Useful Texts and Tools for Thesis and Dissertation Writers

Boice, Robert. Professors as Writers. Stillwater, OK: New Forums P, 1990.

While marketed to professors, useful for scholars at any level who want to master writing as a productive, enjoyable, and successful experience.

Bolker, Joan. Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis. New York: Holt, 1998.

By a co-founder of the Harvard Writing Center, now a clinical psychologist who specializes in helping dissertators. In her words, “This book is a collection of successful field-tested strategies for writing a dissertation; it’s also a guide to conducting an experiment, with you as your own subject, your work habits as the data, and a writing method that fits you well as the goal.”

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. 2nd Ed. Chicago: U Chicago P, 2003.

Thorough and sophisticated treatment of the research process: moving from a topic to a research problem, building a convincing argument, drafting, and revising. Also includes a helpful chapter on “Communicating Evidence Visually.”

Cook, Claire Kehrwald. Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing. New York: Modern Language Association, 1985.

Geared specifically towards training humanities scholars to work as their own copy-editors, and developing strategies to identify and fix common writing errors and issues.

How to Write a Dissertation, or Bedtime Reading for People Who Do Not Have Time to Sleep.” <link>

A guide to dissertation writing geared for scientists, but useful for students in many fields.

Kamler, Barbara, and Pat Thomson. Helping Doctoral Students Write: Pedagogies for Supervision. New York: Routledge, 2006.

While geared toward doctoral supervisors, this texts guides students through crafting an individual approach to successfully creating, proposing, and creating a dissertation project. Highly recommended.

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York: Anchor, 1995.

One of the most popular meditations on and manuals for writing, Lamott provides guidance and reflection that will appeal to anyone struggling with their writing demons. Perhaps her best piece of advice is to start small—tackle your project little by little, “bird by bird.”

Silva, Paul J. How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing. Washington: American Psychological Association, 2007.

Doctoral students need to write, but often find themselves stalled on their proposals, dissertations, and articles. Silva argues that being a highly productive write does not require special skills or talents, but rather requires special tactics and actions, which he describes and
teaches in detail.

Ries, Joanne B., and Carl G. Leukefeld. Applying for Research Funding: Getting Started and Getting Funded. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1995.

Three of the seven sections in this comprehensive guide concern writing a proposal: “What and When to Write: Rules of the Game,” “How to Write: Unique Moves,” and “Checking for Infractions: Preparing for the Audience.”

Rudestam, Kjell Erik, and Rae R. Newton. Surviving Your Dissertation: A
Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1992.

Treats the dissertation process from finding a topic to the oral defense. Section on process, subtitled “What You Need to Know to Make the Dissertation Easier,” includes practical advice on managing time and dealing with writing anxiety, including “Twelve Tricks to Keep You Going
When You Write.”

Sword, Helen. Stylish Academic Writing. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2012.

Elegant data and ideas deserve elegant expression. For scholars frustrated with disciplinary conventions, and for specialists who want to write for a larger audience but are unsure where to begin, Sword provides imaginative, practical, witty pointers that show how to make articles and
books a pleasure to read—and to write.

These recommendations were developed by Melissa Dalgleish on behalf of the Office of the Dean, York University, 2013-2014.