Dissertation plan

Completing your dissertation can be overwhelming and stressful. It is a critical period of time to manage time effectively and execute your well-thought-out plans. In this section, we aim to provide some checkpoints or milestones that help you to complete your dissertation in a timely manner:

  • Find out the requirements and deadlines set by the department and graduate school. Having the end goal in mind will help you plan your way to get there.
  • Have the initial meeting with your advisor to discuss the goals of your dissertation and set up an overall timeline. For example, determine when to have the defense, when to send the dissertation to committee, when to send out the schedule poll to committee, etc.
  • Create an outline of the dissertation with sections and subsections for each chapter according to the initial discussion, and map out deadlines for each section.
  • Meet with your advisor to discuss and finalize the outline and roadmap, including what kind of format (by chapters or the whole dissertation) your advisor expects, and how to maintain the line of communication (face-to-face or email) and how often you should communicate, so that you can get support and feedback along the way.
  • Reach out to your committee members to let them know your dissertation plan and schedule the defense date. Ask if they are willing to provide feedback on your drafts.
  • Incorporate the feedback comments and edit your dissertation for submission to your committee for defense.

*You can create a timeline table to help you visualize your plan.

Execution Plan:

  • On your daily schedule, block off a couple of hours when you are most effective for your dissertation writing. Having this specific time block will help you prioritize and fit other tasks around your writing. Stick to the schedule and treat it as your appointment with your advisor or doctor.
  • Limit the distraction during your blocked writing time in order to fully concentrate.
  • Set a daily goal. For example, writing 2 pages each day on chapter 1 or finishing the method session on chapter 2, etc.
  • Find a place that you find yourself most productive and efficient, and write there.
  • Monitor your progress by calendars and project management apps.
  • You are not alone. Find someone who is also writing their dissertation to be your writing buddy to help encourage one another and keep each other on track.
  • Work/life balance (refer to the work/life balance)