Do you have some feedback on what I have presented here? Awesome! I’d love to hear it. Post it below:

22 thoughts on “Feedback

  1. So I just finished reading your Hacking the Thesis blog series – brilliant. I am just (hopefully, final results aren’t quite in yet) embarking on an MFA and I just can’t even tell you how useful this was to me. You and I think VERY much alike. I knew I needed a plan, but really had no idea where to even start. And of course, you’re right, the literature on planning something like this is quite sparse and from the dark ages.

    Thanks for taking the time to write it.

  2. Gabe, I am SO grateful to you for posting your system publicly. I was trying to figure out a workflow system like this for my dissertation last summer (the last time I had a ton of free time) and couldn’t figure it out, even with research librarians’ help and advice. Thus, my diss was stuck in place for a year while I taught full time, cared for my kiddo, etc… because the diss just felt too huge to tackle in one huge clump. Which of course is never how a diss ever gets done, but I digress. In any case, this site literally answered my prayers. THANK YOU! Seriously. This system makes my diss feel possible. I’m almost finished following all of your steps and I finally feel ready to go.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much. This is invaluable to me. Writing a thesis for me feels like climbing Mount Everest; I only see a big mountain. You helped me chop it up into digestible pieces. Thanks.

    I got a question for you: I’m from the Netherlands and I’d love to translate it into Dutch when I’m done writing my thesis to help other students who are struggling with theirs. Are you OK with that? You can email me and we can talk about it.

  4. This is exactly what I have been looking for. A well-researched and considered step-by-step and practical set of advice for getting a thesis written. Thank you so much for having a hobby like this and choosing to share it online. Very much appreciated!

  5. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your system with the world. This will be invaluable as I wade back into writing. One question. I did not see a detailed explanation of citation management. You mentioned easybib and something about attaching footnotes to in text citations, but alas, I have no clue what that process would look like in practice. Do you wait until you are out of Scrivner to add footnotes? Any chance you would share (or already have somewhere else) your citation system details? Again, Gabe, this blog is a gift. Thank you, thank you, thank you:)

    • Hi Colleen. Thanks for the kind words.
      Here is a youtube video from the dev of Scrivener that gets to the basics of attaching footnotes:
      The thing is, if you use the template I recommend, then it will automatically take all your footnotes and gather them at the end of the document when you compile. They will be in the order that you used them, but then you can easily put them in alpha order manually just before publishing. I have never really needed a more complex citation manager, as I found that just making sure that both my notes and readings in Evernote contained the MLA citation for the source was enough to keep track of where I was sourcing information.
      So my workflow was really straight forward:
      1. Type something to be cited — As previously established, the Lorax speaks for the trees.
      2. Add the citation — As previously established, the Lorax speaks for the trees. (Suess, 1971)
      3. Link the citation to a footnote containing the bibliography citation — (Suess, 1971) -> Seuss. The Lorax. New York: Random House, 1971. Print.
      4. Keep on writing and citing…
      5. COMPILE a draft, all the footnotes appear at the end as a draft of your bibliography for the document.

      Hope this helps.

  6. Thank you for responding so quickly. I plan to finish my master’s with the help of your system. I’ll let you know how it goes…

  7. This is a great service that you have provided. Thank you very much. I am finding your direction and specific points very useful and I’m setting up your system today.

  8. Thanks so much for this blog. I literally read it all in one sitting. EXTREMELY helpful and even makes me hopeful of being able to complete my dissertation within the year. I am now going back and doing all the steps for the pre-dissertation writing and getting myself organized. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for you taking the time to do this. I was so overwhelmed and felt lost in this dissertation process. I kept asking people “Where do I start? How do I get organized for a literature review? or How can I move forward?” and the response was the same, “just write.” This was really frustrating because I can’t “just write” when everything is so scattered in my head. I spent more time trying to figure out what to do and how to do it, plus add the time I spent on tangents/sidetrack thinking and distractions, and I never made a dent on my dissertation. I even abandoned it for over a year. Now, I’m ready to get back to it, finally formed a committee and excited to have a plan. So THANK YOU!!!!!

    • You’re welcome, Judith! Thanks for the kind comments and tell your ABD* friends about the site. ;-)

      *All But Dissertation

  9. Hello, not sure I’ll get a response since there is no recent activity…
    Just curious why use both Evernote and Scrivener? I haven’t taken Scrivener for a test drive yet, but from the promotional info, it looks like Scrivener can hold research like Evernote.

    • Hi conifer… thanks for reading!
      Scrivner can hold research, but I found it not as flexible and accessible for my purposes. it is not web-based, and as such… event was just far easier to get lots of different sources into. From it native apps on all platforms to its various browser plug-ins, I could ALWAY input an idea or resource into the system, and scrivener was really just more for the writing process. Evernote was useful for other parts of the process (managing research materials, forms my university required, etc…).
      That stated, I have no specific allegiance to Evernote and if I were rewriting this today… there would be other options that I would link to as well as this space has gotten more saturated with great products. The point is to find that service that can be your central Inbox and Digital File Cabinet.
      Hope this helps.

    • Oh I almost forgot…. I also didn’t want all my work to only live in one place. I talk more about this in the Backing Up section (, but essentially, if all my research is in Scrivner and something happens to that file (corrupts, laptop stolen, etc…) I did not want to be out everything. My keeping drafts and research in Evernote, it was part of my hyper paranoid backup system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *