The dissertation is certainly not like any other research assignment you have ever written. Think of it this way--the dissertation is a journey; a research assignment is a sprint. Numerous rejections are simply part of the process. Expect numerous submissions, or frustration could get the better of you. However, make certain you are not getting rejected for foolish grammatical or APA errors. When you are rejected, make certain you are getting some feedback from your chair/committee member to soften the blow.
Please understand, the dissertation is undeniably the most exhausting and frustrating piece of academic work any person ever does in his or her life. It must be perfect to pass all the different reviewers, committee members, professors, and the dean. There is absolutely no wiggle room; it must be done as they say and without flaws or it will be rejected. It is not so much a test of intelligence (you have shown that part to get as far as you have), it is a test of compliance, patience, diligence, and meticulous attention to detail. It cannot be hurried or rushed. Every single section must be done with exactitude, with every single point checked off on the rubric or checklist, and every comment by a chair or committee member addressed. Just one incorrectly done or rushed section or ignored comment can cause the entire dissertation to be rejected or harsher treatment will be handed down in the next review.
Grammar and punctuation must be as close to perfect as is humanly possible. Never submit a draft without running your paper through Grammarly.com or something comparable, even if you hire an editor. The benefits will be two-fold: It will show you problems in your writing to help you become a better writer, and it will force you to spend more time thinking about the wording of your paper. Another reason to do this is (I assume) you want to be a professor, journal author, and/or chair/mentor yourself one day. How can you attain this goal if you do not understand the mechanics of APA and writing? Finally, get a trusted colleague or friend to read each submission to make certain your paper makes sense and flows. Do not “wrap your tongue around a telephone pole” in your dissertation. For goodness sake, make the thing readable.. (Get a subscription to WordRake to help you remove unnecessary, superfluous words until this comes naturally to you: http://www.wordrake.com/).
Take every course available that will help you understand the statistics you will be using in your study. (Remember, you must defend your study—twice!) If none are offered, watch as many YouTube videos as possible regarding your methodology and design. (You can get YouTube on your TV through Amazon Prime.) YouTube is also an incredible source for almost any section of your dissertation.
Keep track of your references. You must account for each one you use in your paper. In more than 30 years as an editor, I have only had two clients who had all their references: both men and both accountants. Almost all my editing clients tell me they think their references are in good shape—yeah…. Most are missing about one-third to one-half or more of their references. (Speaking of references, remember, every statement of fact in your dissertation must be backed by a current [published within 5 years of the date you graduate], peer-reviewed journal source.)
Be humble. You will be as much of a PhD with a 100-page finished dissertation as you will be with a 300-page dissertation. This is not the time to cure cancer. Just get it done. If your chair does not like your cherished study idea, change it. (I had to change my study three times in my last PhD journey.) In addition, do not try to write a study that is personal to you. Just get it done. Save the personal study for after you have the degree. Just get the thing done!
Remember, three words in a row that you “borrowed” from any source is deemed plagiarism. If caught, you are out—do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Watch tables, charts, and graphs as well. University deans take this seriously. When in doubt, cut and paste the phrase in Google and check.
Mention your PhD journey to friends, family, co-workers and bosses (especially), and significant others as little as possible. One, mentioning it will make you look like a braggart. Two, after a while, you will look like a bore. Three, god forbid, if you dropout (check the rates; this could happen), you will look like an idiot. Talk to fellow PhD candidates, they know the misery. They understand; no one else could ever understand why anyone would actually pay big money for this torture.
Do not feel sorry for yourself. Yes, your chair/committee member/coach/URR member/etc. will rip your beloved paper to shreds on a constant basis. Just consider the PhD journey a fraternity, and every fraternity has hazing. Be certain to thank whoever tore your paper to shreds for the “beating” (the hazing) and assure him or her that you will be back again tomorrow for your daily beating. This ripping to shreds is just part of the process. I have been royally beaten up too many times to count. Yes, I actually cried out in the busy hallway of a huge university many years ago over the difference between a MANOVA and an ANOVA. I am certain Dr. Granoff has been royally hazed as well. All my best friends have been hazed. Put on your big girl panties and enjoy the journey, hazing and all. The rewards are well worth the hazing.
Finally, ask for help when necessary. Dr. Granoff and I are here for you. Just ask!!
Good luck and happy writing. Dr. Lyn at email@example.com