Rough Drafts and Dissertations

On June 26, 2000 the Human Genome Project announced the completion of a “rough draft” sequence of human DNA. When’s the last time you celebrated a rough draft for your dissertation?…

rough draft sequence? They made an announcement for that?


The Human Genome Project was a mammoth undertaking, and getting a rough draft completed was a huge milestone. By making their results public, the researchers invited commentary from other scientists, which allowed them to progress much more quickly than they could have on their own.

What’s stopping you from knocking out a rough draft of your dissertation? If you’re like many of my students, it’s a serious case of perfectionism. Perhaps you don’t want anyone to see any part of your work until it’s “just right.”

Although perfectionism may be a big part of what got you into a doctoral program, it’s certainly not the best way to get out. As Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking used when we created them.”

If you keep revising your dissertation until it’s “perfect” you run the risk of two very bad things happening: 1) you get upset and intractable whenever your committee asks you to make any changes, and 2) you never actually finish and graduate!

So, stop trying to make it perfect. You don’t have to get it to be perfect…ever. And, to get the ball rolling, a rough draft will certainly do! Nothing is ever really “finished.” There’s always room for improvement.

Don’t let your dissertation go on forever. If a rough draft was cause for celebration for the Human Genome Project, shouldn’t it be a cause for celebration for you, too?

Is more of your dissertation in the proverbial wastebasket than in your committee’s hands? 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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