#phdchat, Dissertation

Dissertation Boot Camp, Part II

Last week I attended my second Eagle Dissertation Boot Camp. This was a three-day #ShutUpAndWrite session created for UNT graduate students to help us focus our time on our thesis/dissertation projects. My first Eagle Boot Camp was successful as I crafted a great chunk of my dissertation proposal and successfully defended said document in February.

#UNT Dissertation Boot Camp

My data analysis is complete, so my primary objective for this boot camp was to write up and explain the findings (Chapter 4). So, I am happy to report this chapter is almost complete with 28 new pages (which includes some large data graphs). I also spent the time reviewing edits and updates made to Chapter 1, 2 & 3 (my proposal). As many of my doctoral researching friends know — it’s not the page number — you write until you’re finished explaining your research.

I signed up for another boot camp because I enjoy the dedicated space, time, and peer support of these writing groups. Although my morning writing in solitary has been going well, I did appreciate a solid three days of concentration on my dissertation without disruption (texts, emails, etc). During the boot camp I also scheduled a few meetings with my major professor (Dr. Allen) and had a productive meeting with my new my co-chair (Dr. Evangelopoulos) and Dr. A. to review the scope of what I am reporting on for my dissertation. We had a great talk day #1 to review my data analysis, timeline for writing, and inclusions for my dissertation. I am thankful for the time and feedback each advisor has given me over the past few months.

Just like training for a marathon, it is critical to map out a realistic and effective training schedule. In this case, my training  = writing, reviewing, and editing. In planning for August graduation, I have to hit a few upcoming dates set by our graduate school, so my final dissertation defense date is on the near horizon.

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Photo c/o @PhDComics “Defending My Thesis

Dissertation Timeline

Date Task
Toulouse Graduate School Dissertation Boot camp:

Chapter 4: Data analysis review; Drafting updated analysis and findings from data productions

4/20/14-4/28/14 Chapter 5: Drafting concluding chapter discussions, social media guidelines & policy development, further research, etc.
4/28/14-5/5/14 Consult with Faculty advisors and dissertation committee to get feedback on first draft (as needed)

 

5/6/14 Final dissertation paper and PowerPoint ready – Mock defense with Dr. A & Dr. E
5/6/14-5/12/14 Review comments & feedback from Co-Major Professors; make edits or additions based on feedback

Consult with dissertation committee members as needed

5/12/14-5/20/14 Send to external editor: final edit and polish
5/20/14-5/27/14 Review edits and comments from editor on dissertation paper; adjust as needed
Clean up and prep final defense PPT
5/28/14 Send FINAL DISSERTATION to committee; officially schedule defense date for June 12, 2014
5/28/14-6/11/14 Edit presentation slide deck, meet with faculty advisors; meet with committee members to review/allow for questions
6/12/14 Dissertation Defense
6/27/14 All paperwork due to Toulouse Graduate School & FINAL COPY of dissertation sent to the Grad School Reader

It’s go time. Back to my “training” — write on, my PhD friends. Write on!

#phdchat, PhD

Preparing for the Academic Job Interview #AcJobInterview [Workshop Notes]

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Interview via @phdcomics

Life in Academia: Preparing for the Academic Job Interview
Tenure provides you a secure job for life, but getting a tenure track job is no easy task. How do you present yourself to land a tenure track position in these difficult economic times? Toulouse Graduate School, will share critical information for landing a tenure track job. Come and learn everything you need to secure a tenure track position and a secure future. Topics covered include the tenure track job interview, the research and teaching presentation, and salary negotiation.

My NOTES from today’s workshop.

 

#phdchat, PhD, Reflections

Defending My Dissertation Proposal

Well there you have it. I successfully defended my dissertation proposal to my faculty committee on Tuesday. My proposal represents Chapters 1, 2, & 3 of my dissertation.

This slide deck might give you some insight, but probably not enough to cover my 89-page proposal. Really, this was just a visual to talk about my research plan. From this meeting, I have some helpful notes, comments, and questions to answer before moving forward with my data analysis. After I clean a few things up, I will be sure to detail more about my these chapters, specifically the literature review and research methods.

20140225_104145Our department also invites other researchers, including students, faculty and visiting scholars, to our dissertation proposal and final dissertation defenses. This open forum style provides other doctoral researchers with ideas and examples for their own research and defense. I have attended a few proposals (and final defenses) before presenting my own. These defenses are great learning opportunities to gain insight and ideas for the doctoral process. During this post defense meeting, I really do appreciate the SUPPORT and FEEDBACK given by my scholarly peers (near and far). Thank you all!

Although it is not the end (just one FINAL defense left), my faculty advisor told me to celebrate. Take heed of important milestones. It is important to recognize steps throughout the doctoral experience since it is a long journey. I am not finished; however my dissertation proposal lays the ground work for Chapter 4: Results and Chapter 5: Discussion, a.k.a. my contract to freedom and to finish my PhD. It’s go time.

#phdchat, PhD, Reflections

The PhD: Troubles Talk… and Moan… and So On

As a PhD candidate, I am trying to be more cognizant  with my response when asked the following (common) questions:

  • “How’s your dissertation going?”
  • “When are you going to finish your PhD ?”
  • “Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in ages…”

phdFor those who are also “dissertating” like me, you understand how easy it is to offer a roll of the eyes, smile/nod combo, and “just great” to friends and family. When talking to fellow PhD candidates and scholarly researchers, we seem to be more open to dig right in to slag the our dragging timelines, cry about our progress, complain about our faculty support, identify dissertation distractions, and, of course, whine about the TIME we used or didn’t use productively.

I recently read an article by Dr. Inger Mewburn (a.k.a. The @ThesisWhisperer), who discussed such “troubling talk” among PhD candidates. Often it is the talk of troubles that brings PhD scholars together to form communities  of practice, like a learning network and/or support group. There has been a large growth in online blogging, tweeting, slidesharing, podcasting, and more from PhD and early career researchers. There’s an active online community that supports personal/professional development and sharing of resources.

One section in particular interested me as Inger shared her own experience with the transition from student to professional academic. Specifically Mewburn (2011) discusses how there is evidence for doctoral researchers who interact with one another often whine and encouraged this type of struggle storytelling with others, even if they were not having any challenges. In recounting experiences of PhD gatherings and discussion over lunch, Inger identifies with the camaraderie of a shared PhD struggle:

 “The recognition that others were struggling too certainly made me feel better, but at the same time my own role in the talk was strangely discomforting. I realised I was amplifying my writing trouble, making it into a ‘war story’  in order to make it amusing and interesting to others. I wondered: was my performance of an   ‘inept student’  in the kitchen a form of PhD student identity work? By talking about being ‘in trouble’ with my writing, I was positioning myself as ‘one of us’  (a student) and not ‘one of them’  (a professional academic)  which was closer to my lived experience. I began to wonder: did my fellow PhD students ever deliberately perform ‘non competence’  too? It’ s likely that many of them experienced good writing days, but I rarely, if ever, heard about them in the lunch room” (Mewburn, 2011, p. 322).

Which brings me to my own experiences, and thoughts about my PhD progress. Do I keep quiet or join in with the slagging if I am around others who are complaining about the struggle? Do I try to down play my advances in writing and publications with other grad students? Have I told any “war story” to entertain my peers, rather than the reality of my own research progress? It is easy to fall into this, especially when there are funny xckd.com images or brilliant PhDComics.com cartoons. Just posting something like this to get a like, RT, or share from others in my PhD community is commonplace with those of us who claim #GradStudentProblems:

grad student motivation graph

A number of blogs, such as The Thesis WhispererPhD Talk, and PhD2Published; and Twitter hashtag communities, like #phdchat#gradchat, and the @GradHacker community of bloggers/Tweeters, have actually been quite helpful for my PhD progress.  I appreciate theses online communities for sharing ideas, talking about writing resources, offering advice, and linking to research methodology. When thinking about my own approach to “catching up” with my social networks (online and in person), I’ll be sure to not just moan about things. Although I do value my online networks, there’s nothing better than having a bit of a chat with other doctoral students/candidates or researchers when we get a chance to meet up and socialize.

Let’s not just use these social moments to be A.B.M. (always be moaning). As PhD candidates, our lives aren’t THAT bad. We were selected to study and research in a field or discipline we want, and really if it’s not your cup of tea … then maybe it’s time for a change anyways. Much of our PhD negative self-talk or even group-think can stifle research and writing momentum. Sure – there’s going to be issues and challenges; however we need to celebrate the small victories along the way. I know we have more productive and interesting things to talk about when we get together (online or in person), so let’s collectively encourage, motivate, and positively influence each other with our research progress. We CAN do it!

Reference:

Mewburn, I. (2011). Troubling talk: Assembling the PhD candidate. Studies in Continuing Education, 33(3), 321-332.

#phdchat, Job Search, PhD

The Vitae: Brewing Academic Experience for Your CV

A key part of the academic application is the vita. Since I mentioned I’m on the job market, a number of peers have asked me, what does my curriculum vitae (CV) look like? My response – it depends. It depends on the type of position – academic or nonacademic – and the institution. For the most part, I have a standard CV that I tailor for my applications and will update as I review my  academic job search spreadsheet o’ fun this week.

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Besides the cover letter, the vitae is probably the most important document for your academic job search. The vitae provides a detailed, yet distinct, review of your academic experiences and background that is chronological, skill-based, and in a combination of formats.

Viva Vita Java

The CV is a presentation of you on paper (for the most part) that highlights your expertise and development as a scholar. Although the organization resembles a resume, a vitae does not have length restrictions and it focuses on your academic experiences (you may want to include non-academic information if it strengthens your CV, and this information is relevant and specific for your discipline):

A typical CV includes:

  • Your Information (e-mail, address, mobile, website, etc.)
  • Education (undergraduate and graduate school)
  • Dissertation information & faculty advisor (title, expected graduation, if ABD)
  • Areas of research (or teaching) interest
  • Publications – peer-reviewed and relevant non academic publications
  • Grants, honors & awards
  • Teaching scholarship – link to teaching portfolio if applicable
  • Related work experience & positions (academic & non-academic; paid & unpaid)
  • Names of references (phone and email)

Format, style, and visual presentation of the CV is really up to you; however I recommend reviewing vitae examples, and getting other faculty or scholars in your discipline to review it. A few helpful tips on the curriculum vitae from Barnes (2007) includes:

  1. List your publications on the first page – show how you are already contributing to the literature in your discipline.
  2. Separate academic from nonacademic publications – distinguish between peer-reviewed articles, book reviews, & nonacademic publications.
  3. Separate publications from presentations – differentiate writing from teaching.
  4. Provide lists in chronological order – most recent first and move backward in time for easy reading & review.
  5. Include works in progress – identify if it is in review, accepted, and dates.
  6. Avoid filler – be confident and concise in your details.
  7. Include honors and grants immediately following publications – introduce most recent achievements & that you are able to acquire funding sources.
  8. Include related and nontraditional employment – consider the position and what experiences are relevant for your applications, perhaps you should industry, university administrative role(s) on your CV.
  9. Include postdoctoral experiences in the “education” section of the vita.
  10. Include service-related experiences – leadership role in a department, committee work or organized a conference helps to make you look like a more rounded candidate.

Format and style for your CV is a personal choice. You may wish to organize your CV differently for research-focused vs. teaching institutions vs. nonacademic roles vs. positions. There are a number vitae examples to review herehere, here, and here. I would also recommend looking at faculty profile pages for vita examples at the departments/institution you are applying to, and be sure to review CVs from scholars whose work you follow in your field. More often than not, CVs examples are posted online (pros & cons of this) and shared – as it also shares academic scholarship and experiences.

Ask your faculty advisor, current faculty, and respected researchers for advice. Many would be happy to support your academic search, and gladly review your CV — plus a few may want to have a copy of this document if they will serve as your reference. Get support with editing and fine tuning your vitae. Another set of eyes, and feedback from an outside perspective will help you improve your CV.  Good luck with your applications — I’m off to edit and update my own.

Reference:

Barnes, S. L. (2007). On the market: Strategies for a successful academic job search. Lynne Rienner Publishers.