How Do I Start My Own Dissertation Group?

If there isn’t already a dissertation group running in your department, or for some reason you can’t join one in existence, here are some ideas for starting a dissertation group of your own.

  • Send an email to your graduate listserv announcing your intention to start a new group.
  • Write down some suggested agendas and then finalize your ideas as people join the group.
  • Typically, groups meet weekly or every other week. The members take turns being the person whose dissertation is read. The writer gives a little presentation and then the members give feedback. All members should have read the material carefully ahead of time.
  • If you have trouble finding enough interest in your department, go to departments with similar dissertation requirements. I’ve found, for example, that English and Religious Studies often overlap nicely, as the latter involves looking at writings and writing literature reviews.
  • For help in understanding how and why a dissertation group is helpful, see the FAQ “Why Start a Dissertation Group?”

If you continue to have difficulty getting a dissertation group off the ground, post to this forum. I don’t know of anyone who has done this, but it should be possible to have a “virtual group.” All of my coaching groups are done over the phone with a free “bridge line.” A phone dissertation group may help people who with to get feedback from widely dispersed peers. If you do that, please let me know how that goes!

Posted in: Grad School

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