The Power of “&” and Dissertations

September 8th is National Ampersand Day. Celebrate by putting the Power of “&” to work in your dissertation…

Fun fact: Did you know that the English alphabet used to include more than 26 letters? In fact, in the early 1800s the last letter was “&.” The “&” symbol is a ligature of the letters “e” and “t” from the Latin word “et,” as in “et al.,” meaning “and.”

When school children recited the alphabet, they couldn’t end with “X, Y, Z, and.” That would just sound weird. Instead, they would say “X, Y, Z, and per se and.” “Per se” means “by itself,” so a recitation of the alphabet would end “X, Y, Z, and, by itself, and.” The phrase, “and per se and” was often slurred together and eventually became the mondegreen, “ampersand!”

Although no longer an official letter, “&” is still in common use today. And, the Power of & is exactly what you need to keep your dissertation going:

You need a vision & a plan.

Your vision reminds you of where you want to be after you graduate.It is the dream, the calling, the drive that motivates you to keep going no matter the sacrifice. But, your plan is how you’re gonna get there. If your vision is the winner’s circle, your plan aims you toward the finish line. It details your data-collection-and-analysis process, creating step-by-step instructions for the “doing” part of your dissertation.

You need to be focused & flexible.

When you have a plan, you should focus on the plan. Don’t let your mind or your efforts wander. However, you should also be flexible to recommendations from your dissertation chair & committee. After all, you’re done when they say you’re done, so it’s a good idea to give them what they want!

You need to be patient & resolute.

The dissertation process is not a sprint. It’s a marathon of epic proportions! You need patience to research source material for your literature review. You must be patient in waiting for feedback from your committee. You must be patient when revising work that you thought was already done.

But, patience isn’t passivity. Your must be resolved to continuous progress. You should be closer to graduation each day than the day before.

You need persistence & guidance.

Do you know what’s persistent? Water. Water can flow through solid rock, eventually. It drills holes, moves tons of earth, and carves mountains into the landscape. Do you know the problem with water, though? It only flows downhill. If you want it to go anywhere else, you’re out of luck!

Persistence is one of the key differentiators between terminal ABDs and D-O-Cs. It’s important that you keep your feet moving. But, it’s also important to keep your feet pointing in the right direction. Having the right guide to help you through the dissertation journey, avoiding mistakes that could cost you time and frustration.

If you need extra support and guidance to make it to graduation, I may be able to help. If you'd like to find out whether you qualify for the support we offer throughout the dissertation process, then...

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.

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