#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.

DEFENSEphd040914s

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, 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_104145

Our 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.

#AcWri, #AcWriMo, Dissertation

#AcWriMo In Review: My Output

Many things come to an end as the month of November closes. See you later Thanksgiving, Fall 2013 semester, #Movember, and Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo). (Actually – it’s more of a see you soon, really.) Officially, the month of November is dedicated to #AcWriMo; however a number of graduate students (including yours truly) used this past month to complete a good chunk of their dissertation to loose this moniker:

Why my weekends are filled with literature reviews, data collection & #acwri sessions... #acwrimo

Review of My November #AcWriMo Goals… and my Lessons Learned:

  1. Complete my doctoral dissertation proposal so that it is ready to DEFEND to my committee.  Almost there. I did get a good chunk of writing accomplished at the UNT Dissertation Boot Camp – so this helped #acwrimo my progress. Although drafted, my dissertation proposal is not ready to defend yet. In working on a new application for methodology for social science, I want to meet with a couple faculty members on campus to hash out specifics and needs for Chapter 3 (Methodology) and test some of this during the month of December. It looks like a January 2014 date is more realistic for my dissertation proposal defense. I’m okay with this – because once this proposal is approved then Chapters 1, 2, and 3 for my dissertation are DONE!

Lesson Learned: Dedicate the time for the dissertation. As a doctoral candidate you need to be selfish with your writing time. Since this is large project, you need to chunk out your research and writing time that is supported by realistic short- and long-term goals.

  1. Finish “Technology in Advising for Higher Education” manuscript to submit to the NACADA Journal. Since I started #AcWriMo a day later, I used December 1st to work on the #AdvTech research findings and drafting of this manuscript. I am not sure why this project was put on a back burner, but I definitely need to move forward and submit this in December 2013 for Spring 2014 publication eligibility. This goal is not complete, but I will plan on sharing it with my co-authors before the week is out so we can submit to the journal editors for review.

Lesson Learned: Finish your #acwri projects before taking others on. Sure the promise of more research and writing might be enticing, but how productive will you be on your own or with a collaborative writing team if you are not finishing your manuscripts and publishing them? Always be submitting.

  1. #iConf14 Social Media Expo – paper & video for conference. After a lunch brainstorm session with Andrew Miller (@findandrew) and @FiachraM last week, I found the momentum to draft the abstract for the #iConf14 proposal.  Although not submitted (just yet), the abstract is being wrapped up and edited this evening. The final video will be compiled tomorrow evening; however our team Dropbox is filled with photos and images, with Andrew to capture video tomorrow.

Lesson Learned: Innovative ideas come from interdisciplinary thinking and problem solving. Research that is participatory and collaborative drives my writing and efforts. Also, when you experience #acwri well with other scholars, be sure to include these researchers as conspirators for your common research interests and projects.

  1. Complete a minimum of 2 blog posts per week – on writing progress and projects. Done. Whether I was reading, researching, or writing – I was able to share what I was working on with my blog readers, and provide on-going updates about my #acwrimo progress.

Lesson Learned: Stating goals out loud and adding social pressure is great, but reflection and sharing always helps me to process ideas more. Although my “official” month of #acwrimo accountability is over, I am fortunate to have my blog to share and write about my research progress, dissertation progress, teaching methods, and more.

Overall…

This month of academic writing has been very productive for me. In looking at my contribution to the #AcWriMo Accountability in the Spreadsheet o’ Fun you can see I logged at least 35, 097 words, and have been dedicated to the daily habit of writing. It is not so much the word count, but really the completed projects, which are finished and not taking up real estate in my research/writing space. I am taking the #acwrimo lessons learned with me by continuing this #acwrimo habit in December by setting specific project goals, carving out dedicated writing time, and reflecting my progress via my blog.

How did #AcWriMo in November go for you? What have you learned from this academic writing month? Post a comment to share, or respond to this #AcWriMo Questionnaire (not mine).

#AcWri, #AcWriMo, #phdchat, PhD

#AcWriMo Peer Pressure: Time, Challenge/Support & Cheerleaders

As many of you know, I signed up and successfully completed my first UNT Eagle Dissertation/Thesis Boot Camp over that past few days. What did I accomplish? (you might ask). Here is my summary, in a tweet:

The boot camp structure helped me find time, space (physically & mentally), and support to dedicate 3 FULL DAYS of just writing and research for my dissertation. Dr. Oppong and the Toulouse Graduate School provided the group of doctoral students with advice on the PhD process, motivation, meals, and, of course, COFFEE! Boot camp let me be selfish with my time and required me to just SHUT UP AND WRITE my dissertation.

Shut Up & Write #AcWriMo Start of Dissertation Boot Camp

During the camp, I purposefully unplugged from all social streams, e-mail, phone, etc. Unless you were my faculty advisor,  my friend Paeng from our COI research lab, or my partner-in-crime – you probably did not hear from me much.

Similar to #AcWriMo November 2013, this boot camp included goal setting and accountability with our writing progress. Here’s my self-evaluation from camp:
Boot camp sel-evaluation. #acwrimo #phdchat #latergram

My main purpose for this boot camp was to finish my dissertation proposal for my committee to review. Essentially the dissertation proposal consists of Chapter 1 (Summary), 2 (Literature Review) & 3 (Methodology) for my final dissertation. Want to learn more about this writing process? Check out SAGE’s new resource: Do You Understand What is Required in a Doctoral Dissertation or Thesis? [PDF]

I managed to get most of these beginning chapters drafted, and have them loosely reviewed by my faculty advisor. I also put my writing drafts into the official UNT Dissertation format, and identified areas I need to edit and add to. I plan on using December to meet with a few faculty members to review my research methodology (the recipe for research), and then I will work with my faculty advisor to set up a time for my dissertation committee gather for review in early 2014.

Overall, this boot camp was a great experience, and I am quite pleased with my progress. I think that agraphia groups and writing support programs are invaluable for doctoral students. Events like this offer peer pressure, social support, and, most importantly, TIME for writing. I would like to attend the next UNT boot camp in February to write up Chapter 4 (Data Collection, Analysis, & Findings) and Chapter 5 (Conclusions) in the Spring.

Thanks for the challenge & support from the following tweeps: #AcWriMo writersinstigator of research ideas, and especially those of you who cheered me on. Always be writing…

#phdchat

The Dissertation Proposal. #phdchat

For those of you who are not aware, I’ve been grinding away at my dissertation proposal the last couple of months. This (as I am told) is 80% of the work towards the final dissertation product. The plan is to complete and defend this piece of literature prior to March 28, 2014 (so that I can graduate and be finished in May 2014 – YAY!). For my specific doctoral degree program, the faculty in the Department of Learning Technologies provided their doctoral candidates with a rubric to guide the dissertation proposal process. Here it is:

I thought I would share a couple of key pieces of advice I have found to be quite valuable so far in the “proposing” stage from Appendix A: The Dissertation (Gray & Drew, 2008):

#163: PUT A LOT OF EFFORT INTO WRITING YOUR DISSERTATION PROPOSAL. The proposal provides two important payoffs:

  1. It usually provides one or more chapters of your end product, the dissertation.
  2. It is a contract between you and your advisory committee on what you must do to receive the degree. In general, if you do what you promise in the proposal, the committee should sign the final document. If, because of circumstances, you cannot accomplish all you set out to do, you have the basis for negotiation.

#166: IN DOING A LITERATURE SEARCH, use the “chain of references.” Begin with one or two recent articles (a survey article helps!). Look at the references that are cited. Then read those publications that seem apropos and look at their reference lists. Some things will pop out often. These are usually (but not invariably) the classics in the field that you must reference. Proceed from reference to references until the law of diminishing returns takes over.

Lessons to Learn #phdchat

In Gray and Drew’s (2012) 2.0 version of this same advice book for graduate students, they include a whole chapter on The Dissertation. There are a few useful tidbits for those of us who are (what I lovingly call) “dissertating”:

#19: PROBLEM-SOLVING MODE. Don’t assume that if you are having trouble defining a dissertation topic that the entire dissertation process will be that arduous. Once you define the topic, you are in problem-solving mode, and most people do well in solving a problem once they know what the topic is.

#26: MATCH THE LITERATURE SEARCH TO THE DISCUSSION OF RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS. You may find that as your dissertation progresses, some parts of your literature search are really irrelevant to your research. In this case, you should be ruthless. Despite the brilliance of your pose and the long, tedious hours you put into creating the material, you must delete these pearls. Of course, you should save what you don’t use as part of your file of references so you can use it over and over in future publications.

Right now, I am spending much of my time refining and working on #163 and #19. I just met with my faculty advisor, Dr. Jeff Allen, to review my chapter three research methods and discussed how to develop the recipe for this section. Stay tuned as you will soon learn more about  my topic and direction I am going, and hopefully I will get some input when I crowdsource my data collection in the very near future.

For those who are currently developing your dissertation proposals as well OR those who have successfully defended your dissertation proposals, what sort of advice and tips would you give? Please share!

Reference:

Gray, P., & Drew, D. E. (2008). What they didn’t teach you in graduate school: 199 helpful hints for success in your academic career. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Gray, P., & Drew, D. E. (2012). What They Didn’t Teach You in Graduate School 2.0. Chronicle of Higher Education.

#phdchat, PhD

I’m Qualified… to Work on My Dissertation Proposal

Today I received the “official” paperwork letting me know that I am qualified to move onto the dissertation/thesis phase of my PhD. At the end of the Fall 2012 semester I defended my ATPI Portfolio, as part of my comprehensive or qualifying exams, and became a PhD Candidate. Here’s the signed document to prove it:

Qualified

This semester (much to my faculty advisor‘s surprise) I am not enrolled in any courses at UNT. The goal for this term is to concentrate on completing my dissertation proposal for a successful defense by the end of April 2013, if not before to be eligible for scholarship and/or other opportunities. Other than a few publications/projects, conference travel, and editing for the Learning and Performance Quarterly, you will probably see my nose deep in research methodology as I fine tune my literature review. Stay tuned…

#phdchat, Professional Development

What Are You Reading This Summer? #summerreading

This year, the summer months are providing me space to read articles and books that I have been collecting on my #ToRead list. Below is the first stack of books I have started to read this summer. Since I am not working on any classes this summer,  the plan is to read and annotate  more articles, e-books, and other literary finds I have been collecting and storing in my Delicious and in my Good Reads account. Get ready for some EXTREME READING!

#summerreading

Although my goals are to move forward on my dissertation proposal, I know that I am not alone in setting reading goals for the summer months. Both the NY Times and Grad Hacker want to kick off the #summerreading social media campaign on June 7th. I was able start on my summer reading list early with the help of my recent travel plans – so I am always looking to add book recommendations (both for research and fun).

What books are you reading? What’s on YOUR #summerreading list? What books do you recommend?