Yesterday was my dissertation proposal review.  As longer-time readers will know, I completed the proposal (which is essentially the intro, lit review and methods chapters of the dissertation) in early september.  It took two weeks to hear back and I was told that it was ready, and the schedule the review.  Since that time I’ve been waiting for the review meeting.

Now, when I hear that the proposal is “ready” I assume that means its pretty close to where it needs to be and the intention is to meet, discuss, maybe tweak a few things, then sign off.  Boy was I wrong.  In addition to two copies of it heavily annotated (one of the reviewers really hates my writing style) there are a sum total of 14 things that were enumerated as needing to be changed prior to sign-off.  After which my chair has asked for 2 weeks to review them.  If he approves, it gets signed off and I can move forward.

I was very upset yesterday about this.  In many ways I felt like my definition of the word “ready” and his were not from the same language, and that he had misled me by letting me sit on my hands for two months waiting, when much of the more substantive feedback [the stuff that will take time] came from him and could easily have been done back then, before the document went to the rest of the committee.  I feel as though I’ve lost a chunk of time when I really don’t have it to spare.

My goal is to graduate in May.  That means I have to defend in the first half of April.  I had wanted to defend in the first half of March before the late-start course I am teaching starts, but this may have just eaten up the flex time needed to do that.  This is all made more difficult because I don’t have all day every day to work on this – I work full time, teach, and try to get a decent amount of sleep.  That gives me about 16 hours a week (all day saturday and most of sunday) to work on this stuff and deal with my teaching.  That’s a very different schedule from most graduate students.

So what have I learned from this process?

  1. Clarify what READY means.  I don’t want to go into the dissertation and be told that I have weeks worth of revisions before it is done.
  2. Be explicit about when I will get him things and when he will get them back to me.
  3. Try really hard not to get stressed about this.  Stress leads to confused thoughts, which make the document worse, not better.