Online Writing Club Helps Shorten the Ascent to the Ph.D.

October 19, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
MCLEAN, Virginia - Gina J. Hiatt, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, dissertation and tenure coach, and founder and president of Academic Ladder, will run the popular online Academic Writing Club again on October 22. The Writing Club is for grad students, post docs, and professors who are struggling to write regularly and productively as they work on their dissertations, proposals, articles and books.

A recent New York Times article points out that Princeton graduates its Ph.D. students almost two years faster than average, partly by making sure that dissertation advisors support their students and hold them accountable for their work. The article also highlights the role that loneliness plays in discouraging graduate students, who are often isolated while working on their dissertations.

Academic Ladder has developed a methodology that addresses the key issues of support, accountability and isolation. Their online set of tools help academic writers get over writing blocks and write regularly. Club members have access to a unique website where they can log their writing progress daily, get feedback from academic writing coaches and other club members, and communicate via a message board. They are able to see the progress of others and read their comments. This shared experience increases writing productivity dramatically. They are shown ways to be less perfectionistic and to monitor the negative thoughts that stop them from being productive.
There are separate online “rooms” graduate students and for professors, who need just as much accountability, support and interactivity around the process of writing up their research as grad students. Participants are able to remain anonymous if they wish.
Previous Writing Clubs have been wildly popular. Here are some typical comments from participants:

"Wow - end of week 3. I can't tell you how much this writing group has helped my productivity. This was money very well spent." — Grad Student

"This program ROCKS! The discipline PLUS the support is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time (career–wise)." — Assistant Professor

“The Academic Ladder Writing Club has been incredibly useful. Such a simple idea: write a little bit every day, tell the group your goals for tomorrow, and report on your progress. But almost magically, I got more writing done in 30 days than I had in the previous 60 or even 90. I don't think there's a better investment you can make in completing your degree.” — Ray W., 5th year Ph.D. Candidate, MIT

"I can see my work habits changing daily. For the first time EVER in my academic career I feel confident that I can not only live up to expectations but possibly even exceed them. (Immediate anxiety aside) work is fun". — Assistant Professor

“This is my third time in this writing group and I don't think I'll ever leave. I'll probably need this type of support after my dissertation when I'm working towards tenure. Thanks Gina, Jayne and all my fellow club members.” – Grad Student

“I actually managed to spend two more hours in the evening on my article, and just sent it to my editor (!)This feels really good. Thanks to the Writing Club! I don't think I would be so productive without it.” — Assistant Professor
“I think I'm in here for life. [The fee] might seem like a lot, but I really think it'll save me money in the long run. I actually believe i will finish my dissertation much faster than I would have otherwise. A lot faster. Plus, I'm learning so much from you all! All of you have already provided me with many helpful suggestions, and trust me, I need those suggestions and I take them and I put them to use immediately. Thanks, all!” — Grad Student
The Academic Writing Club starts October 22 and runs through November 19. The fee is $60; only $50 if you sign up by October 19. For more information, go to

Gina J Hiatt, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, tenure coach and dissertation coach who enjoys helping faculty and graduate students complete their dissertations and publish, while maintaining high teaching standards and other commitments. In addition to dissertation and tenure coaching, she teaches workshops and teleclasses on time management, writing, career planning and grad student/advisor relationships. Sign up for her 3 free writing productivity boosters at You can write her at