Groningen defeating dissertation blues 2104


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Invited talk to the Groningen Students in Medical Science PhD Council, May 2014. Presents practical strategies for PhD students to combat the blues while writing their theses.

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Groningen defeating dissertation blues 2104

  1. 1. Beating the Dissertation Blues ©James C. Coyne, Ph.D. Department of Health Psychology University Medical Center, Groningen
  2. 2. Preventing and combatting the blues
  3. 3. Productive and Unproductive Blues Can the blues be your friend? When you should not beat the blues, but embrace them…  
  4. 4. Constructive Disengagement The benefits of stepping back and taking a break.   Confidence in your own patterns and cycles.  
  5. 5. Taking a Break is Working.
  6. 6. Working on Thesis in B,B,B Bed Bathroom Bars
  7. 7. Question is whether the blues are persistent and impairing, or only transient.
  8. 8. Life is one damn thing after another, but depression is the same damn thing over and over. ---John Weakland
  9. 9. Radical Behavioral Theory
  10. 10. A PhD thesis involves a long and persistent behavioral output in the absence of immediate reinforcement.
  11. 11. Context of writing a dissertation can become aversive and induce avoidant behavior.
  12. 12.  Preserve a reward structure that does not depend on progress.  Control yourself by controlling your environment.
  13. 13. Overcome Avoidant Behavior
  14. 14. Structured Procrastination
  15. 15. Butt in Chair Technique
  16. 16. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” -Louis L'Amour (1908 -1988)
  17. 17. Behavioral Activation Rely on Overlearned Routines
  18. 18. Writing daily is hard, but viewing it as a process that will ultimately become habit-- a really rewarding one--is important. The incentives of writing daily mirror those of exercising daily, and even if analogies between "muscles" don't really work, writing daily and write often as possible are important goals.—Joe Betz
  19. 19. Commit Yourself to Write 200 Words a Day
  20. 20.  Can be anything as long as it contributes to the complete draft  One big idea  Single block quote  Explication of the previous day's block quote  Working out an idea that you know you want to include but you are not sure where it will fit The rule of 200The rule of 200
  21. 21. Zero Draft Shitty First Draft
  22. 22. Zero draft (Based on JR Trimble,Zero draft (Based on JR Trimble, Writing With StyleWriting With Style)) The key thing is to keep everything moving. After a bit of babble you will find yourself starting to make sense. Even then, of course you can count on running into new mental logjams, but don't panic. Simply force your typing fingers to nakedly record all the confusion and inarticulateness you’re feeling.
  23. 23. Cognitive Behavioral Theory
  24. 24. A PhD thesis can introduce irrational thinking in people otherwise not predisposed to it.
  25. 25. Catastrophism and Perfectionism
  26. 26. Catastrophizing Nobody will like me, everybody will hate me, I should eat some worms.
  27. 27. Perfect is the enemy of done. Everyone wants to write the perfect thesis article but no one ever does.
  28. 28. Realistic Thinking and Goal Setting
  29. 29. Set parameters for marking series of small successes.
  30. 30. Interpersonal Theory
  31. 31. Regardless of how depression comes about, understanding and resolving it involves interpersonal relationships.
  32. 32. Dutch PhD students have the burden of increasing the impact factor of their advisors and department.
  33. 33. May need to get explicit expectations from advisor and renegotiate if unrealistic.
  34. 34. Relationships and Social Support
  35. 35. Most Dissertation Students Could Probably Benefit From a Wife.
  36. 36. Recognize That Dissertations Can be Difficult for Relationships and Partners.
  37. 37. If your partner has never worked on a dissertation, process may be difficult to understand.
  38. 38. Working hard on the thesis "It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing." --Gertrude Stein
  39. 39. Don’t let set unrealistic deadlines just to placate your partner.
  40. 40. “In the event of a decompression, please adjust your own oxygen mask before trying to come to the assistance of others.”
  41. 41.  Often better to talk to your dog about the specifics of your thesis than to your partner.
  42. 42. “I am doing the best I can at the moment. However, this is not my best moment.” -Eleanor Roosevelt Ask for slack nicely
  43. 43. Use Peer Support, Buddy Up, Use Social Media
  44. 44. There is no need to fear the [thesis] will go on forever. One of three things will stop the process: deadline, exhaustion, or satisfaction. With experience and luck, authors will reach satisfaction just before the other to catch up with them. – Peter Morgan, Editor, Canadian medical Association Journal (CMAJ). 1986.
  45. 45. Thank you for your attention.Thank you for your attention.  Follow me on Twitter @CoyneoftheRealm  Publically accessible Facebook wall (James C. Coyne)