You’ve probably seen people sign their emails “So-and-so, PhD, ABD.” Don’t do that. You are either a PhD candidate or a PhD, not a “PhD ABD.” It’s not only incorrect and potentially falsifying credentials, but it also looks unprofessional – without the dissertation, you are simply not a PhD (or PsyD, ScD, or EdD). If you don’t already know, ABD stands for “all but dissertation” – which when you think about it, is perhaps the most important part of your doctoral career, and why modifying your credentials with ABD is a little silly.

Once you’ve done your course work, you’re given time to work on your dissertation and are considered, in school parlance, ABD. Simply put, you’ve finished all your course work, and have only the dissertation to finish – all but dissertation. It is merely a term used in academia, and has no place professionally or socially. Students can spend years and years as ABD, potentially limiting their employment opportunities and causing undue stress. Many jobs and academic positions require that your dissertation be defended prior to starting a job, so prolonging finishing can delay your job prospects and earning potential. It can also be expensive – you might have to pay academic fees or part of tuition while writing your dissertation, so the longer it takes you, the more it costs (in many different ways, including financially).

So how do you minimize the time you spend ABD? Here are some tips.

Develop a schedule, and stick to it. Take a look at your calendar, and be brutally honest with yourself: what can you commit to do, to finish by a certain date? Set goals at various points, and commit to meeting those goals – and then follow through. Having a concrete, written plan will help provide you with structure. Share your schedule with your adviser so they can hold you accountable.

Butt in chair. Put simply, put your butt in the chair and write. Every day. Start off with 20 minutes each day of writing or some sort of work on your dissertation. If you work longer than that, wonderful! But commit to at least 20 minutes each day of dissertation work. Think of it as your job – you’d show up for your job every day, right? In a way, this is your job; start treating it as such.

Progress, not perfection. Your dissertation will not be the best thing you’ve ever written – nor should it be. This is your starting point in academia, and a done dissertation is the best kind of dissertation. Especially while you’re drafting your dissertation, the most important thing is getting words on the page. Revising, rewriting, and polishing it come later. Don’t get tangled up in trying to make it perfect; this will only create anxiety at best and writer’s block at worst.

Don’t neglect yourself, either. It might be tempting to throw out every leisure activity, everything you love, and all non-academic pursuits, until you’ve finished your dissertation. This would be a mistake. You do need some down time and time to refresh your brain and recharge your soul. This will allow you to come back to your work with fresh eyes and renewed vigor. Don’t forget to eat healthy, practice stress management, and practice self-care. Stay connected with friends and loved ones, and get enough sleep.

Find a professional editor. A professional editor, like those at Thesis Editor, can help save you time and energy when it comes to working on deadline. Our expert editors can critically read and edit your work, provide critical and constructive feedback that pointedly shows you where more explanation is needed or how to best structure your arguments, and provide you with precise formatting that follows your school’s guidelines, saving you time and work. While we don’t write or rewrite anything for you, we can help polish your writing and help you think critically about your work, as well as help you address your committee’s concerns so that you have fewer resubmissions and cut down on rewrites. We can also free up your time so that you can focus on getting your ideas onto the page, while we help make sure those ideas flow well with a consistent scholarly tone and are presented in a professional manner.

If you’re ABD and need assistance in reaching degree completion, contact us today! We’d be happy to talk with you about your project, what you need, and how we can help you reach your goals.
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Tagged under: Dissertation Writing   Uncategorized   academic writing   writing tips  

I wish to thank Thesis Editor Ltd and its staff for providing editorial and formatting services in support of finalising my doctoral thesis. These services were provided consistent with an agreed upon scope of work and timeframe. The quality of the work was excellent and the attention to detail was much appreciated. Without hesitation, I recommend anyone seeking support with their academic manuscript or other types of work products that require editorial review and formatting to speak with Dawn Leach, Director of Operations, Thesis Editor Ltd. I found Dawn to be very responsive and extremely helpful.

- Kevin G. Rattue , University of Oxford, January 2021

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