Library News Blog

Starting Your Dissertation

Congratulations! You are nearing the end of your academic journey! Now comes the final challenge…writing your master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. There are many resources that will help you to plan, research and create your culminating work. Faculty supervisors, we’ve also included a few titles for you. Your UI&U Librarians have highlighted some favorites, but there are many more dissertation handbooks in OneSearch. We welcome any suggestions from students and faculty about other ebooks that would help to improve our collection, so please let us know of any helpful and interesting titles!

 

They Say, I Say

Available in audiobook format

“The New York Times best-selling book on academic writing―in use at more than 1,500 schools.
“They Say / I Say” identifies the key rhetorical moves in academic writing, showing students how to frame their arguments in the larger context of what others have said and providing templates to help them make those moves.” -Publisher

Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword

Available in ebook and audiobook format

“Elegant data and ideas deserve elegant expression, argues Helen Sword in this lively guide to academic writing. For scholars frustrated with disciplinary conventions, and for specialists who want to write for a larger audience but are unsure where to begin, here are imaginative, practical, witty pointers that show how to make articles and books a pleasure to read―and to write. Dispelling the myth that you cannot get published without writing wordy, impersonal prose, Sword shows how much journal editors and readers welcome work that avoids excessive jargon and abstraction. Sword’s analysis of more than a thousand peer-reviewed articles across a wide range of fields documents a startling gap between how academics typically describe good writing and the turgid prose they regularly produce. Stylish Academic Writing showcases a range of scholars from the sciences, humanities, and social sciences who write with vividness and panache. Individual chapters take up specific elements of style, such as titles and headings, chapter openings, and structure, and close with examples of transferable techniques that any writer can master.” -Publisher

Writing a Proposal for Your Dissertation: Guidelines and Examples. This user-friendly guide helps students get started on–and complete–a successful doctoral dissertation proposal by accessibly explaining the process and breaking it down into manageable steps. Steven R. Terrell demonstrates how to write each chapter of the proposal, including the problem statement, purpose statement, and research questions and hypotheses; literature review; and detailed plan for data collection and analysis. Of special utility, end-of-chapter exercises serve as building blocks for developing a full draft of an original proposal. Numerous case study examples are drawn from across the social, behavioral, and health science disciplines. Appendices present an exemplary proposal written three ways to encompass quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods designs. –Publisher’s description

Destination Dissertation: A Traveler’s Guide to a Done Dissertation.  Dissertations aren’t walls to scale or battles to fight; they are destinations along the path to a professional career. Destination Dissertation is a handbook that helps students successfully develop and complete their dissertations. It uses travel as a metaphor framing the process as an exciting trip of 29 steps that can be completed in less than nine months. Designed for use by students in all disciplines and for both quantitative and qualitative dissertations, the book shows concrete and efficient processes for completing those parts of the dissertation where students tend to get stuck, from conceptualizing a topic to editing the final work. It includes a wealth of real-life examples from throughout the dissertation process, such as creating the proposal and coding data. This time-tested method comes from the authors’ successful work at the Denver-based Scholars’ Retreat. –Publisher’s description

Doing a literature review by J. Knopf

Students entering a graduate program often encounter a new type of assignment that differs from the papers they had to write in high school or as college undergraduates: the literature review (also known as a critical review essay). Put briefly, a literature review summarizes and evaluates a body of writings about a specific topic. The need to conduct such reviews is by no means limited to graduate students; scholarly researchers generally carry out literature reviews throughout their research careers. In a world where the Internet has broadened the range of potentially relevant sources, however, doing a literature review can pose challenges even to an experienced researcher.In drafting this overview, I have incorporated some points made by Paul Pitman in a lecture delivered to students at the Naval Postgraduate School. I have also incorporated some suggestions contained in a handout prepared by John Odell for students in the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California. -Extract

 

Writing the literature review: A practical guide. by S. E. Efron & R. Ravid

This accessible text provides a roadmap for producing a high-quality literature review–an integral part of a successful thesis, dissertation, term paper, or grant proposal. Each step of searching for, evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing prior studies is clearly explained and accompanied by user-friendly suggestions, organizational tips, vignettes, and examples of student work. Also featured are excerpts from peer-reviewed quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods articles. This is the first book to focus on crafting different types of reviews (systematic, traditional–narrative, or hermeneutic–phenomenological) that reflect the writer’s research question, methodological choices, and approaches to knowledge. It describes what all reviews have in common and highlights distinct characteristics of each type. The book includes dos and don’ts for evaluating studies and constructing an argument, and software suggestions for locating, organizing, and arranging sources. -Publisher’s Description

 

Revising your Dissertation: Advice from Leading Editors.  The aftermath of graduate school can be particularly trying for those under pressure to publish their dissertations. Written with good cheer and jammed with information, this lively guide offers hard-to-find practical advice on successfully turning a dissertation into a book or journal articles that will appeal to publishers and readers. It will help prospective authors master writing and revision skills, better understand the publishing process, and increase their chances of getting their work into print. This edition features new tips and planning tables to facilitate project scheduling, and a new foreword by Sandford G. Thatcher, Director of Penn State University Press. –Publisher’s description

How to Write a Thesis By the time Umberto Eco published his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose, he was one of Italy’s most celebrated intellectuals, a distinguished academic and the author of influential works on semiotics. Some years before that, in 1977, Eco published a little book for his students, How to Write a Thesis, in which he offered useful advice on all the steps involved in researching and writing a thesis -Publisher’s Description  Also Available as an Audiobook.

From Dissertation to Book. Since its publication in 2005, From Dissertation to Book has helped thousands of young academic authors get their books beyond the thesis committee and into the hands of interested publishers and general readers. Now revised and updated to reflect the evolution of scholarly publishing, this edition includes a new chapter arguing that the future of academic writing is in the hands of young scholars who must create work that meets the broader expectations of readers rather than the narrow requirements of academic committees… –Publisher’s description

 

Faculty Supervision

Making the Implicit Explicit: Creating Performance Expectations for the Dissertation Despite their and other stakeholders’ consistent demand for excellence, doctoral programs have rarely, if ever, been assessed in terms of the quality of the dissertations departments produce. Yet dissertations provide the most powerful, objective measure of the success of a department’s doctoral program. Indeed, assessment, when done properly, can help departments achieve excellence by providing insight into a program’s strengths and weaknesses. This book and the groundbreaking study on which it is based is about making explicit to doctoral students the tacit “rules” for the assessment of the final of all final educational products—the dissertation… –Publisher’s description

Understanding Supervision and the PhD. Explores the experience of supervision and the PhD, drawing on a range of key viewpoints to further understanding of this complex educational experience. –Publisher’s description

Designing and Teaching Undergraduate Capstone Courses. Designing and Teaching Undergraduate Capstone Courses is a practical, research-backed guide to creating a course that is valuable for both the student and the school. The book covers the design, administration, and teaching of capstone courses throughout the undergraduate curriculum, guiding departments seeking to add a capstone course, and allowing those who have one to compare it to others in the discipline. The ideas presented in the book are supported by regional and national surveys that help the reader understand what’s common, what’s exceptional, what works, and what doesn’t within capstone courses. -Publisher’s description

 

Additional Supervision Resources