A sociologist and advisor to many graduate students, Sternberg focuses on moving the student from ABD to . His chapters explore topic selection, filing systems, proposal-writing, research, writing, committee relations, “the Dissertation Dumps,” the defense, and the post-defense uses of the dissertation. Sternberg does strike somewhat of a balance between the “buck up” school that says “Just write the thing and quite whining” and the sympathetic school that is inclined to tell you “it’s okay,” hold your hand, and validate your feelings. On the whole, his suggestions tend to center around developing a plan for completion and adhering to it despite doubts, rather than exploring the doubts themselves in great depth. Some of his advice may seem dated. For example, in discussing sexism, he writes “deep-rooted sexism is still a fact of graduate university structure and hierarchy” that can be “exploited by a woman.” He concludes that the “feminist ABD has to suspend her struggle for that ongoing cause during the two years of the dissertation struggle.” (p. 150)
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You should normally avoid too much personal language (“I”, “my” etc), although opinions on this vary. As a rule of thumb, only use it when you are describing what you actually did and when you are expressing personal opinions, probably in your conclusion. Don’t refer to yourself as “we” unless you are describing some sort of groupwork, and don’t refer to yourself as “the author”: it’s pompous and confusing.