- Dress and act like a professional, not like an undergraduate student, while you are at conferences.
- The prospect of becoming a professional academic can help you stay motivated in the final stages of your dissertation work.
Understand your degree-completion process. Once the end of your dissertation is in sight, you’ll need to know what your department and your university require in order to award you the degree. Do you need to schedule a defense of your dissertation? Who needs to approve your work? What paperwork will you need to turn in? Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to plan the final stages of your doctoral program.
- This process will be much easier if, as suggested above, you kept in contact with your committee members throughout the dissertation process. Ideally, this will be a formality: there shouldn’t be any surprises.
- Practice answering, especially, the “so what?” question. Imagine a committee member says to you, “So, you’ve demonstrated that [whatever]. So what?” How would you answer? Know why your work matters in your field.
Get help with the final revisions and proofreading. Dissertations are long, and you’ll likely be exhausted by the time you get to the home stretch. Have several people read your draft before you hand it to your committee members. This will eliminate unnecessary mistakes and identify unclear passages that need work.
Remember that you are the expert now. As you complete your writing, you may start to worry about what your committee will think of your work. Keep in mind that no one knows your material as well as you do. Have faith in yourself. You are now the one and only expert on this small aspect of your field.
Manage your stress. As you finish your dissertation, you may feel especially anxious – worried about your defense, concerned about your work’s value, stressed out about finishing graduate school and moving on to a new phase of your life. These feelings are normal, but don’t let them get out of control. Talk to a trusted friend, and practice the healthy habits described above.
Take pride in your work. Whether you have a formal defense or not, completing your dissertation is a massive, once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment. Enjoy it. Be proud of yourself. Share the moment with friends and family. Celebrate a job well done – you are now a Dr.!
Stick to a deadline. Eventually, you have to stop researching and start writing. Determine how much time you’ll need to write (ask your advisor, if you’re not sure). Then, work backwards to determine when you need to conclude your research and begin writing. Without a deadline, you could continue researching forever, and never get to the writing.
Gather all of your data and your sources in one place. As you begin to write, you’ll want to have easy access to your notes and your research. Even if you’ve taken copious notes on a book, you’ll want to also have the book on hand for quoting, citing, and possibly cross-referencing.
Go over your mind map. Make sure that any holes in your research have been filled in with credible sources.
Turn your mind map into an outline.Outlines are crucial to any writing process-- particularly for something as in depth as a dissertation. Turning your mind map into an outline is the first step toward putting your research into a linear order.
Make sure that your outline answers the question of your dissertation. Your outline should include all of the necessary research to prove your thesis, and exclude extraneous research. Your outline should also allow space for your own analysis of the data, which leads to proving your thesis. 
Present your outline to your advisor. Before you begin writing, your advisor should be able to look at your outline and tell you if you’re ready to begin the writing process. Take their feedback seriously, and complete any final research or reorganization before you begin writing.