THE ALL-BUT-DISSERTATION SURVIVAL GUIDE(tm)
Devoted to practical steps for completing your
To subscribe, visit www.abdsurvivalguide.com
1. Ben's note "Scholarly Networking"
2. Writing The Abstract
by Dr. Robert Lee Gordon
3. Dissertation Awards
4. Words of Wisdom
5. Inspirational Quote
In this issue, we offer an exceptional resource
for dissertators that is a must-read. In our
main article, Dr. Robert Lee Gordon offers three
important points that have helped him to write
We round out this issue with Words of Wisdom & an
Ben's Note "Scholarly Networking"
February 24, 2005
Dear ABD Survival Guide Reader,
Phil Agre, an Associate Professor of information studies
at UCLA, has written a series of how-to articles on such
eminently practical topics as:
- Notes on Organizing Conferences,
- Hosting a Speaker,
- How to Help Someone Use a Computer,
- How to Run an Online Newsletter, and
- Advice for Undergraduates Considering Graduate School.
I want to encourage you to read one of them in
particular, "Networking on the Network." It is the
best advice on scholarly networking--both in person
and electronically--that I have *ever* read.
Understanding how to enter the ongoing conversation
of scholars in your field, knowing how to maximize your
chance to develop real relationships with the most interesting
thinkers in your area--these are skills that are rarely made
explicit or taught.
Agre does so here. He says that one of his goals is to get
this ongoing, developing essay into the hands of every
graduate student in the world. I want to do my part to
help. It's that good.
So please run, do not walk, to read it at
And if you have other similarly valuable nuggets for
our ABD readers, please let me know. I'd love to pass
See you in two weeks.
[ABD SURVIVAL] Writing the Abstract]
Writing The Abstract
By Dr. Robert Lee Gordon
A wise professor once told me that the abstract should
be the shrunken head of the dissertation. It should
consolidate all of the pertinent thoughts and ideas of
the dissertation, and that it should distill down the
essence of the research.
Although this was the most sage advice of my dissertation,
it did not help me at the time of writing my dissertation.
The reality was, although the wisdom was important,
I still did not have a road map to get me to where I
needed to be. It was not until many years later, and
writing and publishing many research papers, did
I finally understand this great advice. In support of this
advice, I have found three great strategies that have allowed
me to craft exceptional abstracts. First is to write the abstract
at the beginning of the dissertation, second is to work towards
a particular word count, and third is to edit the abstract near
the end of the dissertation.
First, writing the abstract at the start of the process
is important to focus the work at hand. The first sentence
should capture the reader’s attention with a description
and nature of the problem and how this research will address
For example, “Due to the reduced cost of bandwidth, virtual
projects are becoming more common and so virtual project
managers should be versed in strategies to address conflict
in this environment in order to achieve project success.”
The writer should also avoid grandiose statements such
as; “Man has always sought to understand management.”
instead one should focus on the problem and solution
in a single statement. The opening should be dramatic,
yet concise. The opening sentence can create a
powerful initial statement that will set the stage for
the rest of the abstract.
Second, always have a word count in mind when writing an
abstract. This will help drive your sentences to be clearer.
You should check with your university to understand what
are the guidelines for your abstract.
It is acceptable to start with more material and then
prune down the material to the appropriate word count.
The abstract needs to contain all of the aspects of the
dissertation and not just the introduction. A good check
is to review the table of contents and to be sure that
each major area is mentioned so that the abstract covers
all of the concepts of the dissertation. Remember to keep
all sentences active, and be as clear and brief as possible.
Third, once you are getting close to finishing your
dissertation, critically review your abstract. This is
the best time to work towards a strong abstract because
the material is fresh in your mind. As the dissertation
has evolved, the focus of the paper has shifted. This is
natural and part of the evolution of a dissertation and
now a person must distil down all of the major concepts
to create an abbreviated dissertation.
In conclusion, the abstract can be a powerful statement
about the dissertation. It can help draw in the readers and
give a concise roadmap to those reading it. Thus a successful
abstract is one that can help focus the reader and explain
About Dr. Robert Lee Gordon
Dr. Gordon holds a Doctorate in Management and
Organizational Leadership and currently serves as
a faculty member at the University of Phoenix,
DeVry University, and Andrew Jackson University.
He has written several articles about business,
project management, supply chain and management.
Dr. Gordon is also an accomplished speaker and
has numerous engagements, including at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
< mailto:email@example.com> or by phone
Words of Wisdom
Agree to do a work-in-progress presentation or
have material discussed, and you'll be forced to
get at least part of it in presentable shape.
". . .if we wait for the moment when everything,
absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin."
~~ Ivan Turgenev ~~
Your Own Coach
If you are considering whether to get your own coach
to help you reach your academic goals, send any
email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
BEN DEAN, Publisher, ABDSG
Ben holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University
of Texas at Austin. He is the founder of MentorCoach
(www.MentorCoach.com) a virtual university training
accomplished mental health professionals to become
He is also founder of eCoach (www.ecoach.com) which
helps interdisciplinary professionals become coaches.
Ben lives in suburban Maryland with his wife and two
young children, and Walnut, their hamster.
RACHNA D. JAIN, Editor, ABDSG
I'm a dissertation coach and licensed psychologist
based in Maryland, with a doctorate from the University
of Denver. I'm the Editor of the ABDSG, as well as the
Author of "Get It Done! A Coach's Guide to Dissertation
Success" and "Get it Done Faster: Secrets of
Dissertation Success". If you'd like to learn more about
me or my books, please visit my website:
If you have questions about this newsletter, you can
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I'm excited to be working with you to meet your
academic goals. You can do it!
THE ALL-BUT-DISSERTATION SURVIVAL GUIDE(tm)
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