Dissertation Journal: Data and Distractions

Unless there are some surprises in store for me, I have all of the data for the first “half” of my dissertation. Before I can organize and analyze it for my own purposes, however, I want to get it organized and analyzed for the institutions that so graciously asked their students to participate in this survey. I’ve had a lot of fun creating all of the (SPSS and Excel) macros that generated the necessary reports and data files. Once someone else double-checks a few of the reports by independently generating and checking the numbers, I’ll send them out to the institutions so I can move on.

But moving on will be tricky, at least for the next couple of weeks. As much as I’d like to dive in to the proposal and related data analysis (which will be crucial to the chapter about methodology seeing as how these data will determine part of my methodology; more about that later), I have quite a few distractions. In the next three weeks I will be:

  • Presenting a keynote address at a state financial aid administrator conference. I’ll be talking about networking with colleagues in the 21st century (i.e. using social media and other technologies). I’ll post some notes about this soon because preparing for this talk has helped me crystallize some of my thoughts and ideas in this area, particularly the role of intentionality and goals in effectively using technology to communicate and network.
  • Leading a concurrent session at the same conference. It will be a follow-up to the keynote but focusing on networking and communicating with students. I think this session will have a different flavor compared to the talk because this is an area where there is more solid research and data.
  • Defending my qualifying exam. This should be straight forward and low key judging by the feedback I received on my written responses. The primary challenge is that this is sandwiched between two conferences so I’ll have to work hard to maintain my focus and give this the attention it deserves.
  • Presenting a paper at a national conference. Luckily, the conference is in my backyard (Indianapolis) and I’m already very familiar with the topic. We still have to finish the paper, however, and nail down the details. Thanks goodness it’s a roundtable presentation so (a) we have had more time to write the paper and (b) it will be low key and low stress.

All of these things are worthwhile and arguably necessary. But their timing is awkward and I can already see my hoped-for dissertation proposal defense slowly moving further and further away. Hopefully I can hit it hard once I’m through with these major commitments. A turkey-fueled Thanksgiving write-a-thon may be in my future!

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