Thursday, February 13, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: James, E. A, & Stater, T. (2014) "Writing Your Coctoral Dissertation or Thesis Faster: A Proven Map to Success

Quotes from the book …
"Your advisor needs to have enough communication with you to know you are not off track; on the other hand, they will get tired if they are asked to read your material too often". 

"This is a challenging part of the relationship. Remember, they are not there to tell you what to do. You manage your own process with their advice" - Page 14.

"When analyzing the difference between award-winning dissertations and others that earned graduation, this idea of a golden thread becomes more obvious".

"Award-winning dissertations float above the more mundane peers because the authors develop a unique voice that is specific to the person writing and make it obvious how every section relates to the topic of their research without falling into redundancy, all while maintaining a level of readability and pace that keeps the reader moving through what are sometimes long and arduous documents".

"We will try to demonstrate these golden threads with examples as we discuss the structure of putting together the various chapters in Part II and Part III" - Pages 96-97.

What we like about it most - why it is useful

Of course we are biased, because we wrote this book, but we did so after extensive research into other books available that supposedly helped dissertation writers.

What we found was that few if any covered the entire process, doing as good a job on the end game of writing up the final thesis as they did with explaining design.

We believe it to be the most useful book in the market in the sense of a “day to day” guide - helping you every step of the process from beginning to end.

All the chapters, each idea is presented where it belongs on the mapped journey from beginning to end. This prevents someone working their way through tedious new material (on say methodology) before they need to.

On the other hand, it introduces some critical ideas such as organization of the final document early enough in the process that you are protected from going too far only to have to backtrack.

The book’s co-author, Tracesea Slater does not have a PhD and is not familiar with the process. Throughout, she keeps the ideas grounded in “how do I do this?” and “What do you mean?” “Why is that important?”

Of course different readers will pick it up at a variety of stages of their own personal PhD or doctorate journey. Those later in the process need only read through the map to ensure they have all the preliminary concepts on which the stage they are in is built.

Doctoral work is similar and yet different, depending on where you are in the world. This book is written for “both sides of the pond” and has sections that address the similarities and differences in each.

It includes practical suggestions on the human as well as scientific writing part of the process as it includes comments on how to manage your committee, where else to go for help, etc.

What it doesn’t do

It doesn’t go into:
  • Great detail on types of methodology and where to use each
  • Go into topical detail
  • Does not use “work in progress” as examples

From the back of the Book

A doctoral dissertation is arguably the most important journey you will embark upon in your professional career, so you’ll want Writing your Doctorial Dissertation or Thesis Faster: A Proven Map to Success at your fingertips!

This practical guide walks you through each step of the process: determining your research topic, choosing appropriate methods, turning a hypothesis into a study, completing a literature review, writing and defending the proposal, collecting and analyzing data, writing up your study, and ultimately defending your dissertation.

Building on years of experience with doctoral students, the authors provide a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use tool that encourages reflection; includes student stories, hints, and writing tips; and provides end-of chapter checklists and ideas for incorporating social media

You can see the full review with the main attributes for the doctoral student audience here: Book_Writing_Your_Doctoral_Dissertation_or_Thesis_Faster.

About the author(s)

Dr. E. Alana James received her EdD in educational leadership from Teachers College in 2005. Since then she has helped over 30 doctoral candidates in either educational leadership or business move through the process on to graduation.

Working primarily as supervisor for a number of online for profit universities, but also sometimes in the role of committee member, she identified the key places and challenges that created extra stress and, unfortunately, sometimes breakdown.

This book and her work developing is in reaction to those difficulties and will, with adoption, increase graduation rates for those working towards a PhD or other type of doctoral degree. You can follow DoctoralNet on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +.

Dr. James also specializes in action research and has used that transformative process throughout the development of the techniques and strategies outlined herein. Information about her other books can be found on the website for SAGE Publishing.

A believer in the doctoral process as a rite of passage that releases the greatest potential in life, she reinvented her own life to move half way around the world from where she began.

Living in Ireland with her partner, their two dogs and a cat she authors nonfiction work on health and wellness on her personal website at where you can connect with her as a writer, a consultant or speaker.

Tracesea Slater, MA, is the director of strategy at where she works with Dr. James to raise graduation rates by assisting doctoral students to finish their dissertations. Tracesea’s main areas of research interest are education, disadvantaged populations, and youth development.

Her research experience includes work as the manager of research and evaluation at a nonprofit serving homeless youth in Denver, Colorado. She also has done research and program evaluation in the fields of education and health care at a social research company.

Tracesea’s academic experience includes work as a sociology instructor at the University of Colorado and Colorado Technical University.

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