How does my mentor read my dissertation?

by | April 30, 2012

Podcast Description: A dissertation is not structured like a best-selling novel, and as a result, it is read in a very different way.

Transcript: The following presentation is a production of Capella University and is not intended for commercial use.

Welcome to another topic in a series of podcasts regarding aspects of the comprehensive exam and dissertation process.

You may wonder why the mentor and committee members might take so long to read a proposal or a dissertation. You may that say my proposal is only 100 pages; my mentor should be able to read that in a couple of hours.

However, mentors and committee members are probably not reading the proposal or the dissertation straight through–at least not the first few times they read it. The mentor and committee members are making sure that your dissertation is touching on each point that it needs to make. And, they are looking at your dissertation to make sure that it is consistent from chapter to chapter. They want to make sure that any references to questions or methodology that you make in your Chapter 1 are what you actually have in Chapter 3 and then what you actually did in Chapter 4. At every step, they will be going back and forth from chapter to chapter.

As your mentor and committee are reading your Chapter 3, for example, they are also making sure that you have clearly thought out and planned each step of your data collection. They are going to make sure that the design you have chosen is, in fact, the proper design for the questions you are asking. They are going to make sure that the questions are, in fact, related to the problem statement. They are going to make sure that the questions can be answered, and that they can be answered with the population, methodology, and analysis you have chosen.

Mentors and committee members are also looking at the changes requested on the last iteration to see if those have been implemented. They are looking at organization and structure to see if you have a logical approach in each chapter. They are looking at your writing. They are looking at citations. They are looking at your references and at your appendices. In other words, every detail that you put into every chapter will be scrutinized.

Mentors and committee members will not be editing your dissertation—that will be your job. They might very well give you an idea of the kinds of writing problems they are seeing. Those writing problems might, in fact, cause problems for those who read your dissertation. They might not be able to understand what you really mean to say. Mentors and committee members who have to wade through weak writing are not able to approve your content if they cannot figure out what you mean.

One way to help your mentor out is to make sure that each iteration represents absolutely your very best writing. Take some time to read and proofread and edit each iteration before you send it along to your mentor. Make sure that it says what you want it to say. Then read it again—one more time—just to make sure that you have made it as clear as you can. Read every sentence out loud to catch typos and awkward wording.

You can do your part to help your mentor and committee members read more quickly and to give you the very best feedback on your very best work.

Remember, you bring unique circumstances to your doctoral journey. Follow up with your doctoral advisor for clarification and additional information about the dissertation process.

This presentation has been brought to you by Capella University and may not be re-transmitted or used for any commercial purpose without the expressed written consent of Capella University.

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