Posts Tagged ‘Dissertation Writing’

Dissertation defenses are strange to me.  If your chair has done his or her job, there should be no question of whether or not you will pass.*  Even though the defense is discussed as a major milestone like finishing your M.A., completing your prelims, or passing your dissertation proposal defense, the experience itself is anti-climactic.  Like participating in graduation when you are not done with your degree requirements, people will want to call you “doctor” afterward.  Perhaps stubbornly, I still refuse to accept this label.  Of course, this is not out of modesty or a belief that I am no more accomplished than anybody else, it is because I am not done.  I expect that I will have a much greater sense of accomplishment when my revisions have been accepted by my chair and I turn in all of the necessary paperwork.

*I’m sure that there are a few departments that pride themselves on lulling Ph.D. candidates into a false sense of security and then nailing them with ridiculous questions at the defense, but I don’t think this is the norm.

Read Full Post »

If nothing else, the process of writing a dissertation has given me a new appreciation for those who write books.  Although I don’t have the production of journal articles down to a science, I’ve gotten pretty good at writing coherent papers between five and 20 pages in length.  My dissertation has been like writing six of those papers and hoping that they magically coalesce into something cohesive in the end.

While I can’t be sure without writing a book for comparison, I think that the biggest reason for my frustration has been that going on the job market ABD prevented me from completing my analysis before I began writing.  Instead, I did some analyses and wrote a chapter based on them, then did some more analyses and wrote a chapter based on them, etc.  As a result, when I started writing a chapter I had no idea how it fit into the larger whole other than the fact that it came from the same dataset as my other chapters eventually would.  Working in this way, it was impossible to create a simple outline of my entire dissertation, much less something like this.

Despite the cohesion problem, my dissertation is nearly complete and my advisor recently told me that neither of us would be embarrased by the finished product.  I’ve always been an advocate for the idea that as long as you have a job lined up, a good dissertation is a done dissertation, so this reassurance (back-handed compliment?) was all I needed to hear.  Thankfully, I have not gotten to the point of being sick of my data, as publications based on my dissertation will likely require substantial revisions.  At least I won’t have to worry about whether or not they fit into any sort of larger work!

Read Full Post »