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Workshop FAQs

What will I learn by taking your course?

You will learn how to actually write – and complete – a thesis or dissertation. For an overview of the workshop, click here. For the contents, click here.

The workshops cover, on a very practical level, all the knowledge and skills that you need in order to effectively conceptualise, plan, research, write and edit a thesis or dissertation.

The skills you learn come from practical experience and have been put into a workshop form so that you can take the right steps, at the right time. Your workshop manual, notes, and your copy of Constructing a Good Dissertation will be your companions throughout your dissertation writing process. But it's in the practical details that the true value of an Exactica workshop lies. Nearly every topic mentioned in the overview is bolstered by sound, time-tested techniques to make sure that you get what you need, without wasting time.

The knowledge and skills you need are covered in detail, and presented in such a way that you will have no problem understanding the bigger picture of what is required, or the details of how to go about it.

It is strongly recommended that you sit down the next day with the course manual, Constructing a Good Dissertation and your notes, and go through them all again. This time, make a specific actions-to-perform list, and then draw up your plan, as discussed in the workshop. Then roll up your sleeves, apply what you have learned, and finish that thesis or dissertation!

When should I take the workshop?

Pretty much when you need it. Earlier is nearly always better, but it is hardly ever too late. Before handing in your proposal is ideal. So the answers to your question are:
  • When you have enrolled or are considering enrolling for an advanced degree. Then you will be able to utilise the information in your coursework while planning the thesis or dissertation.
  • When you know you're going to have to write a thesis or dissertation and need to prepare for the work.
  • When you need to finalise your topic and research problem before beginning your research/proposal.
  • When you have done some research, and have an idea of what you're going to write on, but now you need to concretise your ideas so you can get it done properly and without false steps.
  • When you are stuck, or have given up on completing the thesis or dissertation. This is actually late to take the course – you have probably already put in time that was not effectively spent but, after the workshop, you will have a very good chance of successfully finishing your work.

Are your workshops expensive?

Leaving aside typical costs for average two-day workshops (they're usually a lot more), I'm guessing that the heart of the question is the concern "Is it worth the cost to me?"

The answer to that one depends on your needs. Postgraduate students attend the workshops for a variety of reasons. Most simply want to be properly prepared and complete their degrees quickly and well, without false starts. Some attend because they are overwhelmed. Others attend to improve their marks, or to earn a cum laude. Still others are stuck – be it in designing a thesis, writing the work, organising research or elsewhere.

But ultimately (to answer your question), all attend because they know that the cost of securing their degree through an Exactica workshop is insignificant when compared to the time, money and effort already invested in the degree.

So, when one balances the costs of failure or slow completion against the workshop costs, it's a very good investment indeed. The workshop cost will save you a multiple of that, not to mention endless headaches and frustration. Employers, by the way, know that and often pay for the workshop.

Does one model really fit all theses and dissertations?

No, absolutely not – people have different strengths and weaknesses, and fields of study have different conventions.

But there are certain skills that anyone who is planning on writing a thesis or dissertation must have. There are also certain structural elements that all successful theses and dissertations have in common.

Exactica workshops make sure that you master those skills, that you know where your work will differ from other theses and dissertations, and that you know how to deal with those differences.

Does the workshop cover the dissertation proposal?

Absolutely. The proposal is a vital document in your thesis/dissertation process, and one that really is worth getting right. Essentially, you will be making promises to your university about what you are going to do and how you are going to do it – and then you have to live up to it.

So it's very much in your interests to say what you mean and mean what you say. The more necessary information your proposal contains, the safer you are. You don't want to have a bad proposal approved – it means trouble down the line. The majority of what you write in your proposal should go into your dissertation with only minor revisions anyway, so getting it right means you won't have to do it again. And doing it right costs no extra time; you're going to do it all in the dissertation anyway, so you might as well do it now and get the feedback from your supervisor that will ensure that the rest will be on track.

I don't think I'm ever going to finish. CAN you help me?

In a word, yes.

If you have gotten to the thesis/dissertation stage in your degree programme, it is highly unlikely that you do not have the capacities to complete a passing dissertation. SO: If you acquire the skills required to complete your work and you are prepared to put in the necessary hours, you most probably will pass, and in a reasonable amount of time.

The Thesis and Dissertation Workshop will teach you the skills you need and how to apply them. The decision on whether you will apply them is, of course, yours.

It does sometimes happen that students who are stuck, are stuck because of some serious flaw in the work already done. In that case, the work already done will require an overhaul. That's extra work and the bottom line is that it will need to be done to make the dissertation passable. It is definitely more efficient to take the workshop before you are stuck but, if you are stuck, there is no reason why you can't unstick yourself by learning how to do right what you did wrong before and end up with a passing dissertation.

Why are you so confident that the workshop will benefit me?

There are several answers to that question.

Firstly, if you have the initiative to take the workshop, you're probably serious about completing your work. That's a solid foundation and a prerequisite for completing a thesis or dissertation. The workshops will combine that determination with the skills necessary to succeed.

Secondly, the work is broken down into manageable chunks in the workshop, and then those are reduced to their components. This modular approach, if followed, will make sure that at any given time you know what to do and how to do it. You will learn you how to build a thesis or dissertation, one step at a time, and how to perform those steps.

Thirdly, the workshops are full of practical advice. For example, you will learn how to limit and how to organise your research. Many people drown in their research – you won't. You will learn how to utilise your advisor's time effectively and professionally and, consequently, you'll get better service. And so on for the other aspects that are critical in the thesis/dissertation process.

Finally: experience. When attendees leave the workshop, they are more keen to get on with it then ever before. They know what to do, how to make a schedule for it, and they do it – so they finish their dissertations. It's not proper to blow one's own trumpet and, by academic standards, the following is strictly anecdotal evidence. Having said that, click here to read what some of our students have said about the workshops.

Will you take more than 15 students in a two-day workshop?

No. Exactica's 2-day workshops are very intensive so they are limited to 15 participants – although, in very exceptional cases, up to 16 students are accommodated.

This is because small courses can be taught more effectively than large ones. Everybody can ask questions and get the right amount of personal attention. Around about 15 students per workshop is a good size for class dynamics too. I don't want to risk losing anyone, their questions and their understanding of the material in a sea of faces.

People attend Exactica courses to get the knowledge and skills that they need to complete their degrees. It's my responsibility to see that they get just that. That is why the workshops need to be kept small.

Aren't you doing the work FOR students?

No, absolutely not. I strongly believe that, if you are going to carry the title of the degree you are studying for, you should be able to live up to those qualifications.

But many people fail, or fail to complete their degrees, because of not knowing how to write a thesis or dissertation. Not because they are incapable of understanding it or doing it, but simply because they have not yet learned how to do it.

They may understand the specific content of their academic area well enough, but that's not sufficient to write a passing dissertation. So they need to learn the skills for that particular task. Usually the problem is a lack of knowledge about how to go about planning, researching, structuring and writing the dissertation. But sometimes the lack of knowledge can also extend into other areas.

You may, for example, be required to write your dissertation in your second, third, sometimes even fourth language. That means you could have the ideas, research and structure right, but English is not your strength. Then an editing service is appropriate. An editing service is also appropriate if you need a qualified, objective eye to polish your work one more time before handing it in.

In short, Exactica offers professional academic support services for you to utilise in order to complete your dissertation – on time, and with a minimum of false starts. And in the process, you will learn.

I think I'm in pretty good shape. Do any of your services apply to me?

If you are confident about what you need to do and how to do it, good! You probably don't need a workshop to teach you how to pass your dissertation.

However, whether or not any of our services apply to you depends entirely on your goals. If you want to improve the quality of your work and get a higher mark (maybe even a cum laude), Exactica probably can help. Exactica's services can also help you complete your work more quickly. If, on the other hand, you are content with where you are, Exactica's Thesis and Dissertation workshop may not be for you.

Exactica's workshops and editing services are designed to make sure that you have the tools you need to reach your goals. As you name your goals, consider doing a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis on yourself, and then decide whether or not you will benefit.

If you are unsure, feel free to me. No obligation.


News Flash

Dr Hofstee's definitive book, Constructing a Good Dissertation is now available in bookstores countrywide as well as on this website.


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