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Setting Goals & Staying Motivated 

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This vidcast talks about how to set goals and how to maintain motivation for long writing tasks. When setting goals for a writing project, it is important to think about goals for the entire project and also goals for specific writing times. These latter goals should be specific, measurable, and manageable within the time allotted for writing. The section on motivation shares ideas for boosting motivation over the course of a long writing project. The handouts on goal-setting and staying productive, as well as the scholarly writing inventory, complement the material in this vidcast and should be used in conjunction with it. 

Note: Closed-captioning and a full  transcript  are available for this vidcast. 


Goal-Setting for your Personal Intensive Writing Experience (IWE) | [PDF]

This handout guides writers through the important process of goal-setting for the personal Intensive Writing Experience. Specifically, it talks about how to (1) formulate specific, measurable, and reasonable writing goals, (2) set an overall IWE goal, (3) break up the overall goal into smaller, daily goals, and (4) break up daily goals into smaller goals for individual writing sessions. Writers are prompted to clear their head of distracting thoughts before each writing session and, after each session, to debrief on their progress and recalibrate goals as needed. 

Scholarly Writing Inventory (PDF) 

This questionnaire helps writers identify and inventory their personal strengths and weaknesses as scholarly writers. Specifically, writers are prompted to answer questions pertaining to (1) the emotional/psychological aspects of writing, (2) writing routines, (3) research, (4) organization, (5) citation, (6) mechanics, (7) social support, and (8) access to help. By completing this questionnaire, scholarly writers will find themselves in a better position to build upon their strengths and address their weaknesses. 

Stay ing Productive for Long Writing Tasks (PDF)

This resource offers some practical tips and tools to assist writers in staying productive for extended periods of time in the face of common challenges like procrastination. It discusses how the process of writing is more than putting words on a page and offers suggestions for addressing negative emotions towards writing, such as anxiety. The handout also lays out helpful methods for staying productive for long writing tasks: (1) time-based methods, (2) social-based methods, (3) output-based methods, (4) reward-based methods, and (5) mixed methods. 

8 Most Effective Ways to Increase Motivation for Thesis Writing 

thesis writing motivation

Writing a master’s or doctoral thesis is a tough job, and many students struggle with writer’s block and putting off work. The journey requires not just skill and knowledge but a sustained motivation for thesis writing. Here are eight essential strategies to help you find and maintain your motivation to write your thesis throughout the thesis writing process.

Know why you lack motivation

It’s important to understand whether you’re just avoiding writing (procrastination) or if you genuinely don’t feel interested in it (lack of motivation). Procrastination is when you delay writing even though you want to finish it, while a lack of motivation for thesis writing is when you have no interest in writing at all. Knowing the difference helps you find the right solution. Remember, not feeling motivated doesn’t mean you can’t write; it just might be less enjoyable.

Recognize external vs. internal motivation

In the early stages of your academic journey, things like job prospects or recognition may motivate you to write your thesis. These are external motivators. Over time, they might become less effective. That’s why it’s important to develop internal motivators, like a real passion for your topic, curiosity, or wanting to make a difference in your field. Shifting to these internal motivators can keep you energized about your thesis writing for a longer period.

Develop a writing plan

As you regularly spend time on your thesis, you’ll start to overcome any initial resistance. Planning and thinking about your work will make the next steps easier. You might find yourself working more than 20 minutes some days. As you progress, plan for longer thesis writing periods and set goals for completing each chapter.

Don’t overwhelm yourself

Getting stuck is normal in thesis or dissertation writing. Don’t view these challenges as impossible obstacles. If you’re frustrated or unsure, take a break for a few days. Then, consult your advisor or a mentor to discuss your challenges and find ways to move forward effectively.

Work on your thesis daily

Try to spend 15-20 minutes daily on tasks related to your thesis or dissertation. This includes reading, researching, outlining, and other preparatory activities. You can fit these tasks into short breaks throughout your day, like waiting for appointments, during commutes, or even while cooking.

Understand that thesis writing motivation changes

Realize that thesis writing motivation isn’t always the same; it changes over time. Your drive to write will vary with different stages of your research and life changes. Knowing that motivation can go up and down helps you adapt. When you feel less motivated, focus on small, doable parts of your work instead of big, intimidating goals.

Recharge your motivation regularly

Just like you need to rest and eat well to keep your body energized, your motivation for thesis writing needs to be refreshed too. Do things that boost your mental and creative energy. This could be talking with colleagues, attending workshops, or engaging in hobbies that relax you. Stay aware of your motivation levels and take action to rejuvenate them. This way, you can avoid burnout and keep a consistent pace in your thesis work.

Keep encouraging yourself

Repeating encouraging phrases like “I will finish my thesis by year’s end” or “I’ll complete a lot of work this week” can really help. Saying these affirmations regularly can focus your energy and keep you on track with your thesis writing motivation .

Remember, the amount you write can vary each day. Some days you might write a lot, and other days less. The key is to keep writing, even if it’s just rough ideas or jumbled thoughts. Don’t let the need for perfection stop you. Listening to podcasts where researchers talk about their writing experiences can also be inspiring and motivate you in your writing journey.

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Maximizing Motivation During Dissertation Writing

Maximizing Motivation During Dissertation Writing

I. Introduction to Dissertation Writing

Dissertation writing is a challenging process, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. This guide will help you with the preparation and actual writing of your dissertation, providing useful advice on how to structure and organize your work as well as maintaining focus throughout what may seem like an overwhelming project.

Things You Should Know About Dissertation Writing:

  • It’s essential that you select a research topic that interests you personally; this will make researching much more enjoyable.

Your dissertation supervisor should act as a mentor throughout the process – from literature review through statistical analysis all the way up until submission. They are there to offer guidance on developing ideas, setting achievable goals for progress, formatting correctly according to academic conventions and improving overall quality.

II. Strategies for Maximizing Motivation

In order to maximize motivation, it is important to employ effective strategies. These can include setting clear and specific goals, using positive feedback loops, focusing on intrinsic rewards, establishing a supportive environment and leveraging technology.

  • Setting Goals: Setting both long-term and short-term goals that are clearly defined contributes significantly towards increased levels of motivation. Breaking longer objectives into smaller tasks makes them more achievable and provides the feeling of accomplishment as each milestone is hit.
  • Positive Feedback Loops: Providing timely reinforcement for completed milestones encourages greater engagement with tasks. Positive feedback also acts as recognition for hard work which further increases morale.

III. Establishing Realistic Goals and Expectations

When it comes to goal setting, one must consider their individual limitations and capabilities. It is important to determine what you can realistically achieve within a given timeframe in order for your goals to remain achievable. For example, if you are taking on too many projects simultaneously or have limited resources available, then it is important that these factors be taken into consideration when establishing the timeline and objectives of each task.

Additionally, having realistic expectations should also be considered when determining how long the project will take. It is best not only create reasonable benchmarks but also outline any potential obstacles or challenges that may arise throughout its execution; this will help reduce possible frustrations along the way.

  • Be mindful of personal skillset
  • Define tasks with reasonable timelines

IV. Finding Sources of Inspiration and Support

In order to successfully manage challenging situations, finding sources of inspiration and support can be a valuable tool. There are many outlets available to find mental and emotional support, including:

  • Self-help books/guides
  • Internet resources such as blogs or websites related to the situation at hand.

Community Support Groups : Community based organizations connected with specific issues like bereavement, cancer patients, addiction recovery etc., offer an invaluable source of guidance. Some communities provide online message boards that allow anonymity which may help create a safe space for individuals who prefer not communicate in person. Additionally, there are confidential helplines that may offer useful advice when needed most. .

Seeking Professional Help : There is also the option of seeking professional help by visiting therapists and counselors who specialize in areas such as stress management or anger control. They often provide necessary guidance on how best handle life obstacles effectively while taking into consideration individual needs and preferences..

V. Implementing Effective Time Management Techniques

Time management techniques have the potential to increase productivity, enhance efficiency and optimize results. To effectively implement time management techniques in a workplace setting, it is important to understand how best to use them.

  • Set goals: Before implementing any system of organization for tasks or workloads, it is first necessary to set achievable objectives that can be easily tracked by employees. Goals should be specific and measurable so that progress can be monitored and changes in strategies as needed.
  • Prioritize: Once objectives are identified, they must then be prioritized into different categories depending on their importance or level of urgency. This will help workers focus on those tasks requiring immediate attention while also allowing time for activities with lower priority.

With clear vision , suitable planning , structured commitments and perseverance , effective implementation of Time Management Techniques ensures higher levels of performance .

VI. Crafting a Rewarding Reward System

A successful reward system should be designed to incentivize and recognize employees who consistently contribute towards the achievement of organizational goals. Employers need to consider both extrinsic effects, such as monetary rewards or other material benefits; and intrinsic ones, including recognition by senior management or extended autonomy.

There are several best practices for crafting rewarding reward systems:

  • Foster collaboration : Provide systematic incentives that reward employee engagement with one another beyond individual performance.
  • Stay up-to-date : Get feedback from employees on their preferences regarding rewards so that you can stay aware of what motivates them.
  • Make it meaningful : Select awards that have meaning for recipients and reflect an employer’s commitment to recognizing good work.

Ultimately, a well-executed reward system is key in motivating workplace collaborations and boosting employee morale—it serves as tangible proof of the company’s appreciation of its staff members’ hard work. To this end, organizations should strive to create robust incentive plans tailored around team-wide effort improvement initiatives while still providing personalized forms of recognition when appropriate.

VII. Coping with Challenges During the Process

Starting a new project can be both exciting and intimidating at the same time. During the process of any project, it is common to face unexpected difficulties that need to be addressed in an effective manner. Here are some useful tips for managing potential issues you may encounter:

  • Identify adaptability : Assess your ability to adjust your strategies based on changes in the environment or other obstacles.
  • Set achievable goals: It’s important to set realistic goals throughout all stages of the project so as not to get overwhelmed by unachievable expectations.

When meeting challenges during a project, effective communication is paramount. Maintaining open lines of dialogue with team members will help ensure everyone stays up-to-date on progress, tasks and deadlines. It also encourages everyone involved to come together as a collective unit when faced with difficulty. In conclusion, there are a variety of ways to maximize one’s motivation during dissertation writing. By developing awareness and adopting strategies in areas such as goal setting, environment design, self-care practices and time management it is possible for students to stay focused on their projects with the greatest degree of enthusiasm throughout the long process.

Stop Procrastinating to Complete Your Dissertation

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Are you an ABD (All-But-Dissertation) student? Doctoral dissertation looming over your head like an ominous black cloud? The dissertation is the most difficult and time-consuming academic requirement a doctoral student faces. It's way too easy to procrastinate and put off writing your dissertation under the guise, "I need to read more before I can write." Don't fall into that trap!

Don't let your dissertation drag you down. Stop your procrastination. Why do we procrastinate? Research suggests that students often procrastinate when they perceive the dissertation as an overwhelming task. Big surprise, huh? Motivation is the biggest problem that grad students face in writing the dissertation.

A Lonely Time

The dissertation is a time consuming and lonely process that usually takes about two years (and often longer). The dissertation often is a major blow to a graduate student's self-esteem. It is not uncommon to feel as if it's an insurmountable task that will never be completed.

Organization and Time Management are Key

The keys to completing the dissertation promptly are organization and time management. The lack of structure is the difficult part of the dissertation because the student's role is to plan, carry out, and write up a research project (sometimes several). A structure must be applied in order to complete this task.

One way of providing structure is to view the dissertation as a series of steps, rather than as one mammoth task. Motivation may be maintained and even enhanced as each small step is completed. Organization provides a sense of control, holds procrastination at minimal levels, and is key to completing the dissertation. How do you get organized?

Outline the small steps needed to complete this large project. All too often, students may feel that their only goal is to finish the thesis. A goal this large may feel indomitable; break it down into the component tasks. For example, at the proposal stage, the tasks may be organized as follows: thesis statement , literature review, method, plan for analyses. 

Each of these tasks entails many smaller tasks. The list for the literature review may consist of an outline of the topics you wish to discuss, with each outlined as detailed as possible. You may even wish to list relevant articles in the appropriate places within the outline. The method will consist of the participants, including items on locating them, rewards, drafting informed consent forms, locating measures, describing psychometric properties of the measures, piloting measures, drafting the procedure, etc.

The hardest parts of writing your dissertation is starting and staying on track. So how do you write your dissertation? Read on for tips on how to write your dissertation and successfully complete your graduate program .

Start Anywhere

In terms of completing your list of dissertation tasks, it is not necessary to start at the beginning. In fact, believing that one starts the dissertation proposal by writing his or her introduction and thesis and ends with the plan for analyses will detain progress. Begin where you feel comfortable and fill in the gaps. You will find that you gain momentum with the completion of each small task. Feeling overwhelmed by any particular task is a sign that you have not broken it down into small enough pieces.

Make Consistent Progress Writing Every Day, Even if Only for a Short Period.

Set aside periods of time to write on a regular basis. Establish a firm schedule. Train yourself to write in short blocks, for at least an hour a day. All too often we insist that we need large blocks of time to write. Blocks of time certainly help the writing process, but the ABD often lacks such resources. 

For example, when we were writing the dissertation, we taught 5 classes as an adjunct at 4 different schools; blocks of time were difficult to find, other than over the weekend. Aside from pragmatics, writing at least a little every day keeps the thesis topic fresh in your mind, leaving you open to new ideas and interpretations. You may even find yourself thinking about it and making conceptual progress as you complete mundane tasks such as driving to and from school and work.

Use Incentives to Assist You in Overcoming Procrastination.

Writing requires consistent, well-organized effort and a system of self-imposed incentives to overcome procrastination . What kind of incentives work? Although it depends on the individual, a safe bet is taking time off from work. We found vegetation time such as time spent playing computer games to be helpful as an incentive to reinforce progress.

Methodically Break Through Writer's Block.

When it is difficult to write, talk through your ideas to anyone who will listen, or just talk out loud to yourself. Write out your thoughts without criticizing them. Take time to warm up, by writing to clear your thoughts. Get the ideas out without scrutinizing each sentence; it is often easier to edit than it is to write.

Work through your ideas by writing, THEN edit extensively. You will write many drafts of each section of the dissertation; a first (second, or even third) draft need not approach perfection. In addition, it is acceptable to use dashes to mark when you cannot find the appropriate word to express your idea, but want to go on; just remember to fill in the dashes later. The important thing is that you develop a pattern of producing some output regularly that output can be edited or even thrown out, but it is important to produce something.

Recognize and Accept the Fact That Writing Is a Time-consuming Process. Don't Rush Yourself.

No draft will be perfect that first time around. Expect to go through several drafts of each section of your dissertation. Once you feel comfortable with a particular section, take time away from it. Ask others to read your writing and consider their comments and criticisms with an open mind. After a few days or a week, reread the section and edit again; you may be quite surprised by the impact of a fresh perspective.

Writing the dissertation is much like running a marathon. The seemingly insurmountable may be attained through a series of small goals and deadlines. Accomplishing each small goal may provide additional momentum. Make consistent progress each day, use incentives to assist you in attaining your goals, and acknowledge that the dissertation will require time, hard work, and patience. Finally, consider the words of Dag Hammarskjold: "Never measure the height of a mountain, until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was."

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Use the 15-Minute Rule to Progress Your Dissertation or Thesis – It Works!

The “15-minute rule” is one of my favorite motivation and productivity strategies. Bolker (1998) recommended that students begin by writing for an absolute minimum of 10 minutes everyday and then expand to 15 minutes and then to longer periods of time. Bolker suggested that students make a commitment that no matter what, they will absolutely write for 10 minutes a day. Bolker said, “anyone can write for 10 minutes a day, particularly if one is freewriting” (p. 41). I usually recommend that students work for a minimum of 15 minutes but the number is somewhat arbitrary so long as it is enough time to help you get warmed up to working on your dissertation.

Making the transition on a daily basis from not being engaged in dissertation work to actually sitting down and putting words on a page, analyzing data, reading, etc. can be very tough. Many people find that committing to dissertation work for a relatively short amount of time such as 15 minutes makes it easier to make the transition to a meaningful work session. The 15-minute rule means that you commit every day (at least the days you plan to work) to work for at least 15 minutes no matter what. Here is how it works. You commit to working on any relevant part of your dissertation for an absolute minimum of 15 minutes. I recommend setting a timer if possible. Some of my clients actually buy an egg timer at the supermarket or use a sports watch as their 15-minute rule dissertation timer. You set the timer and then start working. If you are writing, write with abandon, letting go of concerns about sentence structure, flow, spelling, or grammar. You just write your ideas as they come out of your head. If negative critical voices pop in your head you can write down what they have to say. If you extraneous thoughts pop into your head, write them down too with the aim of getting back to your dissertation and staying on task as much as possible. When the 15 minutes is over, you can stop and highlight what you want to keep and the rest you will ignore. Or you can keep going if you are so inspired. Often, my clients tell me that once the 15 minutes are over, they feel “warmed up” to writing and it is easier to continue. A short period of forced writing, where you commit to writing no matter how much you do not feel like working, can often get you over the motivational hump and lead to a productive writing session. Sometimes, students need several planned 15-minute periods in a day to help them stay on course as motivation and energy because writing ebbs and flows throughout the day for most writers.

The 15-minute rule can be a great way to deal with the basic fact that warming up dissertation work can be unpleasant. No matter how detailed your action plan and timelines or how inspired you felt the night before, when you wake up in the morning you may feel like a thick fog of apathy rolled in during your sleep. The next thing you know, hours, even days go by and you have completed little or no meaningful work. Inspiration and motivation rarely come from inaction. Every day you intend to work but do nothing puts you at risk of becoming disengaged from your dissertation and makes it that much harder to get started in your next work session. It is often the act of writing, making discoveries, articulating and connecting ideas, or analyzing data or sources that will inspire and motivate you.

Am I saying that you need to work first before you are motivated and inspired? Yes. Sure there are times when you are rearing to go first thing in the morning. But if you wait for those days to just happen to you, your dissertation may to take a long time to complete. I suggest that you commit to working a minimum of 15 minutes two to three times a day as a way to get your intellectual juices flowing and to motivate yourself when you are struggling to work consistently. Staying connected to your dissertation, outlines, ideas, argument, intellectual quandaries, data, what you have written, and what you hope to write on a regular basis are important ways to keep the fires of motivation and inspiration alive. Do your best to write or do other dissertation work for at least 15 minutes. When the 15 minutes is over, push yourself to go for 5, 10, or 15 more. Stretch out the work for as long as you can. Then plan another 15-minute session later in the day and repeat your efforts to stretch the work session longer. If you consistently engage in the 15-minute rule, you will likely be able to work for longer periods of time on a regular basis.


Bolker. J. (1998). Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day. New York, NY: Henry Holt

This article was written by Alison Miller, PhD, owner of The Dissertation Coach, a business dedicated to helping doctoral and master’s students successfully earn their graduate degrees.

Copyright August 2007 by Alison Miller, Ph.D., The Dissertation Coach

How To Be A Productive & Motivated Graduate Student

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  • Write Beginner Drafts to Make Writing Happen
  • Learn to Let Go of Perfectionism
  • Maintain a Rational, Positive Outlook
  • Learn to Better Tolerate Ambiguity
  • Stop Competing with Others
  • Make Your Dissertation Your Priority
  • Use the 15-Minute Rule to Progress Your Dissertation or Thesis – It Works!
  • Plan Small Actions to Start the Day
  • Make the Transition Into Your Work
  • Get Set Up For Each Work Day
  • Manage Your Work Environment
  • Minimize Distractions
  • Increase Your Sense of Accountability
  • Read Other Dissertations
  • Conduct an “Email Intervention”
  • Push Through
  • Seek Support
  • Revise With A Strategy
  • Back Up Your Work
  • Take Good Care of Yourself
  • Acknowlede Yourself & Your Accomplishments Along the Way

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dissertation writing motivation

How to keep motivated when working on your dissertation or final project

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Is your summer filled with research and writing rather than relaxing? Motivation for a long-term project can be challenging to maintain, especially when it feels like everyone else in on a break. So we’ve put together our top tips on keeping motivated when writing your dissertation.

Write something every (work)day

On the days when you plan to work, aim to write a set number of words a day without fail. Giving yourself this target will do wonders to keep yourself motivated, slowly seeing yourself finishing up section after section while nearing the word count will give you an immense sense of progress. You can always go back and edit, but getting the words down is often the hardest part.

Plan your working hours throughout the day

Doing a 10 hour shift without any objective may seem like a productive session because of all the hours you’ve done but in reality it isn’t. Instead, work out what you want to achieve each day and break your day down into sessions. Give yourself a time in which you’ll get a certain task done. Depending what you want to achieve that day you might have one session, or you might have three if you’re really busy.

Forcing yourself to work in designated time slots with specific aims will help you be more productive (and give you time to do other things too).

Take a proper break/ do other things

Taking a break could be the best thing to get your motivation back. Try taking a walk outside if the weather is nice,meet your friends in the park, or switch off and enjoy some well-deserved Netflix – you won’t regret it and you’ll feel even more recharged for your next bit of work.

Find study partners

In many cases, having a study partner(s) will keep you motivated and accountable to each other to keep going. Additionally, having someone else read your work could help identify any mistakes you missed.

Partnering up with someone who is committed as you will also make your study sessions go faster.

Create a progress chart

One of the most demotivating things is the feeling of putting the hard work in without seeing any return.

By tracking your efforts, the progress chart will remind you of where you are doing well and where you need to focus more. It could be a visual reminder that you are moving in the right direction. Do this however suits you – tick off a to do list, something bright and colourful – whatever will make you feel that sense of achievement as you progress.

Take a look at MLE courses on over summer and our pieces on  writing productively,   and  proofreading  for more advice. 

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Writing Motivation in School: a Systematic Review of Empirical Research in the Early Twenty-First Century

  • Review Article
  • Published: 19 June 2020
  • Volume 33 , pages 213–247, ( 2021 )

Cite this article

  • Ana Camacho   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5328-966X 1 ,
  • Rui A. Alves   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-1657-8945 1 &
  • Pietro Boscolo 2  

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Motivation is a catalyst of writing performance in school. In this article, we report a systematic review of empirical studies on writing motivation conducted in school settings, published between 2000 and 2018 in peer-reviewed journals. We aimed to (1) examine how motivational constructs have been defined in writing research; (2) analyze group differences in writing motivation; (3) unveil effects of motivation on writing performance; (4) gather evidence on teaching practices supporting writing motivation; and (5) examine the impact of digital tools on writing motivation. Through database and hand searches, we located 82 articles that met eligibility criteria. Articles were written in English, focused on students in grades 1–12, and included at least one quantitative or qualitative measure of writing motivation. Across the 82 studies, 24 motivation-related constructs were identified. In 46% of the cases, these constructs were unclearly defined or not defined. Studies showed that overall girls were more motivated to write than boys. Most studies indicated moderate positive associations between motivation and writing performance measures. Authors also examined how students’ writing motivation was influenced by teaching practices, such as handwriting instruction, self-regulated strategy development instruction, and collaborative writing. Digital tools were found to have a positive effect on motivation. Based on this review, we suggest that to move the field forward, researchers need to accurately define motivational constructs; give further attention to understudied motivational constructs; examine both individual and contextual factors; conduct longitudinal studies; identify evidence-based practices that could inform professional development programs for teachers; and test long-term effects of digital tools.

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*Troia, G. A., Harbaugh, A. G., Shankland, R. K., Wolbers, K. A., & Lawrence, A. M. (2013). Relationships between writing motivation, writing activity, and writing performance: Effects of grade, sex, and ability. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 26 (1), 17–44. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-012-9379-2 .

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The authors would like to thank Steve Graham and Hilde Van Keer for invaluable comments on earlier versions of this article. The authors thank also Mariana Silva for contributing to the study quality assessment.

This work was supported by a grant attributed to the first author from the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (grant SFRH/BD/116281/2016).

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Camacho, A., Alves, R.A. & Boscolo, P. Writing Motivation in School: a Systematic Review of Empirical Research in the Early Twenty-First Century. Educ Psychol Rev 33 , 213–247 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-020-09530-4

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What Is a Dissertation? | Guide, Examples, & Template

Structure of a Dissertation

A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program.

Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you’ve ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating to know where to begin.

Your department likely has guidelines related to how your dissertation should be structured. When in doubt, consult with your supervisor.

You can also download our full dissertation template in the format of your choice below. The template includes a ready-made table of contents with notes on what to include in each chapter, easily adaptable to your department’s requirements.

Download Word template Download Google Docs template

  • In the US, a dissertation generally refers to the collection of research you conducted to obtain a PhD.
  • In other countries (such as the UK), a dissertation often refers to the research you conduct to obtain your bachelor’s or master’s degree.

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Table of contents

Dissertation committee and prospectus process, how to write and structure a dissertation, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your dissertation, free checklist and lecture slides.

When you’ve finished your coursework, as well as any comprehensive exams or other requirements, you advance to “ABD” (All But Dissertation) status. This means you’ve completed everything except your dissertation.

Prior to starting to write, you must form your committee and write your prospectus or proposal . Your committee comprises your adviser and a few other faculty members. They can be from your own department, or, if your work is more interdisciplinary, from other departments. Your committee will guide you through the dissertation process, and ultimately decide whether you pass your dissertation defense and receive your PhD.

Your prospectus is a formal document presented to your committee, usually orally in a defense, outlining your research aims and objectives and showing why your topic is relevant . After passing your prospectus defense, you’re ready to start your research and writing.

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dissertation writing motivation

The structure of your dissertation depends on a variety of factors, such as your discipline, topic, and approach. Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an overall argument to support a central thesis , with chapters organized around different themes or case studies.

However, hard science and social science dissertations typically include a review of existing works, a methodology section, an analysis of your original research, and a presentation of your results , presented in different chapters.

Dissertation examples

We’ve compiled a list of dissertation examples to help you get started.

  • Example dissertation #1: Heat, Wildfire and Energy Demand: An Examination of Residential Buildings and Community Equity (a dissertation by C. A. Antonopoulos about the impact of extreme heat and wildfire on residential buildings and occupant exposure risks).
  • Example dissertation #2: Exploring Income Volatility and Financial Health Among Middle-Income Households (a dissertation by M. Addo about income volatility and declining economic security among middle-income households).
  • Example dissertation #3: The Use of Mindfulness Meditation to Increase the Efficacy of Mirror Visual Feedback for Reducing Phantom Limb Pain in Amputees (a dissertation by N. S. Mills about the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on the relationship between mirror visual feedback and the pain level in amputees with phantom limb pain).

The very first page of your document contains your dissertation title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo.

Read more about title pages

The acknowledgements section is usually optional and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you. In some cases, your acknowledgements are part of a preface.

Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces

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The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150 to 300 words long. Though this may seem very short, it’s one of the most important parts of your dissertation, because it introduces your work to your audience.

Your abstract should:

  • State your main topic and the aims of your research
  • Describe your methods
  • Summarize your main results
  • State your conclusions

Read more about abstracts

The table of contents lists all of your chapters, along with corresponding subheadings and page numbers. This gives your reader an overview of your structure and helps them easily navigate your document.

Remember to include all main parts of your dissertation in your table of contents, even the appendices. It’s easy to generate a table automatically in Word if you used heading styles. Generally speaking, you only include level 2 and level 3 headings, not every subheading you included in your finished work.

Read more about tables of contents

While not usually mandatory, it’s nice to include a list of figures and tables to help guide your reader if you have used a lot of these in your dissertation. It’s easy to generate one of these in Word using the Insert Caption feature.

Read more about lists of figures and tables

Similarly, if you have used a lot of abbreviations (especially industry-specific ones) in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.

Read more about lists of abbreviations

In addition to the list of abbreviations, if you find yourself using a lot of highly specialized terms that you worry will not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary. Here, alphabetize the terms and include a brief description or definition.

Read more about glossaries

The introduction serves to set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance. It tells the reader what to expect in the rest of your dissertation. The introduction should:

  • Establish your research topic , giving the background information needed to contextualize your work
  • Narrow down the focus and define the scope of your research
  • Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
  • Clearly state your research questions and objectives
  • Outline the flow of the rest of your work

Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant. By the end, the reader should understand the what, why, and how of your research.

Read more about introductions

A formative part of your research is your literature review . This helps you gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic.

Literature reviews encompass:

  • Finding relevant sources (e.g., books and journal articles)
  • Assessing the credibility of your sources
  • Critically analyzing and evaluating each source
  • Drawing connections between them (e.g., themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps) to strengthen your overall point

A literature review is not merely a summary of existing sources. Your literature review should have a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear justification for your own research. It may aim to:

  • Address a gap in the literature or build on existing knowledge
  • Take a new theoretical or methodological approach to your topic
  • Propose a solution to an unresolved problem or advance one side of a theoretical debate

Read more about literature reviews

Theoretical framework

Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework. Here, you define and analyze the key theories, concepts, and models that frame your research.

Read more about theoretical frameworks

Your methodology chapter describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to critically assess its credibility. Your methodology section should accurately report what you did, as well as convince your reader that this was the best way to answer your research question.

A methodology section should generally include:

  • The overall research approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative ) and research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment )
  • Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
  • Any tools and materials you used (e.g., computer programs, lab equipment)
  • Your data analysis methods (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
  • An evaluation or justification of your methods

Read more about methodology sections

Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses , or themes, but avoid including any subjective or speculative interpretation here.

Your results section should:

  • Concisely state each relevant result together with relevant descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
  • Briefly state how the result relates to the question or whether the hypothesis was supported
  • Report all results that are relevant to your research questions , including any that did not meet your expectations.

Additional data (including raw numbers, full questionnaires, or interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix. You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results. Read more about results sections

Your discussion section is your opportunity to explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research question. Here, interpret your results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. Refer back to relevant source material to show how your results fit within existing research in your field.

Some guiding questions include:

  • What do your results mean?
  • Why do your results matter?
  • What limitations do the results have?

If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data.

Read more about discussion sections

Your dissertation’s conclusion should concisely answer your main research question, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your central argument and emphasizing what your research has contributed to the field.

In some disciplines, the conclusion is just a short section preceding the discussion section, but in other contexts, it is the final chapter of your work. Here, you wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you found, with recommendations for future research and concluding remarks.

It’s important to leave the reader with a clear impression of why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known? Why is your research necessary for the future of your field?

Read more about conclusions

It is crucial to include a reference list or list of works cited with the full details of all the sources that you used, in order to avoid plagiarism. Be sure to choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your dissertation. Each style has strict and specific formatting requirements.

Common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA , but which style you use is often set by your department or your field.

Create APA citations Create MLA citations

Your dissertation should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents such as interview transcripts or survey questions can be added as appendices, rather than adding them to the main body.

Read more about appendices

Making sure that all of your sections are in the right place is only the first step to a well-written dissertation. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for editing and proofreading, as grammar mistakes and sloppy spelling errors can really negatively impact your work.

Dissertations can take up to five years to write, so you will definitely want to make sure that everything is perfect before submitting. You may want to consider using a professional dissertation editing service , AI proofreader or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect prior to submitting.

After your written dissertation is approved, your committee will schedule a defense. Similarly to defending your prospectus, dissertation defenses are oral presentations of your work. You’ll present your dissertation, and your committee will ask you questions. Many departments allow family members, friends, and other people who are interested to join as well.

After your defense, your committee will meet, and then inform you whether you have passed. Keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality; most committees will have resolved any serious issues with your work with you far prior to your defense, giving you ample time to fix any problems.

As you write your dissertation, you can use this simple checklist to make sure you’ve included all the essentials.

Checklist: Dissertation

My title page includes all information required by my university.

I have included acknowledgements thanking those who helped me.

My abstract provides a concise summary of the dissertation, giving the reader a clear idea of my key results or arguments.

I have created a table of contents to help the reader navigate my dissertation. It includes all chapter titles, but excludes the title page, acknowledgements, and abstract.

My introduction leads into my topic in an engaging way and shows the relevance of my research.

My introduction clearly defines the focus of my research, stating my research questions and research objectives .

My introduction includes an overview of the dissertation’s structure (reading guide).

I have conducted a literature review in which I (1) critically engage with sources, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of existing research, (2) discuss patterns, themes, and debates in the literature, and (3) address a gap or show how my research contributes to existing research.

I have clearly outlined the theoretical framework of my research, explaining the theories and models that support my approach.

I have thoroughly described my methodology , explaining how I collected data and analyzed data.

I have concisely and objectively reported all relevant results .

I have (1) evaluated and interpreted the meaning of the results and (2) acknowledged any important limitations of the results in my discussion .

I have clearly stated the answer to my main research question in the conclusion .

I have clearly explained the implications of my conclusion, emphasizing what new insight my research has contributed.

I have provided relevant recommendations for further research or practice.

If relevant, I have included appendices with supplemental information.

I have included an in-text citation every time I use words, ideas, or information from a source.

I have listed every source in a reference list at the end of my dissertation.

I have consistently followed the rules of my chosen citation style .

I have followed all formatting guidelines provided by my university.


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Resources for Dissertation Writing

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  • Formatting and Submitting Your Dissertation
  • Tips: Making Progress, Staying Well, and More!

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

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.

  • Chronicle Vitae's "no-fail secret" to writing a dissertation (hint: it's writing)

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.

  • Inside Higher Education series on Overcoming Academic Perfectionism
  • Psychology Today on Grad Students and Perfectionism
  • The Public Library of Science (PLoS) Early Career Researcher Blog on Anxiety and Perfectionism in Academia
  • University Affairs' Career Advice column on Combating Perfectionism


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!

  • The American Psychological Association website has an essay on dissertation procrastination you should read (but not to avoid writing!).
  • GradHacker has a recent post on cutting down on "monkey mind" (jumping around between many different tasks or thoughts).

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.

  • The American Psychological Association website has tips from grad students and procrastination experts on better managing your time .
  • GradHacker has a recent (Sept. 2017) post on re-thinking how much you commit yourself to doing during the dissertation-writing process.

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)

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How to Write a Dissertation | A Guide to Structure & Content

A dissertation or thesis is a long piece of academic writing based on original research, submitted as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

The structure of a dissertation depends on your field, but it is usually divided into at least four or five chapters (including an introduction and conclusion chapter).

The most common dissertation structure in the sciences and social sciences includes:

  • An introduction to your topic
  • A literature review that surveys relevant sources
  • An explanation of your methodology
  • An overview of the results of your research
  • A discussion of the results and their implications
  • A conclusion that shows what your research has contributed

Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an argument by analysing primary and secondary sources . Instead of the standard structure outlined here, you might organise your chapters around different themes or case studies.

Other important elements of the dissertation include the title page , abstract , and reference list . If in doubt about how your dissertation should be structured, always check your department’s guidelines and consult with your supervisor.

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Table of contents

Acknowledgements, table of contents, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review / theoretical framework, methodology, reference list.

The very first page of your document contains your dissertation’s title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo. Many programs have strict requirements for formatting the dissertation title page .

The title page is often used as cover when printing and binding your dissertation .

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The acknowledgements section is usually optional, and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you.

The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150-300 words long. You should write it at the very end, when you’ve completed the rest of the dissertation. In the abstract, make sure to:

  • State the main topic and aims of your research
  • Describe the methods you used
  • Summarise the main results
  • State your conclusions

Although the abstract is very short, it’s the first part (and sometimes the only part) of your dissertation that people will read, so it’s important that you get it right. If you’re struggling to write a strong abstract, read our guide on how to write an abstract .

In the table of contents, list all of your chapters and subheadings and their page numbers. The dissertation contents page gives the reader an overview of your structure and helps easily navigate the document.

All parts of your dissertation should be included in the table of contents, including the appendices. You can generate a table of contents automatically in Word.

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

If you have used a lot of tables and figures in your dissertation, you should itemise them in a numbered list . You can automatically generate this list using the Insert Caption feature in Word.

If you have used a lot of abbreviations in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetised list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.

If you have used a lot of highly specialised terms that will not be familiar to your reader, it might be a good idea to include a glossary . List the terms alphabetically and explain each term with a brief description or definition.

In the introduction, you set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance, and tell the reader what to expect in the rest of the dissertation. The introduction should:

  • Establish your research topic , giving necessary background information to contextualise your work
  • Narrow down the focus and define the scope of the research
  • Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
  • Clearly state your objectives and research questions , and indicate how you will answer them
  • Give an overview of your dissertation’s structure

Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant to your research. By the end, the reader should understand the what , why and how of your research. Not sure how? Read our guide on how to write a dissertation introduction .

Before you start on your research, you should have conducted a literature review to gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic. This means:

  • Collecting sources (e.g. books and journal articles) and selecting the most relevant ones
  • Critically evaluating and analysing each source
  • Drawing connections between them (e.g. themes, patterns, conflicts, gaps) to make an overall point

In the dissertation literature review chapter or section, you shouldn’t just summarise existing studies, but develop a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear basis or justification for your own research. For example, it might aim to show how your research:

  • Addresses a gap in the literature
  • Takes a new theoretical or methodological approach to the topic
  • Proposes a solution to an unresolved problem
  • Advances a theoretical debate
  • Builds on and strengthens existing knowledge with new data

The literature review often becomes the basis for a theoretical framework , in which you define and analyse the key theories, concepts and models that frame your research. In this section you can answer descriptive research questions about the relationship between concepts or variables.

The methodology chapter or section describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to assess its validity. You should generally include:

  • The overall approach and type of research (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, experimental, ethnographic)
  • Your methods of collecting data (e.g. interviews, surveys, archives)
  • Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
  • Your methods of analysing data (e.g. statistical analysis, discourse analysis)
  • Tools and materials you used (e.g. computer programs, lab equipment)
  • A discussion of any obstacles you faced in conducting the research and how you overcame them
  • An evaluation or justification of your methods

Your aim in the methodology is to accurately report what you did, as well as convincing the reader that this was the best approach to answering your research questions or objectives.

Next, you report the results of your research . You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses, or topics. Only report results that are relevant to your objectives and research questions. In some disciplines, the results section is strictly separated from the discussion, while in others the two are combined.

For example, for qualitative methods like in-depth interviews, the presentation of the data will often be woven together with discussion and analysis, while in quantitative and experimental research, the results should be presented separately before you discuss their meaning. If you’re unsure, consult with your supervisor and look at sample dissertations to find out the best structure for your research.

In the results section it can often be helpful to include tables, graphs and charts. Think carefully about how best to present your data, and don’t include tables or figures that just repeat what you have written  –  they should provide extra information or usefully visualise the results in a way that adds value to your text.

Full versions of your data (such as interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix .

The discussion  is where you explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research questions. Here you should interpret the results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data and discuss any limitations that might have influenced the results.

The discussion should reference other scholarly work to show how your results fit with existing knowledge. You can also make recommendations for future research or practical action.

The dissertation conclusion should concisely answer the main research question, leaving the reader with a clear understanding of your central argument. Wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you did and how you did it. The conclusion often also includes recommendations for research or practice.

In this section, it’s important to show how your findings contribute to knowledge in the field and why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known?

You must include full details of all sources that you have cited in a reference list (sometimes also called a works cited list or bibliography). It’s important to follow a consistent reference style . Each style has strict and specific requirements for how to format your sources in the reference list.

The most common styles used in UK universities are Harvard referencing and Vancouver referencing . Your department will often specify which referencing style you should use – for example, psychology students tend to use APA style , humanities students often use MHRA , and law students always use OSCOLA . M ake sure to check the requirements, and ask your supervisor if you’re unsure.

To save time creating the reference list and make sure your citations are correctly and consistently formatted, you can use our free APA Citation Generator .

Your dissertation itself should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents you have used that do not fit into the main body of your dissertation (such as interview transcripts, survey questions or tables with full figures) can be added as appendices .

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dissertation writing motivation

Finding and Maintaining your Motivation during the Dissertation Process

25th August 2022

dissertation writing motivation

Most people writing a dissertation have heard the comparisons to a “marathon, not a sprint.” While that’s not wrong, sometimes that’s not entirely helpful, either. Yes, it is a test of perseverance and dedication, of endurance and prolonged concentration and effort. You might feel, at multiple points throughout the process, that you want to give up, that you just can’t do it anymore – and then somehow find the energy to keep moving forward. Consistently finding motivation can be tricky, though. Here at Thesis Editor , we know this, since we’ve all been there. All of us have completed a major thesis or dissertation, and know firsthand the struggles and triumphs of the dissertation process. We have dissertation coaches on our team who can assist you with writer’s block, help you organize your research and writing, and provide guidance if you’re stuck. We know what it’s like, and recognize that the struggle is, indeed, real. Here are five tried-and-true tips and tricks to stay motivated while writing your dissertation.

  • Keep moving forward. When you go to bed every night, make sure your dissertation is longer than it was when you woke up that morning. Even if it’s a few sentences per day to start with, that adds up over time.
  • Partner up. Find a classmate to hold you accountable, and agree to call or text each other every day with word count updates. If you don’t have a classmate you can buddy up with, tell your partner, a family member, or a trusted friend whom you KNOW will be a reliable person who will contact you every day for the writing update. Make your goals known to family and friends and encourage them to ask you specifics about your work. Having people to answer to will hold your feet to the flames and keep you going.
  • There’s an app for that. Check out websites like com or Academic Writing Club , as well as apps like WriteChain, Write on Track, and WriteOMeter. These all let you see your progress, set writing and word count goals, and help to hold you accountable.
  • Treat yourself. For each milestone you reach, do something nice for yourself, completely unrelated to your dissertation. A cupcake, going to see a movie, get a new book, take a day off – something to recharge you for the next hurdle.
  • Get some sleep. Yes, sleep! It might feel like you need to pull a bunch of all-nighters or late nights to get everything done, but a lack of sleep can actually interfere with productivity . If you’ve been staying up late, caffeine might keep you awake during the day, but it’s no substitute for sleep and rest. Try taking a 20-minute power nap, or going to bed earlier.

Motivation at the computer

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Table of Contents

  • 1. Don't Confuse Motivation with Passion

2. Outline First

3. create small, attainable goals, 4. make it a daily practice.

  • 5. Don't Be Perfect—Vomit on the Page

6. Focus on the Reader

7. practice self-care, 8. announce the book, 9. recognize and face your fear, 9 ways to boost your writing motivation (that actually work).

dissertation writing motivation

No one wakes up every single day with the motivation to write —not even Authors with major bestsellers under their belt (like me).

There will be days when you simply don’t feel like staring at a blank page.

As someone who’s been there, here’s my writing advice : push through and do it anyway.

Even on the days when you don’t feel like it. Otherwise, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of procrastination.

One day of “not feeling like writing” can easily turn into 2, then 10…until eventually, you give up entirely.

I’ve seen so many Authors give up the first, second, or even third time they tried to write a book—mostly because they lost their motivation and gave in to procrastination or fear.

If you want to publish a book , you have to dig deep and find the motivation to write every single day. Even if it’s terrible. Even if you hate it.

The only way to become a better writer—and to finish your book—is to push through those hard moments.

Here are 9 proven ways to motivate yourself to write—even when you don’t want to.

9 Proven Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write

1. don’t confuse motivation with passion.

Forget everything you’ve ever learned about writing “out of passion.” If you wait to feel passionate about what you’re writing, you’ll never finish writing your book.

You can’t rely on passion. It comes and goes too easily. You’re not going to feel passionate every single day.

The same goes for writing inspiration. There’s rarely a bolt of lightning that makes the words flow.

Writing is hard. That’s why a lot of aspiring Authors give up before they’ve finished their first draft.

Motivation doesn’t always mean loving what you’re doing. Sometimes it means digging your heels in and just doing it.

For example, I don’t always love going to the gym, but I do it anyway. And in the end, I’m glad I did (after I’m done).

Don’t confuse passion for motivation.

It’s okay to write when you don’t “feel motivated” if what you really mean is, “I’m not stoked about doing this right now.”

You don’t have to be stoked about it. You just have to start writing.

If you feel passionate, that’s great. But don’t expect more of yourself than necessary.

If you’re writing, you’re motivated. Period. You’re doing it.

At its core, writing is just communicating ideas. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.

Of course, you want the ideas you capture to be relevant to your book. That’s why you should always outline first—so you can capture all your ideas about a specific section before you move on to the next one.

Then, when you do sit down to write, you’ll already have all the relevant ideas gathered. That makes things a lot easier.

An outline is also your greatest defense against fear and writers’ block . It’s a lot harder to get stuck when you’ve got a roadmap guiding the way.

Scribe’s suggested outline is different from the one you might have learned in school. It’s not a bullet point list of every step of the argument.

We’ve found that traditional outlines aren’t flexible enough for most Authors. Plus, sometimes, you can’t get to that level of detail until you’re actually in the middle of writing.

What makes our outline different is that it’s designed specifically to help you write your book.

In fact, our writing process has helped thousands of Authors write successful nonfiction books. It works.

All it takes is 3 simple steps:

  • Brainstorm your chapters
  • Make a table of contents
  • Fill in the outline structure with your chapter’s hook, thesis, supporting content, stories and examples, key takeaways, and a callback to the hook.

If you want a template or more details, you can find them here .

Once you see your book in outline form, writing it will seem easier.

Conceptually, you’re not writing a whole book anymore. You’re looking at a clear collection of ideas and stories, most of which are already in your head.

You’ll be more motivated to write once you’ve broken your book into manageable pieces. It’s easier to climb a mountain when you take it one step at a time.

The reason an outline is so powerful is that it helps you see your book in terms of smaller, more attainable goals. You should do the same with all of your writing goals.

Many people start out thinking, “I have to write as much as possible.” Or, they set a high word count goal, like 1,000 words per day. And when they don’t reach those goals, they get disappointed. They feel like a failure.

That’s the worst way to motivate yourself to write.

With large goals, it’s easy to get intimidated (that’s usually when writer’s block sets in). But attainable goals make it easier to get over that hump.

Remember, motivation has nothing to do with passion. If you’re writing at all , you’re already motivated.

You don’t have to go overboard and shoot for the moon just to show you’re passionate about your book. When people do that, it’s usually because they’re trying to prove something to themselves.

You won’t prove anything by setting unattainable goals.

Rewire your brain and think small. Set goals that will set you up for success.

I recommend writing 250 words per day. That word count is low enough to be easily achievable. It leaves you with no excuses.

You could write 250 words on your phone between meetings. You could even dictate 250 words to your phone while you’re in the shower.

If you do end up writing more than 250 words, that’s great. Keep going as long as you want.

But if it’s one of those days where writing feels like a slog, you can still meet that word count and avoid being disappointed with yourself.

It’s more important to be consistent with writing than to have epic writing sessions.

When I was writing full-time, I blocked off 4 hours a day to write—but I rarely used that whole time to actually write. I read or did other things related to writing.

It’s hard to write for hours on end. And like most things in life, you’ll get diminishing returns.

Aim for 250 words every day, and stick with it. And remember, if you’re doing it, you’re motivated.

Notice that I said you need to write 250 words every single day . That’s because you’ll be much more motivated to write when it becomes a daily practice.

In addition to the 250 words per day, I recommend that you come up with a writing routine to help keep you on track.

Pick a designated writing time and stick to it every day. Are you better at writing in the morning, or do you like to write right before bed? Maybe it’s easier to squeeze 250 words in over your lunch break.

There’s no right or wrong answer. Just pick a time whenever you do your best writing and stick with it.

The same goes for your writing place. Maybe you write well in a quiet office. Or, maybe it’s easier for you to focus in a coffee shop.

We worked with one Author who wrote in his Tesla while it was charging in his garage. He put the same playlist on every day, turned up the volume, and spent the next 45 minutes writing.

The reason you need a writing routine is the same reason you teach your kids to brush their teeth every morning.

They may grumble or whine, but once they get into the habit, they do it anyway—no matter how much they don’t want to.

It works the same way when you’re writing a book. Writing habits keep you motivated to write and do it again the next day.

A writing routine gives you the fuel to keep going, even when you think your tank is running low. When writing becomes an automatic part of your day, it’s a lot harder to procrastinate.

5. Don’t Be Perfect—Vomit on the Page

Don’t intimidate yourself by trying to be a perfect writer.

First of all, there’s no such thing.

Second, if you do that, you’ll never finish your book because you’ll never live up to your own expectations.

I’m dead serious. I’ve seen countless Authors get stuck writing the first draft of their book. They’ll get off to a good start—but then they’ll re-read what they’ve written, delete it, and start over.

They do that 50 times and eventually give up (spoiler: they never finish their book).

Don’t fall into the same trap of unrealistic expectations . Just aim to get words on a page.

In fact, don’t even think of your writing as “writing a book.” You’re not writing a book. You’re just collecting your thoughts.

That’s why I call my first drafts “ vomit drafts .” I spew words and thoughts onto a page. I don’t stop to edit, re-read, or think about how the writing flows.

printer printing

Like vomit, it’s not pretty. But after you’ve written all your ideas out, you’ll feel so much better.

Plus, it’s a lot easier to motivate yourself to write when you free yourself from the need to be perfect.

When you write a vomit draft, you don’t give yourself time to stare at a blank page. There’s no room for intimidation.

You just start writing and let whatever’s inside your brain come out. It’s not going to be perfect. In fact, it will probably be terrible.

But that’s okay. Most first drafts are terrible. Even books that go on to become bestsellers started as terrible first drafts.

Embrace it. Realize that bad writing is a natural part of the writing process.

A first draft is exactly what the name implies—a first step.

Your book will go through multiple drafts before anyone even sees it.

Of course, you’ll eventually have to wade through the vomit. You’ll have to trim, add, and edit . And you’ll probably have to move things around and rethink the structure of your chapters . That’s normal.

For now, stop worrying about how good or bad your writing is and start capturing your ideas. You can make them sound great later.

Don’t edit as you go. Just write. Vomit on the page.

It’s a lot easier to fix writing when you actually have writing to fix.

Many people find it easier to motivate themselves during the “vomit” phase. Once you get into the groove of spewing 250 words per day, it can be refreshing.

The part that’s harder is when you have to go back through all that writing to turn it into a coherent, well-written book.

Here’s my advice when you reach that phase: hold on to your motivation by keeping your focus on the reader.

You’re writing a nonfiction book for a reason. What made you want to do this in the first place?

At some level, it’s because you want to help your readers solve their problems.

If you’re writing a memoir , it’s because you want to share your story with people who can benefit from hearing it.

If you’re writing a knowledge-share nonfiction book , you’re trying to prove to your readers that you’re the person that can meet their needs.

Whatever kind of book you’re writing, your reader is at the heart of your motivation.

If you feel stuck or don’t feel like writing, remember that. Think about the people you’re going to help and how their lives will change because of your book.

When readers pick up a nonfiction book, they aren’t looking for perfection or a sublime writing style . They’re looking to learn information that’s going to make their lives better.

Here are 4 essential writing principles to help you deliver information in a way readers will appreciate:

  • Keep your writing short. Readers tune out when you wander.
  • Keep your writing simple. Readers want content they can easily understand, even if the ideas are complex.
  • Keep your writing direct. Get to the point, and make each sentence a single, direct statement.
  • Keep it about the reader. Ask yourself this question about everything you write: “Why does the reader care?”

Imagine having a conversation with a client or a close friend. What would you tell them, and how would you deliver the information?

Don’t make writing harder than it has to be. To stay motivated, imagine speaking directly to your reader and making an impact on their lives.

If you’re still unmotivated after all that, you might want to reconsider your intentions. If it’s that hard to motivate yourself, maybe writing a book isn’t something you really want to do.

This may seem odd to include in an article on motivational writing tips, but if you want to motivate yourself, you have to take care of yourself.

If you’re super stressed out or exhausted, you’re not going to function well. And you’re definitely not going to feel motivated to write.

I won’t lie. Writing can be a slog. And completing a book will take an emotional, mental, and sometimes physical toll on you. If you don’t take care of yourself, it’s easy to lose steam.

There are many ways you can take care of yourself. For example, you can:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Take nature walks
  • Talk to a therapist
  • Visit an energy healer or masseuse
  • Try acupuncture
  • Go for regular float sessions
  • Sit in a sauna
  • Take a bath with Epsom salts

Basically, take time to do things that will make your body and mind feel better. You want to develop good writing habits, not become a writing machine.

To do that, you need to check in with yourself from time to time to make sure you’re at the top of your game.

Being refreshed will make you a better writer. Self-care will revitalize you so you can come back the next day, ready to meet your writing goals.

While some people thrive on routines and self-care, others are more motivated by external accountability.

If you’re one of those people, I recommend announcing that you’re working on a book.

Tell people on social media. Write a guest post for your favorite blogger. Email your friends and family.

Whatever method works best for you, use it to announce your intention to the world.

And if you’re serious about writing, I recommend announcing your book on the platform that makes you the least comfortable.

Yes, that may seem like a lot of pressure. But it’s important to identify any points of resistance you have and push through them.

You’ll get a lot of positive feedback, which will help you become more motivated. And when your motivation wavers, you’ll be reminded that there are people eagerly awaiting your book.

I believe that every person has a book in them. But one of the major things that holds people back from writing those books is fear .

They’re afraid that their book won’t be good enough, original enough, or meaningful enough. They’re afraid of looking stupid or making people angry.

Those kinds of fears are normal, but you shouldn’t let them get in the way.

You have a story that’s worth telling. The only way to truly motivate yourself to tell it is to conquer your fear.

If you allow those fears to stick around, they only lead to procrastination , frustration, and surrender.

If you want to overcome your fear, I recommend facing them head-on. Write down all your fears about the writing process, self-publishing, or fears about how people will react once they read the book.

Evaluate each fear and recognize what those fears mean. Fear has a point and a purpose. It’s an indicator of risk.

Every Author who writes a book worth reading is taking a risk. If you’re scared, congratulations. It means you have something worth saying.

Fear isn’t the problem. The problem is when you let fears take over.

Keep in mind what your book is going to do for you and what it’s going to do for your readers.

Then, make a plan for facing your fears. For example, if you’re afraid you’ll never finish writing your book, use that fear as motivation. Create a writing routine and resolve to stick with it through the whole writing process.

The Scribe Crew

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10 Best Strategies to Motivate You on Completing Your Dissertation

Photo of Nada Osama

The dissertation is one task that can be very strenuous. You have to carry out in-depth research about your topic to ensure that your facts are spot on and in line with what your supervisor wants. The most frustrating aspect is that you still have to effect corrections over and over again until it gets approved. Perhaps this is why most people prefer the option of outsourcing their dissertation to freelancers. But it isn’t a good idea given that it isn’t only expensive but also illegal.

In case you are searching for how to complete your dissertation in record time , this post will show you the easiest way to accomplish it. You are going to discover some of the best strategies that will keep you motivated to finish your dissertation . These tips will help to keep you in check and ensure you stay on track as you write your dissertation.

1   Discuss Your Topic with Others

Your dissertation becomes very boring once you don’t discuss it with others as this makes you lack the needed motivation to accomplish it quickly. The trick here is looking for people that you are very close to and start asking them for contributions. You will discover that the topic is even more fascinating than you must have imagined initially. One of the benefits of this strategy is that it will enable you to get more ideas that you can add to your work. It is a win-win.

dissertation writing motivation

  2   Be Organized

It has been discovered that organization while researching for your dissertation is very vital . Determine whether you will have the needed motivation to finish it or not. Being organized simply implies knowing how to source for knowledge. It becomes frustrating once you can’t find adequate materials that will help you put your dissertation together.

Also, try as much as you can to have a specific time of the week to work on it. Avoid the temptation to research your dissertation anytime you like. It is only a recipe for frustration.

dissertation writing motivation

  3   Dealing with Writers Block

As a writer, you should know whenever you aren’t flowing as expected and where your level of concentration is shallow. There are lots of ways that enable you to handle this problem. For instance, you can decide to edit a previous write-up or chapter, read other articles which are related to your topic, read important journals and so on. Trying any of these things will help you focus on the task of completing your dissertation.

dissertation writing motivation

4   Taking Break

You will lack the motivation to complete your dissertation within a short time without any rest. It has been discovered that the brain needs to be given some rest to be very effective in future tasks. Don’t ever attempt writing your dissertation without any plan to take a break because it may lead to breaking down. Also, the work may be of a low quality which will adversely affect your grades.

dissertation writing motivation

  5   Requesting For Help 

You have a dissertation tutor who will try to do everything to ensure that you succeed. It will be wise to ask for help when things seem to be getting tougher than expected. Trying to do things without asking the needed questions will delay your work from finishing on time. There are many ways the supervisor can help you.

dissertation writing motivation

  6   Setting Targets 

You will feel more motivated to complete your dissertation once it has got targets. These will entail setting specific timeframes that different aspects will be expected to get achieved. This will make the work faster as compared to not having any target. The only thing to watch out for is that your set targets should be very realistic.

dissertation writing motivation

  7   Being Positive

The experts will always tell you that being positive is one of the most important ways through which you can encourage yourself during the process of putting a dissertation together. There are times when it may seem like things aren’t coming together for you. This is when you need to be optimistic. One way to do this is always to praise the work that has already been done. This will make you see the reasons why it should be completed. Trying to see the difficult side of a dissertation is only a recipe for failure and frustration.

dissertation writing motivation

  8   Eating Very Well

You need to ensure that your brain and other body parts are 100% functional while putting your dissertation together. This is a compelling way to remain motivated. Avoid the habit of skipping meals as such will do you more harm than good. Also, rest well during daytime and nighttime periods to improve your focus level as you write your dissertation . It has been discovered that beverages can help stimulate the brain when xfunk at breakfast. If you’ve got a budget, you can add fruits.

dissertation writing motivation

  9   Aiming for Excellence 

Before approving your work, it needs to be of the highest quality to be something that can be published. You will feel more motivated once you are aiming to go beyond the expectations of your supervisor or tutor. You should seek the best possible degree.

dissertation writing motivation

  10   Be Disciplined 

It is true that you’ve set targets and are striving for excellence. However, it is only natural that with time your level of motivation will be put to a great test. This will come in the form of not being in the mood to write or carry out research at times you are supposed to continue writing. You have to remain disciplined no matter what, and always learn to fight the urge not to write on such work.

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  • Open access
  • Published: 19 February 2024

The bumpy ride to a medical PhD degree: a qualitative study on factors influencing motivation

  • C. R. den Bakker   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-9693-7417 1 ,
  • B. W. C. Ommering   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8673-4923 2 ,
  • A. J. de Beaufort   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-1990-2672 1 ,
  • F. W. Dekker   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-2433-2494 1 , 3 &
  • J. Bustraan   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-4331-5312 1  

BMC Medical Education volume  24 , Article number:  159 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

132 Accesses

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In parallel with a tremendous increase in medical PhD enrolments, concerns have risen about PhD candidates’ poor well-being, increasing attrition rates for PhD programmes, and, eventually, a decline in clinician-scientists. According to the Self-Determination Theory, autonomous motivation is strongly linked to positive aspects of well-being and other positive outcomes such as study completion and success. In this way, motivation has a pivotal role in successful completion of medical doctoral programmes. In this study we explored factors affecting motivation during the PhD journey and aimed to contribute to engaging doctoral education environments, and, eventually, a sustainable clinician-scientist workforce.

This constructivist qualitative interview study was conducted among ten medical PhD candidates in the final phase of their PhD. We used timeline assisted interviews to identify meaningful experiences throughout their PhD journey. Thematic analyses as an iterative process resulted in overarching themes.

We identified six themes influencing autonomous and controlled motivation along the challenging PhD journey: (1) Initial motivation to start a PhD matters; (2) Autonomy as a matter of the right dose at the right time; (3) PhD as proof of competence and/or learning trajectory?; (4) It takes two to tango; (5) Peers can make or break your PhD; (6) Strategies to stay or get back on track.

This study revealed factors that contribute positively and/or negatively to autonomous and controlled motivation. Some factors impacted motivation differently depending on the PhD phase and individual strategies. Additionally, some factors could coincide and change from positive to negative and vice versa, showing that a successful journey cannot simply be reduced to an absence of negative experiences.

Peer Review reports

Medical PhD programmes aim to train future generations of clinician-scientists i.e., medical doctors who combine patient care with research. Enrolment in medical PhD programmes has increased tremendously in the past decades [ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ]. Simultaneously, there are concerns about PhD candidates’ well-being [ 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 ], a complex combination of the presence of positive (e.g. satisfaction, self-efficacy, work engagement) and/or absence of negative (e.g. anxiety, stress, burnout) mental states [ 11 ]. Several studies found that 30–50% of PhD candidates self-report significant levels of stress, burnout and other mental health problems [ 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 ]. Negative aspects are related to delaying doctoral study and intentions to quit [ 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 ]. Subsequently, programme attrition, with rates between 25–60%, is a major concern in the medical doctoral domain, as well as in other doctoral domains [ 10 , 19 , 24 ]. This issue is particularly critical as it may potentially contribute to the decline in and shortage of clinician-scientists [ 25 , 26 ].

Motivation is strongly linked to well-being and, hence, persistence and study completion and success [ 6 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 ]. Therefore, insight into factors affecting motivation of medical doctors (MDs) pursuing a PhD could provide guidance on how to optimize medical doctoral programmes’ learning environments and supports in maintaining and fostering motivation during the programme. In this study, motivation is regarded as a multidimensional construct consisting of different types of motivation based on Self-Determination Theory (SDT) [ 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 ]. SDT distinguishes autonomous and controlled motivation. Autonomous motivation (AM) derives from a PhD candidate attributing personal value to learning, due to genuine interest and pleasure in the research itself. Controlled motivation (CM) includes persuasion of learning or work as a means to an end that is separate from the activity itself, for example to obtain a reward such as a future training or job position. Autonomous motivation is associated with positive outcomes in education, such as intention to persist and subjective well-being, whereas controlled motivation is reported to be associated with negative outcomes, such as anxiety and lower positive affect [ 6 , 28 , 31 , 32 , 33 ].

A PhD in the medical field is more common than in any other domain [ 19 ]. Furthermore, the research environment of medical PhDs differs substantially from environments in other fields. Medical PhD candidates are (future) medical doctors, who commonly combine patient care with their PhD trajectory, mainly supervised by PhD-holding clinicians, and often return to clinical care after their PhD trajectory [ 34 ]. Furthermore, as they are employed at a clinical department, the healthcare culture and hierarchy will affect the research environment. In addition, some programme directors consider a PhD highly important or necessary to get a specialty training position [ 35 ]. To this end, a subset of MDs obtains a PhD degree to gain admission to their desired specialty [ 36 ]. This admission-related aspect of pursuing a PhD might be more prevalent in medicine in contrast to domains and, by definition, is controlled motivation.

Recently, we quantitively explored autonomous and controlled motivation and its relation to work engagement, (expected) delay, drop-out intentions, and clinician-scientist career ambitions in over 1300 Dutch medical PhD candidates Footnote 1 . Our national survey study showed that autonomous motivation was positively related to PhD candidates’ work engagement and clinician-scientists career ambitions. In addition, higher autonomous motivation resulted in less drop-out intentions, contrary to controlled motivation which was related to lower work engagement and research ambitions, and higher drop-out intentions. However, insight into factors affecting autonomous and controlled motivation during the PhD journey was lacking and deeper understanding called for a qualitative approach. In this follow-up study we aim to answer the question of which factors affect autonomous and controlled motivation during the PhD journey. By that, we aim to contribute to the conscious use of strategies to increase autonomous motivation and, hence, well-being, successful completion of the PhD programme, and, eventually, a sustainable clinician-scientist workforce.

Study design

For our interview study, we used a constructivist approach. A constructivist paradigm asserts that knowledge and reality are socially constructed by people through experiences and reflections on those experiences, and that researchers should attempt to relate to subjective experiences of study participants [ 37 ]. Interviews are a commonly used method within the constructivist paradigm and, in our view, match well with our aim to understand how, when and why PhD candidates’ motivation develops during their PhD trajectory. We designed a guide (Additional file 1 ) for semi-structured, timeline-assisted interviews that were held between April and July 2021. Timelining adds a chronological visual representation related to the experience, anchors the interview and helps the participant to identify and focus on meaningful events and experiences. It can provide participants a way to reflect deeply on their stories and even help to create new understandings [ 38 , 39 ]. Interviews started with open questions about the interviewee’s pathway prior to their start as PhD candidate. When participants reached the start of their PhD trajectory in their story they were asked to write meaningful experiences of their PhD trajectory (e.g. persons or events) down on post-its. Hereafter, they were asked to put these experiences on their PhD trajectory timeline as tool for reflection. To gain more insights into the impact of these experiences on their motivation during their PhD, participants were asked to position post-its that had greater positive impact on their motivation higher on the y-axis. During the rest of the interview, experiences were chronologically discussed in-depth and the PhD timeline was reflected on.

Study setting

In the Netherlands, there are different pathways to embark on a PhD trajectory. After graduation and before applying for a specialty training position, junior doctors mostly choose to either work as a doctor-not-in-training to gain more work experience, or to apply for a PhD position before or after gaining clinical work experience. Less common pathways are obtaining a PhD as medical student (MD-PhD track), as resident already in training, or later as medical specialist. PhDs are (mostly paid) employees facilitated at a University Medical Center (UMC) 1, Footnote 2 .

Sampling and data collection

PhD candidates with a master’s degree in medicine and in the final phase of their PhD trajectory at various departments of all Dutch medical graduate schools were selected using purposive sampling to include a variety of participants with different motivational profiles. Selection was based on relatively low and high AM and CM scores (based on population mean; three PhD candidates with relatively low AM and high CM, four PhD candidates with relatively high AM and low CM, three PhD candidates with relatively high AM and high CM) and different pathways (i.e. five participants not in training with clinical working experience as doctor not in training, two participants not in training without clinical working experience as doctor not in training, one participant combining working as doctor not in training with a (unemployed) PhD trajectory, and two participants who were residents in training) as found in our previous national survey study 1 . Participants were affiliated with diverse medical specialties (internal medicine, plastic surgery, ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat), orthopaedics, gynaecology and obstetrics, and surgery), and various Graduate Schools, connected to all Dutch university medical centres. Participants were invited by email and all agreed to participate. The first author (CdB) conducted ten interviews of 60–90 min until inductive thematic saturation (i.e. the point when additional data leads to no new emergent codes or themes) was achieved [ 40 ]. All interviewees verbally consented participation and audio-recording before the interview started. They were informed that pseudonymized data would only be accessible for co-authors and that published results would be strictly anonymous. Sampling and data collection occurred concurrently with thematic analysis and informed future data collection.

Data analysis

Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim and pseudonymized. The interviews were analysed using thematic analysis [ 41 ]. Two researchers (CdB and JB) independently conducted open coding using Atlas.ti. Similar codes were grouped under coding categories and then moved from the categorical level (open codes and categories) to the conceptual level (relationships between codes and construction of important themes), an iterative process using an inductive approach [ 42 ]. Through ongoing discussions, consensus on the coding scheme was reached. There were several meetings (CdB, JB, BO) to discuss overarching themes and to ensure that the research question was addressed adequately. Methodologic rigor was strengthened through triangulation in data analysis (i.e. independent data analysis by two investigators followed by team discussions and consensus) and member checking to ensure that interpretations were accurate [ 43 ].

Research team & reflexivity

Our multidisciplinary research team included members with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. CdB is an MD and PhD candidate in medical education. For interviewees she was considered as a peer without conflict of interest as she was not employed within a medical specialty, which helped to create a safe environment to talk openly about PhD experiences. JB has a background in educational sciences, and is a senior consultant and researcher in postgraduate medical education. The other authors are experienced educational researchers and PhD supervisors with backgrounds in pedagogical and educational sciences (BO), paediatrics (AJdB), and clinical epidemiology (FD). The diversity of backgrounds and expertise within the team enhances the trustworthiness of our results. All researchers were familiar with SDT prior to this study as it was used as framework for our earlier studies. In line with the constructivist approach to reality, we were well aware of the role of this theory including the general concepts of AM and CM. Yet, to take into account the in-depth, exploratory character of this interview study, we explicitly chose not to deliberately start looking how relatedness, autonomy and competence played a role in the development of our interviewees’ motivation, which is why we choose a timeline approach where participants were free to share what came to mind. In this way, we consciously aimed to be as open as possible to all themes coming up during the interviews or (open) coding process.

We used the COREQ-32 checklist to report important aspects of the research team, study methods, context of the study, findings, analysis and interpretations [ 44 ].

Motivation throughout a PhD journey developed simultaneously with meaningful events. Our analysis revealed six themes. Within these themes, sub-themes provide further insight into factors affecting autonomous and controlled motivation (AM and CM) during a PhD trajectory. Because of the rich data, not all subthemes are discussed in detail. An overview of all themes and subthemes can be seen in Additional file 2 . The following higher-order themes emerged:

Initial motivation to start a PhD matters . Motives to start a PhD are already formed prior to enrolment influenced motivational development throughout the PhD journey. Most candidates stated that the option to start a PhD trajectory happened to ‘come their way’, e.g. while working as doctor-not-in-training, without actively looking for a PhD programme. We identified three main reasons to embark on a PhD trajectory, which can be categorised from high to low AM:

1.1 As stepping stone towards a clinician-scientist career . A PhD trajectory was started with a genuine interest in research. Participants described the desire to (1) immerse themselves into a topic that they were passionate about, (2) become an expert on a specific topic, and/or (3) have an opportunity to be challenged in critical and creative thinking as this was perceived by some as insufficient in their clinical job, with many protocols and standardized procedures.

‘You learn little about research in medical school. It is just an education that really makes you primarily become a doctor, but not so much a scientist. So I really wanted to learn that. Actually getting a kind of driver's license for doing scientific research, that's how you might put it.’ – Interviewee #7

1.2 As stopover for career orientation purposes. This motivation often was stated with a short term future perspective. Research was perceived as (potentially) interesting and fun, but a PhD trajectory was used to buy time for considering future career steps, mature further, have a break from the clinics and/or as career orientation for the long term in both the clinical and scientific world.

‘Firstly, because it seemed good just for my CV and by that, I also thought it would be a better way to obtain a specialty training position. Furthermore, I also wanted to give myself some time to do something totally different.’ – Interviewee #9.

1.3 As vehicle to gain admission to future clinical job positions . A PhD trajectory was used to improve chances for admission to the preferred specialty. It was considered useful for network contact and perceived as a prerequisite to get a training position within the specialty. Genuine interest in research and/or the research topic were less relevant.

‘And a lot of people also strategically opt for a PhD programme in which as little effort as possible is needed and which is completed as soon as possible.’ – Interviewee #5

In most cases, multiple reasons coexisted. Additionally, motives to start a PhD were often supplemented with the ‘why not?’ argument, in which a PhD trajectory was valued as something that can only benefit and won’t harm you. While motivation can change over time, the motives for initiating a PhD were indicative and mattered for coping strategies during meaningful events throughout the PhD, especially in the first phase.

Autonomy, a matter of the right dose at the right time . Candidates perceived autonomy in research activities as a need during the programme. This need appeared to vary throughout different phases during the PhD trajectory. PhD candidates stated that, in the first phase, they often felt consciously incompetent, resulting in a stronger need for guidance than autonomy, whereas at a later stage the need for autonomy became enhanced. If the ‘autonomy dose ‘ needed at a certain stage was insufficiently met, frustration ensued and negatively impacted AM.

‘I think it's very important that people know where to go to when having questions. Not like you’re swimming in the deep, forever, because no one tells you what the plan is. You really don’t know anything at the beginning of your PhD.’ – Interviewee #6
‘So when it (i.e. the research projects) started to take off and I got more and more of an idea what my PhD entailed and where it should go, my motivation also went up sharply.’ – Interviewee #8

In contrast, the importance of autonomy in working hours and not working shifts did not vary throughout the PhD trajectory and resulted in improved work-life balance and enhanced motivation.

PhD as proof of competence and/or as learning trajectory? Most PhD candidates considered their PhD period as a learning trajectory. However, some believed that supervisors perceived the trajectory as proof of competence. PhD candidates then assumed that they were expected to already master and show sufficient skills to succeed in the research tasks assigned to them right from the start.

‘There is a lot of competition around you, so you also have to work very hard to keep up with that and show that you are worth it and you can surely show that within a PhD programme, because you can show that you are able to achieve things.’ – Interviewee #6

This ‘fear of failure’ was fostered in a dependency relationship and mainly resulted in imposter syndrome; an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others (i.e. supervisors) perceive you to be and not willing to fail in the eyes of the supervisor. This leads to feelings of self-doubt, feeling lost, and loneliness.

‘And she (i.e. supervisor) literally thought that I should be able to do it all on my own and I disagreed and that made it difficult.’ – Interviewee #1

These feelings often led to a decrease in both AM and CM and could result from and/or be further strengthened by expected supervisor’s beliefs. Vice versa, supervisors were able to foster confidence and self-efficacy and, accordingly, counteract the imposter syndrome.

It takes (at least) two to tango . Supervision is a process that aims to support and assure the development of knowledge, skills and values of PhD candidates. According to PhD candidates, this requires a supervisor who is approachable, makes time, provides constructive and timely feedback, gives trust and autonomy, and sees the person behind the research projects.

‘We also have conversations, more on a kind of meta level about the professional development of a young doctor or clinician-scientist. That goes beyond just discussing research content. That's great, because it just works well and is very good and important, I think, for a successful and pleasant PhD trajectory.’ – Interviewee #7
‘My co-supervisor was really - that's what I'm trying to emulate now – on how to guide someone - and we also guide students together. Just very positive, always available to spar with, always responding to me within a week with good suggestions and good feedback. And just encouraging, so giving positive feedback, says “well done”, always being positive in emails, and so on, so he's really a great supervisor.’ – Interviewee #8

Supervision can be provided by the thesis-promotor and/or by other research team members. PhD candidates perceived supervision as one of the most crucial factors for their motivation. A good fit with at least one supervisor was key to their AM as it directly affected their autonomy and self-efficacy, and vice versa; a lack of a good fit resulted in negative feelings as stress, loneliness, incompetence and frustration.

‘There was little input or guidance from them. I expected a bit more involvement in the process I'm going through or the research I'm doing, but it was quite disappointing. I quickly got the feeling of, do you really care about the work I'm doing? But well, maybe that's not what they wanted to convey, but that's the feeling I got anyway. – Interviewee #3
‘So there was more pressure on me to publish and show results, and I actually had to do it all on my own without any guidance. So that wasn't communicated well by the supervisors, that I had to do it all on my own and that I actually had to be able to do it all before starting the PhD. (…) In retrospect, I think that the supervisor and I just didn't fit each other and that it didn't work from the beginning.’- Interviewee #1

An additional good fit with other supervisors was beneficial, but not as crucial as a good fit with at least one supervisor ‘to tango with’.

Peers can make or break your PhD . Peer support was important on different levels for enhancing AM. Peers, mostly PhD candidates from the same department or research group, could share their experiences. Professionally, this was useful in sharing resources and effective strategies. On a personal level, peers countered feelings of loneliness or social isolation and provided support in personal doubts, e.g. career orientation. Peer activities in non-formal settings, for example during an international conference trip or Friday drinks, facilitated peer support.

‘The most important thing about a PhD trajectory is that you get a really special bond with your peers who you work with day by day. (...) because of your colleagues, I think you are able to hold on, they are a great support. They make it (i.e. PhD trajectory) the most fun.’ – Interviewee #1

The lack of peer support, e.g. within a competitive context or due to drop-out of peers, resulted in an unsafe learning environment and negatively impacted AM.

‘In any case, negative things are rarely discussed because you do not want to give the impression that you- that things are not going well or…- status is just so important. You just have to be in control and you have to do things with great pleasure.’ – Interviewee #3

Strategies to stay or get back on track. PhD candidates experienced the trajectory as a bumpy and challenging ride with highs and lows. These ‘bumps’ were often assumed to be part of the PhD journey, for example slow progress, dealing with ‘politics’ (e.g. conflicting interests with supervisors, or authorship issues), disappointing research outcomes, and no good fit with the research team. In case of frustration in needs, or conflicting values or interests, PhD candidates used two types of approaches to keep going and stay or get back on track:

6.1 Active solution-seeking approach . PhD candidates actively sought workarounds to overcome struggles and keep going. They used solution-seeking strategies such as ‘speaking up’ and ‘making some changes’, for example by continuing their work at another work place or department, by finding peers for personal support, or actively seeking for collaborations or supervision elsewhere, to change the team into ‘a winning team’. When PhD candidates successfully conquered the ‘bumps’, feelings of achievement, personal growth, and eventually, AM was fostered.

‘I just really missed having a sparring partner and I couldn’t get that from her, so I had to look for it somewhere else. (...) And I am now glad that I got through this low point and got closer to my own values and norms.’ – Interviewee #1

Most PhD candidates who aspired to a future research role explicitly mentioned they definitely wanted to use and translate their own learning experiences (varying from good to bad) in how they would fill in their future role as research supervisor. Lastly, dependency was considered a risk factor for conflicts with personal values to avoid professional conflicts. An often mentioned barrier to protect personal values and/or speak up was the vulnerable position in which most PhD candidates are in, for instance when they admire to obtain a desired job position while supervisor(s) or other colleagues had powerful roles (e.g. programme director) in this procedure.

‘Everyone was totally – people had become a bit cynical due to the work and workload, feeling unheard and being in a dependency position for obtaining a desired specialty training position, so they couldn’t speak up. And that was such a big adjustment that in the beginning, I really thought “Oh, what have I gotten myself into?”. But you just keep going and eventually you get used to it. I also started sitting somewhere else, with another group with a more positive vibe.’ – Interviewee #3

6.2 Accept that lows are part of a PhD journey . PhD candidates accepted that lows were part of their PhD and used (passive) ‘take it or leave it’ coping strategies to stay motivated. This ‘tendency to accept’ was stronger when PhD candidates were dependent on their supervisor(s) to get a desired future career position. This was a sustainable strategy when, for example, a highly desired specialty training position was obtained; it was all worth it in the end.

‘I was able to accept pretty soon that those are external factors that you just have to resign yourself to, because you simply can't do anything about it.’ – Interviewee #9
‘But I took that for granted, because I also thought, well; I just have to persevere, as soon as I’m a resident things will get better again. So you go on and you accept it. (…) But yes, I have invested so many hours that I just really want to finish it now.’ – Interviewee #10

However, when the ‘wheels fell off’ and the desired job position was not obtained or no longer wished to obtain, frustration replaced genuine interest and joy and mainly CM was a source to keep going. In addition, PhD candidates also used this strategy as they did not want to give up because they have come this far and already invested a lot of time and energy (‘sunk cost effect’; i.e. the tendency to persist in a decision, even when it is unfavourable, because it involved significant costs as time, money and/or effort ) and/or they do not want to disappoint themselves and others.

‘I had never realized before, but in research it all has to do with who has the most power? Who is in charge? There will be authors on papers who have actually done nothing, but purely as favour. You have to work with people just to satisfy people and it's usually not the best for the research, we don't get the best results from that. But unfortunately that's how it goes...’ – Interviewee #5
‘Once I start something, I want to finish it. And that feeling was much stronger than, well, you know; I don't want to get into that desired specialty anymore, so I'm not going to get my PhD anymore either.’– Interviewee #1

When candidates mainly mentioned negative experiences (e.g. conflicts with personal values) when reflecting on their timeline, while at the same time over years a great effort was spent to achieve the PhD degree, they often added that, in hindsight, it was worth the effort. They described it to be valuable for other important aspects such as personal development, friendships that emerged, or career progress and orientation (in both specialty and academia).

‘Well, it obviously moulds you into the person you are now. It's hard to then…That six months abroad gave me so much, also on a personal level, so many insights and that was such a cool period that – even though it was a hard time afterwards – it was worth it.’ – Interviewee #3
‘But it (i.e. PhD trajectory)– even though I may sound a little negative overall – has also brought me good things. So I did really enjoy doing it as well. (…) Well, maybe I want to emphasize that I don't want to say…It hasn't been a very negative experience, but it's how I look back on it now and it hasn't been like that over all these years.’ – Interviewee #10

Insights into factors affecting PhD candidates’ motivation during their PhD journey are useful for both PhD candidates and their supervisors. The theoretical concepts of autonomous motivation (AM) and controlled motivation (CM) underpin the motivational dynamics. AM reflects internal motivation driven by personal interest and satisfaction, while CM arises from external factors. We identified six themes influencing AM and CM along the challenging PhD journey: motives to start a PhD, autonomy at the right dose and time, a PhD trajectory to be a proof of competence and/or learning trajectory, support from supervisors and peers, and strategies to stay or get back on track.

Most studies on PhD candidates’ experiences focused on negative attributes such as stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout, while positive aspects of a PhD experience have been studied to a lesser extent [ 6 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 16 , 23 , 45 ]. This study reveals that positive and negative motivational factors of PhDs coincide as some factors were experienced positively, while the opposite was being experienced negatively, and vice versa (e.g. a good supervisor and the lack of a good supervisor). Some factors impacted motivation differently over time, changing from positive to negative and vice versa (e.g. dose of autonomy). In addition, there are individual differences in how a factor is perceived, showing that a successful journey cannot be simply reduced to just an absence of negative experiences. A recent single-center study on both energizers and stressors of medical PhDs provided a first insight into factors affecting a PhD journey in medicine [ 34 ]. Our national multi-center interview study adds, in addition to in-depth insight into factors affecting motivation during a PhD, that factors such as the dose of autonomy can contrary affect motivation depending on both the phase of the PhD and, in the end, individual strategies. Hence, one size fits nobody when it comes to supporting and maintaining an individual PhD’s motivation. This underlines the relevance of reflecting on these themes before and during the PhD programme and to adjust support based on the outcomes of this reflection. Making the implicit explicit could contribute to AM and hence, well-being, successful PhD completion, and, eventually aspired (future) clinician-scientists.

PhD candidates are usually high achievers, especially in the medical field when next to a research pathway a clinical career is aspired to [ 46 ]. Coping strategies such as ‘finish what you start’ or ‘keep your eyes on the prize’ were mentioned frequently and linked to an increase in CM. In addition, the concept of cognitive dissonance might be at stake in cases where some PhD candidates clearly described downsides of their PhD trajectory, yet had a tendency to quickly narrow down these as well. Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviours resulting in feelings of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviours to reduce the discomfort and restore balance. Furthermore, distressing feelings arise when a PhD is perceived as a proof of competence and contributed to CM. Particularly in the first phase of the PhD, when self-efficacy levels are often low, these feelings are linked to the imposter syndrome. Stelling et al. found that the imposter syndrome among early career clinicians is associated with burnout as a result of ‘striving to fit in and stand out’ [ 47 ]. Sverdlik et al. studied the imposter syndrome among doctoral students and found that feelings of belonging were a negative predictor of imposter syndrome which, in turn, predicted higher levels of depression, stress, and illness symptoms [ 45 ]. In line with these studies, our study highlights the importance of fostering a supportive environment. To foster AM, our results show that this support is important at different levels (i.e. academic, autonomous, and personal level), which is also described by Overall et al. [ 48 ]. Support on the academic and autonomous level is mainly fulfilled by the research team and highly dependent on feeling supported by at least one supervisor. Lastly, personal support, is ideally fulfilled by the supervisory team, but can also be (further) provided by peers.

The results of this study can be useful for graduate schools, PhD supervisors, PhD candidates or those considering a PhD. However, this study also comes with limitations. A first limitation of this study is that we only focussed on the experiences of PhD candidates. Recognizing that our findings also have implications for PhD supervisors, future research could enrich these insights by delving into the perceptions and experiences of PhD supervisors. A second limitation is the focus on motivation of PhD candidates who, in the end, were sufficiently motivated to get to the final phase of their PhD. It is noteworthy that this deliberate focus on PhD candidates who almost completed their PhDs was chosen to provide a comprehensive understanding of individuals who successfully navigated the doctoral process. However, perhaps, PhD candidates who dropped out during their PhD might have encountered other challenges and barriers and/or utilized different strategies. Inclusion of dropped-out PhD candidates in future studies can further strengthen insight into the complex nature of motivational development and offer a more nuanced understanding of the diverse motivational dynamics and by that, contribute to a sustainable doctoral environment.

This study revealed factors that contribute positively and/or negatively to autonomous and controlled motivation during a PhD trajectory and result in the following practical implications to foster AM and reduce CM: (1) PhD candidates and their supervisors should explicitly discuss learning goals and expectations of the PhD trajectory to contribute to a safe learning climate; (2) PhD candidates value to have at least one supervisor who is approachable, makes time, provides constructive and timely feedback, gives trust and autonomy, and sees the person behind the studies; (3) To strengthen peer support, it is important to facilitate peer activities in both formal (e.g. intervision, conferences) and non-formal (e.g. drinks) settings; (4) Autonomy is important during a PhD trajectory and it is necessary to find the right balance in guidance. It is essential to regularly evaluate how much autonomy is needed and it is important to align the amount of guidance accordingly, as the need for autonomy often changes as the PhD candidates gains more experience and expertise; (5) When difficulties are overcome, this is experienced as a personal achievement and success experience. It is important as research team to openly discuss the ‘bumps during the ride’ and stimulate solution seeking approaches. Some factors could coincide and change from positive to negative and vice versa, showing that a successful PhD journey cannot simply be reduced to an absence of negative experiences.

Availability of data and materials

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article [and its supplementary information files].

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This research would not have been possible without the participation and valuable contribution of the interviewees. We thank all medical PhD candidates that participated in our interviews for their openness and sharing their personal experiences, perspectives, and feelings. In addition, the authors wish to thank John O’Sullivan for his critical appraisal of the manuscript.

The authors reported there is no funding associated with the work featured in this article.

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All authors contributed to the conception of the study. CdB conducted the interviews and analyzed the data together with JB and BO. CdB drafted the manuscript which was critically revised by all authors. All authors agree to be accountable for all aspects of work ensuring integrity and accuracy.

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Charlotte R. den Bakker, MD, is a Ph.D. candidate at the Center for Innovation in Medical Education of the Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands.

Belinda W.C. Ommering, PhD, is an educational researcher in higher education at the Research Centre for Learning and Innovation, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Arnout Jan de Beaufort, MD, PhD, is a paediatrician (not-practicing), senior researcher at the Center for Innovation in Medical Education of the Leiden University Medical Center and co-director of the Medicine Master Program.

Friedo W. Dekker , PhD, is a full professor in Undergraduate Research in Medical Education at the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Center for Innovation in Medical Education at the Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands, and member of the NVMO Special Interest Group on Scientific Education.

Jacqueline Bustraan, MSc, is an educationalist, researcher and senior consultant in Postgraduate Medical Education at the Center for Innovation in Medical Education of the Leiden University Medical Center.

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Correspondence to C. R. den Bakker .

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Ethics approval and consent to participate.

The study was conducted in accordance with Helsinki Declaration. Verbal (audio-recorded) informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. The study including verbal consent was approved by the Educational Institutional Research Review Board of Leiden University Medical Center (reference number OEC/ERRB/20210112/1A).

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Supplementary Information

Additional file 1..

Interview guide (translated to English).

Additional file 2.

Overview of all emerged themes and sub-themes.

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den Bakker, C.R., Ommering, B.W.C., de Beaufort, A.J. et al. The bumpy ride to a medical PhD degree: a qualitative study on factors influencing motivation. BMC Med Educ 24 , 159 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-023-04973-z

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For the Record, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024

Article by UDaily Staff February 23, 2024

University of Delaware community reports new presentations, awards and publications

For the Record provides information about recent professional activities and honors of University of Delaware faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Recent presentations, awards and publications include the following:


Sean O’Neill , policy scientist at UD’s Institute for Public Administration (IPA), traveled throughout the state to congratulate the 2023 recipients of the Local Government Training Program certificates in Local Government Leadership and Planning Education. IPA, a research and public service center in the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration , annually offers training to public officials and municipal staff. This training covers topics such as municipal planning, zoning, legal issues, economic development, and sustainability. Participants receive credit toward the Delaware Certificate in Local Government Leadership or the Delaware Certificate in Planning Education . Recipients of the certificate span municipalities across Delaware, including the towns of Millville, Georgetown, Milton and Camden, and the cities of Milford and Dover.

Ari August , a 2021 graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Honors College , presented her senior thesis research project at the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) in San Diego, California, as well as a research symposium at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. Her research, titled “Credits Where They’re Due: A Qualitative Study of Motivation in a Novel Standardized Patient Program,” analyzes the impact of appropriate compensation for Standardized Patients (SPs) and how this influences the success of SP programs by strengthening motivation, professionalism, and performance quality. The results highlighted UD's Healthcare Theatre program's provision of university course credits to its SPs through a structured curriculum which not only provides necessary communication skills for a successful career, but also accelerates their professional progress. This structure of SP compensation has been successful in creating highly motivated SPs who strive for excellence and contributes to a reduction in issues of SP professionalism that threaten the stability of SP programs. 


Margaret LaFashia , a College of Health Sciences alumna, has been included in Women We Admire’s Top 50 Women Leaders of Delaware for 2024. Seeking a career change, LaFashia graduated from UD’s School of Nursing in 2015. She now works as director of workforce partnership development for Nemours Children’s Health, where she leads efforts to diversify workforce pipelines in nursing. “This recognition is about my work; it’s vital work, and I hope it continues gaining traction,” LaFashia said. “I may not see the trend shift in my lifetime, but I’m hopeful we'll see a positive trend shift through the work we do at Nemours and the work of my alma mater.” 

Diane Vizthum , a nutrition science doctoral candidate, has been awarded the Emerging Researcher Grant from the Commission on Dietetic Registration through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. The $10,000 award will support her dissertation on time restricted eating, a form of intermittent fasting, and its impacts on body composition, diet quality, and eating behavior in young women. Vizthum works closely with Carly Pacanowski , associate professor of health behavior and nutrition sciences in the College of Health Sciences . Together, they wrote a mixed-methods systematic review on time restricted eating that was published in April 2023 in the journal Appetite . 

Emmalea Ernest , UD Cooperative Extension fruit and vegetable specialist, received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Bean Improvement Cooperative, an organization focused on the exchange of information and materials for the improvement of bean production worldwide. The award acknowledges scientists with fewer than 15 years of post-graduate service who demonstrate outstanding contributions to bean research and/or education.

On Jan. 24, UD’s Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics honored the winners of three grade categories in the fall 2023 edition of the Stock Market Game , an educational simulation for Delaware schools put on twice a year. The Stock Market Game is a national competition put on by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). The game was sponsored by SIFMA and funded by the Delaware Department of Justice’s Investor Protection Unit with support from WSFS Bank .

The winners were the top finishers in a field of 1,384 students on 351 teams. Seventy teams outperformed S&P 500 growth with their trades, and 56 of those managed to grow their investments by $10,000 or more. Overall, 35 schools participated in this past round. The winners in the three categories were:

High School Division

Salesianum High School: Tim Kinkade, Christian Boccuti, Nate Reid and Deron Tchuente

Middle School Division

Newark Charter Junior High: Calvin Orozco, Aanya Patel and Sofia Rossetta-Angeli

Grade 4-5 Division

 West Park Place Elementary: Yousef Farag and Carlos Lopez

CEEE coordinates the game in Delaware, along with a companion competition called Investwrite in which students research and write essays about the stock market. In the simulation, students get $100,000 in fictional money to invest in publicly traded companies. They research investment options and can follow the market’s ups and downs and invest in real time, while also keeping track of how they’re performing against other teams. After 10 weeks, those with the best returns in each age group are the winners.

Read more on the Lerner website .


Daniel M. Green , associate professor of political science and international relations, has published a chapter titled “The United States inside ‘British International Society,’ 1838-1860: Imperial Rivalries and Compatibilities.” This appears in Nineteenth Century America in the Society of States , edited by Cornelia Navari and Yannis Stivachtis.

Nigel Caplan , professor and MA TESL Program Coordinator at the English Language Institute, recently published an op-ed column in TESOL Connections , which details his argument against the intrusion of generative “AI” in the field of Teaching English as a Second Language.

An article by Amara Galileo , a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, was recently published in the Mail and Guardian , South Africa’s premier weekly newspaper. The piece discussed actions by Senegal’s president Macky Sall which seemed to reverse his commitment to democracy for the West African nation. His stance is particularly important in the wake of coups in regional countries of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. Galileo’s dissertation explores the extent of democratic erosion in South Africa and Ghana.

To submit information for inclusion in For the Record, write to [email protected] and include “For the Record” in the subject line.

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