Below is a list of online writing guides, videos and blogs that provide comprehensive tips and guidelines for academic writing, and thesis writing in particular. These resources are geared toward graduate students in the faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, Public Administration, and Sprott School of Business. If you are a Science or Engineering and Design student, check out our page of writing resources for Science and Engineering.

These resources were originally compiled by Shaun Stevenson (PhD student, English, Carleton University). Updates and revisions are provided by David Lafferty (FGPA Coordinator of Graduate Professional Development). Please email David with any content suggestions or reports of broken links.


Work-Life Balance: Don’t Let Your Dissertation Define You

The dissertation process can be all-consuming. With constant deadlines, committee meetings, research, writing and endless hours of anxiety-ridden procrastination, tackling your dissertation can easily become the single most defining feature of your life. Do not let your dissertation define you. This article offers a few helpful insights on how to strike a sustainable work-life balance while getting through your dissertation. By Shaun Stevenson.

The Three Best Dissertation Writing Blogs

For those of you looking for non-traditional resources to help you through the dissertation process, blogs can provide insightful perspectives, reserves of relevant articles and links to helpful information from across the web. Better yet, they are often a wonderful and humorous place to commiserate about the sometimes woeful process of dissertation writing. This article will look at three excellent blogs that you may just want to turn to when struck by that familiar feeling of procrastination. By Shaun Stevenson.

Online Writing Guides

Writing your Dissertation: Writing A to B – Cornell University

This resource links to an in-depth 46 page PDF which serves as a comprehensive dissertation writing guide. If you’re looking for one document that covers all the technical aspects of the dissertation, this might be the one.

Completing Your Dissertation Without Tears – Columbia University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Teaching Center

This is an excellent 6-page PDF that includes common problems in beginning and moving through the writing of your dissertation. While it is relatively short, it hits a lot of the key issues on the head, in a straight forward, concise style.

Video & Multimedia Writing Resources

“Suffering-free Academic Writing” Video Workshop Series, by Carleton’s Dr. Alexis Shotwell (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Department of Philosophy)

Dr. Alexis Shotwell has posted her writing workshop as a series of videos on YouTube. These videos are highly recommended if you are trying to gain a new perspective on your academic writing and break free of the psychological traps that can diminish your confidence.

Part 1 – Taking an attitude toward your writing and resisting imposter syndrome

Part 2 – Time- and guilt-management strategies and ‘units’

Part 3 – Specific tactics for working with writing

Optimizing MacOdrum Library’s electronic Research Tools

Zotero Reference Management Software

Writing a Dissertation –Produced by the University of Leicester’s AccessAbility Centre

This cross-disciplinary video provides a screen view with graphic illustration and serves as a fairly comprehensive overview of the planning and writing process. Clocking in at 20+ minutes, it requires some commitment.

Videos on: “The Research Proposal,” “The Literature Review,” “APA Referencing: The Basics,” “Preparing for your Thesis Oral Examination,” – Massey University, New Zealand

These are excellent 10-15 minute videos, which are very well animated and laid out. They are more engaging and better produced than most.

Write a PhD Thesis in Record Time and Keep Your Sanity While You Do It, Parts 1-3 James Hayton

Some lighter, accessible articles on his website, and while the videos are mostly him giving a lecture, they remain fairly engaging. His ideas are a little on the motivational speaker side of things, which isn’t for everyone, but he still provides lots of helpful pointers, especially if you’re just beginning the process.

 Blog Resources

To Do: Dissertation: Motivation and Encouragement for Dissertation Writers Across Disciplines – Kathryn Linder, PhD

While no longer active, this blog has a wonderful archive of lively articles for over coming writers block, different writing rituals, tips on backing up and protecting your work, and much, much more. It is extremely accessible, and the author has since compiled some of her most helpful tips in a relatively inexpensive ebook, which you can link to from the blog.

The Thesis Whisperer – edited by Dr Inger Mewburn,  Australian National University

This ‘blog newspaper’ is dedicated to the topic of thesis writing and includes a wide range of posts on research, psychological obstacles, how to effectively use word processors, and more. Its archive is huge and you can find a good post on just about anything related to the PhD process. Posts are no longer than 1000 words, which is nice, and most are quite enjoyable to read.

Surviving the Dissertation: Tips from Someone Who Mostly Has – Inside Higher Ed, gradhacker

While this may initially appear to be more of an article than a comprehensive resource, it contains much of the point-by-point tips you’ll find in any given resource while linking to an array of other relevant blogs and resources. It is wonderfully written and much more inviting than the more traditionally formatted resources. You can also check out other areas of gradhacker on the Inside Higher Ed website to help you with all avenues of graduate school.

Your Uncommon Guide to Thesis Writing and PhD Life, The Three Month Thesis – James Hayton

While the title of the blog, “The Three Month Thesis,” made me a little skeptical at first, this is an excellent, honest blog about the trials and tribulations of dissertation writing. The posts are simple and to the point and yet extremely insightful. A lot of the blog is dedicated to managing stress and time and I think these are some of the biggest issues faced in tackling something as large as a dissertation. I immediately found the post on procrastination to be very helpful. There is a lot to explore on this blog.