Community: Your Secret Weapon -->

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

Community: Your Secret Weapon


Jamie Patterson
By Jamie Patterson, Dissertation Editor

I don’t want you to be afraid, but only a little over half of all students who enroll in a doctoral program actually complete the program with a degree (Wao & Onwuegbuzie, 2011). Those who do complete the degree tend to take about double to quadruple the amount of time prescribed by most programs, with the delay occurring during the dissertation writing process.

As a dissertation editor I work with student writers who are at all stages of writing the dissertation. They all approach me with the same plea: tell me how to write this monster of a document.

I’m afraid the only advice I can give to them, and now to you, is simply: write. Seek out help and write. The seeking out help part is the key, and here at Walden we’re trying to develop services that will provide relevant help at just the right time. For instance, we have been piloting capstone study writing groups and are hopeful that this will be a service available to all students in the near future. For now, if you are an EdD student in your first course of 8090 we have a pilot writing group beginning July 16 and running for 6 weeks. If you’re interested in learning more, email us at If you don’t meet the criteria for this pilot, not to worry, there are options for you too.

Between now and the time the editors can offer writing communities for all students, we still encourage you to embrace the need for community as you write your dissertation. Reach out to classmates from your previous courses, ask your chair to connect you with other students, seek out group members in an eCampus forum or at a residency, or attend a writing intensive.

That is how you’ll write this monster of a document: with a community of peers, your committee, and us here in the Writing Center. Even now, you can submit chapters to tutors through your portal (under “Make an Appointment,” then “Writing Center”), and tutors will work with you on things like clarity, APA style, and basic formatting. We want each of you to be in the half that completes the dissertation and we’re devoted to helping you find and then access the services and communities to achieve this. It can be done!

Wao, H. O., & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2011). A mixed research investigation of factors related to time to the doctorate in education. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 6, 115-134.  Retrieved from


  1. This is an interesting and encouraging post. It led me to a search for other posts you have written, and I have printed a couple of them to go in my "capstone instructions" documents. The pilot writing group you mentioned sounds very interesting, but I will not be in 8090 until January 2013. Can you tell me more about how the group will work? Since it is 6 weeks long, I assume it will be an online group. How do you see it working?

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.