10 Tips for Choosing a Dissertation Coach

by Anna Blanch on February 21, 2011

Some of you may be considering a Dissertation Coach. This is not the same as a supervisor or a proofreader. Like a Career or life coach, this is a trained professional who seeks to support you during the dissertation process. Here are ten tips to help you in the process of choosing a coach to support you and challenge you at you seek to run the marathon that is dissertation writing.

  1. Read up on what coaches say they do.
  2. Get costs up front. Know how much they charge, how many sessions they recommend, and how they want to meet.
  3. Ask lots of questions about their process, their qualifications and experience, and their success rates.
  4. Ask about their expectations of you. If you have specific concerns: time management, complex home environment (you have kids), motivation, dealing with grief or depression, make sure you ask about whether the coach has specific experience in that area.
  5. If you are still unsure, ask if there were any former clients who’d be willing to talk about the process from their perspective.
  6. Ask their advice on whether to share the news that you’ve chosen a coach with your advisor – many recommend against it.
  7. Find out if they will do a complimentary consultation to see if you “fit” – if they don’t then ask yourself why not. It seems most of the reputable consultants do.
  8. Consider whether group or pairs coaching might be a good option for you if you can’t afford one on one. Be aware though that you will not – as the word group applies – be getting individualised treatment and so penny pinching may not be good economy.
  9. Make sure the cost is well within your budget – you don’t want to add that as another stressor – but also consider whether this is an investment in getting done on time!
  10. Go with your gut. If you’re not comfortable, maybe it isn’t right.

I am not a dissertation coach and I have no vested interest in you finding or using one. People have just asked me how to go about finding one in the past. I think this might be helpful for some readers! If you have any advice on finding a dissertation coach, or if you’d like to share your experience of using one, feel free to do so in the comments. You can find more posts in the Basics series by clicking here.

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  • Jonny McCormick
  • Jonny McCormick

    By the way, I have no idea why that 'my recent post' thing came up. I didn't add it to be arrogant…

  • Anna

    Nope. I've thought and investigated having one, but at the moment i've decided against it. But, seeing as people have asked me about it, i thought this post might be of use to others
    My recent post Literature and Theology

  • http://goannatree.blogspot.com Anna

    jonny, it's an inbuilt feature of the commenting system! no thoughts imputing arrogance here!
    My recent post Literature and Theology

  • http://twitter.com/jovanevery @jovanevery

    Good list, though whether people offer free consultations varies quite a bit, I think.

    One thing I'd add is to be clear on what you want a coach for. Do you need accountability? Do you need help figuring out a manageable work plan that you can stick with? Do you need help with some deeper emotional issues that are blocking you?

    Sometimes a group class could be useful for addressing a specific problem and that might shift whatever needs shifting so you get going.

    You can also sometimes figure out how to get some of these things from friends on a reciprocal basis — accountability would be one that works well here.

    Although I am a coach, my focus is on the career part. Sometimes that involves getting finished, but more often it involves helping you with all the other stuff you are worrying about. Feeling like finishing will throw you into a void can be a powerful source of procrastination.
    My recent post Peer reviewed journal articles and monographs in the academic evaluation process

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