important variables in effective coping. Perhaps the single most important one is seeking social support, which can be informational (i.e., learning what has to be done and how to do it) as well as emotional support. While your dissertation committee may be able to provide some of the informational support, editors also help with myriad formatting details and offer suggestions for content revision that address the specific concerns of your committee members. But, even more important is the emotional support that editors infuse into their comments to you, the doctoral student, that keep you motivated to trudge on.
Let’s reflect on a prototypical example of the dissertation process by imagining ourselves as Dorothy in the Land of “Oz” and as
“Alice in Wonderland.” Doctoral students often start off with great exuberance down the yellow brick road with high hopes and dreams of reaching the “Emerald City,” envisioning an illuminated gated entrance of flashing emerald letters, “PhD” But, after a series of committee review setbacks, these same students, once feeling ten feet tall, begin to shrink, like Alice after imbibing a shrinking potion, beneath the harsh critiques and daunting, endless revisions. Concrete reality gives way to the surreal experience of captor by flying monkeys to the witch’s castle where they lie shuddering behind the slamming of the dungeon’s door, with bolted latch of emblazoned letters, “ABD!”
It is precisely at this juncture that many graduate students lose their way, no longer feeling excited and empowered, but rather, bewildered and disillusioned. Without someone to offer assistance and emotional support, behavioral passivity and inertia replace enthusiastic drive. For some, debilitating anxiety creates behavioral paralysis; for others, depression spawns inertia. In either case, the end result is derailment from their goal of degree attainment. Procrastination and avoidance often become primary, yet maladaptive, coping responses. What is needed is the kind of emotional support that comes from someone else who shares a connection on student’s side of the writing and revision process. This is what the editor affords the graduate student. And, this is an invaluable coping asset at this point in the process of completing their degree programs. Students maintain an emotional connection to their dissertations because the editor, also, is affectively engaged in both the content, as well as the process, of their dissertation research proposal and defense.
Perceived Control and Self-Efficacy
Other salient coping variables involve our thought processes: perceived control and self-efficacy; i.e., the student’s belief in his or her own ability to stay in control of the process and meet the demands of the dissertation process. Although at the outset, students possess varying degrees of optimistic views about their power to succeed, the grueling process can erode even the hardiest beliefs. Working with an editor reestablishes the student’s sense of control over the process as well as the outcome. With each completed revision, in the on-going exchange with the editor, students experience a sense of mastery, restoring self-confidence in their ability to meet the challenge and finish the dissertation successfully.
One other coping skill that is greatly enhanced by using an editorial service is time management. Completing a dissertation imposes great demands on students’ time, and managing time, inevitably, is put to the test. While one segment of the dissertation is sent off to the editor, another is worked on by the student. The timeline established by the committee becomes far more reasonably achieved because each sub-goal is facilitated by the contributions of the editor. This keeps students engaged in the process rather than in flight. It is much easier to keep the writing moving when you know that an editor will take it over and get it back to you quickly.
Good Stress vs. Bad Stress
The dissertation is a source of stress that can be good stress (eustress) or bad stress (distress), and much of that depends on whether you come to see it as a challenge, which catalyzes motivation, or as an albatross, which often leads to defeat. Understanding the process of dissertation writing and the role that an editor can play in helping you cope effectively can make all the difference. It can be the pivotal point
in determining whether you complete your dissertation or remain ABD. Once you make the decision to contract with an editorial service, you will understand the meaning behind the PhD degree. The “P” connotes Persistence; “h” can mean hardiness (perceived control, commitment, and challenge); and “D,” Dedication (fostered by maintaining a positive emotional connection and attitude to the goal of degree completion).
Personal Experience with the Dissertation Process
Editors who are PhD’s have been through the process and understand what makes it work. They know what they need to provide to promote success, and their engagement with you, and with the process itself, is what makes this editorial service stand out above the others.