I’m going to start keeping a public dissertation journal. In addition to some of the obvious benefits (publicly associated my name with my ideas, obtaining early feedback, etc.), I hope that this will add some element of accountability if I take public stances on ideas and deadlines. I’ll append “Dissertation Journal:” to the title of every entry and place each entry in the “Dissertation Journal” category so you can easily skip these posts if you’re not interested.
I am about to begin my final semester of coursework in my Ph.D. program. In my program, we have two mandatory classes that directly relate to the dissertation: literature review and proposal preparation. I completed the lit review class last semester and have a good start on what will become Chapter 2 of my dissertation. I still have a lot of work to do with the lit review, not only to take into account the comments I received last semester but also to add new material and craft the lit review to meet the expectations of my specific committee. I am taking the proposal class this semester and I hope to come out of that class with a solid draft of Chapter 1, the chapter that introduces the study and justifies it by explaining why it’s important and interesting.
I have commitments from four persons who have agreed to serve on my committee, including a chair. I will not be able to formally put together the committee until I’m done with my coursework and nearly ready to defend my proposal but it’s reassuring to know that I have people who are not only exceptionally knowledgable but also excited about my research on board. I’m also planning to take my qualifying exam next month (yes, in the middle of a semester in which I am also taking three courses; perhaps not the best way to do things but I want to get it done quickly so I can move on).
By the end of this semester I should have: completed my coursework, taken and defended my qualifying exam, and completed solid drafts of Chapters 1 and 2. Chapter 3 – methodology – should be easy to write after all of that work. Further progress – really good versions of Chapters 1-3 and formal defense of my proposal – is possible depending on my committee and available time and energy.