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There’s one more reason why it’s important to ask what support graduate students need: they often are not aware of, or taking advantage of, existing support services on the campus.Colleges and universities are increasingly offering writing space for dissertation writers, writing retreats, dissertation coaching and writing workshops.
I’m guessing that you have dealt with those factors in your own writing, and it would be a generous gift to your students to acknowledge your experience and share some strategies that you’ve used to manage them.
Graduate students appreciate knowing that even academics who are well published continue to experience perfectionism and procrastination.
I want them to finish their dissertations, but now another semester has gone by with missed deadlines and no concrete progress.
And that means that May graduations look increasingly unrealistic.
If you have never procrastinated and don’t wrestle with perfectionism, you can still normalize their occurrence and provide some brief resources. What Support Do You Need to Produce a Written Draft?
What I’ve learned in working with dissertation writers on a daily basis is that they thrive in a supportive community of active daily writers. Because the natural isolation that graduate students experience is exacerbated when they get to the dissertation-writing stage. But the type of support that is most useful is that which holds them accountable for writing every day and producing drafts.
(My favorite is Sonja Foss and William Waters’s .) And I recommend that you have references to a few well-written dissertations in your recent departmental history that they can read as examples of a finished product. (And by “writing” I mean anything that moves a manuscript out the door.) However, that’s the opposite of how most graduate students write, or imagine they write, their dissertations.
This emerges from a combination of past binge-and-bust writing habits, the flawed assumption that nothing can get done in 30 minutes a day, and the idea that they must have everything figured out 30 minutes per day on their dissertation, that’s great!
And even if your campus does not offer such services, plenty of online dissertation-writing communities can provide supportive accountability for your students to write every day.
Ultimately, I want you, as an adviser, to be able to get your students producing work so that you can have the conversations about their dissertation research that you would like to have, and are distinctly positioned to have, with them.