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One of the reasons most dissertators find it difficult to write is because they have not clarified their project’s thesis. If you’ve ever heard me speak or ever worked with me personally, you know how I always say that the dissertation is, mostly, a persuasive paper. You must write to persuade your reader (and committee) that you know what you’re talking about and that you should be awarded your degree. I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me: I was extremely busy through the summer, planning a conference in Las Vegas. Project Vegas went extremely well, and I’m glad for this, and very relieved it’s finished, too! 🙂 I’m also pleased to share with you this new article, written by my colleague, Kalinda Rose Stevenson, Ph.D. Dr. Stevenson will be offering some additional articles in the upcoming weeks; and I hope her perspective offers you some additional guidance and motivation to finish this thing, once and for all. "The Simple Question That Turns ABDs Into PhDs" By Kalinda Rose Stevenson, Ph.D. After I finished my doctoral orals, I went to visit one of the professors on my committee, to ask him a question. I had read statistics that approximately 85% of doctoral students in the humanities who reach the point I had reached never finish their dissertations. Instead, they join the large crowd of ABDs ("All But Dissertation") who complete all course requirements, pass their orals, and yet never complete the dissertation. The professor was a brilliant scholar, outstanding teacher, prolific author, and one of the most street-smart academics I have ever met. And so I asked him: "What do I need to know to write and finish my dissertation?" I will never forget his answer: "By the time people reach the point of writing a doctoral dissertation, they are smart enough, they know enough, and they work hard enough to finish. But everything they hear is: ‘You aren’t smart enough, you don’t know enough, you don’t work hard enough.’ And so they never finish because they think they can never do enough." After that brief conversation, I wrote on a 3×5 yellow index card: "What Is Enough?" I put that card on the wall in front of me, where I could see it any time I sat down to work on my dissertation. I think that this simple question: "What Is Enough?" is the single most important reason why I was able to go from ABD to Ph.D. Several times, as I was working on my dissertation, I would suddenly realize that I had just spent the last two hours on some interesting tidbit that was pulling me off course. And so I would ask myself: "What Is Enough?" Sometimes it was. Sometimes it wasn’t. But the question itself reminded me of my purpose. My purpose was to complete the dissertation, defend the dissertation, and finish the degree. Scholars are driven by the word "more." "More" is the enemy of completion. There is always more to know. One more article to read. One more book. One more expert to consult. The question: "What Is Enough?" cuts through this relentless quest after "more" to focus on the single task at hand. I have offered this question to other students in the years since I completed my dissertation, and I also offer it to you. Each time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, confused, off-track, wondering how you will ever finish, ask yourself: "What Is Enough?" The question itself will help keep you on track to accomplish what you set out to do. So what is enough? To complete your dissertation, you will need to write a cogent, coherent argument on a single thesis. You don’t have to write everything you know on the topic. You only need to write "enough" to make your case and prove your thesis. A special offer from Dr. Stevenson: Nothing is more important to a dissertation than clarity about your thesis. A clear thesis is simply the point you intend to make. If you are still wondering, "What’s my point?" I have just the resource for you. It’s my ebook, "What’s Your Point?" which gives you clear and direct methods to get to your point quickly and easily. Pick up your copy at http://www.writetopersuade.com/whatsyourpoint/