Finish Your Dissertation, Don't Let It Finish You!
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More About This Title Finish Your Dissertation, Don't Let It Finish You!


An all-inclusive, practical guide to help you design, conduct, and finish your academic dissertation—with minimal drama

Sharing the secrets for successfully navigating through the dissertation and thesis process while maintaining your sanity, Finish Your Dissertation, Don't Let It Finish You! presents comprehensive coverage of the entire dissertation process, from selecting a committee and choosing a research topic to conducting the research and writing and defending your dissertation.

Joanne Broder Sumerson follows the sequential flow of a dissertation, to help you move through the process in a logical, step-by-step manner, with an abundance of practical examples and useful tips on:

  • Proper dissertation etiquette—smarts and strategies for managing the committee
  • Breaking ground on your study
  • The anatomy of the five chapters of your dissertation
  • Making a compelling argument for why your study should be done
  • Creating an exemplary literature review
  • The best practices in research design
  • Getting official approval from the Institutional Review Board
  • Organizing your freshly collected data
  • Concluding your dissertation
  • Presenting a smooth oral defense


Joanne Broder Sumerson, PhD, is a research psychologist dedicated to closing the gap between research and practice. Her research processes were developed from over 20 years’ experiences as a research practitioner, program evaluator, academic, and, of course, former student. She has worked with a multitude of private and public organizations in topics such as group process, leadership, emotional intelligence, social media, and wellness. She is a research professor and advisor at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a co-founding editor of Psychology of Popular Media Culture, published by the APA, and writes a blog, Research Notes, for Psychology Today Magazine.


Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xiii

Chapter one

The Secret Handshake 1

Chapter two

Breaking Ground on Your Study 13

Chapter three

Anatomy of a Dissertation 29

Chapter four

Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Your Study:

The Strong Introduction 39

Chapter five

Literature Review Made Simple 45

Chapter six

Data Scavenger Hunt: Methodology 57

Chapter seven

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) 83

Chapter eight

Making Sense of the Data Collection

Scavenger Hunt: Results 91

Chapter nine

I Am Listening, Data: Discussion 107

Chapter ten

Your Data’s Next Chapter After the

Dissertation Write-Up and Graduation 115

Appendix A

Summary Chart of Statistics, What to Report,

Abbreviations, and Suggested Syntax 127

Appendix B

Anatomy of a Dissertation in Context 139

Appendix C

Sample Dissertation Rubric 157

Appendix D

The Juicers 163

References 167

About the Author 171

Author Index 173

Subject Index 175