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…

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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 …

Pass

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.