Tuesday, July 29, 2008

2 Dissertating Challenges

[Cross-posted on Learn To Live With It]

Since I'm still here :-), I wanted to share 2 more thoughts. The first is an overall challenge while dissertating. The second thought is specific to my empirical chapters but one can conceivably extend it to the rest of the dissertating experience.

1. The hardest thing, time and again, heck I'd say day in and day out is the ABCD rule. That is, Apply Butt to Chair and Dissertate. Even when there is momentum. Even when you finish a chapter. Even after a particularly good writing day. It takes every ounce of strength and willpower to sit down in front of your laptop/computer/what have you each time and click on that icon on the desktop that represents the document you're currently working on. I think the clicking of the document is very tough. Those seconds between moving your finger over the trackpad to the click to the opening of an in-progress document - worse still if you're starting a new document - that's just when I end up feeling the urge to flight. Once it's open I think I breathe more easy and feel like I can tackle this. A productive morning doesn't automatically translate into the desire to sit down and continue the same rhythm in the afternoon. I wonder why that is. I suspect because it's intimidating to stare at a blank screen not knowing how much you'll write today or if you'll write anything that's usable. The latter is the most difficult - when you know you're putting in the time and the output, although helpful in working through an argument, isn't going to end up in the category of "finished dissertation pages" can be rather frustrating. Personally, I need pin drop silence to write and process. So it means being sort of a recluse. Hmm not just sort of. Not that I have trouble being myself and I cherish my "me-time" I do crave social interactions. That I currently seem to be starving myself on that front might be why I'm feeling so worn out. But I also know that I have to be strong through this or it isn't getting done - not just by the deadline I have in mind but not at all. And I'll be damned if I have this stretch out a few months longer because I just don't have the mental or emotional energy to continue feeling as stagnant as dissertating can feel. [Nopes I'm not bitter but I am restless.]

2. I'm currently writing a chapter that is based on original field research. I have a lot more interviews than I can conceivably include. I've made peace with that. Of the ones I thought I'd include until last week, well let's just say it would be overkill if I included all of them. I've noticed that, on average, the analysis of each interview is ranging about 20 pages. If I include all 11, well you do the math. So I'm working on cutting down the number. And it's almost like asking a parent of more than one kid who their favorite child is. I have no magical formula how to decide which ones to include and which to exclude. It's not just about page length. I suspect they get redundant real quickly in terms of the overall argument. The minute details are fun but not critical to moving the argument along. To be honest, the practical side of me concurs with a serious editing of that list of 11 - because having fewer to analyze means the deadline becomes attainable. In this worn out state, that consideration is part of the calculation. Of course then I end up feeling guilty. So I review my analysis again and it also makes intellectual sense. The challenge here is not about overcoming the guilt - or at least it's not what I'm focusing on. I have figured out what to do, more or less, for this current chapter. It might mean ignoring 2 interviews that I was really excited about but could well be a stand-alone chapter on a sub-topic within the dissertation in terms of the empirical sites I'm looking at. That the interviews of these individuals are of retired military officers and I'd planned for 'the military' to be a separate chapter in my dissertation but dropped the idea since I didn't have enough interviews to do that because of access issues [long story that I really don't feel like revisiting right now]. However, I could change these into a spin-off piece in the form of a journal article so it's not like I won't work on them ever. Nonetheless, what's difficult is that you do so much work and so little makes it to the dissertation project that it feels akin to a major letdown. Again I understand that it's not like I could have found a magic shortcut along the way and what feels like meandering is just part of the process and how it works. Still, that it never figures in can be heart-breaking and gut-wrenching.

Enough ranting/blogging, now I must open the file for chapter 6. Wish me luck!

Greetings from Bionic-Woman

Good Morning DBCers!

Bionic-Woman here. I want to thank Billie for inviting me to the party (read: dissertating hellaciousness) as a crew member.

I'm currently trying really really really hard to wrap up my Ph.D. in International Relations from ABD-land. I'm about to start year 7 when the 2008-2009 academic year begins. Prior to this, I was firmly entrenched in the humanities - communications and cultural studies - to be precise. My present social sciences avatar remains unwilling to let go of those roots. My research remains firmly focuses on identity and the ways in which social and political orders are negotiated discursively. In my dissertation, I'm exploring the same but looking at a particular international conflict (since I continue to cling to some measure of anonymity in the blogosphere I'm continuing to be somewhat nondescript here). It's an ethnomethodological study though which means I look at everyday life including interviews with actors and pop culture.

I keep hearing about the magical 6 weeks in which dissertators get their act together. I'm in week 5 of that cycle. What do I have to show for it? A prelude/preface and chapters 1-5. Chapters 6-8 remain.

In a magical world, this draft would be perfect. Far from it. But it'll be a working draft that can be edited into a version that I can actually defend. So I'll be here checking in - commiserating, celebrating, and ranting - through the remainder of my "hopefully magical 6 weeks journey" and the glorious moment until there is a successful dissertation defense.

Enough about me. How are you folks doing?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 30: (food metaphors)

Hi, all. Just my daily checking in post. Today I added almost 4,000 words to my lit review. Most of that was supporting material, and I still have a lot of work to do to trim this monster down to something manageable. But that's part of my process. I do a brain dump all over my page and then go back and shift through. I think it was Anne Lamott who used the metaphor of "vomiting" all over the page. That visual works.

I like the metaphor of kneading bread dough. One adds all the ingredients and mixes. Then one kneads the dough. It then needs to rest (and rise). One kneads it again. Then it rests (and rises) again. And that process continues for some time until the dough is ready to be baked. In my kneading process, I take away info... then I might add a little something else, then I'll take it back out. It's all the process.

Maybe I should change my metaphor from baking and kneading bread to something else . . . making spaghetti sauce or something.

Ok, tomorrow starts day 29, and I'm already feeling a little panic. I can do this. The diss doesn't have to be perfect. It just needs to be finished.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Only Good Diss is a Done Diss

Over the past week, a number of people left sayings like "The only good dissertation is a done dissertation" on my main blog. I'd like to continue the fun over here. Below, I will list those sayings that I know or have heard about completing the dissertation. Some of them are funny, but they are all encouraging. Do you have others to add to the list?

  • The only good dissertation is a done dissertation.

  • Pass without Embarrassment

  • The dissertation is a rough draft for a book (if you want a book out of it).

  • The dissertation is a rough, rough, rough, rough draft of a book.

  • There are two kinds of dissertations: good ones and finished ones.

  • About the dissertation: don't get it right, get it written.

  • Go with a dissertation written not a dissertation planned.

  • When three chapters are completed, you know you can finish the diss.

  • What do they call a person who writes the year's worst dissertation that passes? Doctor.


Sounds like a lot of Boot Campers are being productive. Good for us!

Earlier today I submitted a draft of my second chapter. Rolling right along. For now...

I'm setting another target date for a draft of my third chapter: 31 August. It's an ambitious goal b/c of some traveling I'm doing in the coming 6 weeks (NYC, S. FL, and hopefully Denver for the DNC convention). Oh, and that pesky lil fall semester thing. But it's my goal.

Good luck to me and good luck to you, my fellow Campers!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 32 (and counting)

Hi, again, all. Today I went back to work after having three weeks of vacation. ("Vacation," heh, a time that I was chained to my desk writing. It was so fun! Wish you'd been there!!!) Anyway, I very quickly remembered why it's taken me so long to get this dissertation finished. I didn't accomplish a whole lot today because, you know, well, work got in the way. I did manage to add about 1,000 words to my lit review after moving some text around, conflating some sections, and constructing a table comparing the top 25 football programs in 2007 with Princeton Review's top 25 academic schools in 2007. The point was to show how there is no overlap between the schools on these lists. But that seems rather obvious now, so I'll probably remove the table tomorrow.

I haven't done much tonight but piddle around on YouTube looking for Springsteen videos (what a time suck). :-) I'm now going to take a hard copy of my chapter and make some hand-written notes for tomorrow.

How's it going for all of you?


Hello Everyone. I'm glad that such a space exists for us as we dissertate. I am writing on national and state poets laureate, their works, poetics, and community outreach/cultural value.

I've written a first draft of my prospectus and am revising because I still don't have a hard-hitting thesis that covers all chapters. I know everything I want to say; I just don't know how to position what I have to say in an argument.

I'm working through how to write everything about my diss before I've written it :).

The strategy I'm going to use tonight when I get home is to ask myself global question after question. Then I'll see which I should turn into an answer & then maybe I'll end up with a thesis.

Best to everyone's writing,


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 33 (and counting)

Hi, all. Just a quick check in. I have been writing all. damn. day. And I'm worn out. My lit review has 14,840 words as of this moment . . . but I write a lot, then I must pare it down .... and there's a lot of paring that has to happen with this work. However, the work is organized in the sections it needs to be in and about half of the information is in the order it needs to be in. So I feel good about that. I just need to blend and blend and blend (and organize the 2nd half). All that is the plate for tomorrow.

Tonight, I'm going to a baseball game. I'll probably take the text with me, though, and so some line editing.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

34 Days and Counting

Hi, all--

As many of you know, I had wanted to finish this summer and potentially graduate in August. Through an unfortunate series of events within my department, that's not going to happen (and I've known that for a while). So. A little change in plans. I met with my advisor a few days ago, we figured out what I need to do to finish. The work won't be the groundbreaking text I had desired -- that'll have to come later :-) -- but I can get it done. My date to have the completed dissertation to my chair is August 22nd. I'll then have to do some revisions or clarifications or whatever, but the bulk of the work will be done.

In order to meet this deadline, I'm having to ignore (for a while) some of the work I wanted to do in this dissertation. As I mentioned last week, I have an extensive research agenda based on this dissertation. My job now is to complete what I have. I'll turn it in. I'll make whatever changes I need to make. I'll defend early in the fall (my desire), and I'll graduate in December. The graduation is a formality -- and I really like the ceremony of earning a Ph.D. and the public recognition that comes with that event. I will, however, be a Ph.D. earlier than December.

In the next 34 days, I have to finish my lit review, write one chapter on my findings, and finish the intro/conclusion. The intro and conclusion will be short . . . and probably not as rich as I'd like them to be. But you know what? That's perfectly fine with me.

I'm going to post here everyday for the next 34 days just to keep myself accountable. You are welcome to comment or not . . . I just need a space to post my accomplishments. I know you'll be reading, and that will encourage me to work hard.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Another update and excerpt

Hey folks! I feel like I'm doing pretty well with the diss writing. I think I may be able to send off another chapter draft by next week. The writing is a bit experimental in the sense that it's not "traditional" ethnography writing. And that makes me a bit nervous about how Eli, my diss chair, will react. Some of the "scenes" I'm writing feel better than others, but overall I'm *really* liking this method.

I thought I'd share another excerpt (but just a portion of it b/c it's so long) to participate in the sharing. And if anybody has any thoughts on the writing in general or on the title or the diagram in particular, I'm all ears.

[Cross posted in full at Wind Farm]

Here is another "scene" from the chapter I am currently composing. It's longer than I'd like, but in addition to providing a window into the lives of each of my subjects - which is my way of "introducing" my subjects - I want to show them in the contexts I observed them in. Though I did get to know some of my subjects well, I would never say we were "buddies." So part of me feels it would be misleading to describe them in such a way - i.e. with a focus on their personalities or their likes/dislikes, etc. My method of "introducing" the subjects tries to imitate Kathleen Stewart's "new ethnography." Because of my focus on physicality and materiality, this feels *right*. But I've said this before in previous posts. I've also mentioned my nervousness about submitting this chapter. But whatever.

There are approximately 13 scenes right now. The settings range from bball practice, to study halls, to classroom interactions, to meals in the cafeteria. As well, I've decided to incorporate scenes that focus on non-subjects to provide some insights into the characters that circulate through this ecology and who have a huge impact on what takes place. Some of those non-subjects include an informant, an administrator, Coach and the coaches, other students and at least one instructor. I'll compose two or three more and then revise the introduction to this chapter. At the moment there is no "analysis" of each scene. I prefer it that way for the time being. We'll see what Eli thinks...

Here, now, complete with a basic layout of the classroom, is the scene (the title of which I am not happy with):

Scene II: “Students and Classes”
04 October 07 AA in English 099

8:00 a.m. and still the researcher sits alone. He grabs his bag and exits the classroom to search the surrounding rooms. He has the class schedule for each of the participants, and he has meticulously charted them out, but maybe he made a mistake. As he walks out he runs into CC who is walking up the steps. Like a haggard St. Christopher without his walking stick, he wearily leans on the railing. CC is haggard, bent over at the waist and, with great effort, pulling himself up the railing one hand over the other. To his knees and both calves there are bags of ice Saran wrapped to his legs – 4 ice bags altogether. The team had 6:00 a.m. conditioning again today. CC is heading to English class he says, so the researcher walks with him, thinking maybe he shares this 099 English class, a basic writing course that precedes 101, with AA (even though his chart of schedules indicates otherwise). As they slowly amble towards the room CC, who will earn a 3.69 GPA this semester, laments, “This is retarded English. I don’t even know why I’m in it.” They approach the door and CC opens it. As he walks through the researcher sees that this isn’t the right class; he hasn’t received permission from this instructor to observe. “Oops,” he says, “wrong one. I’ll be back later.”

He continues his search by peering through the glass into the classrooms that surround the courtyard. Then Dr. X emerges from the elevator with books and materials in tote; she pulls a roller file – basically a plastic crate with wheels and a handle. Five minutes after the 8:00 class time the researcher follows the instructor into the room. At 8:05 AA is the first to arrive. He takes his seat in the front of the room in the second row in front of the lectern (AA is the green X in Fig. X.XX). Appearing harried but not necessarily rushed, the instructor walks into a room with two people – AA and the researcher. Referring to the missing students she exclaims, “This is unusual, very unusual.”

(Fig. X.XX. The green X is AA. The brown X is the researcher. The yellow rectangles represent computers. The red Xs are males. The purple Xs are females. The navy blue X at the front of the room is a SmartBoard. The aqua blue in the back is a wall of windows.)

AA is carrying a half-empty, blue Gatorade Fierce and his backpack, olive green with black straps. He’s wearing black slip-on sandals with white socks pulled up to his mid-calves and a white t-shirt and white gym shorts with red/black triangle design towards the outer knee on each side. His backpack remains on the table to his right throughout the class.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Almost officially offical

I don't know when it's actually going to feel official, but I'm guessing when I finally get my diploma in the mail. But today I handed the final copies of my dissertation over to the graduate school for binding. So it's almost officially official, right?

There's a ton of nitpicky stuff that goes along with this whole process, post-defense. Revisions, formatting, having the formatting checked, fixing the formatting, printing copies on different kinds of paper, extra copies of the title page, extra copies of the abstract (one with your advisor's name and one without), a survey of earned doctorates, a microform agreement form, blah blah blah blah. Plus carrying a bazillion pounds of paper to the graduate school.

Anyway, it's done.

Now if only I could finish packing . . .

Monday, July 14, 2008

Diss Update (the lit review is hellish, I tell you)

It's no big secret: Writing a dissertation is hard work. I've been convinced for quite some time.

Many of the sources I read about dissertation writing stated to write the literature review first, but did I listen? Did I heed their advice? Absolutely not. I was convinced that I knew my sources, their basic arguments, and I where my work fit within those arguments. Instead of the lit review, I felt the need to write the case studies, the methodology, a chapter on pedagogy, and I've roughed out the intro and conclusion. (I'm nearing the end of this project, the lit review and findings/analysis chapters are all that remain). But now that I'm constructing the literature review, I can see places I need to cut back. I have way too much information, and I'm drowning in it. Constructing the literature review is showing me just how much information I'm working with, and as I mentioned on Twitter more that once today, it's kicking my ass. As a graduate student, I never constructed a literature review. (Shocking, I know!) I've constructed plenty of very extensive Annotated Bibliographies, but never the lit review. So now I struggle.

I spent the day constructing the mind-map below (constructed with Mindjet MindManager Pro 7, damn I love this program) that contains four of the six areas I need to review, and it's within these areas I'll cut back as I don't need another 100-page chapter). The graphic image below is too small to read, but each "arm" is a subject area of the dissertation (literacy, basic writing, critical pedagogy, athletics/athletes, etc.), the major theorists of that subject, what they believe or don't believe about the specific subject under question. The interesting part will be to see how these areas overlap.

With all this trimming, I now have a research agenda for the next several ... months (years, decades?). This is also a very good thing.

Cross posted at Parts-n-Pieces.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chapter Excerpt - New Ethnography

[Cross-posted at Wind Farm]

Many of you know (and have commented on) the New Ethnography method of writing that I've played with before and before. It's modeled after Kathleen Stewart's Ordinary Affects. I've only sort of consulted/informed my adviser about the approach I've settled on for describing the subjects and some select scenes.

There are a number or reasons I'm drawn to this method of writing. Though I'm not particularly great at it, the method nonetheless allows me to share data-in-context. I like this. As well, these scenes provide additional points of reference that I will allude to/cite when I get to my Themes Chapter. This method also makes me feel like I'm making my study, and the write-up of my study, more transparent. I'm not sure how well it's going to work, and I've been strongly encouraged NOT to try to get all experimental with the dissertation ("Just get it done! Here is not the place to push boundaries!"). But I was struggling to find my way into this chapter and this is the method, the approach, that has created a flow for me. All other invention strategies were stalling.

Each short piece is a relatively complete scene in and of itself. More accurately, each scene is an excerpt, a moment plucked from the larger context of year in the field, that (tries to) captures some characteristics of the subjects, shows bodies in motion or bodies interacting with/engaging materials. There is no discussion of the scene or analysis of it. Part of the draw of this approach is that the reader can develop her own analysis. You see the scene. You draw develop your own impressions. I do the work of pointing out the themes and describing my coding at another point. Here is one of the excerpts. Hopefully the scene is self-explanatory.

“Unspoken words, Loud gestures”

[XX at 19 October 07 practice]:

A “shell” drill is a basketball simulation drill that teaches team defensive positioning. It’s an extremely useful teaching tool for habituating player placement for guarding opposing teams. At the beginning of the season it’s a drill that Coach uses to teach the basketball basics of team defense.

Official practice began just over a week ago and they’ve already had well over a dozen practices. The coaching staff has positioned themselves in a triangle formation on the court and around the players. AA is on the baseline. BB is on the sideline. And Coach is up top near half court. At any given moment each of them is within five-ten feet of at least four players. Their positioning allows them to intercede rapidly and within the context of the action; their positioning allows them to correct errors almost immediately as they are happening and provide instant feedback. The team is in the midst of a 4-on-4 defensive shell drill that they have repeated approximately 25 times at this point. The ball is being thrown from one side of the court to the other. The players are quickly reacting and jumping to their appropriate position. Everybody but XX, that is. Naturally slow afoot, the big man’s reaction times are consistently slower than his teammates. However, for this drill he’s not just slow; he’s out of place. The team has been bombarded with a lot of information and numerous drills, but XX is the only player who is not catching on to the principals Coach is trying to teach with this drill.

All three coaches immediately spot the error of XX’s movements. As the ball is being passed around up top, AA, who is on the baseline, takes his hands off his knees, rises from his umpire-like stance, straightens his posture and begins to move towards XX. He begins an attempt to stop the action; he’s about to instruct XX. Before AA can intercede, Coach sees AA. He throws his arms in the air and waves them – elbows locked, fingers spread, palms facing AA. At an unusually low decibel level Coach says, “Let it go. Let him go.” Coach turns his back slightly and hangs his head as he subtly shakes it back and forth. AA inches off the court. Play continues. XX remains lost in his movements. He is a walk-on player and time is precious. They finish the drill and Coach consults the practice schedule that is folded over his gym shorts. Next drill.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hey to Fellow Dissertation Writers

I'm posting as jerry'sdaughter, in my father's memory. He was a Ph.D. sociologist from an immigrant, blue collar New York City family. A mid-life epiphany lead me to enroll in a doctoral program. Since 2001, while continuing to work full-time and supporting my two sons' emergence into young adulthood, I have been a doc student. Now I have made it to candidate level and am making my way through a Lord of the Rings-like quest to complete my proposal.

I totally love my topic, the shining light that is guiding me through the caves, past the monsters, etc. That topic is child welfare workers' experiences in working with infants and toddlers.

Why this topic?

1. Child abuse and neglect is a serious social problem affecting perhaps 3x as many children as official federal data indicates, and maybe more. For example a recent survey of adults found 46% reporting some form of childhood abuse or neglect. This was a U. of Georgia study, summarized here: www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/109087.php
2. Infants and toddlers are disproportionately found among the victims of child abuse/neglect and account for over 3/4 of abuse related deaths. See federal data at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm06/index.htm Abuse and neglect in the early years can have immediate and long-term impacts, including emotional, physical and financial costs. These impacts are felt at the individual, family, community and societal levels. See /25/08

My mixed-methods study will used quantitative methods to understand what child welfare workers serving babies know about infants and toddlers and qualitative methods to understand what it's like to for child welfare workers to have such young children in their caseloads. The overall goal is to gather information that will help those of us in the infant-family world to offer relevant professional development to child welfare workers that can improve services to infants and toddlers in the child welfare system.

I started my career as a mental health counselor. So many of my clients had childhood histories of abuse or neglect. This was true whether they came from high or low income backgrounds and whether I saw them in my private practice or at a community mental health clinic. At the time I was the young mother of a 3 and 1 year old. I thought about how each of the adults I saw in therapy had once been a dependent, vulnerable young infant, full of all the hope and promise with which every baby enters this world. I decided that my career would be about helping families get off to a good start so that parents and their babies could grow to their fullest potential. Yes - the liberal, idealist let's build a better world mentality. It still drives me!

Onward to my revision of chapter 2 of my dissertation. Drop by my blog if you have time and let me know what you're working on! http://onmywaytophd.blogspot.com/

Friday, July 4, 2008

To coffee or not to coffee?

It's annoying to always having some thought interrupting my writing. I find I can deal with ear worms, my flatmate's cooking fumes in the kitchen and the crying baby in the flat next door. My manic habit of watching people at the bus stop that is visible from my window has even turned productive, in the sense that a few seconds break from the laptop screen sometimes rewards me with the idea I need to link two paragraphs. What I can't deal with is my constant bodily wants. I need coffee, tea, water, the toilet, a biscuit... this silly everyday life things break the dissertation-mode train of thoughts. Soon I find I'm more in the Homer Simpson-mode, wiping out my flatmate's crumbs and reading joke of the day websites. Today's is funny for its simplicity -- (Q: How many blonde jokes are there? A: One. The rest are all true stories.) -- but that just helps to stray me further away from the diss-mode. The coffee I just made is getting cold and my teeth feel dirty, soon the urge to brush them will put me back on my feet. How do you guys manage the silliness of routine?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

First Chapter submitted!!

[Cross posted at Wind Farm]

Yesterday at approximately 6:44 p.m. I submitted my first dissertation chapter! It's a draft, obviously, but it's a completed chapter draft and it is in the hands of Eli, my director. This first submission is my Methodology chapter. Below I'll paste a long excerpt from the beginning to give you a taste.

About three or four weeks ago I had started composing a chapter on my Photo Literacy Logs (PLL). That was before Eli and I had a chance to talk about some things. During the course of our phone conversation we discussed my RSA paper and I told him that I decided to start my writing by building from that. Eli did some hoeing and humming and suggested that I start by describing my data collection process - the methodology - while it was still fresh in my mind. I had just come from the field site and it would be easier to try to write about being in the field sooner rather than later in the writing process. Plus it's an easy way into the writing process. Normally, because I'm a stubborn ass, I don't concede so easily to some of Eli's suggestions. I don't know why. I'm just a stubborn a-hole. J/k.

The strategy we decided to go with was to start with the methodology chapter and then move into writing about the subjects (which I'll start today). We didn't really strategize beyond that point, but my feeling is that writing about the subjects - especially the three "case subjects" - will open up into a discussion of, coding of, analysis of the data. And, if perchance things don't progress this way, from here it won't be so hard to delve into my a chapter (or chapters) on the themes.

Then the structure for the dissertation that is evolving in my mind goes something like this:

At present there is not lit review. At present there are only four chapters. However, the Themes chapter is expected to be pretty long. Double, I imagine, my Methodology chapter (which was 47 double spaced pages).

So that's where I'm at (and you all probably thought I was just making ObamaLlamas! Ha! Yeah right!). I'll leave you with a bit from the Methodology chapter. It's approximately three double spaced pages. [Disclaimer: there are a few things in this intro that I don't particularly like - e.g. the second paragraph that starts with "sterile, scientific presentation" - and such things will be revised; but they're there for a reason; right now that reason is place-holder.]

[The excerpt from this first chapter is posted over at Wind Farm.]

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Joining in

Hi everyone. I came across this Blog while searching, in desparation, for information on NOT dying while completing a dissertation. I am glad that this exists, as I really need the support.

I started my D.Sc. in Aersopace Egineering in Sept 2003. I was very lucky to get all my coursework done and my qualifying exams completed by May 2006- I even took extra classes in math and physics, and had a COOP that I did full and part time from May 2005 through May 2007. But, life has caught up with me. I had a daughter in May 2007, and have spent the past year really focused on her, and and therefore have suffered complete brain drain. it feels like I have forgotten EVERYTHING I ever learned. So now it is time to either do it or quit it. And it seems just paralyzing.

Luckily my advisor has been understanding, so the last year I have beasically been off the hook. But that is at an end. And my COOP is allowing me to be on Leave without Pay to finish the dissertation, then I will basically (90% sure) have a job waiting when I am done (or able to verify substantially complete). So I am in the stage of "get off my butt". And with the economy the way it is, I can't afford to not work for more than about another 1.5 years (I think my husband's patience is starting to wear a little thin...).

I am trying to motivate myself and it's been very hard. There are a million other things to do with my daugther and around the house, but I don't want to fail this. I guess I am just looking for a place where I am not alone, some resources on planning out and structuring my research, and just some "been there, done that" encouragement.

Thanks all,