Presented August 4, 2020
Last updated August 14, 2020
Visual: Opening slide is titled Housekeeping:
Audio: [Beth] Alright, so I’ve started the recording, and we will be posting the recording in our webinar archive within a day or two, so most likely by tomorrow afternoon. So, if you have to leave for any reason or you would like to come back and review this session, you are more than welcome to do so. I always like to note here that we record all of the webinars in the Writing Center, so if you ever see a session that’s being presented live that you can’t attend, you are welcome to find that recording in our archive.
We also have ways for you to interact with us today. I know Vania has a couple of chats that she’ll be using throughout the session here today to get your input and to see your responses to some questions. We also have links throughout the slides to further information so feel free to click those links and they will open up on a new tab in your browser. You can also save the slides here that Vania has prepared and download them to your computer so you can save the links and information that Vania is presenting. That's in the files pod at the bottom right-hand corner.
We also encourage you to use the Q&A box. Myself and my colleague Meghan will be monitoring that throughout the session here today. So, we welcome any questions or comments that you have throughout the session. We know sometimes you might have specific questions that you would like answered or clarification on something that is being discussed. Please let us know in the Q&A box and we are happy to help you. Additionally, note that after the session you are welcome to email the editors at email@example.com for further discussion or questions. Sometimes you might think of a question after the webinar or there might be a situation where we get really specific and need more information and email might be a good format for that. Note the address and we will display that information at the end of the webinar as well.
Finally, if you have any technical issues, I have a couple tips and tricks I can provide in the Q&A box. Do let me know and I can direct you the best way to go. There is also a help button at the top right-hand corner and that’s the best place to go if you have any significant technical issues.
Visual: Slide changes to the title slide for the session: Transitioning from Coursework to Capstone Writing
Audio: [Beth] Alright, and so with that, Vania.
[Vania] Great, hi everyone. Just making sure everyone can hear me, so if you can’t, let me know. I am just going to jump right in to today’s presentation. So, it’s called Transitioning from Coursework to Capstone Writing. What I saw in the poll is that all of you are in the right place, you’re here towards the beginning of this process or right at the start of this process so that you can use your self-efficacy and move forward with some confidence in this process, because it is a process. We’re running a marathon and we’re going to talk about this marathon and what you need out of the gates. So, let’s move forward.
My name is Dr. Bright, Dr. Vania Bright. My PhD from the University of Minnesota in Sociology. I am also contributing faculty in the Public Policy and Administration Department. But my main job here is to work in the Writing Center as a Form and Style Editor. I’ve looked at 3 years’ worth of dissertations, meaning about three dissertations a week for 3 years and I edit them for Form and Style at the very end. I see dissertations from all the various doctoral programs at Walden. I absolutely love my job.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Today’s Learning Objectives:
Audio: [Vania] One of my favorite things is talking about writing, though, and helping students get from point A to point B to point C to point Z, the end, where you can call yourself a doctor. We’ve got some learning objectives today. One is to understand how the doctoral capstone fits into the context of your doctoral degree program.
Going from student to scholar is a big deal, it’s a change, and we’re going to talk about that.
The next thing that we’re going to talk about is identifying writing strategies for transitioning from coursework to capstone. This is a different thing you’re going to be writing now and so we need to talk about the different thing and talk about how you will start writing that different thing, what are the expectations and what can you expect and plan for?
The last thing we will talk about is we will spend time looking at the Writing Center resources we have for you as well as resources outside of the Writing Center so hopefully as you start moving through the process, you do retain, take the slides down from the files pod and take that other document down from the files pod because it's tons of resources that you can use going forward.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Session Overview
Audio: [Vania] One of the biggest parts of this process is figuring out how to do it on your own. You have help from your committee, you have help from the Writing Center, you have help from the IRB, tons of help, but you are driving this ship or whatever you want to call it.
We break it down because we have those three objectives, this session is broken down into three parts. First, moving from student to scholar. Second, writing a dissertation or doctoral study. How do you do it? First of all, what is the process like? Second, how do you do it? And third, what links are available, what sorts of not links but resources are available, including the links that can get you straight to that resource? That’s what we will be doing today.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Let us know what you need to know!
Audio: [Vania] The first thing I want to know, let's do a chat question. What do you need to know? Looking ahead, what are your main concerns about finishing the dissertation or doctoral project study. When you think about, you have to finish, what are your concerns? Do you have any?
We had lovely music while we were waiting for this to start. I promise I will not start singing.
[Reading as students respond to the chat]: Finding data, knowing the expectations, staying focused and positive. These are wonderful. The difference between a regular paper assignment and more -- more pages. We will talk about that. Finding data. Affirming my team. You guys are awesome. Starting writing, staying focused. You’re going faster than I can read. I’m going to keep going because it’s going fast. You’re hitting all the main points. Doing the exhaustive review. Framing the problem but staying focused in getting the prospectus right. Your methodology, qualitative or quant, understanding alignment. That’s such a big one, isn’t it? Finding enough peer-reviewed articles. You will. The library will help you find it but we will talk about how to do that. The length of time until completion. Let's talk about that a little bit. That’s a big one. Want to finish my doctoral study early. I have a story. If there's time, there might not be, I can tell it. Problem statement in writing. Difference between master’s thesis and doctoral writing. There is a difference. We'll talk about that. Alignment, evidence gathering, ensuring that I am providing adequate information for the dissertation. Doctoral level reading. Making sure that -- this is rigorous work, you want to you proud of this and you are earning that moniker and earning "doctor". Exactly.
I opened the floodgates. Evidence gathering, sample size. Moving from APA 6 to 7, we’re going to talk about that. Writing the correct form and style. Perfect. I am going to close this down. Tons of main concerns. Hold them. If you didn't get your main concern written out before it got closed down, hold that in you, because we are going to come back and talk again and chat again. I want to see if we deal with this and make sure that everyone knows they have the support they need to do this. That is to me one of the wonderful things about the Writing Center at Walden, is that there are about 20 editors dedicated via a variety of resources to help you with that final document which is such a bear and such a beauty when it is done.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Moving from Student to Scholar.
Audio: [Vania] Let's move on. Let's see if I cover most of your stuff and if I don’t we will come back to what we did not cover. I bet we have something for you. First of all, step one, moving from student to scholar. Things are about to change.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: U.S.-style doctoral programs are generally divided into two stages:
Audio: [Vania] If you've already moved out of coursework you might start to realize that, if you are still in coursework -- [audio drop] it might not totally be clear. Here is the difference. And we’ve already kind of tapped on this in the chat. For US style doctoral programs, there is generally two stages. The first one is the coursework and the second is what we call the capstone. When I refer to the capstone, I am talking about your dissertation. Not everybody on this is writing a dissertation. Some are writing a doctoral study which might be separated by sections vs chapters or a project study. Depending on your program you will do one of those things, but whatever it is, it's a large original piece of research that is the capstone to your entire doctoral program.
Sometimes I call it the capstone, sometimes I call it the dissertation, whatever I call it, I’m referring to the final document. With that final document, keep in mind you may have very little, perhaps even no experience, conducting an original research project of this size. I know I didn’t. I didn't know where to begin and I did not know when I was done. So, it's nice to be able to have situations like this to think about what does the second part of the process look like? With your coursework, you have tons of experience. Since you were in primary school, you have been learning to be a student in a course.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing for Courses
Audio: [Vania] It’s a lot different now that you are a student outside of courses. So let’s look a little at what that difference looks like.
Writing for courses, you have a really, really limited scope and breadth in that focus. Someone gives you a paper assignment and says, write about this, or choose a topic but then write about this, someone tells you what to write about. And you’re writing for one person, restricted audience. When you’re writing for courses, your feedback, you’re going to get a grade. Someone is going to say how well you did on this, you’ll get a final assessment, you might get some suggestions for how to improve for the next assignment, but generally you don’t go back and make it better and better and better until it’s an A. And that’s kind of what the capstone process is, you don’t finish until it’s an A. I want us to get out of a grade mindset, but at the same time, I think it’s a useful idea to think of here. When you write a paper, you’ll get a grade and move on.
With draft and revision ratio, when you’re writing a course paper, you know, you’re going to have maybe a draft or two, maybe one draft, a bunch of revisions, but it’s limited, that revision and draft ratio is incredibly limited.
Now, let’s look at writing original doctoral research. The focus changes, right. It’s self-determined. Figuring out writing that prospectus and getting the alignment in that prospectus.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing Original Doctoral Research
Audio: [Vania] Simple, Simple, like just a couple pages, can take such a long time. That alignment piece is so difficult, and where do you start? Some people start from a question. Some people can’t ask a question until they know what kind of data they can get. So it is a process that is self-determined. It is guided by committee input, but it is self-determined. Your focus, it’s going to be original work. It’s going to be for a broad, scholarly audience. It is no longer for your professor; you will hopefully get this published. And then there is contribution to existing research on the topic. In addition to it being self-determined, you have to know what everyone else has written on your topic before you really know what you’re going to do your research on in your topic. If possible, make sure that your work on your lit review is one of the first things you do when you work on your prospectus and proposal, because that is what informs everything else is what people have done before you.
When you’re writing original doctoral research, your feedback and evaluation, consider this, with a paper, you get a grade and you move on. With this, you’re going to have multiple rounds of feedback at each stage. Your prospectus is going to go back forth back forth. You can put your heart and soul into your document. Send it off to your chair, and they’re going to say oh this, this this, here’s a hole, here’s a hole. The idea is that you will be, by receiving so much feedback, you are creating something that is heavily rigorous. But, you will receive multiple rounds of feedback. Receiving feedback is a different experience for different people. [Audio cuts out.]
[Beth] Okay. Sorry about that everyone. We are waiting to see if we can get Vania back here. I apologize. I wonder, in the meantime. In the meantime, if you all have any questions so far about what Vania has been discussing, please feel free to enter those into the Q&A box. I wonder, Meghan, there was a question from one student asking about should students not try to take feedback personally. I wondered if you could speak to that.
[Meghan] Yes, I saw that. You’re correct, is to not take it personally. It is one of those things that, when you’re not getting feedback face to face, depending where you are in your program, you’re still getting used to or you’ve gotten used to only having to read feedback. Sometimes tone is really hard to be sure on. There is always, always going to be feedback. There is no such thing as a perfect document. Certainly, don’t take it personally.
Always ask questions if you are not sure if someone on your committee is asking about. But it will be completely natural to get feedback and react to it. If you feel yourself doing that, take a deep breath and step away and make sure it's not 3:00 in the morning and come back and look at it again. And then go, okay. Some of the aspects of completing the doctoral program is you still have to abide by not only university rules but the faculty guidance and things -- there are things you have to include that you will never see in a journal publication. That is because this part of your degree program. So keep in mind if you are told no, you can’t do this, or this isn’t really fitting it does not mean you can't ever do it just might mean it doesn't work for what you are doing now which is completing the doctoral program. Once you have graduated that opens up the door for different kinds of research.
Let’s see. I am looking at the questions that we have here. Let’s see. Wanting to see if you can understand the feedback on both sides. If there seem to be issues with second committee member and the chair not agreeing, try to step out of that, back from that if it gets really problematic reach out to your student success advisor. And go hey, who can I talk to, things are not going well. Generally, it does not happen too often but a lot of people -- having people you know on your committee, that you are familiar with, it can be good and bad. Generally, if it is someone who shares similar interests or that you had a good rapport with that will be useful. Otherwise, there will be learning curve if you are with someone you're not familiar with but that does not mean it is a bad thing.
Selection of a topic, as you progress there will be the point where you are reaching the proposal or prospectus stage and that is really what it starts but certainly, if things come to you through your coursework about what ideas, something that really engages you or something you are interested in, write that down and keep track of that because those ideas can strike at any time. And you'll want to keep that in mind. If it is something you come across, a theory or something you find interesting, that is something to keep in mind as well. Hey, I really like this and it's a different way of going about things, what can I apply the theory to, but it's good to keep in mind that hey, I think this is really engaging and go with from there.
[Beth] Meghan, it looks like we might have Vania back. Let me check in. Vania, can you hear us?
[Vania] Yes, I can hear you.
[Beth] Okay, wonderful, that’s great.
[Vania] Am I saying things twice?
[Beth] No, you’re not, and I will try to take care of that echo for you. Here.
[Vania] Ok, thank you.
[Beth] Just one second. Just confirming, you are Vania Bright2? Right? I just want to make sure.
[Vania] Yep, Dr. Bright 2.
[Beth] Hopefully that has taken care of any echo, or it will here soon. We were just answering, Meghan was just answering questions from the Q&A box. So, I think at this point, you’re ready to pick up if you’re good to move forward.
[Vania] Hello, friends, I am so sorry about that. I spent about eight hours yesterday trying to fix the computer with tech, and I thought I had it all fixed, but there's some weird funky things going on, so hopefully we are good going forward. I will keep moving and it sounds like there were questions being answered so I will keep going. We lost about five minutes. I am sad about that, but I can get us on track I promise.
Writing the original doctoral research, it will be totally different because you are writing one document, dozens of drafts, hundreds of revisions and this is very different.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing Differences Between Classes to Capstone
Audio: [Vania] That means your mind set needs to change between being a student and now being a scholar. It is not going to be an easy movement. It’s not always going to be clear, and your chair and committee members can help you with that. It is just this thing that you go through in the next year or two as you work on this document. But it is not like, it does take time and it does take honing.
I like to give people this side-by-side. Which is basically just the information that I provided in the last two slides. It is how to write for classes is the first column and how to write for doctoral research is the second column. It just really, you can see, this is how it will be different now that I'm doing original doctoral research. This is how faculty feedback will look different. And this is the draft revision ratio.
But I think, key to this is understanding dozens of drafts, hundreds of revisions. So, let's move on from that.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Stages in the capstone process* (*there is some variance between programs, see your program guidelines, *each stage requires multiple rounds of drafts, with multiple people)
Audio: [Vania] Stages in the capstone process. So this is one of the first things to really keep in mind. You are going to do a lot of writing. All of this writing is all going to go into that final document. Save everything because often times what I do is write something and then move onto something else and start a new document and then once I was writing up that final document, I would go what I call “mining for gold,” look for gold in some of the earlier stuff I've written, earlier portions of a lit review that I did not include at the time. There is something important in there later. So, for each of the stages you will have documents that you write. The first one is the prospectus and that will have some elements of the background information or chapter 1 in the dissertation is different for other doctoral studies. The proposal, then. The prospectus is where you get the basics down. This is what you will study and the problem, this is the purpose of the study and why it is important. A small lit review and then these are the methods you will use. And that is where you work closely with your chair to determine, do I have alignment etc. The way that process generally goes is you write something and send it off and they look at it and they say what about this and what about this and then you grapple with these deep questions and hone your prospectus even more. That’s the prospectus stage.
There's also the proposal stage. Proposal stage, if you are writing a dissertation, it is the background information, the literature review and methods. So, whether that is chapters 1, two and three of the dissertation, or sometimes sections 1 and two of the doctoral study, it just depends on your program.
The proposal stage then is where you put together something that you can present to Walden to your committee and say I have thought through everything -- now my dog is barking. I’m flustered already. The proposal is where you thought through everything including background information, literature review and methods and this is how I'm going to do the study: this is the problem and exactly how I will study it. Lit review is a key component because that is where you get what everybody else has done prior to you.
The final study is where you take those first three chapters, you tweak them a little bit as you move into your final bit. And you add your findings and analysis. It is all one document that is, that slowly morphs into the final study. Your prospectus morphs into your proposal; your proposal morphs into your final study so this is just more guidance on how this is just one paper that will be with you for a good long time. As you continue to hone it.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Stages in the process: Plan ahead, but don’t get ahead of yourself.
Audio: [Vania] There are stages in the process, plan ahead but do not get ahead of yourself, is one of the big things I would say at the outset. There will be many steps involved in completing the dissertation or doctoral project study in getting it approved. You can’t be looking at the last step at the beginning; look at the beginning steps, what do you need for the prospectus if you are at the prospectus stage; what is it you need to do to get prepared for the prospectus? [Audio drop]
[Beth] Alright, shoot everyone. It looks like we lost Vania’s audio again. But I think she might be back. Are you there, Vania? [Pause] Alright. We will hope Vania can join us back in here again.
[Vania] I am back. They are sending me a new computer, but it is clearly not here in time. We will keep going for now.
Obtain all necessary approvals before moving on to the next stage. Just keep that in mind. There are approvals before moving onto the next stage. And so, you are not done if you get your chair saying yes, then it goes to the second committee member and they have to say yes. Then there is the URR. I have talked with a lot of students who say the URR kicked it back, I'm so deflated from that. I feel so defeated.
And the thing is, the URR likely will kick it back. And that is a good thing. Because every time it gets kicked back to you, it means someone has caught a hole and you are going to fill it. So, don't see that back and forth as a negative experience. See it as the way that you are going to grow the most rigorous project you can.
Know and use those approval requirements as the outline for your draft. Talk with your chair ahead of time to make sure that you know what is expected of you.
And then last, when you begin writing, be sure to use the appropriate document template. We will talk more about template in a little while. First and foremost, I want to get through talking about the process more and then we will come back to talking about that template, but I link that here in case you're like she was talking about a template. I want to know more about that. It is linked there as well. I will get back to talking about the template.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing a Dissertation or Doctoral/Project Study
Audio: [Vania] Alright. So, writing a dissertation or a doctoral project or study. You’re going to work with faculty, you need to manage your schedule, and you have to use a writing process to your advantage. These are all things we are going to talk about now.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat Question:
Audio: [Vania] My next question for you is: What strategies do you currently use to revise your own work? Do you have revision strategies currently? Do you think about revision?
[Reading student responses] Grammarly, okay. You have peers look at it. Reading, writing out loud. Good. More reading out loud, the DBA handbook is big. Or a handbook, depending on your program. Read feedback from colleagues in the program can be really helpful. Create outlines. That's a huge one. Grammarly and my wife. Significant other who can read it or friend or someone can be very helpful. Writing and then coming back to it the next day. Friends and colleagues. We have people reading, various people -- reading what various people have said about it and then using tools like Grammarly etc. Or the Writing Center, what have you. I have my eighth grader read it and change which he does not understand. Someone put in a break. These are all great and I will keep moving so that we can get through everything due to my unfortunate issues on this end.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: From Student to Scholar
Audio: [Vania] So I am glad to hear that you do have some strategies going in. We will talk even more and talk, in some ways at a deeper level because the strategies look like they are really good strategies. A lot of good strategies for writing a paper, but sometimes revision strategies for writing a doctoral dissertation will look different.
Before we get into the strategies, of the actual process of the words in the page I want to talk strategies just mental strategies going into the process.
The first is to remember certain things. First of all that you are in charge, so the responsibility is yours. I hear this often. This is a tricky one, moving from student to scholar because on the one hand you're being told you are either satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily moving through the program on a regular basis term by term. So you may not feel like you are in charge but you're the one in charge and responsibility is yours and seeking all your self-efficacy within you to make sure that you are using your voice when you need to use your voice and asking questions when you need to ask questions. Remember that your chairs are mentors and are there to help you. They are the main person who puts up the hoop that you jump through and you might have to jump through it a couple times maybe a couple, couple, couple times. The point is that chair is the mentor and they are there to help you. That is what they want to do. This is about wanting to see that you move forward such that they have confidence in your forward movement. They are there to help. It may not always seem like it especially if the mindset is not there, that they are literally there to help you.
Remember, don’t try to compare your progress to that of others, that is one of the best advice I got when completing my PhD. A lot of my colleagues, I had children during grad school and a full-time job. A lot of my colleagues were fresh out of college and did not have children and had parents still supporting them and they moved much faster than me. I could not look over that group, I could look at what I do. Annually I would say where was I a year ago and where am I today? I always had progressed. So, you can do that monthly. Where was I a month ago and where am I today? Compare yourself to yourself.
Your self-motivation, your ability to be proactive and respectful, receiving critique can be hard -- and being the biggest advocate for your work, you sometimes may want to defend something and have more of a conversation. Your chair or mentor may say no, I don't like it and you have to respectfully say I am going to let that go and trust the process and the chair. But you get to be an advocate for their work. Those are some things, some strategies to remember going in.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing a capstone study is like training for a marathon.
Audio: [Vania] What I have said at the beginning, writing a capstone is like training for a marathon. It requires practice and preparation and self-discipline and consistency. It is not… When I was – No, I’m not going to tell a story because there's no time now but it is a long slog. It is a slog and it is not always going to feel good honestly. I don't think anyone breezes through the dissertating process. It is hard and so there are these mental strategies as well as proactively taking care of yourself as you move through the process. These are important strategies that need to also come into play as you do this second half of the process. That will earn you the title of Dr. Right?
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Working with Faculty
Audio: [Vania] So here are some tips on working with faculty and strategies on working with faculty. Number one is communicating effectively and I know when I was working on mine I did not come from academia so I did not understand the culture of academia. I did not know how to work with faculty. And I did not know that I was in charge of communicating with them. So, the first thing I would say is the second bullet point here which in the future I might move up which is schedule regular meetings and check ins.
You are not bothering them; it is their job to help you and so you get to say I want to meet with you regularly and check in on my progress and talk about things. Go in with a list of the things you need to talk about. If you're having a hard time summarizing the conceptual framework that you have chosen, have that be part of the meeting and check-in -- I'm having a hard time, what do you think? Let’s just focus on this one section? Can we have a discussion? You get to set the agenda to a certain extent. Your chair will also have ideas and of course let them in. But find ways to communicate effectively with the faculty. Find a communication style and schedule that works for all involved.
It will be different for every chair and for you. Some work full-time, some work full-time at odd hours but some are working triple time. Who knows? But the thing is, seek information from your chair -- what would you prefer? And know what you need and want, I want to talk to every other week. And let you know where I am at, etc. And how will that work? Let's say email is best for you. Let's say you would prefer a phone conversation, ask for that. Find a communication style that works for all involved, including you. Set deadlines and goals. Deadlines and goals are hard to set. You can't say I'm going to finish a prospectus because there are so many steps to the prospectus and so breaking down each stage to: I will write a draft of the prospectus in two weeks, you could have that is a goal: I will write a draft.
But you cannot say I will finish the prospectus in two weeks because that is out of your control. There are plenty of people that will look at it and give you comments. And so when you set deadlines and goals definitely build in revision time or a lot of revision time. Be clear and specific when you ask for feedback. And start learning how your chair responds to your writing as well. And if you need to ask for help and understanding how they are responding to your feedback let's say in track changes -- write it out and say what does this mean and give recommendations for how I can deal with the comment or something like that?
Be intentional about when you ask for help and stay positive and respectful. Never wait longer than two weeks, but I guess there's a two week -- a two week section built in to being able to respond, but wait a week and 1/2 and ask how's it going, don't ever wait more than two weeks because likely if it goes to two weeks that means with 20 other students, everyone needing something, maybe yours is not totally on top anymore, your email so be intentional when you ask for help and say I need help and I need help now. Can you help me now? What works for you? That kind of stuff. Stay positive and respectful of course.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Working with Faculty
Audio: [Vania] Working with faculty. This is a big one. Interpreting feedback. Different faculty have different approaches. And so, you will get conflicting feedback. That will feel incredibly frustrating. What I do when that happens is, I close my computer and take a day or two-- and I let that frustration be and eventually it will dissipate and I can open it up and go back to the feedback.
Keep in mind criticism is not the same as rejection. None of this is about rejection. You have gotten to this point, you’ve earned your place at this moment and so you will get criticism on your writing going forward; that’s not criticism of your brain or your idea, that is saying there are holes in the document still and you need to address them. And that's all it is.
Once you start transition from, it is not like I'm getting an F or whatever, you are not. If someone is saying you are not listening to me, then it becomes time to say okay, what do they need me to hear? This element of self-advocacy is incredibly important in this process. Keep this in mind. I’ve made it a different color. Criticism is not the same as rejection. You need criticism. You will thrive on criticism and get better due to that criticism. Criticism is for better or for worse, what academia is built on and how we get better and better.
With that criticism comes revision. It is a big part of the process. A big part of the process, so you are not going to write it once and get it approved. It is just not going to happen. And if it does, send me an email because I will be like holy cow and then we will go to Disneyland or something. No, we won’t, not right now with COVID. Revision is a big part of the process keep that in mind and you'll be doing a lot of revising.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Managing Your Schedule
Audio: [Vania] Manage your schedule. These are more strategies. Remember, I asked what kind of revision strategies you had, and there were a lot of specific strategies to the actual looking at the writing that’s on the paper. But all of these pieces I am bringing in are also part of the writing strategies that need to come in and organize the process going forward. So, keep that in mind: it is a bigger process now and so your strategies are not just about the tangible how do I deal with the document -- but your approach to it in a holistic way. So, manage your schedule. This will be different for everyone based on your life circumstances. How can you provide yourself structure?
We do recommend setting a schedule and dedicating time to work on your study. Daily, every other day, whatever works for you. It’s easier pedagogically if you stay in your material daily or on a regular schedule. But some people they have the weekends and that is what they've got. So, then you find a schedule and dedicate the time to work on the study.
Preserve your personal time and allow yourself breaks. Build that in to your plan. Just because it's a long time and you will need personal time and need to allow yourself breaks. It feels really good to finish, and all of a sudden I remember walking with my kids at the park and I was like, I don't have to be thinking about anything other than my kids right now. That is amazing. But preserve personal time and allow breaks while in the process as much as possible. Set realistic bite-size goals and stick to them. These are ones that you have control over and you do not have control over when someone will return something to you. And so you can aim, what you hope to get out of a term or a year. But you do not have much control over that. What you do have control over is the thing you have in front of you.
If you are writing a lit review, your bite-size goal right now might be to write an outline for the literature review. That is a bite-size goal. Write one section of the outline for the lit review, that is a bite-size goal.
And last, to provide structure, find ways to be accountable to other people such as a writing group with your peers, sometimes that helps, it can be to your chair. Or if you have regular meetings with your chair, that-- you can always say you want this much done by the time we meet and that's how to stay accountable to other people. To get that accountability piece in, that’s important.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Managing Your Schedule
Audio: [Vania] Managing your schedule. Work backwards from the goal, then. So if you say, I want to finish my lit review by the end of the term, you cannot just write up until the day before the end of the term. You know this, but I will say it anyway. You have to build in getting it to your chair, getting their comments which will take a week or more and dealing with their comments and writing another version. So perhaps you could say work backwards from your goal and build in the revision time. And then, figure out what can you do when your lit review is off to your chair, what can you be working on when you wait for those comments back?
So, you are constantly doing something, maybe you are taking time off or working on a different part of the project. But work backwards from a goal. Goals should be in your control. Completed draft by the end of the month. Cannot be, it will be approved because you are not in charge of approving, you are in charge of writing the draft. That’s what you’re in charge of. Rebuilding revision time. And for bigger goals like approved prospectus by December 2020 -- build in time for your committee to review as well as time for multiple revisions. And if you are done earlier than December 2020, great. But build in a lot of time for revisions and review.
Maintain flexibility because you're not wholly in charge of that goal. If you have a goal and you’re holding tightly to it, that’s going to increase your level of frustration. This is a frustrating process. So, the more you can be realistic and reduce frustration as you move through the process, the less baggage you have to bring with you to your next goal or next term. So, maintain the flexibility.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Adapting Your Writing Process
Audio: [Vania] Adapt your writing process. This is a big one; beware of yourself as a reader, researcher and writer. Because this is the Writing Center, I will focus on writing. If you are writing your prospectus or are still in coursework, I will in a second show you a bunch of resources, and when I get to paper review I want you to make note, maybe click on it and get it on your computer immediately and get a paper to the Writing Center to be reviewed, get a paper review. You can get a paper review up through your prospectus.
What the paper review does is someone will look at your writing and say, you are good at this, and you need to work on this. By knowing who you are as a writer, you can address those issues before you send it to people to write. Being aware of yourself as a writer, this is incredibly important. So that paper review link will be incredibly important and I will point that out when we get there. You can experiment with the time of day, environment and all those things with writing. There are plenty of, just do a Google search online, writing a dissertation and see what other people have found has worked. Writing a dissertation with two kids under the age of three, maybe there will be people out there who have written blogs on what they have done.
Find what works for you as far as writing goes. And definitely as much as possible, use software and data management to help you. People mentioned Grammarly. Grammarly is a good source. There’s also something like Zotero which will help you hold on to all your citations efficiently.
Things like that. Take the time to dive into those things and learn about them because if you take an hour or two now to learn about Zotero or learn about whatever it is you want to learn about, writing in the template for example, we have videos on that which I will talk about. If you take the hour or two to really learn that software or that data management system, now you will save yourself weeks at the end. I kid you not, so keep that in mind. Invest now. And all of it is part of the writing process.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Adapting Your Writing Process
Audio: [Vania] Learning about all the different things you can use to help you with the process, that is part of your writing process now.
Definitely redefine writing. You are not just finishing, you are developing ideas. Be ready to change course. Lots of people change course two or three times as they write their prospectus and proposal. Save everything and organize drafts. I like to use a naming convention. My last name, first initial, what it is I am working on and the date so I can easily find what it is that I think I want from an earlier draft. And keep track of your notes and research as well. I do so with Word documents these days.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Adapting Your Writing Process
Audio: [Vania] Another bit of strategy to think about. Adapting your writing process and organizing your study, use the requirements in your program’s checklist or rubric. The dissertation checklist, and this is for dissertators, but all other programs have a checklist as well, go to that checklist. Because that checklist is what your committee is going to look at. Have they written the problem statement and does it include these things? If you've gone through the checklist -- I have a link for you, eventually -- if you have gone through the checklist then you can say to yourself, does my problem statement do these that the checklist says it is supposed to do? And so you can be one step ahead of the game. So, use the checklist or rubric depending on what your program talks about. Your chair can guide you to whatever it is you need to have so that you can be writing based on how you will eventually be evaluated.
The next thing is to keep things aligned. If you wind up making a change in one section go immediately to the other sections where the alignment occurs. And make the changes there as well.
That's probably one of the biggest things we hear over and over is alignment, alignment, alignment. And alignment is hard. We have these big ideas and then when it comes to the data we can get, our questions change and so our big ideas change and then the data changes and so this alignment piece is a struggle and can be a real struggle, so keep that in mind to keep things aligned.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Adapting Your Writing Process
Audio: [Vania] When you do revise your study, more strategies, think about the overall structure and organization, not just grammar and APA. That is a big one for me as well. Structure and organization is actually more important than grammar and APA to be honest because grammar and APA can be dealt with quickly, but overall structure and organization cannot.
That means you should be writing from an outline. Say, you are writing your literature review, we have a webinar on writing a lit review. Check out that webinar. It will teach you to write that, how to conceptualize the lit review and how to make an outline before you get to writing because if you just start writing, there is no structure or organization.
Think about that structure and organization going forward, I know you most likely heard of the MEAL plan: main point, evidence, analysis and lead out. I generally call it the MEA plan because I leave out the lead out sometimes. Get to know your MEAL plan. If you write something, if you write something -- let say something you've written right now. Go to it later today and look at one paragraph only. And say, what is the main point? Is it at the top and is it clear? Then look at the rest of the sentences that follow. Is the rest evidence or supporting sentences that somehow are pulling or addressed the main point? Then read passages aloud, the MEAL plan is incredibly important and there's a link below. Try reading passages aloud and take breaks between drafts and write how you write, keep that in mind. You cannot edit what you have not written. And you will be doing a lot of editing. But you cannot edit what you have not written so make sure you write how you write and go back and edit later. And here's the link to the MEAL plan here, every paragraph should have one and only one main point. More strategies for adapting writing process.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: To Summarize…
Audio: [Vania] Here is a summary on what I have just said. I will move forward and not give the summary now. You all should hopefully have downloaded these slides so you can take them with you.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing Resources
Audio: [Vania] The last thing I want to talk about is the writing resources. You are not alone in the process and the Writing Center is here to help. First of all, we have the form and style and editing resources for proposal going forward. Prior to proposal, while you write prospectus or are still finishing classes, we have Writing Center help for you as well. And then there are other centers and places where you can build skills that you need. If, let's say you do not have a skill in a certain area like using Word, there are plenty of people who just have not had to use it and so they don't know how to use Word. Well, the academic skills Center has short courses or even tutorials online for you to learn how to use Word. It is about self-efficacy and saying what do you know and what do you need to know to get you where you need to be. We have resources. Let's touch on the resources briefly. Keep in mind there's the resources file in the pod below, that you can also, it is just a two pager and there's a lot of hyperlinks so you can get all those resources.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing Resources for Doctoral Capstone Students
Audio: [Vania] First, I want to talk to you about, once you are a doctoral capstone student, that means after prospectus is approved, the form and style page, the form and style website is your homepage for the Writing Center. That's where you will find your program templates, I’ve hyperlinked all of these as well, and capstone writing kits. Capstone writing kits include preproposal writing kits, so if you are preproposal, go click on that and look at the kit we compiled. It is a kit of webpages to get your brain going on information you need to start writing the first parts of your capstone. We also have proposal writing kits and final study writing kits etc. We also have have a form and style checklist which editors use at the very end to make sure you have completed or that you have followed form and style.
That is not something you necessarily want to look at maybe right away. That is something you can look at -- but know it is there because eventually, someone will look at your document and say this is what needs to happen now. Keep in mind, editors, you can talk to us once a week we have live office hours on Thursdays. So come in and say I have a question on APA or a question on this or whatever. You can talk to us. We cannot edit for you in those office hours, they are meant to be short question and answer. But they are also helpful. Smart guides are incredibly helpful. The next page shows you what the smart guides look like.
Last, here's the editor email and you can write to us. We have a policy where we will respond to you as quickly as possible. And -- so, that is your way to reach us quickly within 24 hours, we will write back to you.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: SMRTguides
Audio: [Vania] Let me show you what the SMRTguides look like. SMRT guides are really important. This is a small document but if you have it on your screen you can make it a little bit bigger. If you go to this page, we have a bunch of 3-5 tutorials, picture heavy. They are like at first -- do this and then do this on various elements of writing the capstone. The smart guides are AMAZING. Some of my favorites and that might be helpful here is the second one is a smart guide on creating a literature review outline. This is a brilliant three-page document that says do this, do this and boom, you have an outline. It might not be your final outline but it will help you hone what you will look at.
Down here at the very bottom of this image, there are more SMRTguides than what I have here, you can scroll down further when you're on the webpage. But this is one on reverse outlining using the MEAL plan. That is a big one if you want more information on using the MEAL plan and getting the sentences solid.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Writing Resources for Doctoral Capstone Students
Audio: [Vania] I also wanted to point out here, remember I talked about paper reviews. If you're writing a prospectus or are still in courses, this is out the page for you, this is blue and hyperlinks. There are more capstone webinars for writing we've tried to cover everything for you. So you are at a live one today but without all the technical difficulties, this one has happened with all the other areas like lit review and writing an abstract etc. So check out the webinars. They are all on the page. APA resources, Writing Center has a bunch of APA resources and here's the paper reviews. If you have not had a paper review get one. You can have more than one. Learn who you are as a writer so you can anticipate what you need to edit after you do your writing.
Academic skill center, that’s where you can get MS Word support as well as doctoral writing workshops. They are fairly inexpensive about six weeks long under $200 and you can do writing workshop specifically on writing a lit review if you're struggling with that. That is a way to hold yourself accountable and work with other people who are maybe struggling with that same thing as well as faculty that can guide you in one piece of the process. The academic skills Center has writing workshops for you.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Doctoral Capstone Resources Website
Audio: [Vania] I want to point out this website and the main thing is in the bottom middle, is go to the doctoral research coach, that can help you create that timeline and set the goals you need to set. But it is also a compilation of other resources, literature review resources, methodology, research and statistics etc.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Nonwriting Resources for Doctoral Capstone Students (Highlights)
Audio: [Vania] So that is a nice landing center for you as well. I did want to point out this page as well. These are non-writing resources but very important. We talked about data and methods and here's a hyperlink for research quality -- Office of Research and Doctoral Services as well as IRB and student for research administration. There's a hyperlink to the library. If you have not made an appointment with your librarian to learn how to do a literature review search, click on that, find make an appointment with a librarian and those appointments run out sometimes in a couple of months, so make it now and get that appointment with that librarian.
Here's another link to the academic skills center and there is something called capstone intensive's that once you get into the process of writing your capstone there are five day intensive programs where you fly somewhere and go to hotel and sit with me or another editor, like Meghan, who is answering questions and a bunch of faculty and you write for five days straight and get feedback.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Office of Research and Doctoral Services’s Developing Research tool
Audio: [Vania] So, these are resources for you that you possibly may want in the future.
The last thing I want to point out is the center for research quality is developing a research tool. Play with this. There is the link and this is what the webpage looks like. Play with it because it has all sorts of how to export methodologies, how to identify a research program? How do I establish a research design? All these different radio buttons that you can push on and start playing with the concept. A lot of this is about experiment and playing. I have this big idea and I have this question. What kind of data is out there that can help me answer the question? If that data doesn’t answer that question, how can I tweak my questions so my data can answer my question? Etc.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: APA 6 or 7? (Likely, APA 7)
Audio: [Vania] The last thing I want to touch on, we are just a little over time is APA 6 or 7. You want to switch to 7. If you are starting the process you will not finish by December 2020 so that means as of January 1, 2021, you'll need to be writing in APA 7 but courses you already have to be writing in APA 7. If you have questions on the transition you can write to us editors. There's also some webpage links. There are not that many changes but there are enough changes that it is good to check out what we have said the changes are, and of course there is a link to the website on what those major changes are as well to help you. If you have been in 6 for the last two or three years and now all of a sudden you have to switch to seven you are not alone. We have webinars, talk to us editors etc. and we are here for you.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat Question:
Audio: [Vania] I will not ask the chat questions unfortunately because of the technical difficulties.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Additional Resources
Audio: [Vania] Do see the compiled list in the files pod.
Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions:
Audio: [Vania] With that, I want to thank you so much for being patient while the computer did funny things. I am so happy that you showed up. And took the time to really engage with us. Write to us, the editors with any questions that you have. Editor@waldenu.edu. And the next, the archives for the next webinar in the series, so it is a whole series, the next one is called reviewing the literature and incorporating previous research. That's a really good one so check that one out. Thank you so much everyone. Have a great rest of your day.
[Beth] Thank you Vania, and thank you for all the help in the background, Meghan, and sticking with us throughout the computer issues. I will close us out for the evening. Thank you again for attending and we hope this was useful. Reach out to us so we can support you as you continue your writing here at Walden.