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Webinar Transcripts

Transitioning From Coursework to Doctoral Capstone Writing

Presented January 11, 2018

View the recording

Last updated 2/6/2018



Visual: The webinar begins with a PowerPoint title slide in the large central panel. A captioning pod, Q&A pod, and files pod are stacked on the right side.

The slide says “Housekeeping” and the following:

  • Recording
    • Webinar is being recorded and will be available online a day or two from now.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
    • Use the Q&A box to ask questions.
    • Send any further questions to
  • Help
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right hand corner of the webinar room.

Audio: Beth: Hello everyone and thank you so much for joining us today. My name is Beth Nastachowski and I’m just going to get us started here with a couple of quick housekeeping notes before I hand the presentation over to our presenter today, Sarah. So, a couple of quick things, whether you are new to Writing Center webinars or you haven't been to one in quite some time, the first thing I want to note is that I have started the recording for this webinar. If you have to leave for any reason you are more than welcome to find that recording in our webinar recording archive. And, I always like to put a little plug in here. We record all of the webinars at the Writing Center. So, if you ever are seeing a webinar that’s being presented live and you can’t attend that live session, you're more than welcome to find that recording. And those recordings are available anytime. So, if you’re ever looking just for help on a particular topic, you can also just find that those recordings and watch them on your own as well. So, I highly encourage you to do that. Additionally, we encourage a lot of interaction throughout the session today and there are many ways that you can do that. So, note that Sarah has a couple of chat activities that she’ll be using throughout the session. So, we encourage you to participate, respond to her questions and see what your fellow classmates are responding, there. Additionally, we’ve got the slides here on the main part of the screen and there are links throughout these slides to further information. So, feel free to download the slides and save them to your computer if you’d like access to them. The slides are in the files pod it’s at the bottom right-hand corner, and that will be available throughout the session as well. But, you can also click those hyperlinks throughout the session and they’ll open up in a new tab on your browser. So, if there is something that really interests you or you’d like to take another look at it, feel free to click that link and it will open up in a new tab on your browser. And you can still stay within the webinar. Additionally, we highly encourage you to ask questions, and send us comments throughout the session, so we’ve got a Q&A box on the right side of the screen and my colleague Carey and I will be monitoring that. So, if you have any questions about what Sarah is talking about or really anything in general please feel free to let us know, we want to help, that’s what we’re here for. And we will make sure to get you answers right away. And then also, Sarah, if she has time will stop for questions and then we can discuss those questions out loud, as well. I do want to note, however, at the very end of the session, sometimes we get lots of questions and we just can’t answer them all or maybe you think of a question at the very end of the session that you don't get a chance to ask. Feel free to send those questions to I know the editors would be happy to respond to those questions via email as well, and I’ll make sure to display that email address at the end of the session. And then finally, if you have any technical issues, do let me know in that Q&A box. I am happy to respond. I have a couple of tips and tricks I can give you. But, there is also the help button at the top right-hand corner of your screen, and if you have any significant technical issues, that’s probably the best place to go.


Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Transitioning from Coursework to Capstone Writing” and the speaker’s name and information: Sarah Matthey, EdD, Senior Dissertation Editor, Walden Writing Center

Audio: And so, with that, Sarah, I will hand it over to you.
Sarah: Thanks, Beth, good afternoon everybody, thank you for coming to this presentation about transitioning from your coursework to your doctoral capstone writing. My name is Sarah Matthey. And I am a Dissertation Editor in the Writing Center. I also teach academic skills courses and I chair students… (In Audible) I do a little bit of everything here. Today I want to talk specifically about how to set you up for success when you start thinking about eventually transitioning into writing for your capstone. I think some students do not realize that there is a different type of writing, researching, revising kind of process for coursework versus a capstone. Just based on the two different outcomes. So, I want to make sure that you are prepared for that and answer any I can answer questions that you have about that.

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Todays learning objective

  • Understand how the doctoral capstone fits into the context of a doctoral degree program.​
  • Understand the main differences in writing expectations between the course level and at    the capstone stage.​
  • Identify writing and research strategies for transitioning from coursework to capstone.

Audio: Beth: Hey Sarah, sorry, we are getting a couple people saying they are having a hard time hearing you. Would you mind going up to your mic and clicking adjust Microphone Volume and adjusting it up a little?
Sarah:  Okay. Is that better, better, worse?

Beth: It sounds better to me, and I’m guessing it sounds better, everyone could you let us know? Yes, we are getting confirmation, you are good to go

Sarah: No, no problem thanks for letting me know. This presentation would not be very helpful if he couldn't hear me. Today's learning objectives, let's talk about it. We want to understand how the doctoral capstone fits in the context of your degree or program. Why do you do your coursework? And then, why do you eventually write your capstone dissertation in your doctoral study? What's the purpose of it obtaining a terminal degree? I also want to talk about the differences in writing expectations, I would say even research expectations, too, between the course level assignments or writing and the capstone writing and research that you will do in your dissertation in doctoral studies. I also want to talk about the writing and research studies from transitioning from coursework to a capstone -- how can you make sure that you are implementing those writing and research strategies that you need to successfully write and complete your capstone?

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Session overview

  • What to expect and how to prepare for writing a doctoral capstone study:
  • Moving from Student to Scholar​
  • Stages in the doctoral process​
  • Resources for doctoral students​
  • Writing for courses vs. writing original research​
  • Writing a Dissertation/Doctoral Study ​
  • Working with faculty​
  • Managing your schedule​
  • Adapting your writing process

Audio: So, overview, just generally speaking, here's what you can expect to hear from us today. Just kind of thinking about transitioning from a scholar, or from a student to a scholar, I should say, when you're in your coursework, you are more of a student. When you transition into your dissertation or doctoral study, you actually become an independent scholar. There’s a difference between those two things, and we’ll talk about that. I also want to talk about the stages in the doctoral process in terms of writing and what to expect. I’ll outline some resources for you that you can use at the course level and as well at the doctoral level. Then, writing for courses versus conducting original research and then writing for that original research. For writing a dissertation or doctoral study, I want to talk about how you can and should work with your faculty. They are there to mentor you and to provide you with feedback. And also, how to manage your schedule, what are some great writing scheduling tips to make sure you are fresh and bringing the most you can do the writing process. And then finally, adapting your writing process when you transition from coursework into doctoral level work.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Let us know what you need to know!

Chat Question: 


Looking ahead, what are your main concerns about finishing your dissertation or doctoral/project study?

Audio: Let's begin, really quick, with a quick chat question. You can go ahead and type your responses in the chat box. So, looking ahead, what are your main concerns about finishing your dissertation or doctoral/project study? When you think about it, what is it that makes you go, ohhh I am kind of nervous about that, or, I don't know what to do about this, or I am nervous about this. Go ahead and start typing your responses in here. There is no right or wrong answer. Hopefully we can talk about these concerns or questions you have in this presentation. Go ahead and start typing into the chatbox.

[Pause while students type]
Okay, I am starting to see some students here talking about first of all, the amount of time it takes to complete a doctoral degree in terms of writing and revision. And yes, this is a marathon and not a sprint. So just try to pace yourself and keep in mind that this may take longer than probably any kind of educational pursuit that you have thus far pursued. A little bit about motivation, yes. Keeping motivated. You are in a program for a while. You may have to do your coursework first. And then of course, you have to write this beast of a document. How do you stay motivated during that? We can talk a little bit about that during this presentation.
Let's see here ... getting it right the first attempt. Virginia, I am going to tell you right now, try not to think of it that way because the dissertation doctoral study is never right at the first attempt. So, just want to make sure you set yourself up for success and you don't have that expectation of yourself.
Let's see, prompt responses from mentors and team members. Yep. That's important. As you transition to your doctoral study, you will start learning the turnaround times. Generally, it's 14 days. But there are ways you can make sure you're making the most of that time while you are waiting for feedback.
Let's see here, time management. That's a big one. Time management, think about this, too, when you are imagining your doctoral study in terms of a marathon, not a sprint. We’ll talk about how to set daily, realistic goals that can be obtained to make sure you are working your study daily. And you are staying motivated to complete in a timely manner.
Guidance on how to progress faster. Anthony, I will be giving you some tips on that hopefully that will be helpful for you. Just a little bit about writing abilities, concerns about writing abilities. There's a lot of resources for you at this University. If you feel you’ve been away from writing for a while and you can use some help bolstering your skills, definitely I will talk about resources for that as well.
Let's see, Peter is thinking about writing about biotechnology and supply change management. I'm afraid Walden doesn't have an expert in that field. Peter, I am assuming you are either in management, in PHD management or DBA [sounds like], so I would check with your program director about that or Student Success Advising. I have seen dissertations on that. I have been here for 10 years, so there's got to be somebody. [LAUGHS]

Let's see here, any place to look for specific information on templates? Yes, we’ll be talking about that in this presentation, as well. The literature review, yes. The literature process we are not going to be talking about that today, but Tom, there are a lot of other webinars that you can attend that talk specifically about literature review. Maybe Beth or Carey, if you put up some resources from the Writing Center website about literature review, website sources, that would be great for Tom.
How do you find a committee member and chair members from Walden on your own? Velma, it goes both ways. If you want to, and you want to just leave it up to Walden University, you will be assigned a chairperson. Or if you find when you're working with someone throughout your coursework and you would like to work with them further, you can ask them if they would be willing to be your chair. Of course, they have to be in your program of study. If they say yes, you can be aligned with them to be your chair.
Managing multiple reviewers feedback and comments that may conflict, we'll talk about that, Helen, as well. It looks like a lot of you have a lot of the same kind of concerns. Most of these we’ll be talking about in this presentation today. Some of these, like with the Lit review, go ahead and double check with us back on other webinars based on that particular project and look at the resources Beth and Carey are going to put in the chatbox for more information on that.
Let's go ahead and transition back into the presentation. These are all great questions and not uncommon to have, either, as well. So, you guys are all thinking in the right way.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Moving from student to scholar

Things are about to change...
Audio: Okay, so let's talk about first, moving from student to scholar. I'm assuming a lot of you are probably in your coursework right now, or maybe you have just moved into your first 9000 or 80, 90 class. As you are beginning to think about transitioning from your coursework to your dissertation doctoral study, understand that you are going to change from being a student, the person who is sort of receiving information, being responsible for learning information, to a scholar. And that is the person who is not going to be learning, necessarily, but is the person who’s on the receiving end, but as a scholar, you are going to be responsible for producing, for teaching in a way, and 100% responsible for your own completion of this beast of a study. Just in your roles, try to make that transition in your mindset. Things are going to change.


Visual:  U.S.-style doctoral programs are generally divided into two stages:

  • Doctoral Coursework
  • Develop expertise within your field​
  • Hone your own research interests

You have years of experience with what is expected of you as a student in a course​


  • “The Capstone” (dissertation, doctoral study, project study)
  • Design and conduct original research​
  • Demonstrate your authority and expertise

You may have very little, perhaps even no experience conducting an original research project of t
Audio: So, let’s talk a little bit now about how most U.S. based doctoral programs are generally divided into two stages. Most of you are probably, in your course work now or just transitioning into doctoral or capstone class. In the coursework the whole point of that is for you to learn. You want to develop your expertise within your field. You need to learn about all of the main seminal or current research and theories and frameworks and models that relate to this particular field so that you can become an expert. And then you need, when you are doing that, when you are learning all of this information about your field of study, you start thinking about, what am I interested in researching? Either looking to see, you know what, I see a gap in research, those are for those students who are in PhD classes. Or, I see a gap in for practice for those of you who are in more practice-based degrees like DBA, DNP or ED. Look at all that information. You have your years of experience both within coursework and then also, assuming most of you have worked for a long time professionally in your field of study, you have been around. [LAUGHS] You have some experience and understanding of what is working and maybe what’s not is working within your field of study. All of that information, both what you are learning in your doctoral program and your professional experience is going to help you then become this independent scholar. That happens when you transition through dissertation doctoral study or project study. So, once you become that independent scholar, your purpose, now, is to design and conduct your original research. You are no longer on the receiving end. You are on the giving end. In this capstone you want to demonstrate your authority and your expertise. So, you use all that information that you have learned to help you, then, become a creator. A contributor of your own independent research to your field of study. So, you, at this stage of the game, may have very little, maybe no experience conducting an original research project of this size. That is to be completely expected. This is different than when you’re in your coursework. And you probably have had a lot of years of experience in taking classes, obviously, even prior to Walden, and as well as your professional experience. The two different kinds of mind frames that you see here between coursework and the capstone.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Stages in the process: Plan ahead, but don’t get ahead of yourself.

  • Many steps are involved in completing a dissertation or doctoral/project study and getting it approved. ​
  • Obtain all necessary approvals before moving on to the next stage. ​
  • Know and use the approval requirements as the outline for your draft. ​
  • When you begin writing, be sure to use the appropriate document template.

Audio: There are stages in this process. It’s really important to plan ahead. I always tell my students, understand the whole process and try to put areas that you want to reach milestones by a certain timeframe. That’s great planning ahead. But make sure you don't get ahead of yourself. What we mean by that is, try not to just look at the very, very end goal. Focus on each particular step. There are so many steps that are involved in completing a dissertation or doctoral study and getting it approved. So, make sure that you are sort of present in this here and now moment and focusing on the one step that you need to get done, and not so much just always thinking about the end goal or the end outcome. You will need to obtain many necessary approvals before you move on to each stage of the process. So that also is helpful to remember and not getting ahead of yourself. Of course, once you go into the dissertation, your first approver is going to be your chair, right. And that’s the person you will work with initially in developing your prospectus and then your proposal and then your final study. Once your chair approves something, generally speaking, it goes to your second member. Once your second member approves something then generally speaking, it goes to the URR. So, even just me saying those things, those aren't all the stages of approval, but even just me saying those three stages right there, it's important just to focus on the present and whom you're working with and what you’re trying to accomplish at this moment and not worrying so much about approvals down the road. Make sure you understand and use their approval requirements as an outline for your draft. And, Carey or maybe Beth, you can put in the link for the Center for Research Quality were all the checklists are for each program. Use this information from CRQ or Center for Research Quality as your outline or guideline for the required content in your program. If you go to this website that Carey is going to post, you will see that the requirements are separated by program. Then within that, by methodology. So, make sure you get familiar with, these are called the rubrics or checklists for your program, so you understand how you are going to be assessed and how you are going to be approved using these checklists. Make sure, when you begin writing, that you use the appropriate document template. That is something the Writing Center has developed. These are, these templates contain sort of all the formatting requirements that you are going to need to meet when you complete your study and ultimately submit it for publication in ProQuest. So, I think Carey or Beth can put the link for the form and style website that has all the capstone template as well. I recommend that you also, in addition to downloading the template that is appropriate for your program, that you first watch the webinar on how to use the template so you get familiar with how to properly work with the template as you move along.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing for Courses

  • Focus: ​
  • Prescribed goals and objectives​
  • Limited scope/breadth​
  • Restricted audience ​
  • Feedback & Evaluation: ​
  • Grades, final assessments​
  • Suggestions for how to improve for the next assignment​
  • Draft/ Revision Ratio: ​
  • Multiple assignments and papers​
  • Limited revision/minimal drafts

Audio: Let's talk a little bit about writing for courses. What is the purpose of writing for courses? So, the focus is different than a capstone. You have very prescribed goals and objectives where the professor or the instructor will say, "Here, write about this," and its due within this amount of time. Right? The professor will also tell you okay, give me between 10 to 12 pages. So, they’ll give you a scope or a breadth. And they’ll also tell whom your writing for, the audience, whom to expect. The focus is sort of given to you as a learner and then you do what the instructor asks you to do. So, that writing is different from capstone writing. Feedback and evaluation, you are assessed in your writing courses by your grades by your final assessments. The instructor will probably provide you with suggestions on how to improve your writing or your content for the next assignment, and you should use that information to improve your next assignment as you transition from assignment to assignment and then maybe, ultimately, class to class. Generally speaking, in terms of revisions, you’ll have many, many papers and assignments within one class. But you will have very limited revision opportunities. There are some classes where you might have a writing assignment and then be asked to revise. But generally speaking, that’s not the focus of coursework. So that is different and very prescribed, very focused writing. You have minimal chance for revision. And you are assessed by a grade. So that is kind of the writing you do in your coursework.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing Original Doctoral Research

  • Focus​
  • Self-determined, guided by committee input​
  • Original work for a broad scholarly audience
  • Contribution to existing research on the topic
  • Feedback & Evaluation:​
  • Multiple rounds of feedback at each stage​
  • Possible conflict in committee suggestions
  • Adherence to discipline conventions & high standards​
  • Draft/ Revision Ratio:​
  • One document
  • Dozens of drafts​

Audio: Writing for your doctoral research is very different. First of all, the focus, it's not given to you. It's self-determined. So that means you determine what you're going to write about. You also determine by how much you are going to write, when you are going to write, when it is "due." All of that is determined 100% of the student. Of course, there are guidelines to help you, like the checklist we talk about and the template. And your mentor will also help you as well. But you are expected to be driving this bus 100% as an independent scholar. So, you need to keep yourself motivated and on task. You will finish as fast as you make yourself stay motivated and keep completing writing. You also will be contributing to your field. You're going to be given original work. It's wholly, 100% original and not just something you are learning. That is different as well. In terms of feedback, and evaluation, you are going to be receiving multiple rounds of feedback from your chair, your second member and your URR at every stage of the capstone process, both in prospectus, proposal, and the final study. It is possible that there might be conflict in committee suggestions. When I say conflict, I mean that maybe you may receive feedback that is not the same or maybe is in contrast to each other. That is to be expected and not to be surprised about, because faculty, we’re all human beings, right? So, when we look at, a piece of writing or a piece of research, we are each going to walk away with different ideas or interpretations of that research or that piece of writing. So, each person on your committee is going to have different ideas about how you can improve, your research. So, they may not always be the same because we are human beings. The important thing is that if you receive feedback that is dissimilar, that you and your chair are ultimately the ones who are going to decide what to do with that feedback. As long as you make a choice that is defensible, meaning that is supported by the APA manual, that is supported by the CRQ checklist, that is supported by the guidelines of your program and is supported by ProQuest where you will ultimately publish, then it's your decision. You and your chair’s decision on what feedback to implement and what feedback not to implement. So, hopefully that will quell some of your fears about receiving conflicting feedback, that was some of the questions or concerns that were indicated earlier on in this presentation. So, finally, in terms of draft and revision ratio in your coursework that we talked about, you receive very minimal chance for revision. This is completely different for your doctoral study or dissertation. You are writing only one document, not many, many papers or assignments. Just one document. You’re going to have many different drafts of that document and you are going to have hundreds, literally hundreds of revisions for this one document that you're going to be working on. Why? You're like why, why would I have to do this?! Because, you are writing for publication. And writing for publication is different than just submitting a course paper. This is going to be a part of your permanent academic record. [LAUGHS] I'm not saying that to scare you. But just for you to remember in context why you have to do so many rounds of revision. You need to get this as perfect as you possibly can. That’s the difference between publication and coursework. And remember, this will be a part of you and your academic and professional record. Whenever I am on a hiring committee, the first thing I do is if the applicant has a terminal degree, is I go and find their dissertation or doctoral study and I read it. And that determines whether or not I want to vote for them to get an interview. So, don't think this is going to be shut away and no one is going to look at it. You might be surprised at who looks at your dissertation or doctoral study, so, you want to make it as perfect as you can. That's the reason for all the revision.

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing Resources for Doctoral Capstone Students

Audio: There are a lot of resources, that’s the good news, to help you when you’re writing your doctoral capstone. So first of all, there’s a Form and Style website and we’re really excited as editors, we kind of geek out about stuff like this. So just bear with us. But, we provide you with a lot of information that you can use by yourself or together with your peers and we provide first of all the templates, so that you don't have to figure out how to format your document on your own. We also provide capstone writing kits. And that is just helpful writing resources and how you need to write, research and revise at sort of each stage of writing your capstone. Great, great resources. We also had the Form and style checklist, which list the sort of writing and APA document writing expectations that you will ultimately have to adhere to when you publish. We also have a Walden Capstone Writing community. This is for students, especially us online students. Some people get like, “I am kind of feeling like I am sitting here by myself writing this thing. I could use some support.”  The Writing Capstone Community is for you, then. Basically, it's hosted by the editors and we just work with students. There is no faculty, no one else. Just students and editors. We connect students with each other and we connect students with editors and just to support, provide all kinds of support, moral support, mentoring support and writing support for students in their capstone. Then Finally, we have, we being the editors, have office hours. So, you can chat live with an editor during our office hours about writing or capstone or APA questions that you might have and that we can help you along with. Make sure that you start taking some of these resources, checking them out if you haven't done so yet and making sure you are engaging with the resources that are available to you. It really will make things a lot smoother for you.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing Resources for Doctoral Capstone Students​


Writing Center:


Academic Skills Center:

Audio: Okay, so also, some additional resources for students in the Writing Center, we have the capstone webinar series. And I was talking in the beginning about webinars for the Lit review. And that is a part of one of the capstone webinar series that we do have. So, if you want to watch an archive webinar about that or any of the chapters or sections of the dissertation or doctoral study, you can check out those archived webinars. We also do host new live capstone webinars I think, monthly. The Writing Center also has all kinds of great APA resources. Let's face it, the APA manual, you know, I mean it's great and all, but sometimes it's hard to find things in there. And sometimes it can be tricky to remember where things are or even to understand how that information is presented in there. The Writing Center does a great job of breaking down the basics of APA for students. So, if you haven't done so yet, I always suggest to my students to mark the Writing Center as a favorite, particularly I would suggest the In-text citations link as well as the reference link. I don't know if you want to put those in there Carey or Beth, I recommend you look and those and you save those as favorites, because it might save you a lot of time trying to page in your APA manual finding the answer. Also, outside of the Writing Center, I of course I want to plug this because I teach in the center as well, but there’s the Academic Skills Center. And a couple great things we offer as well, first of all, we offer doctoral writing workshops. So, preproposal stuff, if you are looking at the prospectus, we have prospectus classes. We also have all aspects of the proposal. We have introduction classes, lit review classes, methodology classes and then post proposal classes. There’s all kinds of great doctoral writing workshops that are available for you if you want to have a little bit of one on one help in writing any part of your capstone, please check those out. Academic skills also provide Microsoft word support. Not everyone here is a Microsoft Word geek. So, if you are struggling with anything in Microsoft Word please do check out those resources in the Academic Skills Center. And we do have, also, Walden does have Microsoft Word staff who can assist you and make an appointment with them on your student portal or you can always email them at So other great resources for you outside of the Writing Center, check out.



Visual: Slide changes to the following: Resources for Doctoral Capstone Students

Doctoral Capstone Resources Website

Compilation of resources from many Walden centers and department


An Illustration of the Walden Writing Center Web site DBA section showing the following:

Literature Review Resources

Methodology, Research & Statistics Resources

Writing Resources

Capstone Process & Timeline

Tips from Dr. Riedel

Are you struggling? We can help.

Audio: Okay, give you lots of different resources here, so other resources that you have, the doctoral capstone resources website, here's what it looks like, a compilation of resources from many different Walden Centers and departments. So you might need information from the Writing Center, maybe the form and style page. Or you want something from the Center for Research Quality to get your rubric that we talked about earlier. you might also want to get some information from the library. Kind of create your own little kit, I would say, and start saving these links. You can also find all these resources [inaudible] by program as you see in this example at the very, very top, as well. So, check out those resources.

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Resources for Doctoral Capstone Students (Highlights)

Audio: Resources for you, of course, your very first resource is going to be your chair when you start writing. That person is going to sort of mentor you, is not going to be teaching you but is going to be there to answer questions that you have, point you to resources that he or she feels that you need or that you want to have. And then also provide you with feedback on your writing, on your research and all that good stuff. I mentioned already the Center for Research Quality or CRQ. Please get familiar with those folks. They are very, very helpful. Also, I don't want to get too far ahead of you, but eventually, you all need to file for institutional review board or IRB approval. I always tell my students to make sure that they get really familiar with this website, especially if you have questions about filling out the IRB application. IRB has live chat hours. So, I always say to students, you know, instead of asking me and I am not the person who works in this particular department go directly to the source. Go to this chat or these live office hours and ask your question. And I bet what you might ask from me and I may have to research and get back to you and I am not sure, back-and-forth, and a couple days, you will learn the answer to within three or four minutes. So, get familiar with all these resources. [inaudible] and the back of your mind is to get down eventually to this point, IRB.
Library, I love the librarians. They provide so many services for students. The Walden Library is really, I think, well laid out, especially for students and their capstone. It really provides you with a lot of resources, both how to conduct research at course level, but most importantly at the doctoral level. And please do check out your field specific librarian. Every single college has a devoted librarian that is specific to that field of study. If you have a research question or a resource question that is sort of field specific, make sure you start contacting the librarian whose associated with your field of study.
Academic skills, we already talked about that. I will let you go look at that on your own. Also, finally, capstone intensives. I recommend that students go to capstone intensives if they find that they are either one or two things. One if that they are really struggling to make progress on their own, maybe you’ve been writing this for a while and feel like you're spinning your wheels, and need that extra help. Attending a capstone intensive is a great idea.
Or, for students who just don't do as well when they are independent or they are by themselves writing and researching, sometimes students just say, I need to be around the people, physically, and learn this stuff in a traditional classroom environment and just be someplace where everybody is researching and writing at the same time. That's what occurs in an intensive. So, basically, what happens is, you have a couple of faculty from your particular field of study and then a Dissertation Editor. You will work with them for five days. And you will receive lectures in the morning about various components of writing the dissertation. And in the afternoon, you are supposed to research and read and write, and then also meet with your editor or meet with the faculty member to get immediate feedback on your writing and your research. So, that can be very helpful if you feel that you are stuck and you’re spinning your wheels. If you're interested in that, please contact your Student Success Advisor and they can give you more information about that.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Resources for Doctoral Students


  • The Craft of Research by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams ​
  • Dissertation and Scholarly Research: Recipes for Success by Marilyn Simon and Jim Goes​
  • Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis by Joan Bolker​
  • And many more . . . 

Audio: There some other little books here, too, [LAUGHS] Whenever I tell students this they say, really, Sarah, I don't want to read more stuff that is not directly related to my study. I have enough to read, already. [LAUGHS] But I will say, there are some books that I think are helpful to help you transition to becoming an independent scholar. A couple of these are listed here. You can take a look at those and see if any of those are helpful to you.

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing a Dissertation or Doctoral/Project Study

Working with faculty, ​managing your schedule, and ​using the writing process to your advantage.

Audio: Okay, so, writing a dissertation or doctoral study, you work with your faculty. That is really important, we talked about that, they are going to give you feedback. But the most important things I think, though, are managing our schedule and making sure that you are using the writing process. When I say process, I mean, process to your advantage.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat Question: ​​

What strategies do you currently use to revise your own work?  

Audio: So, let's stop and pause for a minute here and ask, what strategies do you currently use to revise your own work? When you're faced with revision or are asked to revise something, what do you do to make sure that you are effectively revising your work? Let's go ahead and start typing in the chat box. There are no right or wrong answers. I will just give you a minute to go ahead and type in your answers.

[Pause while students type]
Oh, I see some great examples here and also some great ideas. Multiple drafts and peer review and having other people review your work including using of software programs like Grammarly. Yes, make sure we are proving or revising, use other, outside other people or programs to help you revise. Because when we write, after a while, we have been looking at a draft for so long, we stopped seeing the errors on the paper. We know what we want to say in our minds and we have difficult times, after a while, seeing if we actually are saying that or translating that well on the page. So, yes, use these other people and software programs to help revise. Let's see here I reread it several times. Yes. Reading out loud. Oh, I Like that. Requesting reviews from friends. I will put both of those together and I will ask someone, a friend, or someone to read my paper out loud. Because, when another person reads your paper out loud, you will hear awkward phrases, and it might be very obvious when the person reading it stumbles over it and natural speech. So, I actually like to combine both of those together if you can get someone to read. My nine-year-old daughter, sometimes I sometimes will say, I’ll give you a dollar if you read mom's paper out loud. [LAUGHS] I am not above bribery. Yes, please keep all the comments and feedback that you receive and always double check your final drafts at the very end. Just goes line by line and make sure you have addressed all of the comments and feedback that you received previously within our revision. That's really important at the very end.
Okay, outline new ideas by hand as well as sitting and staring at a screen. You know what? Basically, I think what Brian is talking about is prewriting. I know a lot of people say I don't have time for a prewriting. But this is an important part of the writing process. No one just sits down at their screen and just starts typing and gets everything perfect the very first time. It's just not the way human beings work when they write. So, the first step is just generate some ideas. And there’s various ways to do that. Brian says he likes to generate his ideas by hand and that is great if that works for you. Some people like to do free writing and whatever comes to mind they write for a couple minutes, just to generate ideas. Some people create outlines. Some people create concept maps. I have a student who I’m chairing whose also an artist. They have shown me pictures on their phone and sent it to me because I am interested. They are talented drawers, or he draws these elaborate, I think beautiful concept maps about all of his ideas about a topic. If you have that talent, go for it. Basically, though, find some kind of pre-writing strategy that works for you and make sure you start using it, especially when you start writing in the capstone. It's important you do not sit down and expect perfection to pour out of your fingers the first time around. Okay, you guys have a lot of really great ideas here about revision. The important thing to remember is, it is a process. Even though, especially in the capstone, you revise once, there's a very, very good chance, actually, I am going to tell you, one revision is never enough. Expect to do multiple, maybe even hundreds of revisions in your dissertation for doctoral study. So, try to keep that open mind when you are revising for your capstone that it is multiple drafts, multiple revisions and hopefully, that will bring down the frustration level a little more. All right, let's get back to our regularly scheduled presentation.

Visual: Slide changes to the following: From Student to Scholar

  • Remember: ​
  • You are in charge (so the responsibility is yours). ​
  • Chairs are mentors and there to help. ​
  • Don’t try to compare your progress with that of others. ​
  • Be self-motivated, proactive, respectful, and the biggest advocate for your own work.

Audio: So, from student to scholar. Remember, as an independent scholar, you are 100% driving the bus. So, if you finish within a certain time period or don't finish within a certain time period, or whether you finish or you don't finish, it's about 95% student and 5% chair. So, you are in charge. The responsibility is yours. It really is. Because you are the one who is in charge of crafting all of this original research. Your chairs and mentors are there to help you. They are there to provide you with feedback, but they are not there as instructors. They are not there to check in and say okay, I just want to call you and tell you it's time for you to write tonight. They are not going to run after you. I do sometimes my students, I don't run after them, but if I don't hear back from them within a certain amount of time or if I am not seeing an amount of progress, I will remind them that they need to pick up the pace. But generally speaking, you are out there on your own determining what and how fast to complete. Make sure you don't compare your progress with that of other students. Every student is individual. Every student has their own professional and personal responsibilities that may increase the pace at which they complete or decrease the pace at which they complete. In addition, every student has their own writing and researching capabilities. So, don't compare yourself. This is your individual journey. Try to make sure you stay, I think this is important, self-motivated, proactive, respectful, and the biggest advocate for your own work. [LAUGHS] Staying motivated, this can be difficult. Because some students, they get demotivated from the process of it. The constant revision, they get new feedback, they can get discouraged. I think some students can get discouraged. I did. There's a certain point where I get discouraged, too. So, try to remember, keep those people in your life who can help you maintain motivation, whether it is your friends, families or significant other. Your chair, too, sometimes I like to give students, when I feel they are struggling, a little motivational speech. But just remember, though, you are your biggest advocate. Make sure you are proactive and that you are always looking ahead. Don't ever wait. I always tell students, don't ever wait. No idle hands when you are writing your dissertation or doctoral study. There will be times when you will be waiting for feedback, maybe you wrote Chapter 1 and you’re waiting for feedback from your chair. During that time, that you're waiting, though, you should be writing, the next chapter. Right? So never wait with idle hands without working on your study. You can always be working ahead. The students who work ahead they will finish and I don't mean this lightly years ahead of time of the students who don't work ahead. Literally, the only time you cannot work ahead in your study is when you're waiting for IRB approval. That's the only time. Otherwise, you can always be writing the next chapter revising the next chapter, researching the next chapter, etc., etc.

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing a capstone study is like training for a marathon. ​

It requires​

  • Practice and preparation​
  • Self-discipline and consistency

We have tips to help you! (Next up.) ​

Audio: So, I said this at the beginning of the presentation, but just as a reminder, the writing dissertation or doctoral study is like training for a marathon. It's not a sprint. And it requires a lot of practice and preparation which you will get in your coursework, that's just to prepare you. But the most important thing is maintaining self-discipline and consistency. So let's talk about how you can make sure your disciplined.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Working with Faculty

  • Communicating Effectively​
  • Find a communication style and schedule that works for all involved. ​
  • Schedule regular meetings/check-ins.​
  • Set deadlines and goals. ​
  • Be clear and specific when you ask for feedback. ​
  • Be intentional about when you ask for help. ​
  • Stay positive and respectful.

Audio: So, working with your faculty, making sure you are communicating effectively. So find a communication style and schedule that works for all involved. When you work with your chair, you know your chair might have certain office hours when he or she is available. Familiarize yourself with that. And make sure you're contacting him or her regularly anytime you have questions. If you have a question about feedback that you receive, I find that some students will just not ask the question. “I'm not sure what this means, can you clarify?” or, “What did you mean when you said expand over here?” Respectful, timely questions are imperative to your success. Some students will just sit back and they won't ask the question out of fear or they forget or whatnot. But not asking the question is not going to make the feedback any clearer to you. So, make sure you're communicating with your chair. Schedule regular meetings or check-ins, some chairs have regular office hours. I do, online. Make sure you attend those. Or schedule biweekly or weekly check-ins with your chair where you can just say, this is what I working on. This is what I have questions about. Set your deadlines and goals.  Say okay, I want to do five pages by the end of this week but make sure those goals of course are realistic and attainable. Don't say I am going to complete my study by the end of this week. Because that goal is not realistic or attainable and then, when you don't meet it, you get frustrated. Make sure you are clear, specific, and I will say respectful, when you ask for feedback. So, if you say, don't just email your chair and say, "I don't understand." Make sure your questions are specific so that your chair can provide you with more specific redirection if needed. And then, stay positive and respectful. Just remember that your chairs are there to help you. And I know sometimes I said students can get discouraged with them on a revision. But just remember that your chairs are on your side. They are there advocating for you. They are not against you, I promise. So, try to remember that before you shoot off a frustrating email to your chair. They are there to help you.

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Working with Faculty

  • Interpreting Feedback​
  • Different faculty have different approaches—you will get conflicting feedback from time to time. ​
  • Criticism is not the same as rejection. ​
  • Revision is a big part of the process.

Audio: So, when you receive feedback from your faculty, remember that faculty have different approaches to providing you with feedback. And we talked about already about how you might get conflicting feedback from time to time. Just make sure you understand how faculty provides you with feedback. If you find that that particular kind of feedback is not working for you for whatever reason, schedule a meeting with your chair and see if you can find a different way to understand that feedback, or maybe your chair can provide you with different type of format for that feedback. Remember that criticism is not the same as rejection. Your committee is there to support you. And a part of that support is to provide you with constructive criticism. This is not any sort of way a personal attack on your character or you as a person in any sort of way. All this is, is just ways to help you improve your writing, your research, and/or methodology. That's it. It's nothing to do with you as a person. Expect and embrace that constructive criticism. And remember, of course I keep saying this, I know, but remember that revision is a big part of the process here. You're going to be asked to revise multiple d times in multiple different ways by multiple people. Try to embrace that with a smile on your face as much as you can.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Managing Your Schedule

  • Providing Structure​
  • Set a schedule and dedicate time to work on your study.​
  • Preserve your personal time and allow yourself breaks.​
  • Set realistic, bite-sized goals and stick to them.​
  • Find ways to be accountable to other people, such as a writing group with your peers (WCWC).

Audio: Another thing, too, I tell students is, make sure you manage your schedule. Make sure you have a structure. Think about working on your doctoral dissertation study like going to a part-time job. I always suggest to my students, think of it like a part-time job that you have to work at least 15 hours a week at. And you have a specific day and time, I suggest students every day for two hours a day that you have to "punch in" and "punch out" of. Make sure that you set a schedule and you have is consistent schedule that you work on to dedicate time to your study.
Make sure that you also preserve personal time and allow yourself breaks. I always discourage students from doing those long marathons of like 8 or 9 hours of reading and researching and writing. Because the human brain, after about two hours, begins to sort of shut down. And you stop producing quality work after about two hours. So, remember that those long, marathon sessions, actually after about two hours, they’re not working well for you. Instead, I recommend to my students to do two hours a day, same time of day, every day. And after your two hours, you’re done for the day and that helps to ensure that you also preserve your personal time.
Make sure you have realistic, bite-size goals and stick to them. So like, I always tell my students, maybe consider 3 to 5 pages a week. Or maybe if you are in the researching stage, maybe you want to read five articles a week. Something small, realistic, daily and weekly goals that are easily obtainable. And make sure you find ways to be accountable to other people. You can do writing groups with peers with the writing community. Or I always have students outline what they want to achieve in each term. And then I hold them accountable at the end of the term. Your chair can also help you with that, as well.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Adapting Your Writing Process

  • Finding out what works best for you: ​
  • Be aware of yourself as a reader, researcher, and writer and when/how you work best. ​
  • Experiment with the time of day, environment, and amount of time you work on your study. ​
  • Try software and data management systems to see if they help you (Zotero, NVivo).

Audio: Make sure you adapt your writing process. The most important thing is to find out what works best for you. So, everybody is different about what works best for them as readers and researchers and writers.  So be aware of what works for you and don't try to adapt yourself to another person. Find out what time of day, the environment, and where and how you write and read best. Use resources to help you like there are data management systems. There are different kinds of quantitative and qualitative analysis software systems that help you. Talk to your chairs about that. They can provide you with some [inaudible] as well. But, find what works for you and stick with it.

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Adapting Your Writing Process

  • Redefining “Writing” ​
  • Write to develop ideas, not just to “finish.” ​
  • Be ready to change course. ​
  • Save everything and organize your drafts. ​
  • Keep track of your notes and research.

Audio: Redefine writing. Make sure your writing idea, writing to develop ideas and not just to finish. This is one of the big differences we talked about between course writing and doctoral dissertation writing. Be ready to change course. Sometimes, students find out that they have to revise their topic a little bit or they have to revise their methodology or design. It's not uncommon. Be open to that. Save everything and organize your drafts. All the feedback that you receive from everybody in your committee, make sure you have a different file for that. Organize that, keep track of that. And then, organize all your different revisions and drafts that you do as well. You never know when you might need to go back to something. And make sure you keep track of your notes and research. There are some great software tools about that, as well. I don't know Carey, or Beth, if you want to put some up the link for the literature review matrix in the chat box that’s also really helpful for helping keep track of your resources for the literature review.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Adapting Your Writing Process

  • Organizing Your Study​
  • Use the requirements in your program’s checklist or rubric. ​
  • Keep things aligned—if you make a change in one section, make necessary changes in other sections.

Audio: Organizing your study, also, make sure you use the requirements in your program checklists or rubric. We talked about that from CRQ. So, save that as a favorite.
Make sure you keep things aligned. Double check that what you have in one section aligns with everything else in the other section. Sometimes we see methodology changes from section to section. Always double check your work and make sure it's all aligned.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Adapting Your Writing Process​

  • Revising Your Study​
  • Think about overall structure and organization, not just grammar and APA. ​
  • Try reading passages out loud. ​
  • Take brief breaks between drafts. ​
  • Try moving paragraphs and sentences rather than adding or changing material.

Audio: Okay revising, when you revise your study, make sure you think about overall structure and organization and not just grammar and APA. So, I saw people when they were talking about revision that they were thinking about grammar. That’s important but that’s the final piece of revision and not the initial draft which is making sure that your content and your structure are all in place. So, think bigger when you’re revising initially and then eventually you can whittle down to the grammar and APA. Try reading passages aloud. We talked about the benefit of that. Many of you are already doing that, which I am really excited about. Take breaks between drafts. We talked about that, I Suggested two hours a day and then being done. Try moving paragraphs and sentences rather than adding or changing material.

Visual: Slide changes to the following: To Summarize…

  • Communicate effectively​
  • Interpret feedback​
  • Provide structure​
  • Find out what works best for you​
  • Redefine “writing” ​
  • Organize your study​
  • Revise your study

 Audio: Okay, to summarize, make sure, keys for success, communicate effectively with your faculty and staff members. Make sure you understand the feedback that you receive. And if you don't, reach out and ask for help. Have structure for yourselves, right? When should you work on your study and how do you work on your study? Make sure you have a timeframe. Find out what works best for you. How do you read and research the best? Redefine your writing, thinking about the goals of your writing and your capstone versus your coursework. Make sure your study’s organized. Finally, revision, revision, revision.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat Question: ​​

What writing strategies and tips will you add to your doctoral capstone writing process? How will you ensure you make the transition from coursework to capstone?

Audio: So, going forward, what writing strategies and tips will you add to your doctoral capstone writing process and how will you make the transition from coursework to capstone.
Beth:  Sarah, I know we are out of time, so I want to be aware of that. You want to switch over to the chat, or is this something everyone can think about on their own?
Sarah:  If you want to, you can, but it's not going to be required [sounds like].
Beth:  Sorry about that. I was just saying just because we’re at the top of the hour.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Additional Resources

See the compiled list in the files pod.

Audio: Sarah: I think that Beth's microphone, I think what she is trying to say is we should wrap it up because we are at the top of the hour. So, we will skip that chat box. We are going to go ahead and remind you that all the resources for this webinar and also the additional resources are in the files pod. So, if you want to check those out.


Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions:

Now: Let us know! · Anytime: ​


Continue the conversation on Twitter with #wcwebinars

Writing your capstone study?


Visit the archives for the next webinar in the series:
“Reviewing the Literature and Incorporating Previous Research” ​

Audio: And then if you have any questions you can go ahead and contact us editors at And, if you're interested in joining the Writing Community, make sure you reach out to Lydia Lunning and we can provide that in the chat box. So, I am going to see if Beth is able to turn her microphone on.
Beth:  Can you hear me now, can you hear me now? I know we are over the top of the hour. I just want to be aware of everyone's time, so I think we’ll go ahead and close out for the day. I want to say thank you, and I’m seeing lots of thank you’s from students in the Q&A box. We really appreciate both your time Sarah, and everyone for their time in coming and attending. Do let the editors know if you have questions and if they can be of any help. Good luck writing, everyone. Have a great day.