Demystifying manual on dissertation writing

Manuals are almost always provided to help troubleshoot or solve the obstacles and problems you may encounter while using the device attached to the manual.

My lips curl into a wry smile coupled with an ironic sigh every time I see the term “user’s manual”. Why? Because the people who developed and engineered the product are the same people responsible for the contents of the user’s manual. I’m going to give you a second to let that sink in...Have you figured it out yet?  While it is very difficult to develop a product, allowing those who developed the product aren’t necessarily the ones who will be using the product. So why are they writing the manuals? “User’s manual”?  I think not.

OK, let’s get focused. The point of the last paragraph was to demonstrate that a manual will not always beneficial in solving what it is that’s wrong. Especially if you are writing a dissertation. Honestly, you don’t need a manual:

You need a guide

  • The term “user’s manual” is very rigid and cold. Using ‘guide’ is far gentler.
  • Nobody ever says ‘user’s manual’ because something has gone right. It is a (negative) reference for what the next step will be.

The bottom line is this. The notion of a user’s manual is one of failure, as though something is already damaged or broken and your solutions are limited to however many pages the manual provides. A guide promotes a sense of optimism.

Guided by voices

  • The term ‘guide’ screams positivity; the peace of mind it provides gives a sense of hope.
  • Since you don’t hire a guide to get you lost, the general feeling this word offers is one of confidence.

Phew!! I have hopefully convinced you to look for a guide, not a manual, while writing your dissertation. For many candidates, this is the longest and most concentrated work s/he has taken on up until now. Having a positive outlook from all angles is of the utmost importance.

Open-mindedness is by-product of positivity, so you should have the inspiration to consider all forms of guidance. It doesn't necessarily have to come in the form of a book. Be your own guide by showing the self-discipline to stick to a writing schedule and setting goals. Let your professors offer their input, and involve yourself in a study group with candidates in situations similar to yours.

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