Congratulations on making it to our new challenge in the new year. Welcome to Winter Dissertation House at UMBC for 2017. If you are here you’re in the right place.  This is your page so make the most of your experience here. You can get your dissertation finished in 2017 with daily progress.

Welcome to the Dissertation House On-line, Winter 2017 season! This page will be active from January 2017 – June 2017.  We had so many graduates this year! Congratulations to all of our new PhDs!  (See our “Alumni” page for regular updates.) You can participate in the online Dissertation House from any part of the world. Students join the Dissertation House (DH) from various states in the US and many countries in the world. The “DHers” who participate in person come from universities throughout Maryland, with sponsorship from the National Science Foundation’s PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), and funding from the graduate schools at UMBC, the University of Maryland College Park, and the University of Maryland Baltimore – The Founding Campus. Through the PROMISE Pathways initiative, and the PROMISE AGEP: Maryland Transformation project, we invite and encourage all doctoral students within the University System of Maryland to join us online, and you will have a special opportunity to join us in person this summer during the July Dissertation House.

Dr. Wendy Carter-Veale is your “Head Coach.” Dr. Carter-Veale will be conducting “in-person” Dissertation Houses at UMBC January 2017. Our pre-registered participants are required to blog in daily during their time in the Dissertation House, and are encouraged to continue blogging until they finish their dissertations.

To join us online:

  1. Go to the comment section below and introduce yourself (name, school, department.) Note: You may use your full name or an alias. If you have a blog, you may use your blogger ID, however, you do not need a username or password to participate.
  2. Tell us what you are working on and what you plan to accomplish today or over the next few days.
  3. Blog in daily, preferably twice a day (morning and afternoon/evening) to report your goals for the day, your daily accomplishments, and your goals for the next day.

We will repeat something that we said before, because it is both important and true: Our graduates and participants pushed (and we do mean that they pushed through adversities, complications, and issues) to finish sections, get chapter approval from advisors, complete drafts, pass proposals, pass defenses, and turn in their final documents. These grads are now professors, working in non-profits, industry, and have had postdocs throughout the global academic community (e.g., France, South Africa, Egypt.)

If you have joined us in the past, come back again if you are still working on your document. We’re still here, and we’ll still be part of the community that will cheer you on! Post your goals for the next six months on this page. You’re not alone, this is your online community. Focus on completion. As coach Dr. CV says “A good dissertation is a done dissertation.”

136 responses to “Winter 2017 Challenge”

  1. Welcome to day 1 of Winter Dissertation House at UMBC. It’s your time and your year. This page is dedicated to help you finish your dissertation. Others will be joining today; you are not alone your pursuit of the PhD. It’s important to make daily progress. You might not finish your dissertation today, but you can move it forward by 1, be it 1 paragraph, page, citation, experiment, or even one sentence.

  2. Good morning everyone!
    Welcome to the Winter 2017 Dissertation House! We wish you great productivity this week!

  3. My name is Jared Margulies and I’m a PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems. My primary goal for the DH is to complete a first draft of the second chapter of my dissertation.

    1. Welcome Jared

      How is that second chapter coming? Have you broken this goal down further into manageable bite size pieces?

      1. Ana,Eu conheço alguns blogs bem bons que não são tão tops e que mostram looks super legais, possíveis. Mas ao conversar com uma amiga, que também tem blog, ela me disse que a vida real não tem gl382ur&#moa0; Será? O retorno que eu tenho do look do dia é minimo… Já pelo instagram recebo várias curtidas, é bom, mas não motiva que eu faça isso no blog, já que os comentários são tão poucos.beijos

  4. Hi Everyone! I am excited to be a part of our dissertation house this winter. Today I will be cleaning up my appendix that is referenced in chapter 4 per my advisors request. This afternoon I will work through my advisors other revisions for chapter four. This should lead working on chapter five revisions late in the next day’s session.

    1. Hello Timothy

      Congratulations on being able to cross something off your todo list. How is the limitation section coming? Will I see something tomorrow?

      1. Hi Dr. Carter-Veale:

        I have been thinking about how to adjust my discussion and limitation section based on our discussion and found the primary sources I want to use to do this. I will be able to present some changes to this section on Friday at our next one-on-one.


        1. Great Timothy
          Looking forward to that discussion.

  5. Good Morning everyone!
    Excited to start working on my first manuscript outline, materials, methods, and figures on this first day of Dissertation House!

    1. Hello Denise

      Welcome to the DH. Were you able to decide which figures were in or out?
      Are you ready to put words on paper?

  6. Hi! I’m a 5th year PhD candidate at UMBC in the Biological Sciences department. Over the next four days I plan to work on chapter 1 of my thesis. Today I will be outlining chapter 1 of my dissertation and determining which figures I will include with chapter one. Once I complete both of those I can begin gathering and organizing my references.

  7. Good Morning,

    I am so happy to be here! Looking forward to finalizing chapter 1 and 2 of my proposal; reviewing and summarizing more recent articles for the intro chapter; getting clarity on the methods section and obtaining data. This is a great opportunity.

  8. Good Morning Everyone,

    My name is Erica Dasi and I am a master’s student in the Biological Sciences Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Today at the Dissertation House event I plan to update my table of contents and begin outlining the results and discussion sections of my thesis document. This afternoon I plan to read and take notes Chapters 1 and 2 of the MWH’s Water Treatment: Principles and Design, 3rd Edition. I will incorporate information from these chapters into the introduction and future directions sections of my thesis document.

    Wish me luck!

  9. My name is Chia-Hua Lue, I am a PhD candidate in Biological Sciences Department of UMBC. My goal in the winter dissertation house is to finish part of the draft in the third chapter of my dissertation.

    Happy to be here!

  10. Hi, I’m a EE PhD student at UMBC and today I’ll be reviewing my advisor’s feedback on a past draft of my Dissertation. I will fix the small and medium defects and takes notes on how to address the large ones at a later stage.

    1. Jorge Welcome, did you get all of your easy and medium “suggestions from you advisor” finished today or will you still have more tomorrow?

      1. I finished reviewing all of them (they were on printed paper) and I addressed all the minor ones. Some of the remaining ones were also addressed, while the others were put onto a (digital) to-do list.

  11. Greetings! I’m a 5th year PhD candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences at UMBC. Today, I am beginning work on chapter 3 of my dissertation (outline and materials/methods). Over the next three days I plan to continue writing chapter 3 (introduction, results, and discussion). Excited to be here and looking forward to a productive week.

    1. Welcome Mariann Let’s move on to the introduction tomorrow. Forward progress.

  12. I’ve been using a two-part writing strategy that has really been working for me- first I use a full screen basic text editor through Noisli- which also has ambient sound that I find helps me zone in on the writing and zone out on everything else- – then I am managing the manuscript itself in Scrivener- that is a program with a fee but you can get a 30 day free trial.

  13. Hello Everyone,
    This week I’ll be working on finalizing a proposal date, developing items needed for IRB protocol, update survey questions, and clean up my data analysis plan. Hope everyone has a productive week! Today, I had an IRB meeting (with internal staff), worked on clearing up issues in preparation for proposal defense date, received helpful feedback from labmates on survey, data analysis and about to meet with colleague in an hour to review statistics.

    1. Hello Dr. J . Glad you made it to the DH. I hope to hear the results of what you have accomplished today and where you are headed for tomorrow.

  14. Great day today! Worked through 90% of my advisor’s revisions for chapter four, finalized Appendix B & D, and fixed most of my TOC. Tomorrow will be a more limited writing day and I will be participating online. My goal for Wednesday is to finish formatting my TOC and Finish Appendix A. Made good progress and had a productive coaching session with Dr. Carter-Veale

  15. Where to pick up tomorrow: Finalize revisions to introduction; finalize revisions to lit review; finish downloading SAS; review some more recent literature on the topic for introduction

    1. Thanks for shnarig. Always good to find a real expert.

    2. I would like to have the design team contact me. I am trying to sell my home and some design help. I live in Roanoke, VA.My email address is and home phome is (540) 343-9786.

  16. Today I finalized my outline for Chapter 2, I made a list of figures and tables the paper requires, and I nearly completed a first draft of my chapter 2 discussion (1,300 words!). I now have a very rough draft of all sections of the paper (except for making figures and tables). Tomorrow I would like start by giving the entire paper a read to make sure that it still feels like one paper (since I’ve been working in chunks). After I read through it (and assuming I don’t see any massive issues with the paper’s idea as a whole), I’d like to start back from the beginning by incorporating more literature into the introduction section in the morning and condensing the text, as it is too long (for the journal’s guidelines that I am planning on submitting it to). In the afternoon, I would then like to move on to the Results section if possible, where I have left blank quotation areas where I need to fill in interview data from my fieldwork. It is also possible that the work on the introduction section will take the entire day tomorrow, but that would also be OK as it would still give me all day on Thursday to work on the Results, and then I could work all day on Friday on finalizing the first draft of the Discussion, which would keep me on track to have a first draft of the paper (minus figures and tables) by the end of the week.

  17. Hi All.
    I has been a very productive day in which I completed the outline of my paper and the methods. Also, I started to draft my results!!! Tomorrow, I will tackle the results and start to work on the discussion. Thanks All!!!!

  18. I hope everyone had a productive day! I feel like I have accomplished a lot. I got my outline for chapter one completed including figures that I will included and am now adding in the references that support each bullet point. I am about half way finished adding in my references. I also familiarized myself with the dissertation template and got the outline for my dissertation complete.

    For tomorrow I plan to continue to add in my references to my outline and hope to have it complete by the end of tomorrow. This will allow me to begin writing on Thursday, and hopefully have a complete rough draft by the end of the day on Friday.

  19. Denise Williams Avatar
    Denise Williams

    Productive Day 1. I wrote more than I expected of myself today. (Not work that I would submit because it was all definitely brain-dumped, but it is there on the document!) Words for my outline, abstract, and methods are on the page. Tomorrow, I would like to start with editing those words for clarity and flow. After that (or before if 9am flow is no go), I will start to put together figures and figure captions.

    1. Hello Denise
      I love that you have a plan B if Plan A of editing doesn’t work.

  20. Today I finished the structure of my dissertation, outline for my 3rd chapter, and part of the draft of material and methods. I will work on rest of the draft of material/methods, result (part 1) and discussion (part 1) tomorrow.

  21. Completed very (and I mean very) rough outline and materials and methods today. Not as “clean” as I hoped but learning how to “move on” (as Dr. Carter says). On the plus side, I discovered the dissertation template doc via graduate school website. Somehow, I previously missed it somehow.

    Tomorrow, I intend to have a draft of chapter 3 introduction.

    1. A wonderful job. Super helpful iniomratfon.

  22. I reviewed the feedback I had from my advisor and corrected the small defects. I also corrected some of the medium defects and started planning on how to address larger defects.

    Additionally, I created the outline for a new chapter and heavily edited the outlines (and some content) of two other chapters that had been split from a larger one, but had not been smoothed out until now.

    I also reorganized my secondary TODO list (that deals with more with upcoming experiments and further literature review initiatives than actual dissertation writing) to facilitate prioritizing the writing of chapters/sections that are not planned to change too much in the future.

    Finally, I prepared my references for tomorrow, where I will resume fixing medium defects and start working on improving my main chapter.

  23. Hi All,

    What a great end to the first day. I created a list of goals including to summarize 4 foundational papers (from competitors) in light of my own data and to make major dents in the abstract, intro, material and methods, and results of my most stubborn chapter.

    This afternoon, I finished a thorough summary and critique of the most recent paper foundational paper. There is still a lot of room for my work in the field and I have not been scooped (woohoo).

    I also worked on the abstract of my dissertation. I got a little side-tracked there, but text is text. What happened was that I opened the Dissertation template, began filling in some parts that I knew the answer to (my name), and then I got to the part that I didn’t know the answer to, until now: the title of my dissertation. After naming the project something that would tie all my chapters together, I had something to say that was too general for the paper abstract/intro that I thought would go well in another section. I like the template because it told me where to start typing.

    As always, I saved to 2 drives.

    Tomorrow, I will pick up where I left off: summarizing paper 2 of 4 and writing sections for my aforementioned chapter.


  24. Hello all,
    my name is Ashley Finigan and I’m a 6th year Ph.D candidate in the History department at the University of Chicago.
    My goal for the DH is to complete drafts of chapters 2 and 3 of my dissertation.
    Over the next few days I’d like to edit the first few pages of the chapter I have thus far and fill in the blanks that I’d like to add in later

    1. Hello Ashley Welcome to Day 2 of the DH. You might consider starting with 1 chapter, move it to 90% then move on to the next rather that working on both of them at the same time. (Just a suggestion) Hope you have another productive day in the Online DH.

  25. Good Morning and Happy Wednesday!

    I was able to go home last night and finish fixing my TOC! Today I want to finish Appendix A. I also want to finish Appendix C. This requires moving several tables to chapter four and removing several tables from the appendix in addition to formatting. The good news is that when this task is complete I will have completed the revisions to chapter four that my advisor requested and I will be able to cross this plus my “finalize” appendix section off my todo list at Dissertation House.

    Best Wishes Everyone!


    1. Good Morning Timothy
      Welcome to Day 2 of the DH. Glad to see that you blogged in already. Chapter 4 is almost done. Let us know at the end of the day if you were able to squeeze in these appendices in between your busy schedule today. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Start with 15 min and see how far you get. Have a great productive day–we’ll cross it off your list if you want us to.

  26. Welcome to Day 2 of the Winter 2017 DH.
    If you didn’t join us yesterday it’s ok, you can begin today. Focus on moving forward rather than looking in the rear view. What are your measurable, bite-size goals for today? Post them here as we begin the face-to-face version of the DH at 9:00. Challenge yourself to see what you can get done in the next 3 days.

    1. Kewl you should come up with that. Exleclent!

    2. Deadly accurate answer. You’ve hit the bullseye!

  27. Good Morning,
    My goals for today: 1) Finish Chapter 1: Intro
    2) Finish revisions to Lit Review
    3) Finish downloading SAS
    4) Inquire about funding for HCUP data
    Feeling very positive today re: progress I have made so far and happy to be here.

  28. Good morning!

    My goals for today are to finish adding references into my outline for chapter 1. I’ve found sections from old papers and documents that I think will be helpful and help move thing forward quickly. I hope today is as productive as yesterday!

  29. After meeting with Dr. Wendy Carter-Veale yesterday, I began transferring my document into the UMBC thesis template. Today I plan to continue with:

    1. Transfering and reformating my document into the UMBC template
    2. Outlining the results and conclusion sections
    3. Taking notes on Chapters 1 and 2 of the MWH’s Water Treatment: Principles and Design, 3rd Edition.

  30. Good morning everyone! My goal today is finish Material/Methods, result (part1)/ discussion (part1) and some articles review.
    Hope today is as productive as yesterday (and with some good music)!

  31. Good Morning All!!! Have a great productive day!!!! I am ready to get some results down

  32. Hello all. I’ve spent the morning working on tightening up my introduction, and clarifying its messaging, and putting in references where I had place holders. I’m hoping I can finish this section this afternoon, along with finalizing the methods. This would put me in pretty good shape to work on the results tomorrow, and revisit the discussion on friday.

  33. Today I decided to downgrade some of the large defects into the medium category so that I would address them now instead of postponing them. I should be finished tonight, and for now have completed planning for the truly large issues that will take some time to fix.

    I have reviewed the Background chapter and the only issue I want to resolve this week is moving out one section from my main chapter into the Background chapter. This requires considerable editing and should tie up nicely with my other goal of improving my main chapter, which I also initiated.

    1. Time is almost up, so I’m posting now and afterwards I will do a full backup, since I added new references and made other changes to my work environment.

      I finished fixing the defects, so tomorrow I will be focusing on my main chapter.

  34. Revisions are back from a paper I submitted. Although I am tempted to work on them first, I will continue toward my set DH goals.


    1. Sharlene good for you for staying focus on the DH goals…the revisions will be there waiting for you when you are done.

  35. I finished a first draft of the methods section today, and did significant work on my introduction- it was productive but I didn’t get quite as far as I was hoping with it today (I wanted to finish it), but it mostly just needs references added and some tightening. So instead of picking up with that tomorrow, I’d like to shift over to the results section which is where the bulk of the difficult work remains to be done in my opinion, so I plan to work on that all day tomorrow, working to incorporate interview material into the text body. Then that leaves Friday for the discussion/conclusion section.

    1. Jmarguli Keep up the good work the heavy lifting will occur tomorrow.

  36. I am still working on material/methods, and result today. I will continue to work on these sections tomorrow. Hope tomorrow I can finish material and method section!
    Also found several good articles today, excited!

  37. Hi All. Congrats All!!! Second day is over. Hope you had a productive day. I worked on my results and my abstract. When I was facing a writer’s block, I moved to a different section and that help me to keep it going!!!

    1. Dr. Crab good to see that when you experienced Writer’s Block you were able to move to a plan B. Without an outline you would not have be able to move on.

  38. I was able to make revisions to both the Intro and Lit Review of my proposal today.
    After meeting with Dr. Wendy Carter-Veale today I am much clearer on what I need to do to draft my Research Methodology Section for my proposal and re: the difference between the proposal and the dissertation.

    I am determined to download the SAS software by tomorrow. I will need the SAS software to download and analyze both the HCUP data and the DHHS HRSA Area Resource file data. Also, I found out that I can apply for a research grant to get reimbursed for the purchase of the HCUP data. I will start working on the tables for the Research Methodology Section once I am able to get the SAS software. I am very grateful for this opportunity and appreciate the honest feedback and guidance. I have enjoyed speaking with the other students and appreciate their willingness to help. Good night Dr. Tull.

    1. Kathy G….I am looking forward to your post tomorrow when you write “finally I have downloaded SAS!!!’
      I am anticipating good things from you; I have high expectations.

  39. In my morning meeting with Dr. Carter I was challenged to not only develop my figure outline, but write a paragraph for each figure to start the writing portion of the document. In doing this, I found some of the original messages I planned to convey with the figures weren’t supported by the rough data sketches in my head. There are experiments and data that do not convey a few of the messages thoroughly. Writing concurrent to the figure configurations has allowed me to plan some additional measurements to appropriately convey conclusions of the study. In addition to the exposed weaknesses, I did realize that some of the rough messages in my head could be fleshed out deeper once they were put on paper. Plotting the figures comparatively, in order, and then immediately moving into writing the the text to accompany the images allowed me to develop my ideas deeper than I could achieve without writing things down. Tomorrow, I would like to finish up with this rough figure outline with text, and plan for the data I need to collect to accompany the data already collected. Overall, today I acquired the understanding that regular UNAVOIDED writing time (not just in my lab notebook) is important.

    1. Denise
      Glad I was able to help and glad that you recognized that “Writing is part of science” even if it is 1 paragraph at a time. Writing down what is in your head creates space in your head for new ideas.

  40. I almost forgot. Today i finished writing summary 2 of 4, my table of contents, and the abstract of my stubborn chapter. Tomorrow I will work to summarize paper 3 of 4 and tackle additional sections of my chapter.



  41. Day two complete!

    Today was a little more difficult to stay focused on writing. I started off in the morning working on gathering references and started to drag. There are a couple of sections for my chapter 1 that are going to require more time finding new citations as I didn’t include them in previous lit reviews. Instead of getting stuck I decided to start writing the sections I had thoroughly outlined. This worked quite well and I was able to complete two sections and began working on several others. I think I was able to get a lot of work done today by not getting stuck on one section or by forcing myself to work linearly though the chapter.

    Tomorrow my plan is to continue working on chapter 1. I plan on finding references first thing in the morning and moving on to writing as I get stuck doing that. With two more days left I am confident I can have a rough draft of chapter 1 finished that I can continue to build on and polish.

    Goodnight everyone, enjoy your time away from the computer tonight!

    1. Cassie good to see you working through the rough patches.

  42. We are at the end of day 2… Today, I have a rough draft of results section (text only; no figures yet) and outlined my discussion section. Tomorrow (day 3) goals are to move on to introduction section and re-visit the results section (edit and/or choose figures).

  43. Tough day today. In back to back meetings from 8:30 to 3:30 plus 45 minutes drive time each way. However, “just do 15 minutes” was the strategy employed today and I got my Appendix A finished! This means that between two days of Dissertation House I am ahead of schedule on my goals. Can’t wait to be even more productive tomorrow since I am all warmed up and ready to write!

  44. Today I was able to finish transferring and formatting my document into the UMBC template. I was also able to outline the results and conclusion sections of my thesis document. I was not able to begin taking notes on Chapter’s 1 and 2 of the MWH’s Water Treatment: Principles and Design, 3rd Edition textbook. I plan start this task tomorrow morning.

  45. Welcome to day 3 of the Dissertation House. You can always hit RESET any day of the week and get started. Writing your dissertation doesn’t need to be “fun” and you don’t need to be motivate, enthusiastic, or even “feel like it”. Based on your past behavior you can come to work when you’re sick, tired, depressed, and when you don’t feel like it. It’s important to treat this long-term project like a job rather than a hobby. Show up every day and be productive (do something). Some days the prose will flow uncontrollably other days the prose will slow to a trickle or a drop. There are plenty of things to do with this project that does not involve writing.
    —-analyzing data or results
    —-finding, formatting & cleaning up references
    —-downloading, reading, printing out new journal articles
    —-creating & checking accuracy of tables, maps, figures, algorithms, equations, notations

  46. Good Morning Everyone:

    I am so happy to be back on campus. This morning I will work on my limitations and future research portions of chapter five. This afternoon I will finish my chapter four revisions and Appendix C clean up. This should allow me to cross out two of my objectives from my Dissertation House goals chart.

    Productive work everyone!

  47. Good Morning,
    Starting back in on figures and the complementing text today. The goal is to finish and send it off to my boss this evening!

  48. Good Morning All.
    Today, I am going start drafting my abstract and then move back to results!!!! I wish you all a very a productive day

  49. Good morning Everyone!

    Time to start day three! I plan to work on finding references for a few sections of my chapter one in the morning and switching to writing later in the afternoon. My end goal is still to get a complete first draft of chapter 1.

  50. Good Morning Everyone!
    My goals for today are to begin taking notes on Chapter’s 1 and 2 of the MWH’s Water Treatment: Principles and Design, 3rd Edition textbook. Wish me luck!

  51. Time to copy/paste and then edit a section from one chapter to the other. This will be tough because it will need to stand “alone” while currently it is heavily mixed with related topics. The good news is it will be more trimming and editing than writing.

    1. Jorge
      That is good news,,,,editing (some might call it slashing & burning) is easier that coming up with new material. Remember Dr. Halverson’s presentation on learning how to pair down 45-55 words sentences into short, clear, succinct ones . That learning process served him well to now be the associate dean and a columnist/scientific writer for the Washington Post. Good luck to you today—I’m looking forward to our one-on-one this morning.

  52. Good morning!
    Today I am going to finish statistical analyses section of material and method then move to result (part I)! Wish me luck and have a productive day!

  53. Good Morning,
    Yes, I am here. I have been at the Tech Support Center at the Library for the last 2 and a half hours attempting to install the SAS software. I hope everyone is having a productive day so far.
    Hope to see you for lunch.

  54. Thanks you Dr. Carter-Veale for pushing & encouraging me! It is much appreciated!

  55. Today, I had my first one-on-one meeting with Dr. Carter-Veale, which I found to be educational. In light of our discussion, I will prioritize my least favorite chapters over “my baby” aka my favorite project to write about. Once they are out of the way, I will have more time for my darling.

    My dissertation is a jealous mistress with 5 heads.

    1. Sharlene Sounds like a plan. You will always find time for “your baby” the rest of your chapters just need you to acknowledge that they exist 🙂 The sooner you put them to bed the sooner you can focus without distractions of the to-do lists.

  56. The existing equations and algorithm description were in worse shape than I thought, and LaTeX was pointing out an inconsistency in typesetting that I was very hesitant to work-around to ensure compatibility with previous art.

    Anyway, the main recursion equations are completed, but the surrounding text will have to wait until tomorrow.

  57. I finished all my chapter four revisions today. I cleaned up Appendix C a lot. Tomorrow I need to finish cleaning up Appendix C so it is ready for submission with my chapters. I also need to enrich my discussion section by linking my findings to the literature to show my contributions. One more day left!

  58. Today I finished the draft of material/method and half of the result part 1. Tomorrow I will continue to work on the result. Hope everybody had a great productive day.

  59. Today was a productive day. I was able to finish reading Chapter 1 for the MWH’s Water Treatment: Principles and Design, 3rd Edition textbook. I was also able to outline the results for my last two aims. Although I am currently working on getting results for these sections, I now have bullets in my document that I can address in the future. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s three minute practice on talking about our research.

  60. I finished the Figures outline with the data I had and started fleshing out the manuscript text. Tomorrow I want to read 2 papers and summarize them and continue to flesh out the manuscript text. Goodnight!

  61. Hi folks, I forgot to ‘blog in’ this AM, whoops! But here is what I did- I spent the majority of the day working on my results section, and its really come along. I ended up working on both the results and the discussion today, and made a lot of progress in cutting them down and honing the text. I still need to work tomorrow to incorporate interview quotes into the results, but I should feel good about my prospects for doing it tomorrow, especially since I really tightened up the discussion today.

    I ended up spending most of the afternoon ‘finalizing’ the introduction, and dropping in all of my references, and tightening up the language and length. So I’m happy to report it is ‘done’! I may end up working a bit more on it this evening, since it is so close. Moving into tomorrow, I’m just going to dive into finalizing the interview quotes that will go into the results, and then revisit the discussion one more time. I am on target to have the draft complete except for tables and figures by the end of tomorrow.

    1. Good for you for getting close to the finish line with a complete draft i.e. words on paper. Some people just get the figs & tables done 1st and don’t move beyond that so Kudos to your persistence.

  62. Another day complete! I hope everyone had a productive day!

    I am on track to have a (very) rough draft of chapter one complete at the end of tomorrow. I also have set a timeline and writing goals to get my dissertation complete and all chapters to my advisor my May 26th (just in time to celebrate during Memorial Day weekend). I plan to keep posting over the next four months to stay on task.

    Tomorrow will be more of the same, finishing my chapter one draft and finding references for it. Have a good night everyone, see you bright and early tomorrow for the last day of DH!

  63. I was able to get a couple of good paragraphs into my abstract.!!! Still missing more work but I can retake it tomorrow. I also worked on my results and I did a Fig which I was procrastinating to do!!! YEAH. Tomorrow, I will write about those results!!!!!

  64. End of day 3… I continued working on results section and got a decent start on the introduction.
    Plan for tomorrow is to finish the introduction, clean references, and “drop in” ch.1 into the dissertation template.

  65. Hi All. Happy Friday!!!
    I will be working from home today but still gonna try to stick to my goals as much as possible. I was able to come home last night and work on two summaries!!! I have new goal: one paper a day.!!! That is going to put in shape for my prelim.
    I have been moving between the following sections of my manuscript: results, discussion and abstract completing one goal at the time. This has been giving good results allowing me to make progress.
    Have a great DAY!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Ok Dr. Crab we will miss your presentation of your research. Please let us know if you able to get as much done at home as you did in the DH. Looking forward to reading your blog post this evening at 4:45pm.
      Good luck.

  66. Good Morning all Welcome to the last day of the Dissertation House.
    This morning we will finish up with out elevator pitch exercise. You should be able to clearly communicate your research with anyone including your grandmother without using jargon, or filler words (ums, ahs, so, like…). And you should be able to do so in 2-3 min without the recipient having to a prompt you with questions. Can you sell yourself and the enthusiasm for your research?

    Everyone make the most of the time you have to work on your dissertation today.

  67. Good Morning!
    I was able to finally download and install SAS yesterday! Persistence pays off! Today my goals are to draft my methods section, including tables, and order the books which Dr. Carter-Veale recommended for SAS and Statistics. Also, I will draft my timeline for graduation.
    I am excited to be here and feel I have accomplished many of my goals and am focused!

    1. yay congrats on getting SAS set up!

  68. Forgot to mention that the methods section will include a description of the data sets that I will be using as well as the methodology behind why I am choosing the 5 states for my study.

  69. I’m going to start with one more read of my introduction first today since I wasn’t able to last evening, and then I’m going to dive back into the results and discussion. Hoping to still leave today with a pretty respectable 1st draft except for tables and figures, which I plan to do next week.

  70. Happy Friday Colleagues:

    On this last day of Dissertation House I will meet with Dr. Carter-Veale to review my progress and limitations/future research sections. I will also work on linking my findings to my literature to show how they are new contributions to the field. If time permits in the late afternoon (when my brain is no longer function at full capacity 😉 I will work on appendix C. I made all the required cuts from the section and moved pertinent data to my results section. Now I just need to format several dozen tables.

    Have a productive day everyone!

  71. Good morning everyone! I am going to start with result (Part 1) and then move to result (Part 2).
    Hope everyone has a good productive day as yesterday.

  72. Ready for the last day of Winter Dissertation House 2017! (Already excited to attend another session.)

  73. I will have my one-on-one meeting with Dr. Carter-Veale in an hour, and expect to get some feedback on the ToC and receive more great writing tips!

    Last day of DH, so it’s time to wrap it up and bring it home!

    1. Dr. Carter-Veale made some really good suggestions for my continuing writing effort and reminded me to pay attention to deadlines – don’t leave it all for last minute!

      The ToC and overall plan for the Dissertation look good, so now it’s up to me to keep doing the research and keep writing about it.

      I’m basically done with moving/editing the section I was working done, so I will use my remaining time to fix the “hole” left at the original location of that section.

  74. Good Morning Everyone,
    Today I will continue reading and taking notes on Chapter 2 of for the MWH’s Water Treatment: Principles and Design, 3rd Edition textbook.This afternoon, I plan to review my notes for Chapters 1 and 2 and incorporate information from these sections into my thesis document. Wish me luck!

  75. Good morning!

    What a great week so far! Time to stay focused and get my rough draft of chapter 1 completed! To do that I am going to find some more references and continue writing. Good luck everyone!

  76. What a great, productive day. I finished Appendix C and made sure all my tables in Ch 4 and 5 were in APA format and consist. I did not get to the discussion section today because I worked on my limitations and future research sections. They are now much more focused and provide a very clear path for those who will read my dissertation to follow. I was challenged this week to tighten up my writing and develop a more direct approach to the message I am trying to communicate in each chapter of my dissertation. Tomorrow is Saturday. On Saturday I will take time to rewrite my discussion section (that for which time ran out today). Hopefully I will have fewer revisions for chapter five than I had for five thanks to some great feedback from Dr. Carter-Veale. For the rest of my time today I will start the process of reading through my dissertation from the beginning. This will allow me to start thinking about any disconnect between the early and later chapters. I definitely need to make sure everything is consistent.

  77. Hi All,
    Although my day was’t as productive, I did more that what I would normally do during these kid sick days. I completed a section of my results and worked on the format of my manuscript ( Thanks Dr. Nelson). I will return to my work tonight after kids are in bed to complete the abstract and read one article a day. Thanks again HOD for a great productive week!!!

  78. Wow what a week! I feel like I got a lot accomplished! I have a very rough but completed draft of chapter 1 aka the introduction/background! This was probably the most daunting chapter for me as it requires a lot of reading and organizing information. In all of my papers the introduction is always the hardest so it’s an amazing feeling to have the rough draft of my biggest introduction yet complete!

    I am now armed with my writing schedule and fellow DH members so I feel confident that I will continue making progress and reach my goal of sending my final chapter to my advisor May 26th!

    I plan on reserving a conference room in the biology department in the evenings for a grad student writing space and will be sure to post the details on here when I have them.

    Good luck everyone, I hope to continue to read about your progress on the blog!

    1. And thank you so much to Dr. Carver-Veale, Dr. Tull and everyone else who helped make dissertation possible and a huge success!

  79. Great productive day! I finished result (Part 1) and also finish the R coding in result (Part 2). Hope I can finish my chapter 3 draft in early Feb.

    Good luck everyone, nice to spend 4 days with you all!

    1. Thank you very much for the DH staff to make this happened!

  80. DH Winter 2017 is almost over and I managed to complete essentially all of my goals (the two that were not complete were stretch goals and I made some progress on both of them). Time to do another full backup.

    I finished moving a Section into its proper place, and polished it well enough (90% level).

    I also added LaTeX code to allow automatic importing of source code listings into the Appendices – this means that even if I change my program, I don’t need to do anything to update the listing. Additionally, I can now refer to it from the Implementation chapter.

    I started improving my main chapter and will keep working on it after DH is over. The other stretch goal was the Implementation chapter, whose outline I had finished on day one. I didn’t have much time left to work here, but at least I added what I typed during the raw writing exercise.

    Thank you everyone for a productive and energetic week! Good luck for your writing and hopefully we will all graduate soon.

  81. Thanks so much to Dr. Carter and Dr. Tull for organizing this great event- I would most definitely attend again, but hope I won’t need to! this really helped me get a huge amount of work done in a compressed amount of time in a highly focused environment.

  82. Wonderful experience! Thank you to Dr. Tull and Dr. Carter-Veale and everyone else who helped! I accomplished more than I thought I would and will continue progressing daily! This is NOT a hobby!

  83. I am truly appreciative to Dr. Carter and PROMISE for hosting Dissertation House. I have gained so many tips, skills, confidence, resources, references, and even new peers through these four days ! Attending Dissertation House as a second year was an excellent move. (Thank you Dr. Tull for encouraging my application.)
    The progress I made was greater than the list drafted on Tuesday. I have added pages to my -coming manuscript, added references, and worked on abstracts for upcoming talks. The overall experience was phenomenal and I will encourage others to attend. I look forward to using this energy throughout 2017 and the rest of my graduate career.

  84. Excited to say that I have a rough but referenced version of chapter 1, my least favorite chapter. Yes, there are a few small sections missing, but I have placeholders in my template and table of contents to add information later. I also completed materials and methods for another chapter. Much progress today.

    Thank you Drs. Tull and Carter-Veale for providing us with this opportunity to work on our dissertations FOR REAL THIS TIME. Thanks for giving us new skills, perspectives, and confidence to complete this work.

    “A good dissertation is a done dissertation.” – Dr. Carter-Veale

    Good luck to everyone in the process!

  85. End of day 4… wow… that was quite the experience. Glad I did this; no regrets! Thank you Dr. Carter-Veale and Dr. Tull for this wonderful opportunity. I plan on continuing with this momentum and will definitely use some of the strategies we learned.

  86. Hey Everyone!

    So I want to continue to use the blog to hold myself accountable. I managed to carry the momentum I had from dissertation house through the weekend and worked for 15 minutes on Saturday on my Materials and Methods for Chapter for and an hour today organizing references for Chapter 1 and making a Figure for Chapter 4.

    This week I plan on continuing to work on my references for Chapter 1 now that I’ll be back on my desktop with full access to my EndNote and continue to make figures for Chapter 4 as well as working on writing the results for Chapter 4. I will also be able to meet with my advisor and let him know about my writing plan. This will allow me to get feedback from him as well as add another layer of accountability.

    1. Hi Cassie,

      I am going to be on the blog a few times a week too. I want to report my progress and keep things moving forward!


  87. Good Morning:

    I want to thank Dr. Tull and Dr. Carter-Veale again for a great week at Winter 2017 DH. This weekend I finished tightening up my discussion section for four of my research questions (RQ). Today I want to finish tightening up the discussion for the last five. This should be less work because this weekend I re-familiarized myself with dissertation structure and primary literature sources for the first four. I am on a roll!


  88. Good Morning!

    All research question discussion sections in chapter are done! Today I finish my demographics section, proof my chapter, and send it to my advisor for review. Hopefully, there are fewer revisions needed in this version. I have several meetings this afternoon and work until 9:30pm tonight. However, if there is time between meetings I hope to review my chapter five and type about three pages to wrap up some sparse sections. If this occurs, chapter five joins chapter four in being sent to my advisor tonight! This is great progress and moves me past a major milestone for graduation. After today I only have eight days left to meet my goal of submitting an entire draft of my dissertation in the grad school format to my advisor on February 1, 2017.

    Have a productive day everyone!

    1. Good work!! Eight days is a lot of time to get things done! I’m sure it must feel awesome to have the end so near!

  89. Hi Everyone!,

    The week has been going well so far. I have been exceeding my goal to work on my dissertation for at least 30 minutes each day. I have made all but one of my figures for Chapter 4! I will have a couple of tables to make, but I have illustrator files of almost all of my figures which feels great! I had a long day today and really wasn’t in the mood to work on my dissertation but doing only 30 minutes made it more achievable. I plan on working on writing up my results now that I have figures complete to reference as well as filling in references for chapter 1 and chapter 4

    1. Great work. Keep up the momentum. Just a little each day keeps things moving to completion.

  90. Yay! Chapter 4 and 5 along with all end-matter and front matter is ready to go. Something in my TOC/Header styles in Word was corrupted so none of my subchapters were numbered correctly. I had to create a blank file. Removing formatting from my old document and copy each element of my dissertation to the new doc. Then…I had to redo all the headings and subchapter numberings and update my EndNote export. This took an extra day this week. As a result the document is in the best shape it has ever been. Today I am dedicating to updating and proofing chapter three – methods.

  91. Shelly Renee Brown Avatar
    Shelly Renee Brown

    Hi Everyone! My name is Shelly and I am a doctoral candidate in the Duquesne University School of Education, Educational Leadership Program. My proposal was approved by my committee, but I have NUMEROUS revisions before it is officially submitted for IRB approval. The revisions are not difficult – I just don’t have the energy to dive in…any motivating help is appreciated!

    1. Congrats so far Shelly!! Finish!

      1. Shelly Renee Brown Avatar
        Shelly Renee Brown

        Thank you! …devoting more time each day and pushing through.

        1. Dear Shelly,
          You can also join us online this summer! Give yourself the opportunity to get through at least one revision per day. Don’t look at it as “numerous.” Look at it as getting it done, piece by piece. Can you devote time to it this summer?

          Renetta Tull

          1. Shelly Renee Brown Avatar
            Shelly Renee Brown

            Hi Renetta!
            I will be joining the PITT/STRIVE workshop this week. I plan to use the time wisely and be intentional about revisions that need to be done…very thankful for the opportunity and support.

  92. Hello all!

    My name is Erika and I’m a doctoral candidate at UMCP in the Education Policy program. I am currently working on my dissertation proposal and have written a substantial amount of the actual document. My goals for this week include spending 30 minutes to 1 hour per day doing revisions for my write-up, specifically the theoretical framework section, and at least 1 hour per day analyzing and summarizing the data I currently have available for my methods section. My biggest challenges include time management and organizing my ideas once I have time to sit with my document! I also need to re-engage with my official advisor to update him with my progress since we’ve lost momentum with our check in calls.

    I have a full schedule as a mom to two kids (2 and 5), but want to make a commitment to remain consistent with my writing schedule and I’ve been utilizing tools within Google docs to help me better organize my manuscript so that when I look at it it’s not one, big scary blob of text and figures. Other than caffeinated beverages, I definitely appreciate the energy of those around me and am looking forward to upcoming workshops where I can learn from participants what is working for them and maybe share a tip or two myself. I’d also love to hear from folks about what qualitative analysis tools they are liking (e.g., Dedoose, Nvivo, etc.).

  93. Good Evening,

    I’m counting down the days until my master’s thesis defense on July 21, 2017. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to push through on my writing. To motivate me through the last few chapters of my document, I have decided to return and blog about my progress these next few weeks.

    I returned home from visiting family in NJ this weekend. Unfortunately, I did not reach my personal goal of completing my methods chapter by the end of the weekend. Lately, just the thought of writing and what needs to be completed has caused me to avoid completing the task. Has anyone felt this way before?

    When I arrived in MD this morning, I set a goal to compete the methods chapter of my document and begin with the results chapter. After a few hours of being unproductive (and a nap), I decided to work at the public library near home. Working in the library so far has helped in keeping me awake and focused. I’m pleased to say that I have been quite productive here and managed to finish my methods chapter.

    I plan to remain at the library until it closes this evening and return home for dinner. I’m going to continue writing and will provide an update on my progress.


  94. William Rivera Avatar
    William Rivera

    Working on my literature review received good advise and direction. tommorow i will have the letter to grand ma (“Statement of the Problem”).

  95. Good Morning All!
    I am getting a late start to the DH this morning because I just finished a practice defense talk with my group, which went well. My document is due next week, and I am finishing the remainder of my edits. Today, I will focus on the front end of my document (Chapters 1-3). Good luck to everyone!

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What is dissertation house?

The Dissertation House program is an intensive writing retreat designed to help graduate students overcome the barriers that often impede progress on their dissertations. Developed by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the program provides a supportive and structured environment where students can focus on their writing, receive feedback, and learn effective time management and goal-setting strategies. Over several days, students work in groups, participate in workshops, and receive coaching from experienced facilitators. The Dissertation House program has been highly successful in helping students make significant progress on their dissertations. It is widely regarded as a valuable resource for graduate students seeking to complete their degrees.