🎙️ You Are NOT Your Dissertation

Why your dissertation is not quite as epically important as you think

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) and Ethar Al-Saraf (PhD) | May 2024

If you’ve been losing sleep over your dissertation, we’re here to help bring some perspective – and, hopefully – some calm! In this episode of the Grad Coach podcast, we’ll shed light on why your project might not be as much of a colossal undertaking as it seems. So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in.

Let’s get some perspective.

First up, let’s address the elephant in the room—your dissertation or thesis isn’t likely to change the world, and guess what? That’s perfectly okay. The aim of your dissertation isn’t to turn your field on its head but to show you can conduct detailed, rigorous research. Instead, the true goal is far more humble (and manageable). That is, to meet the specific criteria set out by your university. Sure, the standard is high – but it’s not world-changing-level high.

Revolutionary vs Rigorous

Now, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that your work must be revolutionary. However, the reality is typically much more grounded. At its core, your dissertation should be a well-structured investigation of a specific research problem, demonstrating your ability to identify and investigate a research gap. This isn’t about crafting a Nobel Prize-winning theory. It’s simply about fulfilling the academic requirements that pave the way to your degree.

Career Shaper?

Moving on, it’s vital to understand the role of your dissertation in terms of its real impact on your career. For the vast majority, this single document won’t define their professional trajectory. Instead, it’s a stepping stone that equips you with skills and insights, laying a foundation for future achievements.

Whether you’re aiming for a career in academia or the corporate world, the experiences you gain here will serve you long after graduation. Which leads us to our next point.

The True Value

Perhaps the most significant aspect of your dissertation journey isn’t the final product but the process itself. Specifically, the dissertation journey is rich with opportunities to hone skills like critical thinking, resilience, and effective communication. Ultimately, these are the real prizes that will stand you in good stead throughout your career. So, while it sounds terribly cliched, the real value of the dissertation lies in the journey, not the destination.

Deep Breaths…

To wrap up, remember that your dissertation is just one part of a much broader academic and professional journey. It’s not the pinnacle of your career but one of many important steps. So, take a deep breath, focus on the requirements, and let the process of research and writing be a growth experience, not just an academic exercise.

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This post was based on one of our popular Research Bootcamps. If you're working on a research project, you'll definitely want to check this out...

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