Posts Tagged ‘The Cohesion Problem’

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!

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