How To Delay Your Graduation Date

Your topic selection and problem statement can play a role in how long it takes to complete your dissertation process. Passion is crucial for writing a dissertation and the driving force behind perseverance through the literature review.


A PLOS study from earlier this year found four factors that will delay your diploma:


Change Your Research Topic:  I did this because I changed jobs, changing my access to data and setting of my study.  Instead of selecting a topic that would benefit my place of business, I re-focused around selecting a topic that I care about personally.  It makes it less painful to re-write that literature review.


Avoiding Communicating With Your Chair:  Nobody likes emails that come with interminable “comments” and “track changes.”  Avoiding these emails and responses adds time and money to each passing semester.  Those registration notices come up fast, and then it is time for tuition again.  Might as well be worth it.


Isolate Yourself:  You may not be isolated from friends, family, or work.  However, writing is an isolating activity.  It requires a person to get stuck up inside the brain with no one to talk to, and it takes … soooo … llloooonnngggg!  It may be all right once the process starts, but the prospect is daunting.  Find a friend that is going through the same thing.  Find a coach that will hold you accountable each week.  Maybe your mom is willing to nag you.  My mom is willing to nag you.


Here are two more that are not included in the PLOS study, but my own observations of this process from my perspective as a student and the people I know in the process:


Debate Your Chair:  This falls under the topic of communication, but if s/he asks for more pages or to double check APA, or rewrite your problem statement for the twenty-fifth time, just do it.  The correct response is, “Thanks for the suggestion!” or something of that nature.  If you have ever been a teacher, think of the student that argues (ick).


Work With Kids:  If you have to get permission from parents, welcome to another year of IRB back and forth.  Ask yourself if you can still research your topic without involving minors directly.  Check out some dissertations on this topic to see how others may have approached the work.


What do you observe that delays the big day?


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