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VT Graduate School Ombudsperson. Chronicle of Higher Education. Positive Thinking. Approach colleagues once you have thought through your needs, and get them on board for the goals you have developed. Your colleagues can have very different research projects and backgrounds. Some congruence of interest and background is helpful, of course, but weekly discussions and shared written drafts will quickly make the members of your group the people who most deeply understand the ins and outs of your work.
Each member of the group should be at approximately the same stage of progress in his or her dissertation. Be businesslike.
Treat your group as a professional relationship and separate your professional interests from your personal ones. Meet weekly.
Emphasize product. Make a point of pushing each other to exchange written work often, even before you think you want to start writing the dissertation itself. Sharing outlines and unfinished subsections will help you clarify your thinking as you write. Limit your time. Meetings of an hour to 90 minutes are long enough, and will force you to stay on task. Organize each session. You can divide up the time so each member gets an equal share to discuss whatever is most important to them.
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