Sherlock Holmes and Dissertations

May 22nd is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday. In his honor, let’s ruminate on the mysteries of the dissertation process as only the great Sherlock Holmes can…

“I am afraid that I rather give myself away when I explain. Results without causes are much more impressive.”
— Sherlock Holmes

Well, this may be true for fictional genius detectives, but I’m afraid it won’t work so well for lowly dissertation students. You, my dear (Not yet Dr.) Watson, are going to be expected to explain yourself.

Anyone who’s reasonably familiar with the subject matter of your dissertation about should be able to understand your writing. It should be clear, concise, and supported by evidence.

Your thoughts and reasoning must be clear. And, the first person who needs to understand them is you! Only when you clearly understand what you want want to say and how you want to say it can you explain to others. Just like Holmes always ultimately explains to Watson, you have to lay out your arguments for your committee.

As you prepare to write any part of your dissertation, consider these questions:

Do you really understand it yourself?

How can you be concise?

What evidence can you use to help your reader follow your explanation?

“You know my methods. Apply them.”
— Sherlock Holmes

Everyone needs a method. There is a method to completing your dissertation! It isn’t just your study that needs a methodology! The entire process requires a method. It isn’t going to work if you just amble along without a plan.

First, start with a plan. What is your dissertation going to look like? What do you intend to show? How will you collect your data? How will you analyze it?

Next, devise a schedule indicating when you plan to complete each stage of your plan. Create a series of small goals along the way. What do you need to accomplish to pass through to the next stage?

Finally, execute your plan, making adjustments where needed. And, there you have it! …A method to the madness!

“Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.”
— Sherlock Holmes

A bit morbid, but Sherlock isn’t known for being lighthearted! But, he’s right. Your dissertation isn’t the end of your education. The dissertation is just a bridge that you need to cross over to get to the next thing you are going to do. Learning never ends. Hopefully you’ll be learning for a great many years to come.

Still struggling to solve your dissertation mystery? Then, click here to schedule a quick, 15-minute chat with me to see if you’re a good candidate for our Fast Track Your Dissertation Coaching Program. If you are, then I’ll invite you to join the fastest group of dissertation students out there and help you to reach graduation a good year or two faster than you would on your own.

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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