Karen Garcia – Castillo


Background: The educational landscape has been undergoing rapid transformation so much so that the pursuits for higher studies have now become the trend. Acquiring a doctoral degree is by far now considered the highest form of education which requires one to accomplish the highest form of scholarly manuscript, the dissertation. Reaching the dissertation phase is not that difficult compared to going through the dissertation writing process. This is where the “ABD” or “All but Dissertation” sets in. The aim of this review is to explore the challenges in dissertation writing and the possible solutions to address it.


Method: Research articles spanning from 2011 – 2019 were gathered to scrutinize shared and divergent views relative to challenges in dissertation writing as well the recommended solutions to address it. Two categories were framed out of these articles.  The first category was CHALLENGES TO DISSERTATION WRITING: THE ABD PHENOMENON with three identified themes which are: personal factors; quality of student – supervisor relationship; and quality of research environment. The second category was the POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO ADDRESS ABD PHENOMENON with two identified themes which are: mentoring and advising and administrative and financial support.


FINDINGS: The literature shows that the challenges faced by postgraduate students in dissertation writing are multifactorial which includes: personal factors that include orientation to the process, motivation as well as personal expectations; the quality of student – supervisor relationship where disconnection with expectations exists; and the quality of research environment which may be described as having problems with the setting as well as the administrative support that is provided. Possible solutions identified focused on strengthening of mentoring and advising through organized boot camps as well as provision of funding for the study.


Doctoral education, Post graduate education, dissertation writing, challenges, solutions

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