In the academic year 2015-2016, we have planned a total of six Dissertation/Prospectus Writing Boot Camps, including both two-day and one-day boot camps evenly spread throughout the year. Each full day session runs for eight hours with regular breaks. With the generous support from the Laney Graduate School, the Woodruff Library, and the Emory Writing Center, the boot camps have attracted more than 50 dissertation/prospectus writers across Emory campus as of February 12, 2016 (waitlisted writers not included). Boot camp announcements are made in multiple places, including the Laney Graduate School mailing list, the Emory Writing Center blog page, and the Woodruff Library event trumba. As lunch, drinks, and snacks are provided in the boot camp, participants are required to register for the event via the Library event trumba. Except for the first two writing sessions when more active advertising was needed to get the word out, space was filled as early as one month before the event and waitlists created.
Boot camp participants are at different stages of their writing. Some have just started; some are wrapping up to submit their electronic dissertation; while the majority are at different chapters of their dissertation. Similarly, participants come from a wide variety of disciplines and programs across campus, such as History, Sociology, WGSS, Environmental Health Sciences, and English.
In addition to facilitating a quiet and comfortable environment conducive to productive writing—what one participant described as “a writing temple”, we make available writing support service where participants can consult tutors from both the Emory Writing Center and the Graduate Writing Support Service. In addition to servicing dissertation writers, we are also reaching out to prospectus writers to see if and how we could expand our resources and services to a larger community of graduate writers working towards their degree completion.
Yes, dissertation is a daunting task. But as the French saying goes, “Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid.” We hope the boot camps can facilitate and witness the completion of our graduate students’ dissertation projects. At the end of this report, let us hear what some of the participants said about their experience at the boot camps!
“This is an amazing resource…a gem that I’ve been too busy to notice! I wrote more today than I have in the past few weeks. Thank you for this much needed jump start.” (Marisela Martinez-Cola, Sociology)
“This is my 2nd Boot Camp and I am always so pleasantly surprised by the amount of writing I get done. I started out with zero pages and am leaving 5 pages closer to finishing up my prospectus! It is so great for my writing flow to have a quiet room filled with snacks, lunch, and other dissertating students to work in! I’ve already signed up for all the others scheduled for the rest of the semester!” (Maria Jones, Psychology)
Some more comments from our anonymous surveys:
“Dissertation boot camps were key to me finishing my work and graduating!”
“It’s awesome for people who want to begin writing, or who want to get over a sense of being stuck.”
“It was a great opportunity to refocus on my work and think it could provide such an opportunity for others as well. Even just the quiet camaraderie of working alongside others working on their dissertation made me feel better.”
“Very helpful in creating an environment conducive to achieving writing goals, which is amazing for anyone working on/struggling with the writing of a project as daunting as a dissertation!”