Destination Dissertation. A Traveler's Guide to A Done Dissertation
By Sonja K. Foss and William Waters.
(Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Lanham, Maryland: 2007. Pg. xii, 368.) ISBN 10: 0-7425-5440-6. ISBN 13: 978-0-7425-5440-5.
Reviewed by Herbert White - August 15, 2007
Writing your dissertation or thesis can be the hardest part of completing a graduate degree. Looking at a blank piece of paper can produce more fear than an oral exam or presenting your research to your advisory committee. The main cause of this fear is simply - writing a book is something that most graduate students are simply not prepared or trained to do. Yes, you have received an excellent education in your chosen field, you know how to conduct research and teach, but unless you're an English or Writing student, it is most likely that the only course in writing that you've been required to take, beyond freshman composition, is a brief dissertation workshop or seminar designed more to explain the process that you will have to go through in getting your dissertation approved - rather than in explaining to you how to write one.
To the rescue comes Sonja K. Foss and William Waters with their outstanding book, Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to A Done Dissertation. This book is a must-have for anyone in graduate school, and for anyone who faces the prospect of writing a research paper or journal article with trepidation. In this book the authors succinctly and efficiently guide you through the entire dissertation process via a step-by-step, easy to follow format.
The book is written as a 'travel guide' that takes you on a journey through the 29 steps of writing a dissertation. At the onset, this format may seem a bit silly, but stick with it! First, give this book a quick scan to discover how it is organized and the wealth of information it contains, and then go back to the beginning and use it as a road-map on your writing journey. Foss and Waters will not lead you astray. If you do happen to get a little disoriented, don't worry, maps are included! This book not only elucidates the entire writing process, but it also shows you how you can easily break the process up into to manageable bits. By doing so you will not only feel less overwhelmed, but you'll be able to write with more confidence and the assurance that you are doing it correctly!
Destination Dissertation is organized into twelve chapters that cover just about everything you might possibly need to know from how to plan your dissertation (trip) and develop your dissertation proposal to collecting your data and preparing to defend your dissertation. They also provide advice on how to work with, and use, your dissertation advisor, tips on improving your writing style and writing technique, and, most important, how to overcome the urge to procrastinate! A plethora of real-life examples that illustrate all aspects of the dissertation writing process, are also included.
No matter what field you are in, or the type of research you are conducting, you can effectively use Destination Dissertation as a guide to writing your dissertation or thesis. Best of all, you can also use this as guide on crafting any scholarly publication, making this book equally useful to both graduate students and academicians. If you are facing the prospect of having to write a dissertation or thesis, get this book! Foss and Water's step-by-step approach to dissertation writing will help lead you through the pitfalls and roadblocks that might stand in your way, while also offering you sage advice and a well-organized and thoughtful plan that makes writing your dissertation a goal that you can reach with much less effort and trepidation than you ever imagined. Good luck on your dissertation journey!