Friday, May 9, 2008

Dissertation links, ect.

I found this cool dissertation calculator. It's too late for me to use it as it maps out a schedule from start to finish but someone else may find it useful. Each step also has helpful advice and links for further information. I wish I had one four years ago.

I read this page and it was uplifting and motivating. Some of highlights:

I love how it suggests reading your advisers dissertation so you can see how much it sucks (paraphrase).

This paragraph was liberating
"Many, many people lead happy, fulfilling lives, build lucrative and rewarding careers, make important contributions to knowledge, share interesting ideas with others, and generally get along just fine without three letters after their names. Deciding not to continue with a Ph.D. does not mean that you have "quit" or that others who remain in the program are smarter, more driven, or more virtuous than you are. It also does not mean that you have wasted the time and money that you invested in the degree up to the ABD (all but dissertation) stage. It may simply mean that after considering your own personal motivations and goals, you decided this career choice wasn't for you—and that you plan to use the skills you honed as a graduate student in other ways that are more suited to you."

This paragraph makes me feel less guilty about taking a day trip tomorrow and makes me want to work out more.
"Be reasonable. A lot of people beat themselves up with expectations to work 10 or 12 hours a day—many people recommend a max. of 4 or 5 hours. You simply can't write productively all day long and trying will just burn you out. Schedule in breaks and time for procrastination. Your brain needs a rest every now and then—better to schedule one than to have your brain mutiny on you and take one anyway."
Mutiny!!
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Technically my dissertation is written. I have six chapters plus an Introduction and Conclusion chapter plus an Appendix that list all my data for anyone interested in looking at it in a different way later. All of these sections now have a completed draft. Each of these chapters has been read by someone else. So, my dissertation is more than just at draft phase . . . . I’m pretty happy with all my chapters. However, my adviser has only read two of these chapters. One of them we have submitted and the other one he made revisions and suggestions, which I took two days to fix and send back . . . with no further reading on his part. He is currently working on a third chapter and, via e-mail has told me that it has a lot that needs to be fixed, even though this same chapter came back from the co-author with minimal revisions. The co-author, by the way, has published and co-authors dozens of manuscripts on this particular contaminant.

The months of revisions I feel that is ahead of me makes me depressed and not excited that all chapters have been written. I went through 12 iterations of my master’s thesis with this adviser, and as previously mentioned we have been working on one manuscript for four years. By the way he’s requested I do more lab analysis for that never ending manuscript. The reviewers didn’t suggest more lab work. *Sigh*


-------Although I contemplate quitting because getting a Ph.D. may just not be in my life plan I have come up with what I think is a better solution . . . cutting out chapters of my Ph.D.

The title of my dissertation is, in essence, "Studying contaminants X and Y in an important environment in a specific study area." I worked on X for my master's thesis and have continued as part of my dissertation but focused mostly on Y for my dissertation. If I cut X out of the title then I can cut out two chapters of my dissertation. Granted these chapters have already been written but not including them in my dissertation means that my adviser won't have to read them before I defend.

One of the “cut” chapters will be best as a report to our funding agency. The other chapter was a bonus use of my data that was never part of my initial plan but seemed like a cool thing to do as I read through the literature. It would be the first analysis of this type of data for my study area. Possibly publishable but it’s also possible that I could care less.


To summarize I want my life back. I feel like I’m under some evil spell of my adviser. I also wonder why he hasn’t published on this type of information with his previous students. I use to think it was because they were master’s students but now I just think he is unreasonable. But maybe it’s me, maybe I’m lazy and not the type of person who can publish.


8 comments:

EcoGeoFemme said...

Cutting out chapters may be a good plan if you have enough left without them since you're getting so depressed about it. Better to get finished with less than languish with more.

Maybe it's your advisor who has a hard time publishing, not you. Is he a perfectionist who can't let go of things until they are just right? Or maybe even just slightly afraid of putting work out there for criticism? Just a thought.

Psychgrad said...

I agree with ecogeofemme. I've read a few bloggers with similar supervisors who take forever to submit a paper. It does seem like an issue of your supervisor's anxiety and not your ability to publish. If you can cut out the chapters, it sounds like a good idea.

Amanda said...

I third EGF and Psychgrad. I know someone with a similar supervisor and it's just that this particular supervisor just never finds things "perfect enough." So, I don't think it's you and you're definitely not lazy! Especially not if you've got all your chapters written without a major push from your supervisor!

ScienceGirl said...

Thanks for the links - I've been looking for some guidance on this as here I am somehow expected to magically know what to do (?!?).

Nobody is ever happy with how their dissertation turns out; I hope your advisor stops being nit picky, and that you are able to keep some hours to yourself throughout the process. I had to look up the word "mutiny," but I've gotta admit: it accurately describes a brain of a grad student!

Janus Professor said...

I agree with ecogeofemme. 12 revisions for a master's thesis is ridiculous! I would plaster "perfectionism" all over this phd thesis. Perhaps rename it, "Studying contaminants of perfectionism in my thesis adviser."

On the other hand, you should be happy someone is reading your thesis. I have the haunting suspicion that my adviser never read mine. Am I OK with that? Sure, less revisions.

JustMe said...

i'm glad things with your supervisor went well (from next post)... and i know what you mean about wanting your life back. i hope you get it back soon!

Anonymous said...

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Deborah W. Knisley said...

The dissertation calculator would certainly be a good help to other who are undergoing graduate school, Jennie! It is certainly a good find. There really a lot of resource people can find on the internet today that would help create dissertation and thesis easier. Dissertation writing services can now be easily contacted. But, be warned, not all can do what you want for your dissertation. So, choose wisely!