Today, I’m proud to share with you a project that’s been on my mind for a long time now: a video presentation detailing the steps I took to revise my own dissertation. Sometimes it’s difficult to dive right into revisioning and redrafting (the components of revising) because there’s no clear first step. Every PhD has found a way through the mire; as I’m in a position to share my approach, I’ll do just that.
Revising from the Standpoint of a Developmental Editor
To bypass the hemming and hawing that can accompany the academic revision process, I ultimately drew on my training and experience in developmental editing. That approach allowed me to accomplish several important tasks all in one phase:
- solidifying the argument from the ground up and restructuring accordingly
- sharpening the thesis and its many permutations
- addressing faculty feedback
- polishing the writing
- adding almost 100 pages of content
I emerged from this process with a defense draft of my dissertation that was stronger than the previous version in every way. To accomplish such a total overhaul, I had to have a way in; otherwise, it would have just been too daunting to start.
Sharing My Revision Experience
I surprised myself with how much I was able to improve my dissertation in a span of two months, so I have for some time known that I wanted to dissect and relate my experiences for others’ benefit. It’s what we all do: having accomplished, we look back and extend a hand to those who are following the same path.
The resulting twelve-minute video presentation details the process I used so that you can employ the tactics when next you face a draft—dissertation or otherwise—that needs serious attention. I call it “How I Self-Revised My Dissertation.”
Now, I’m firmly convinced that writing should be a collaborative process. As I even wrote in the acknowledgments of my dissertation, single-person authorship is something of a myth. Why the peculiar “self-revised,” then?
Certainly, I didn’t update my draft in a vacuum. Addressing the feedback of my committee, for instance, was a highly involved step in the process and one of the most meaningful. I use “self-revised,” however, to emphasize that the video includes tips that anyone can employ, regardless of outside feedback and guidance—or lack thereof. In other words, you can do this.
At this link, you’ll find a fully narrated strategic plan derived from the process I followed. I show how I diagnosed, dissected, nested, and fleshed out my dissertation draft, which, quite honestly, had major problems. (That’s why we revise: early drafts tend to bite.) The video is closed captioned, too.
In the video, I mention several resources for you proactive revisers out there:
- guide to academic style
- list of academic verbs
- cover-sheet template for soliciting critique
- content-rich newsletter
These and other tools are available in the Tweed resource library. And, as a handy bonus, this is a handout of the slides from the video presentation.
Just Move Forward
That’s what I want for us all: the cessation of ceasing, the end of stagnation. There is always a way to move toward our goals, but sometimes—especially when we’re going through a process for the first time—it’s not immediately clear. We have to wade in, and that’s all I describe in this video: how I assessed the situation, waded in, and lived to tell the tale.