Reviews

Surviving your dissertation

Reviews and round-up A regular look at recent publications and forthcomingn events, courses and information relevant to health care and nursing research

This survival guide for masters and PhD students offers advice and practical tips for producing a successful thesis or dissertation from beginning to end. It is written with American students in mind and references to the American doctoral system are evident. However, once this is taken into account, non-American readers can gain much from the book. The first edition claims to have helped 30,000 students to successfully ‘graduate’. Overall, this revised edition (2001) is easy to read and contains useful advice and practical tips for potential masters or PhD students and those already embarked upon the journey. The authors offer readers the benefit of their accumulated wisdom, providing a clear insight into a process that, for many students, still carries certain vagaries.

The book is divided into three main parts; ‘getting started’, ‘working with content’ and ‘working with process’. It can be used like a manual, as particular topics are

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This survival guide for masters and PhD students offers advice and practical tips for producing a successful thesis or dissertation from beginning to end. It is written with American students in mind and references to the American doctoral system are evident. However, once this is taken into account, non-American readers can gain much from the book. The first edition claims to have helped 30,000 students to successfully ‘graduate’. Overall, this revised edition (2001) is easy to read and contains useful advice and practical tips for potential masters or PhD students and those already embarked upon the journey. The authors offer readers the benefit of their accumulated wisdom, providing a clear insight into a process that, for many students, still carries certain vagaries.

The book is divided into three main parts; ‘getting started’, ‘working with content’ and ‘working with process’. It can be used like a manual, as particular topics are easily located within the ‘contents’ pages, where the parts are divided into sub-sections. It contains advice on both qualitative and quantitative research approaches and the ‘getting started’ section offers sound advice on topic selection, research questions and methods.

The second section, ‘working with content’, has a practical focus and offers guidance on writing the literature review and method chapters with sections on data analysis and presentation. The section on the use of computers has apparently been completely revised in this, the second edition, and useful guidance on the use of software packages for data analysis are included with selected website addresses. The final section, ‘working with process’, will be welcomed by many PhD students who are in need of assurance that writing blocks and feelings of self-doubt are quite normal. A sub-section using the American term, ‘working with your committee’ may seem alien to some non-American students, although one can relate to the discussion regarding certain conflicts which may develop when a committee of supervisors are involved in the supervision of a student. Most research students can learn something from this book, irrespective of the stage they are at. It is well worth a browse, especially for those who are in the early stages of their thesis or dissertation.

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