The new semester has begun … this is number 8 … but it was difficult to tell. This is the first semester of my PhD journey in which I have no classwork commitments – my focus is solely on my dissertation proposal defense. I’ve been meeting with my chair every month and January was no different. I’m still pushing to have my proposal defense completed by the end of the semester. Tomorrow is the first day I’ll be using the spiffy new dissertation room in the Arlington library – woohoo! (That’s as close to “shiny and new” this semester is bound to bring!) Onward and upward!
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,300 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.
The semester officially ended a couple of weeks ago, but I’m just now getting to this. Time has just flown by these past several months! As of this month, I will no longer be taking coursework and will be fully focusing my academic time on my dissertation proposal and research. The Arlington Campus Library has established a Dissertation Writers’ Room and I was fortunate enough to obtain a slot. Great news! This means I will be able to work in a dedicated space and plan to use the time I was attending class to work through my proposal and research.
I plan to be ready for my defense in April as long as all goes well. As I’ve mentioned before, I will need to recruit another committee member as one dropped out. I have some ideas I will be pursuing after the next semester begins.
As for my progress, slow and steady is still progress. After working on my question for the better part of last semester, I think I’m “there”, I just need to polish it, place it in the literature, justify it, and determine what I want to generalize it to. Oh yeah, and write a 40-ish page paper and PowerPoint presentation to capture it all. I’ve got my work cut out for me – back to the grindstone!
I certainly identify with the writer’s struggle …
This post was written by Paula Hanaszwho is currently writing a thesis on the geopolitics of water security in South Asia at The ANU. She is enrolled at the Australia National University but currently spends more time on her couch than in her office or the library. Last time we met Paula she was experiencing PhD lifestyle guilt, this time she reflects on the difficult question of the research question…
I raise my arms and swing them, blindly, above my head. The full force of my swing lands on…nothing. My hands, still gripping their bludgeon, fall impotently by my ankles. I raise them and swing again. And again. And again. My misses fall awkwardly. I should be embarrassed. Before the blindfold was wrapped around my eyes I caught a glimpse of the piñata and I’m sure that I’m standing directly below it.
Or am I?
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Where did October go? It’s been a busy 6 weeks since my most recent post, yet it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. As I had mentioned in PASS, I’m taking GOVT 731: Russia this semester. Yes, I’m beyond the coursework phases, but chose to take the course to round out my understanding of Russia. It has taken a lot of the time I wish I had to devote to my dissertation proposal because of paper writing (FIVE!) and reading.
So what’s my progress to date? I’m still working through my dissertation proposal and it will not be ready to propose before next semester, so I will continue to plug away at it and plan for a dissertation proposal in the 201403 – 201405 timeframe. After speaking with my chair this afternoon, this is my final course, my chair and I have decided that I will only take dissertation proposal writing credits next semester. I should then have the time to knock out the proposal in short order and move into dissertation research and writing.
Yes, it’s another shift to the right (this time by 6 months) and I’m learning that PhDs don’t like to be rushed. I’ve come to terms with the new schedule and updated my timeline accordingly. I should still be able to graduate in 2015, though it might be later in the year depending on when I defend my dissertation.
Here’s the updated plan:
201403 – 201405 – Propose Dissertation
201406 – 201506 – Write Dissertation
201507 – 201508 – Defend Dissertation
One step at a time …
Over the summer, I was asked to write an article for SPP Currents – the online publication about life at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. Well – today, it was published! Woohoo!
I’ve cross-posted the link here: Finding Balance | SPP Currents. Read it over and let me know what you think in the comments section below.
How do you find balance in your PhD experience?
After 3 years and 5 months of blogging here at My PhD Experience, I’m quickly approaching 10,000 site views. Wow! I started this blog as a way to track my thoughts as I progress through the journey of earning a PhD – I never thought it would garner much attention. I’m glad it has and hope it has helped others as they wrestle with their own PhD journeys or determine if it’s something they want to undertake.
Thanks for reading! Here’s to the 10,000th view (soon!) and the 10,000 after that!
I got the results of my field exam today … and as the title of this post indicates, I passed. With that, I move to the next stage – the dissertation stage.
Stage One: Core Skills
— Prerequisites and Core Courses
— Comprehensive Qualifying Exam
Stage Two: Policy Fields and Skills
— Elective Courses
— Methods Courses
Stage Three: Research Foundations
— Field Statement and Bibliography
— Field Exam
Stage Four: Dissertation
— Dissertation Proposal Writing
— Dissertation Proposal Defense
— Dissertation Writing
— Dissertation Defense
What does that mean? I will be spending the semester researching and writing my dissertation proposal. I’m not sure I will defend it before December, so instead of taking six credits of dissertation proposal credits, I will be taking three and will have three left to take next semester if necessary.
I’m also taking GOVT 731: Russia. This course covers both Russian foreign and domestic policy and is being taught by a member of my committee. Although I’m not required to take any more coursework, it will help build my foundational understanding of Russian politics. This should strengthen my dissertation proposal.
I saw this graphic almost three years ago when I began my PhD journey – it’s as true today as it was then …
Great news! I received notice from my committee chair today that after my most recent revision, my field statement is complete and I am now ready to sit for the field exam. He is out of town for the rest of this week and will begin writing questions next week. For my part, I will need to identify a couple of four-day blocks as possible times to be available to complete the exam.
How is the field exam structured? According to the GMU SPP PhD Student Handbook –
“The field examination should include written questions on both advanced methods of inquiry (methodology) and substantive content in the domain of research interest (theoretical and empirical knowledge). The questions are broad, comprehensive, and central to the theoretical, methodological, and policy issues in the various topics proposed. While some questions should cover foundational issues, others might deal with unresolved issues in the fields. Students are expected to synthesize material from across their entire program. Although the field examination will be based primarily on the field statement and its bibliography, students might be asked questions that would require them to draw material from topics not explicitly covered in the student’s field statement and bibliography. If the field statement includes three topics, the examination must be in three parts, one part per topic. Often the student is given a choice of answering one out of two or two out of three questions per topic.”
What are the expectations for the field exam responses? Also referring to the GMU SPP PhD Student Handbook –
“There are no specific length requirements, but normally the answers to the questions for a single topic require 10 to 15 pages double spaced using normal fonts and margins. The writing should be clear and free of serious grammatical and typographical errors. Since it is a timed exam, the student can use shortened references rather than full and formal footnotes.”
So it looks like I have 30 – 45 pages of writing to do in a four-day period … SOON!
The field exam must be completed and graded by the second week of the term in order for me to avoid coursework next semester. Additionally, I’ve switched my funding source from my employer to the GI Bill, so I need to make sure that courses are paid for by August 26, 2013. In order to do that, I need to have passed the field exam so I can register for PUBP 998 – Research/Proposal for Dissertation.
There are lots of moving parts – August is going to be a busy month!