Based on his own experiences, Kiparsky advises graduate students to form a dissertation-support group made up of fellow doctoral students. Meet once a week with the goal of furthering one another's progress.
The insights of your peers can be invaluable as you are developing ideas or writing. Having an audience for practice presentations and brainstorming sessions is helpful as well.
Also, you can maximize your meetings with professors by preprocessing with your support group the first stages of a decision or research question. Consistent, regular input can help you break through stagnant periods, and harness the productive ones. Limit the size of your group to a maximum of three people.
Any more than three will dilute the amount of time available for focused personal attention. Choose your members carefully.
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Don't form a group with your friends. Do form a group with people you respect and admire for their productivity and savvy. Approach colleagues once you have thought through your needs, and get them on board for the goals you have developed. Disciplines don't matter — much.
Your colleagues can have very different research projects and backgrounds. Some congruence of interest and background is helpful, of course, but weekly discussions and shared written drafts will quickly make the members of your group the people who most deeply understand the ins and outs of your work. Each member of the group should be at approximately the same stage of progress in his or her dissertation.
They ask that participants commit to attending every week.
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