Historical Dissertations and a Little Advice for My Friends
I had a great conference with my dissertation advisor the other day. The point of the call was that I had to redo my chapter break down because in my prospectus defense, the committee narrowed my topic – - thus the chapters needed to be completely redone.
Anyway, my dissertation will be historical with an “implications” section in the concluding chapter. The question is this: Do I write the chapters chronologically or by theme? My primary research will be the 1890′s composition (a brief look) and then the 1950′s on, so it seems like a no-brainer to just go by decade. Any thoughts on this? Scott, what do you think?
Anyway, I am just writing a quick blog to say I’ve got 3/4 of a chronological chapter breakdown written, and I hope to finish today. I have 5 articles I need to read from the 1970′s, several from the 80′s, and so on.
Also, I’d like to offer advice to anyone who may be starting the PhD process:
1. Make SURE you foster great relationships with your professors so that when the time comes, you will have a supportive and helpful dissertation committee. My committee is wonderful: they work with me, they are willing to talk on the phone and meet at weird times in order to accommodate my schedule, and they WANT me to succeed. They want me to publish, which means so much. They are all hard-working scholars who don’t have time for BS.
2. Take the advice of your committee. Do exactly what they tell you! They know what they’re talking about and if that’s what they want, do it.
3. Think about your dissertation in terms of future publications. Is it something that you can publish later? Can you expand on your chapters in later journals? Remember that your dissertation doesn’t just have to end with the committee – it can be the foundation of your career in research (if you choose to go in that direction).
4. Discipline: I am struggling with this but am hammering away with the self-discipline. Once you reach this stage of writing, you don’t have specific deadlines; you only have self-imposed ones. Therefore, it is HARDER to keep going every day and VERY easy to get sidetracked. That’s why I am writing this blog in a way. I am making myself accountable to … myself and my readers.
5. Read, read, read. And write about what you read. Each day I read, I am typing a summary of those sources and attaching the summary to the articles. Wow has this been helpful. So later when I go back to the sources, I don’t have to read them again, I just have to read by summary.
Okay, I must go and meet a colleague for lunch. She’s going through the same process I am and it will be interesting to talk with her.
6. So maybe the last piece of advice: Keep friendships going, keep your life going – you can’t be a hermit and be happy. Make time for friends and family. :-)
- 5 Tips for Successfully Defending a Dissertation Prospectus (dissertationgal.com)
- I have no idea how to start writing my dissertation. (ask.metafilter.com)
- Dissertation Writing & Crossfit (middlesavagery.wordpress.com)
- Improvement: The “I” in the NSF DD(R)IG (gradfund.wordpress.com)
- Writing a Dissertation (nortonbooks.typepad.com)
- graduate students and networking (orgtheory.wordpress.com)
- Writing about Writing (teachingcollegeenglish.com)
- Discussions about Doctorates and Dissertations at UbiComp 2009 (gumption.typepad.com)