SPP Newcomers

It’s that time of year when those offered admission to the PhD program have to decide whether to join the quest.  A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by one of those prospective students.  Like everyone who has started something new, he was looking for insight into the program and had read my blog.  We had a really good email conversation and covered those questions not addressed in my writings here.

Four years ago, I had a lot of the same questions and was looking for an “insider’s perspective” on the PhD quest.  The closest I came to finding that insight was a blog by a law student, so I decided to start my own blog to help those who would join me in working toward a PhD.  I’m always encouraged when I hear from a future fellow student.  To the prospective PhD student, thanks for the email exchange.  I’m glad I was able to give you a better understanding of what the program is like.  Let me know if I can help in any other way and I look forward to seeing you around campus this fall!

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Dissertation Writers’ Room

I spent a few hours in the Dissertation Writers’ Room (DWR) this afternoon – it’s nice!  There are electrical outlets galore and plenty of storage space for those of us lucky enough to have received a spot.  There are 4 carrels in the room and we are able to use it whenever the library is open.  I will definitely be taking advantage of this space frequently as it’s nice and quiet.  The only complaint/critique I have is that the overhead light is on a timed motion sensor; it has shut off on me at least half a dozen times in the hour and a half here … and no, I’m not sleeping!

Quick Update

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!

Closing Semester 7

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!

The PhD pinata (or, groping for research questions)

I certainly identify with the writer’s struggle …

The Thesis Whisperer

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?

With each…

View original post 726 more words

Tempus Fugit

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 …