Sunday, March 25, 2007

On the Dissertation

The overdue update:

Last Monday, I submitted the first draft of it, sans conclusion, to my advisor.

Made some corrections, tightened up my notes, and submitted it to my labor history prof on Tuesday. He's not on my committee, but advisor wants him to be.

Made more corrections, expanded the intro (per some early suggestions from advisor) and fed-exed it to my outside reader Thursday evening.

Spent Thursday night and all day Friday going through microfilm from the Amalgamated Meatcutters and Butcher Workmen. Discovered the local I'm studying had a ba-a-a-d reputation in the 1970s for not responding to the members and that there may have been a strike at my plant.

Per advisor's request, sent her the new-and-improved intro.

And now, my biggest problem is time. I had to make myself stop writing/revising yesterday because I'm supposed to be grading. Prof gave an exam the Thursday before spring break and commented that we could use spring break to grade. I told him that wouldn't be happening, so he gave us an extra weekend--exams due back Tuesday and I am way behind on grading.

Also, I can't gloss over a strike at "my" plant, but the microfilm ends without details of whether or not it actually occurred, the town's newspaper does not exist on microfilm, so I'd have to make a trip back to the cold, scary newspaper morgue to dig there, and I've been able to find only one extant copy of the local's newsletter for the 1970s. My point--I'm sure more info exists, but I don't have the time to find it. Labor prof has been telling me (because I'm freaked about a few other loose ends), "Save it for the book!" But that's hard for me.

And revisions, time wise--Advisor promised to have it back next week. I have every intention of getting it revised (again) before Easter, but then it goes to my whole committee. What if they have a million suggestions? I have to defend by the end of April to graduate in May!

On the other hand, I've been thinking--this is the last semester for which I'm eligible for a TAship. And, I'm not sure I have financial aid available for the summer (though, I suppose my dad, all grumbly and mumbly, would help me pay in the summer, if I needed to). I have no summer job (though I might teach a class at my MA university or do the little thing through the state of Louisiana that I did last summer--still, no news on either possibility, yet).

So, for financial reasons, I do need to graduate. Badly. Advisor says it is possible--difficult, but possible. But, I work exceedingly well under pressure--open-ended deadlines and meandering on my own time have gotten me into this situation. Knowing that I have to do some things has me writing and reading my ass off. I won't have any more grading to do until May and my fellow TAs and prof are all very encouraging and supportive.

If anyone wants to help me work out a mental timeline...


Blackamazon said...


Francis Holland said...

"If anyone wants to help me work out a mental timeline..."

Here's a way to determine the feasibility of graduating by the end of the academic year, while also planning the process of getting there: Make a flow-chart that has your May (?) graduation date on it, and then work backward including all of the steps and the dates on which they would have to occur in order for you to graduate in May. Specify in your flow-chart the names of the people with whom you would have to meet and the specific approvals they would have to give.

Then, conference this flowchart with people you trust and who are familiar with the process at your school. Finally, conference it with your adviser.

If you find that time is tight, it'll be clearer that you have to follow your advisor's advice and work only from the material you have already gathered.

By preparing this detailed flowchart (which might take a couple of hours if you already know the approval process at your school), you'll either come up with a feasible plan that you can start to implement immediately, or you'll conclude that you don't want all of the (perhaps useless) stress you'd be under, and that it would be more realistic to give yourself some extra months.

Either way, a flow-chart that works backward datewise from the May finish line to right now is a way of clarifying the feasibility and practical steps of what has to be done.

If you want, I'll look at your flowchart, just to motivate you to prepare it. I've never written a doctoral thesis, but I written some grants and briefs, evaluated some projects and met some deadlines.

Breena Ronan said...

I agree, working backwards is really helpful. Just a question though, how is graduating really going to help financially? I'm just saying...if it doesn't work perfectly it's probably not the end of the world.

elle said...

i like the idea of the flowchart. quinn can probably give me an idea of the step by step...

how is graduating really going to help financially? because i won't have to worry about how i'm going to pay $3000+ for summer school on top of my other bills while having no job.

Gwyneth Bolton said...

I'll keep sending good vibes and positive energy your way, Elle. You can do it!


wwwmama said...

Yes, you can! Just look at how much you've already done! So impressive...

RageyOne said...

I agree, working backwards from your defense date is the key. That way you will see how much time you have.

Also, listen to Labor Prof! You can't put it all in the diss, you just want to get what you need in there so that you can defend and graduate. That extra that you found will help beef up your book and extend the dissertation.

Cheering for ya!

Anonymous said...

It's so exciting reading how this is all coming together. Focus on the info you have and get this thing done, elle -- it's not an endpoint, just the next step. (Albeit a necessary next step.) I'm cheering for you and that fabulous brain of yours!

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