Tessellations and Dissertations

June 17th is World Tessellation Day! A Tessellation is a repeating pattern like you might see on a tile floor, a brick wall, or an M.C. Escher woodcut. You should also see your dissertation as part of a vast tessellation…

Do you know what a tessellation is? I’ll give you a hint…take a look at the bathroom floor, or an exterior wall, and you will see the simplest of tessellations. A tessellation is simply a repeating pattern of shapes that fit together perfectly. Some are simple, like bathroom tiles. Others are complex, like the walls of a mosque or the artwork of M.C. Escher.

Does your dissertation tessellate?

Huh? What does that mean? — It needs to follow the pattern!

Most dissertation follow a common form: five chapters, the first three constitute the proposal, an introduction for Chapter 1, a lit review for Chapter 2, the mythology in Chapter 3, results in Chapter 4, and conclusions in Chapter 5.

But, in doesn’t end there. Many universities provide templates and rubrics that indicate exactly which sections should be included in each chapter and what information should be in each section. Follow these patterns!

There are also patterns in the way you should collect your data. The three most popular techniques are interviews, surveys, and archival data. If you have access to quantitative data that you can use for your dissertation, by all means, use it! Otherwise, I’m a big proponent of surveys, as they are much quicker and easier to implement than interviews.

I often tell students that they just have to add a brick to the wall of knowledge. I say this to emphasize that students should focus on keeping their dissertations small.

Too many students aspire to do too much, which means that they take way too long and risk never graduating. But, adding a brick to the wall also means that you’re following a pattern!

So, make sure your dissertation tessellates!

Having trouble seeing the pattern or getting your dissertation to fit? 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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