I completely understand that the point of a dissertation is to contribute to the body of literature in the field, and I am proud that I will get to be a part of that. However at the same time, I am so ready to be done with school. Can you just tell me the easiest way to get through a dissertation?

--Dissertation Dash

Dear Dissertation Dash,

The main thing you want to realize here is that no one should just want to get through a dissertation. A graduate student, whose main goal is to earn a piece of paper attached to a title, should generally avoid writing a doctoral dissertation. Yes, it is good that you want to contribute to the existing literature that is related to your field of study, but think more about it if it’s for the sake of saying you did it.

No one can just write a dissertation and be done with it because it takes many people years to complete, and since you are contributing writings to your field, you want them to be serious and accurate. Those who want to write a dissertation should be serious about completing a functional piece of literature for others in that particular field.

With that being said, your Master’s degree is plenty to become a professional in your field. If you’re planning on writing a dissertation because you feel that you won’t be able to get by with a Master’s degree, think again. Your Master’s will take you farther than you may think right now, so don’t feel anxious about a Master’s versus a Doctorate.

Another reason that you want to avoid writing a dissertation just to get through it is that a dissertation is just the beginning into what will be your life’s work of more research. People who write dissertations are genuinely interested in the topic they researched and wrote about, and they are prepared to work on it for the majority of their lives. If you choose a topic because you know you could write about it but you’re not that interested in it, you will regret it when you start having to research for the rest of your career.

--René M Paulson, PhD

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