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Dissertation ECoach

The Dissertation ECoach is an interactive digital messaging tool that assists graduate students transitioning from coursework to dissertation writing. It draws on dissertation writing strategies to affect graduate students’ writing practices. The Dissertation ECoach is a University of Michigan platform, developed by Sweetland faculty and supported by funds from the Center for Academic Innovation, the Rackham Graduate School, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, and the Office of the Provost. Through this portal, graduate students who are starting to write their dissertation receive personalized messages that influence a positive writing process. The personalized feedback that students receive will help them to engage with more effective writing practices, resulting in a more enjoyable dissertation writing experience.

The Dissertation ECoach offers feedback on productive writing behaviors, informed by dissertation writing strategies developed by the Sweetland Center for Writing, students’ individual characteristics, and responses to weekly lightning surveys on students’ writing goals. Specifically, the Dissertation ECoach responds to challenges in productivity in areas such as:

  • Writing conventions: The structure of a dissertation, and getting started with the first chapter
  • Writing habits: Improving writing habits, and finding the time to write
  • Revision: Crafting a solid argument, and revising for content
  • Writing style: Cultivating an academic voice and style
  • Work/life balance: Balancing work and life and finding time for social interactions

Is The Dissertation ECoach Right for You?

If you are a graduate student who recently reached candidacy, and you are writing the first chapter of your dissertation, then the Dissertation ECoach is right for you! Its purpose is to engage early dissertation writers in effective writing habits.

How Does It Work?

To start, you will take a survey that tells us something about who you are as a writer. Your responses will help us to tailor our feedback to your needs, so that it is as personalized as possible to meet your individual needs as a writer. Once you are in the Dissertation ECoach, you can find several messages that address the areas we mentioned above. These messages will be always accessible, so you can go back to them when you need to. These messages contain links to resources, writing exercises, and an overview of that specific area.

Every week you will receive an email inviting you to answer one single question about something you want to work on or develop in a specific area. Based on how you answer that single question, you will access a personalized response that offers you suggestions about how to address your writing concerns and goals.

But wait, there’s so much more! To-Do lists, quick links to resources, a Discord channel to foster community, and incentives and rewards!


Benefits of the Dissertation ECoach include:

  • Receiving tailored, personalized feedback to help you improve your experience with writing the dissertation
  • Transitioning from a physical to an online space to receive personalized feedback
  • Offering you accountability and suggestions to find chances to work productively
  • Providing you with a sense of community while working from remote locations
  • Establishing check-ins with Sweetland faculty to gauge your productivity and emotional well-being

Application Process

You can enroll in the Dissertation ECoach starting in early September 2024 (TBA).

  • If a user first logs in with Single Sign On before accessing the link, their account will be automatically connected and they won't need to fill out the form.
  • If a user is not authenticated, the form will allow them to register a new account only. If they register a new account they will receive an email to set up a password. If they use their institutional email address ( ) then they can ignore that email and use Single Sign On.
  • If a user has an existing account with ECoach they will first need to log into that account before using the link.

If you have questions please contact Sweetland's Associate Director, Simone Sessolo at