As the dissertation is an endeavor that is largely conducted in an independent manner, it can be helpful to have some source of external accountability. Generally, no other person knows whether you complete a given dissertation task. Having a sense of accountability to another person can be a helpful way to increase your motivation and self-discipline. I encourage you to consider sharing your work plans with other people as a way to increase the odds that you meet your planned goals.

One avenue to create a more immediate sense of accountability is to use the “buddy system.” Basically, the buddy system is where you plan to work in the presence of another person. Many of my clients find it helpful to set up specific times to work alongside another graduate student who is also working on their dissertation or other academic work. When you work with another person, you may feel a sense of social pressure to work and are likely to find it easier to focus your attention on the work you need to complete. If you choose to use the buddy system, make sure you set some ground rules so that you do not spend the entire time talking and socializing. Many of my clients meet their buddy at the library where talking is discouraged. When used well, the buddy system can be a great way to increase your sense of accountability and enhance your motivation.

This article was written by Alison Miller, PhD, owner of The Dissertation Coach, a business dedicated to helping doctoral and master’s students successfully earn their graduate degrees.

Copyright August 2007 by Alison Miller, Ph.D., The Dissertation Coach