Prepare a Table Before Me:
Preparing for the Dissertation Years

Mark A. Thorne (University of Iowa)

After years of writing term papers, memorizing Homeric hapax legomena, and studying for (and passing) departmental exams, what most students feel they need is a long break—but instead they get an often sudden introduction into the realm of “The Dissertation”!  Whether a student has a vague idea of a topic going in, or if the very thought of choosing a topic drives him or her to apoplexis and denial, entering the dissertation years can and will present major challenges.  In this opening talk, speaking from the perspective of someone who is currently writing his dissertation, I will discuss some of these challenges and offer some strategies for overcoming them.  Foremost I will talk about what graduate students can do in the first four years of their program so as to be more prepared in the last 2 or 3 (or 5…) years of the dissertation.  By keeping in mind the needs and demands of the dissertation as early and often as possible, one can better tackle the challenges of running the ABD race and surviving through to a successful finish.

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