Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the questions we are frequently asked. Please contact us if you would like to know more.
What makes Defend & Publish, LLC so effective?

Dozens of students have graduated with PhDs and MAs with the help of Defend & Publish since 2004. Clients have published articles, written books, and completed dissertations and theses with our coaches’ guidance.

All of our coaches are writers and researchers with PhDs. We have succeeded in the dissertation process, have avid interest in writing and publishing, and have various publications among us. We write and teach for a living and study how to help writers at various stages. Not only do we understand the intersection of writing and the reading that produces strong arguments and convincing texts, but we understand and appreciate the life-based issues of time management, balancing life with work, and working and communicating with committees, coauthors, and editors. We teach you what we know so that you can repeat the process successfully with new ideas and projects. Finally, we genuinely want to get to know you and your aspirations. Our work with you is always focused on helping you succeed and grow as professionals who write, defend, and publish.

What are your basic services?

We have a 12-year track record of helping writers to complete their dissertations successfully and of assisting academic writers toward publication of books and articles. Our basic services are to coach writers through the dissertation development and writing processes as well as other academic and work-based writing projects. Coaches read your writing and, if requested, edit it for you—but always with the ultimate purpose of teaching you how to do your own editing; in this case, we provide a second pair of eyes that sees and critiques your work before your advisordoes. We use track changes and marginal comments in the editing process among other ways to guide you in your next draft. We do not write your dissertation for you, but to the degree that it is needed, we are hands-on in teaching you how to develop, organize, write, and revise the project. For example, sometimes we might act as a scribe during an oral brainstorming session and type what you’re saying; then we look at your words to see whether they can become a formal part of the writing.

What is a writing coach?

A writing coach, ideally, is someone who will help you with your writing project at all stages and phases. From idea inception to research to drafting, organizing, and editing, a writing coach can help you. There are a lot of time management issues that crop up with writing large and/or important projects, and a good writing coach can help with these as well. Additionally, writing for real audiences means working with committees, coauthors, and/or editors and their reviewers. A strong writing coach can help you to manage these interactions gracefully and authoritatively such that you learn when to compromise or rework a project, while also learning when and how to assert your position such that your goals are fully met.

What is a dissertation coach?

A dissertation coach is someone who helps to guide the dissertation process—a lot like your dissertation advisor does but in a different capacity. So, first you need to keep in mind that a coach is NOT an “advisor” (or “chair” or “mentor,” as this person sometimes is called) and your advisor is not a “coach.” Your dissertation advisor is your official leader in your dissertation process. This person will help you to conform to the rules and expectations for dissertation development as set by your academic institution. He or she will tell you when to turn in parts of the project, as well as when and how (and whether) to connect with your other committee members. The advisor’s job is to help keep you on track, but this job is interpreted differently by advisors even within the same university or the same department of that university. Some will ask to see your work on a weekly or biweekly or end-of-semester basis, while others will be completely hands-off and will wait for you to indicate your progress. In this case, if you don’t communicate with them, they won’t communicate with you! Some advisors will anticipate your questions, while others will assume that you don’t have any questions unless you ask, and still others will expect you to find the answers yourself. In general, you should communicate frequently with your advisor.

Given the specific goal of a “done” dissertation, at all times, the advisor’s guidance supersedes advice from others, including a coach.

A dissertation coach, on the other hand, can walk the dissertation trail with you (having been, quite literally, in your shoes), guiding you on a daily or weekly basis if that is what you want and need. The coach can help you interpret fuzzy “rules” and dissertation customs, and a good one will let you know when you need to check out your concerns with your advisor. You can discuss the minutiae of the project with the coach, testing ideas and theories, and working out potential problems before you seek your advisor’s advice or approval. A coach can help you with such processes as thinking of initial ideas, finding an appropriate conceptual framework, creating a research proposal, developing a weekly plan or sets of “next steps,” drafting your writing, reading it for details and clarity, managing the dissertation committee’s sometimes conflicting advice, and much more. The coach doesn’t do the project for you, of course, but can teach you ways to get it done more efficiently and effectively. Since the coach can act as a sounding board for your concerns, he or she can help you maintain a sense of balance about the project.

Will my dissertation advisor approve of your help?

That’s an individual thing. Some advisors might have concerns about you getting a coach while others will be delighted to know that you’re using a coach’s services to make steady progress. Some advisors might be relieved while others might be offended that their advising isn’t sufficient for you. If you feel comfortable enough with your advisor, you should talk with him or her about what you’re hoping to get from working with a coach. But, in our opinion, you’re not honor bound to reveal that you’re getting dissertation coaching in the same way that you’re not bound to tell others that you’re getting other kinds of life coaching. The reality is that some dissertation advisors are good researchers and can recognize that something is going right or wrong in your research or written presentation, but they may not have the language, or vocabulary, for articulating just what is right or wrong and how to fix it. In these cases, an advisor’s advice can come across as unclear and potentially confusing. That’s one place where a writing coach particularly can come in and help you.

I don’t want to be accused of plagiarizing or cheating. What can you help me do (and what can’t you help me do)?

First, you’re not cheating by using our coaching services because we don’t do your research or writing for you. Our job is to help you to help yourself through this process. We can answer questions; ask you probing questions; guide you to different research sources and texts; show you examples of what you need to do; help you to create an action plan; help you figure out how to interpret your research; and teach you how to strengthen such writing skills as idea development, organization, research styles (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago), cohesion, sentence clarity, editing, and proofreading. We can even offer stem sentences to model how to express the research in appropriate depth. We can’t—and won’t—research or write for you. We’ve already written our dissertations! Plagiarizing, by the way, is a matter of using someone else’s ideas and/or words without direct and clear attribution. If we see you doing that, we will tell you and teach you why it is plagiarism. If we know that you are plagiarizing despite our warnings and lessons, we’ll stop working with you.

My advisor doesn’t really help me. In fact, he/she doesn’t seem to like me. Should I change advisors? In fact, I don’t like my research project anymore. What should I do?

These are questions that we can talk about more deeply in a private coaching session. Very often, though, these questions reveal how frustrated you are with your current progress and processes. Talking through them often can help to save an advising relationship or resurrect a tired research project. All is not lost and—most definitely—you are not alone!

How can I write a dissertation that can be published as a book or as a series of articles?

Publishing your research is a common and reasonable goal. While we can’t go into all the ins and outs of it here, we can make publication part of our coaching goals. We won’t guarantee that you’ll publish the work; in a glutted academic market, there are no guarantees. But we will provide you with resources and skills to help you achieve your goals. First and foremost, of course, your topic should be of current (or near-future) interest and it should make a contribution to the field in which you’re studying. Second, it’s helpful to realize that even a good research project may not make a good book (but often it will make one heck of an article!). Third, one of our academic mentors once said: Not every idea is a good idea. And, we think this is its corollary: Not every published idea should have been published. In other words, this project might get you your PhD, but it might not get you your tenure; plan to keep researching and writing to advance your professional goals.

Why do I have to write a dissertation anyway?

You’ll get lots of responses to this question if you ask it of fellow students and your faculty advisors:

  • It’s a hoop to jump.
  • It’s a form of professional hazing.
  • I had to do it and you also should have to.
  • We have to have some way to weed out the weak students.

And so on. The best answer we ever got to this question came from Beth’s advisor: This is your last piece of research as a student. But it is the piece by which we (other PhD’s) are certifying you and saying to the academic world that you are ready to do research on your own and the world can trust that you know how to do it.

How much does coaching cost?

Coaching costs are figured on an hourly basis and invoiced at the quarter hour. We strive to be affordable given that most clients are on a budget. In fact, we’ve only raised our prices once in 12 years. Please contact us for a free 30-minute consultation, where we’ll discuss your needs and our rates.

How often will we need to meet?

How often we meet is completely up to you and your needs. Some writers do best when they meet once a week for 30 or 60 minutes. Such meetings are most helpful to people who need some help in making constant progress. Others find that when they hit a stuck point they need more frequent help until they get over that hump. Because we can meet via telephone, Skype, Google Hangouts, and other such formats, we can be flexible in crafting meetings to meet your needs at any given time. Meetings often happen outside of ongoing email exchanges of written drafts and feedback.

I hate to write and I’m a terrible writer. How can you help me with writer’s block?

Yes, in fact, we can—if you’re willing to work with us through the blockage. One writer we worked with had such serious writer’s block that she would rework a paragraph (or sentence!) multiple times (for hours) before she would risk putting something else on paper. There are strategies for getting over writing blocks, fears, and dislikes. If you are writing a dissertation, you may not leave the project wanting to be a professional writer, but you can leave it knowing that you are a proficient one who doesn’t have to fear writing as a scholar or professional. You may also want to employ coaching for writing after the dissertation. Some of our clients are currently employed in tenure-track positions and struggling with completing scholarly papers. There is no shame in getting help with writing. It would be a shame, however, to let writing be the skill that stands in your way of success!

Are there any resources that will help me achieve my goals?

We have a resource page where you’ll find a list of wonderful publications on academic writing and writing the dissertation.

Click here to go to our resources page.

About Us

A boutique consulting firm with seasoned academic writing professionals who can help you with all aspects of writing and researching your dissertation.

Our Services

  • Drafting and writing the dissertation
  • Developing and researching your project
  • Breaking through writer’s block
  • Editing and formatting the document
  • Managing the dissertation process (Time and Focus)
  • Working with your committee
  • Getting published


Telephone: 443-904-6424