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Resources for Dissertation Writing

Tips for Making Progress, Staying Well, and More!

There's no question that writing a thesis or dissertation is a long process, and it's often challenging and tiring in a variety of ways. It can be difficult to keep your spirits up and stay motivated to write, especially when it might seem like you'll never be finished. You're not alone: many, many dissertation writers before you have felt the same way. Below are some resources that can help you to stay on track.

Resources at UBC

Graduate Pathways to Success has a range of resources and workshops to help you with a range of graduate school concerns, including

  • Graduate School Success: topics such as submitting your thesis, preparing for your doctoral exam, presentation skills, learning about statistics, building an effective relationship with your supervisor, and more;
  • Professional Effectiveness: topics like communication and presentation skills, overcoming procrastination, teamwork, translating research into policy, networking, and beyond;
  • Self Management: topics like resilience, conflict resolution, assertiveness, wellness, and more;
  • and Career Building: topics like finding your strengths, exploring entrepreneurship, exploring non-academic career paths, improving career confidence, and beyond.

The Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication offers writing consultations for graduate students. These are 50-minute consultations with graduate-level peer consultants who understand the specific concerns involved in graduate writing, including theses and dissertations. They also partner with other UBC units to offer a range of workshops, including Graduate Writing Communities and Dissertation Boot Camps, and have a number of online writing resources.

Dissertation writing can be hard on your physical and mental health. Student Health Service is an on-campus family medical clinic. Counselling Services has a variety of support personnel and resources. Both are open to all UBC students, including graduate students.

Motivating Yourself to Write

Motivating Yourself to Write

Sometimes, it's hard to get yourself into a chair in front of your computer to just start writing. But the only way your thesis or dissertation is going to get finished is if you write it. Here are some links that might help you to get started, get back at it, or get finished.

Using Writing Groups to Help You

Sometime, what you really need to help you through the writing process is a support network of people who are also in that process. Many students find that writing groups can be a big help in keeping themselves motivated and on track.

The Research Commons has partnered with the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication to create two regular writing groups that will be meeting throughout the 2017-2018 school year. These groups are designed to provide a supportive writing environment, and to help students build a community of fellow writers to help get them through the difficult parts of writing. You can find out more about these workshops or sign up here.

You might decide that you'd like to start your own writing support group. The Graduate Student Resource Center at UCLA has collated a number of resources that can help you as you get started. Stanford University also has a "starter kit" that you might find useful.

If you're a Twitter user, you'll find that there are lots of people who talk about academic writing in general, and dissertation and thesis writing in particular. Check out the hashtags #acwri, #AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month, every November), #phdchat, #getyourmanuscriptout or #amwriting; or follow accounts like @Acwri, @academicswrite, or @WriteThatPhD.

Making Progress on your Thesis

Sometimes it's not motivation to write that's the challenge; there are lots of other things that can keep you from making progress on your writing. Here are some common problems, and resources that can help you with them.


One of the things that can keep you from making progress on your thesis or dissertation is perfectionism - and it's very common in academia! Here are some resources that can help you to break out of the negative cycles this can create.



Sometimes it's hard to focus on writing when there are so many other things you could be doing, or reading, or thinking about...but eventually, you will need to get to work and get your dissertation done!


Time Management

Even if you're not procrastinating, time management can often be a problem, especially when you're trying to balance writing and the rest of your life.

Staying Well During the Writing Process

It can sometimes be hard to stay positive while you're writing your thesis or dissertation: it's a long process, it has many challenges, and it's very tiring. You'll want to make sure that you find techniques and support systems that will help you to stay mentally, physically and emotionally well while you're writing. Here are some resources we've found that might be useful for you.

Work-Life Balance: Don't Let Your Dissertation Define You (Carleton University)

Books and E-Books in UBC Library