I can already tell today is going to be a difficult day to write. I woke up with a scratchy throat and a mini headache that I’m hoping won’t grow in size or aggression. Right now, I just want more sleep. I am a sleep-obsessed-never-want-to-be-sick, type. At the first glance of a cold, I’m drinking 20 cups of tea (vanilla rooibos this morning) and ingesting all the Zicam I can manage. But you know what I’m not doing? I have a full day of dissertation writing ahead of me. Lately, I’ve been starting my morning writing sessions on Medium. It’s 6:36am and I’m already 100 words in. I start the day here with low-stakes writing that helps ease the entry into writing my dissertation. Some days, writing my dissertation comes easily. Other days (like I suspect today might be), it can be a struggle to get one hour of solid work in.

Since I’ve been writing on Medium consistently for the last 3 weeks, I’ve worked on my dissertation almost every single day. That is a feat in and of itself. I spend my time here to get in the writing mindset before I head over to dissertation land and proceed to confuse myself with the complexity of soil. So even if my writing here on Medium isn’t successful, I’m convinced that the process of regular, low-stakes writing will help me write, revise, and publish scientific manuscripts that will drive my career. I’m here for the process of writing. This is where my creativity begins. Then, my Medium energy spills over into my dissertation. At the end of my 25 minute Medium writing session (one pomodoro timer segment), I know it’s time to open up Scrivener and make some magic happen on my dissertation. Maybe I’m using my freshest morning energy on the “wrong project”?

On the day -to-day, this might be true. But I’m playing the long writing game here. I am working tirelessly to maintain a steady writing practice. Low-stakes, non-technical writing has become an important part of that. The more I write, the more I feel that I can write. My writing stamina has improved in part because of my time here on Medium. Just yesterday I was staring at the discussion section of my current working manuscript. It was blank — not even an outline. I made a simple goal — spend the next 25 minutes crafting an outline. That’s it. 6 paragraphs — one main idea for each. I felt stuck at first staring at that blank page. I had spent a lot of my writing session working with data and had written a whopping 11 words for far (I love Scrivener’s writing history tool). On top of that, I wasn’t even sure I was ready to write the discussion. The story isn’t yet clear in my mind, how could I approach with discussion section without greater clarity? Sometimes the answer is brute force. Just begin and see what happens. Clarity comes through writing. So I kept at it. 500 words written. What just happened? The paragraphs are in need of details, citations, and many rounds of revision, but now I have something to work with. Next time I look at the discussion section, it won’t be a blank screen. I’ll have somewhere to start, somewhere to go. Without a consistent writing practice, I don’t think I would have been able to crank out that degree of progress in 25 minutes. Not every session is like that, but when they are, it feels intoxicating.

Your questions should clearly show the relationship of your work to your field of study. Be aware of ethical considerations and procedures. Choose your methodology wisely. Methodological considerations are a core issue as you develop and refine your research topic. Consider questions such as the following: What are the most common research methods used in your discipline? Which methods are most strongly supported within your program and by your supervisor and supervisory committee members? What are the leading methodological debates within your discipline, particularly in relation to your research topic or problem? What methodological issues have been raised in recent research literature in your area? You need to be thoroughly acquainted with effective principles and practices of choosing research methods for your thesis or dissertation. Be sure to discuss methodological questions and issues with your supervisor and committee in the early stages of your proposal development. Select and prepare your supervisory committee carefully.

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