7 Reasons You Aren’t Finishing Your Dissertation

1.     Independence

Researching your passion can evolve into a lonely process.  Why?  All that research is online, and spending too much time online is associated with loneliness.  Find another keep-calm-and-finish-your-dissertationstudent who gets it and head to a coffee shop for kvetching.  Even if your program is online, chances are another human being somewhere in your city is feeling your pain.

2.     Unfamiliarity

After not looking at the thing for even just a short time, APA looks like a foreign language.  And with so many problems in the world, crafting a problem statement is a research rabbit hole.  Even creating a “Table of Contents” in the right format is an 11-step process, whether it be automatic or manual.  Talking about trying new things and doing new things are two different things.

3.     Enormity

It is a dissertation, after all.

4.     Uncertainty

Who me, a scholar?  Yes, of course you.  You’ve come this far; you already are a scholar.  The people you are writing about (Them, 2013) had the same thought when they wrote their dissertations.  It is normal to wonder if the research questions really matter or if your work is relevant.  Sure, someone may come behind you and decide they are not convinced of your research.  Then it will be your name in lights when they quote you, that is, parentheses (You, 2013).

5.     Spite

Being mad at the University, chair, reader, adviser, committee, financial aid office, or even the admissions department is a pretty reasonable explanation to not finish.  It is not uncommon to be mad.  How could you not get mad during what is designed to be this interminable exercise in defeat?  (Except that it isn’t.)

6.     Deadlines

Good news, bad news about deadlines.  Due to the independent nature of the dissertation, deadlines are largely nonexistent.  With little clear accountability and expectation, it is easy to procrastinate.  Would you try this trick with your kids/employees/employer?  Time management makes the dissertation world go ‘round.

7.     The Critic

It may feel like the dissertation Chair or Committee are your worst critics, but sometimes your worst critic is yourself.  Perfectionism is an enemy.  Getting work on the page and ready for revision makes an enemy of any reason or excuse not to finish.

So, what’s stopping you?


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