Interview with a Dissertation Writer: Rosalia Molina

Last year, I had the opportunity to work with Rosalia Molina. She was a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri at the time. She was working on her dissertation on community health—specifically, diabetes research—in the Dominican Republic. I had the opportunity to edit her dissertation one chapter at a time, so I got to see her draft evolve. 

She agreed to chat with me a bit about her dissertation-writing process and what her experience writing a dissertation was like. 

Rosalia, a Hispanic woman with long brown hair, wearing a blue shirt and black jacket.

How long did you spend writing your dissertation?

I worked on all the chapters for approximately one year.

I have been working full-time in the dissertation for the last three months. I have been working an approximate of 6 to 8 hours a day. I work better during the morning.

 [My dissertation] is five chapters long, and it is 94 pages long.

Where did you find support while you were writing?

For the first few months, I received support from the writing center at MU. Then, when I started writing chapter 4 I had Ellen editing the chapters one by one.

My first language is Spanish. The biggest struggle for me was to write at a professional level, including a professional vocabulary.

Can you tell me about your writing process?

I tried to put my thoughts on paper at all times. I have a “to write list,” and every thought I had, I added to my list, then, I just brainstormed on each thought.

Many days I did not find myself inspired to write even if I had the time, [but] I did it anyways, and I found it was helpful. Most of the time I got momentum.

Other times I was overwhelmed with all the work I needed to do, and I did not want to start it. It helped me to focus in one thing at a time.

I reviewed my writing several times before turning it to the chair of my committee. She reviewed my work every week. She helped me with the structure of the dissertation and the research methods.

What advice would you give to other dissertation writers?

Write every day. Even if you don’t feel like it, write one or two paragraphs a day. Also, set time in your schedule for writing, and take that time to write, even if you are not inspired.

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