Writing Resources

Links to posts and resources

The following are books, websites and software/apps that I have found particularly useful during my PhD.

Books I highly recommend

I own pretty much every ‘how-to’ book on dissertation writing and the PhD process, I have about 50 in total from previous study and re-enrollment and the ones below are the best of these. I own, use and have read each one of these and cannot recommend them highly enough.

Demystifying Dissertation Writing: A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text offers a comprehensive, systematic, and well-tested approach for writing dissertations. Foss and Waters’s focus on doability, efficiency, and production of original scholarship will appeal to graduate students at all levels, their advisors, and even faculty members working through their own publication processes. This book also offers unique insight into the process of conceptualizing a dissertation, working with advisors, and becoming a scholar-writer in post-dissertation writing.(Stacey K. Sowards )

Finish Your Dissertation Once and for All!: How to Overcome Psychological Barriers, Get Results, and Move on with Your Life
Thank God I came across this book and the author in my desperation for a resource to help me get on track to even working on my dissertation.  The book clued me into everything that was getting in my way, and started me down a path where I can actually see how I will eventually finish this project. I’m afraid to think of where I would be, or should I say, not be, if I hadn’t discovered this book”. (Tracy)

“This book contains everything Alison Miller learned through years of professional dissertation coaching–knowledge that I desperately needed as an 8th-year PhD student who had yet to produce a single chapter. Here’s my advice: 1) Buy this book. 2) Read the first 50 pages and realize that you are not a failure as a graduate student just because you aren’t having an easy time with the incredibly difficult process of writing a dissertation. 3) Go all out with the daily & weekly workplans she recommends–it might seem like an artificial process at first, but it’s a process that now keeps me writing, and something I’m planning on doing for the rest of my career”. (JB)

Demystifying Dissertation Writing: A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text
I am in the 6th year of my Ph.D. program, and I only wish I have had this book the first day when I admitted in the program. From working with bibliography program to developing outlines of your dissertation, this book is full of practical advises and clear work plans for you to move forward with your dissertation both incrementally and comprehensively. The author teaches you how to conduct a literature review, at the same time offers great tips on overcoming the psychological barriers you have on writing. She makes the dissertation process more humane and realistic by recognizing other duties we have in life and shows you how to work around that. As a mom with a 3 years-old, this book give me the confidence that I finish my dissertation in a foreseeable future. Highly recommended!” (Betty, NTC)

Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis
Dissertation writers need strong, practical advice, as well as someone to assure them that their struggles aren’t unique. Joan Bolker, midwife to more than one hundred dissertations and co-founder of the Harvard Writing Center, offers invaluable suggestions for the graduate-student writer. Using positive reinforcement, she begins by reminding thesis writers that being able to devote themselves to a project that truly interests them can be a pleasurable adventure. She encourages them to pay close attention to their writing method in order to discover their individual work strategies that promote productivity; to stop feeling fearful that they may disappoint their advisors or family members; and to tailor their theses to their own writing style and personality needs. Using field-tested strategies she assists the student through the entire thesis-writing process, offering advice on choosing a topic and an advisor, on disciplining one’s self to work at least fifteen minutes each day; setting short-term deadlines, on revising and defing the thesis, and on life and publication after the dissertation

How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing
“I picked up this book knowing that it was going to tell me to stick to a writing schedule. I thought, “Well, I’ll just ignore that part and pick out the stuff I like.” I really did not want to hear that in order to be productive, I would have to schedule several hours a week in order to write. I am a busy person; where on earth will I “find the time”? Long weekends and school breaks are when the writing will get done. Well, P. J. Silvia shattered that illusion into a million pieces . . . .  I picked up this book intending to ignore the nasty scheduling piece, and I left converted. This book shatters any illusions you may have about binge writing being the “technique” that works for you. So, if you don’t want to schedule writing time, maybe you should ask yourself why–and then read this book”. (Megan, St Louis)

Stuck on your lit review?

Hints ‘n’ Tips

  • Dr Alison Miller’s dissertation workshop video. If you are interested in viewing the video, here are the access instructions as posted to me by Dr Miller (it doesn’t seem possible to just generate a link hence the instructions!) You can watch a dissertation workshop I delivered on ITunes by going to http://itunes.depaul.edu  and then clicking on visit DePaul on ITunes U Now (below the picture), then sign in as a guest and you will be directed to your ITunes to DePaul on Demand. Click on College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and then the download is in psychology and called “dissertation training.” It is free to download. 
  • The Thesis Binder
  • Reverse Calendar


Posts & Links about Writing

  • The Academic Phrasebank : is a general resource for academic writers. It aims to provide you with examples of some of the phraseological “nuts and bolts” of writing organised under headings. The phrases can be used simply to assist you in thinking about your writing, or they can be used in your own work where this is appropriate. In most cases a certain amount of creativity will be necessary when you do this. It is also possible to transfer some of the words used in particular phrases to others. The phrases are content neutral and generic in nature; in using them, therefore, you are not stealing other people’s ideas and this does not constitute plagiarism. Users will need to be aware that Phrasebank is not discipline specific, and it does not claim to be comprehensive.


Writing software for academics and grad students

  • Zetoc (Web based) – to set-up personalised email Zetoc Alerts or RSS feeds to track the latest articles or journal titles related to your interests. In most cases, you can access abstracts or the full text of articles, depending on your institution’s subscription arrangements.
  • Scrivener (mac/windows): I have a stack of things to say about Scrivener so I am dedicating a page to this fantastic tool. Scrivener is a whole new way of document creation that was built for authors but is excellent for academics and grad students. If you are not yet using Scrivener – check it out here
  • Sente (mac/iPad): Bibliography/reference management software. Now that Sente is available for the iPad and syncs beautifully, it is possible to have your entire PDF library available on your iPad. Sente allows ofr annotation and note taking from PDF’s as well as online searching etc. This is seriously great software – some swear by Mendeley or Citavi (Windows only) but I have found Sente to be fantastic, if a little on the pricey side.
  • Circus Ponies Notebook (mac/iPad)
  • Vitamin R (mac)

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