June 8th, 2011

The Dissertation as a Pie: Apple or Peach?

Click on the image to view an enlarged version of this Infographic


When I think of dissertations, I think of pies.  Great big pies, like Costco makes–you know, those ginormous pies that serve about 20 people?

You know how it goes. You’re wandering the aisles of Costco, and then you get to the bakery section and there are these absolutely humongous pies there: Cherry or apple. Peach or pumpkin. They look delicious.  They’re not in the usual 9″ pie pan.  Nor are they in 10″ pans.  No, Costco’s pies are at least a foot across and about 2 or 3 inches deep.  These aren’t pies–they’re monster pies.

If you’re facing a dissertation, you’re facing a Costco pie kind of  job.  The typical dissertation (sometimes also called a thesis) runs anywhere from 50 to 150 pages and can take a long time–weeks to months–to write.

I’m going to give you a hot tip.  There’s a trick to writing dissertations or any highly structured paper like that.  Are you ready to hear it?

Come on, lean a little closer to the screen so I don’t have to shout.

Closer…don’t be shy. I don’t bite. At least not hard. Usually.

Here’s the secret: You don’t write the parts of a dissertation in order.


In fact, whenever you’re writing nonfiction, you don’t generally have to write in order. Biography is maybe an exception, but otherwise, you’re free to write pieces in any order you like.

But, before you go…pass the pie, please.  I think I’ll have apple…


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  • CaroChel

    Is this another reply about the garden? [I wonder because of the lines above which have a “PREV” arrow above “How does my garden grow?”]

    In hopes that I’m leaving a reply on writing a dissertation, hats off to you for all that intimidating information. No wonder students seek help. Mercy! I could feel the weight of all those steps!!

  • CaroChel

    Oh yes . . . and please put me down for peach pie! (But only a slice, if you would be so kind.)