Featured in the Seminar
Contributing to the seminar and providing assistance with dissertation research will be Angela R. Davis, Engineering Library Liaison.
Advice on how to complete your doctoral dissertation more quickly
- Limit the scope of your work. The trouble with having a topic that fascinates you is you want to make it as complete and thoroughly researched as possible. The danger here can be found is the popular English expression: “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” The expression can refer to a hungry person ordering more food for lunch than can be eaten. This is relevant because doctoral themes in the Architectural Engineering Department at Penn State as elsewhere can take a lifetime to research and write following the strict rules for academic publication.
- Examine your project and consider your ambitions. Your dissertation begins a major effort. To successfully defend a dissertation, your committee does not require you to be an expert on everything related to the subject. The committee simply wants you to make a contribution to the knowledge base. “Knowledge base” may not be the best phrase, but in academia the concept is clear and definable. A successful dissertation is one that adds something new to a clearly defined subject. Instead of regarding your dissertation as making or breaking your career, think of the dissertation as creating a foundation. It is praiseworthy if completion (to continue with construction imagery) means you have designed a basement that will support the building that is in effect your career. A reexamination of your goals will make it easier to enjoy your work. It is easier to complete when you enjoy what you are doing. Enjoyment is easier to obtain when the subject is modest and you can envision as early in the process as possible what is required to COMPLETE.
- Believe in your talent at least as much as Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering believes in you.
Test question: What grammatical error did I make in the title of this post?
Rex Harrison sings about the various ways in which English is pronounced. Here we focus on the varieties of written expression. Most notable are the requirements for formal English . Hence, the usefulness of the Chicago Manual of Style as a widely-respected resource for providing the rules and explaining them.
What is a style guide?
How will a style guide help you with your dissertation?
- Ensures consistency within a document and across multiple documents
- Enforces best practice in usage and in language composition, visual composition, orthography and typography.
- For academic and technical documents, a guide may also enforce best practice in
- ethics authorship,
- research ethics
- pedagoglogical matters such as exposition and clarity
- technical and regulatory compliance.
Let us take a look at how these two style manuals can help you with their dissertation.
The first manual is the Chicago Manual of Style
Wikipedia writes: “The Chicago Manual of Style….is a style guide for American English published since 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. Its sixteen editions have prescribed writing and citation styles widely used in publishing. It is “one of the most widely used and respected style guides in the United States.” The Chicago Manual of Style deals with editorial practice, from American English grammar and use to document preparation.”
Here is a Penn State Library link that gives you The Chicago Manual of style on line:
“This edition also features an introduction to Unicode, the international computing standard for letters and symbols. As in the past, the manual notes conventions and practices that are specific to American English, and points the reader to other guides such as The Oxford Manual of Style (Ritter, 2002) (RR 2003/428) for assistance with British English.”
A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.
–POLITICS AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE BY GEORGE ORWELL
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
Graduate students are best advised to have this manual close at hand when writing your dissertation. The rules require you to format citations within the document rather than using footnotes. The earlier you understand academic requirements for on-line citations, the easier your life will be. The American Psychological Association Manual is the best resource on on-line citations. Then, converting to the style requirements of academic publications such as the Journal of Architectural Engineering would be child’s play; in my case grandfather’s play.