I am having a very hard time keeping myself on track with my dissertation. I’m having trouble maintaining focus. First, there are so many other interesting and worthwhile things to do that I keep getting distracted. I am trying to keep the rest of my research agenda afloat and other projects on track. I am trying to stay somewhat visible and active within my professional communities. And I am still working with faculty developers to gain experience in that field and some of that work is very interesting and extremely satisfying (I am really excited to be working with our History Learning Project as a survey and assessment consultant!). Second, there seem to always be personal issues that threaten to distract or even overwhelm me, whether they be as complex as intensely personal issues inappropriate for this blog or simple as a dying car that needs to be nursed along until I can replace it. All of this has pushed me off-course quite a bit and I’m now several months behind my self-imposed schedule.
But I’m finally making progress! I sent to my chair-to-be a nearly-complete draft of chapter 3 (Word document with many comments) and he seemed to like it. It’s incomplete but I wanted to get feedback on the structure and any glaring omissions or problems. Nothing major was found lacking and that is very heartening. It was also encouraging that my chair-to-be agreed with many of my comments and observations.
I’m setting this aside for now to back up and work on chapters 1 and 2*. I’ve been told that it’s good to have chapters in different stages of work as you’re initially writing and editing them so when you get burned out on one you can move on to something different and still be productive. I am very grateful to Meredith Adams for sharing her dissertation as it’s really helping me structure the first two chapters because our topics are very similar. Based on her dissertation, previous drafts of my lit review, and a lot of thought and consideration, I’ve decided to use this as a an initial guide to the structure of the first two chapters. I have much of this already written in other documents, particularly my draft lit review, so I hope I’ll be able to get these two chapters drafted quickly.
If you’re reading this blog, you might also be interested in knowing that I’ve been accepted to the Oxford Internet Institute’s Summer Doctoral Programme. It will cost a pretty penny to attend the program but it should be more than worth it.
* – In a typical social science dissertation (such as this one), chapter one is the initial introduction that argues for the importance of the study. Chapter two is the literature review where you convince readers that you are an expert on all of the topics in your study. Chapter three is the methodology where you describe how you have studied the problem. Chapter three seemed to be the easiest place for me to start as it’s the most well-defined and limited in scope.