Dissertation Strategies Newsletter
Volume 33, Number
This newsletter is a publication of The
Academic Research Group, Inc..
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Assertiveness=PhD.! by Diane Kennedy
Remember the old saying "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" when it comes to your dissertation. What I'd like you to consider today are the ways in which you can be a "squeaky" doctoral candidate- the one of your advisor's many advisees who "gets the grease".
The Impact on a Dissertation
Why is this important? You must make yourself known and heard, and stand out in the crowd if you want to complete your dissertation. The dissertation-writing process simply cannot proceed smoothly- or proceed at
all- without the cooperation of your advisor.
YOU can have control over your advisorís interest in and commitment to your project.
YOU can be finished with your dissertation this year, while other candidates are
still at the Proposal stage!
Below are some suggestions for getting the help to which you are entitled:
- Understand that you have a right to responsive advisement and timely
review of your work.
- Your advisor may feel overworked and underpaid, but s/he still has an
ethical and legal responsibility to do the job.
- Learn to be assertive in dealing with your advisor. Donít accept long
waits for an appointment or his/her unfulfilled promises to "get back" to you.
- Make it clear to your advisor from day one that you have a set time
frame for completing your dissertation.
Ask "What do I have to do to complete this dissertation by December of next
- Be specific about your needs.
- Recognize that assertiveness requires substance. Present your advisor
with documentation of your work on a regular basis.
Send drafts of pre-proposals and proposals and literature reviews as you
- Use your assertiveness to motivate your advisor. Provide him or her
good reasons to cooperate with you. Let your advisor know that you will be very
easy to deal with as long as you get timely
and specific help, and receive the advisement to which you are entitled, but
that you will be Big Trouble if you donít.
- State your terms. Tell your advisor that you expect: detailed answers
to your questions; a specific timetable for submission
of chapters; in-person and/or telephone meetings when YOU feel it necessary;
prompt, written feedback to your submissions.
- Donít fall into the guilty trap. Donít let your advisor make you
feel you are a burden. Remind your advisor that you want
nothing more- or less- than the support, direction and advice they are being
paid to provide.
Diane Kennedy has guided hundreds of doctoral candidates over the last 40 years.
Please contact her for more information on how we can help YOU!
For additional free tips and advice on dissertation writing, visit our website at
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