mentor, mentoring, Research

How Were You Mentored as a Doctoral Student? Tell Us About It!

Mentoring of doctoral students is varied and diverse depending on the degree, discipline, and institution. I know that mentoring happens informally and formally from peers, professors, colleagues, and more. Sometimes it is from a faculty advisor or supervisor; however, more often then not we meet professionals, practitioners and other scholars who offer some form of personal/professional mentoring while completing a terminal degree. In thinking back to my graduate school experience, there was definitely a tribe of mentors who supported my professional development, research and career plans. From my departmental ATPI Research/Writing Group and LPQ Journal editing on campus to digital networks like #phdchat, many #edtech colleagues, my @BreakDrink podcasting family, the @AcAdvChat community, and MANY more, who mentored me formally and informally during my Ph.D. journey.

HOW were YOU mentored as a doctoral student or in your terminal degree program?

  • What sort of mentoring experiences did experience in your Ph.D., Ed.D., or M.F.A. program?
  • Who did you seek out to build formal or informal mentoring relationships?
  • How did you “stay in touch” or connect with these mentors from a distance, if they were not on campus?
  • How did these individual, group, or peer-to-peer mentoring experiences impact your own career development and professional growth?
  • OR if you feel like you didn’t really have opportunities to be mentored formally/informally, tell us what you WOULD have liked during and post-graduate degree?

Exploring the Impact of Mentoring for Doctoral Students

If you have some answers to any or all of the above questions, consider helping one of my own doctoral scholars with her research project. We are curious to learn about the nature and dynamics of mentoring relationships, specifically HOW they impact students in terminal degree programs. This might include mentoring experiences outside of the faculty advisor/supervisor role and even beyond campus. Mentoring experiences we know often occur from conference attendance, academic meetings, professional organization involvement and within your own or other disciplines of scholarship/work

The goal of this research is to understand how doctoral students experience mentoring during and after the completion of their terminal graduate degree programs in both face-to-face and distributed environments. There are a variety of campus stakeholders and professionals who form a collective of mentoring experiences for individuals who are pursuing a terminal degree. With a variety of career paths post-degree, we want to know how doctoral students establish, communicate, and sustain mentoring relationships that support their personal and professional development. We want to know more about these mentoring relationships through the shared narratives of doctoral students who are currently in-progress and/or who has recently completed (in the last 2-5 years) a terminal graduate degree (e.g. Ph.D., Ed.D., M.F.A, etc.).

We would love to know how technologies shape and support these mentoring relationships? This might be to stay in touch, communicate, share on social networks, or even exist within digital learning environments. With the opportunity to connect to scholars and practitioners beyond geographic boundaries, it is now possible for graduate students to establish mentoring relationships with other scholars, peers, and professionals from afar. How are these doctoral scholars finding resources, support, and kinship within peers in online networks? What type of mentoring opportunities have doctoral learners found either formally or informally to reach their personal and professional goals? Are there mentoring groups, peer-to-peer, or professional experiences that have guided their early career decisions and/or direction?

To volunteer for a 30-minute interview for this study, please complete this form: https://unt.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_d06SO2d0GL8al6d

To learn more and/or participate in the project, please find further details about this study here: https://ltiwithme.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/exploring-mentoring-relationships/ or contact Laura Pasquini (Laura.Pasquini@unt.edu) or Meranda Roy (Meranda.Roy@unt.edu).

#AcWri, BreakDrink, Conference, Podcast, publication, Research

The Scholar-Practitioner Paradox for Academic Writing [@BreakDrink Episode No. 8]

I have been thinking about the needs and challenges higher education and student affairs professionals have with regards to evidence-based practices. In higher education, there is no shortage of topics and ideas to explore. I have been fortunate to collaborate with both scholars and practitioners in education to study a number of issues, including scaled-open learning, digital learning strategies, social media policies/guidance, mentoring programs, and networked experiences, just to name a few.  Beyond this short list, there are a number of practitioners who have reached out and we’re in the process of establishing research plans for professional development, mapping competencies to training, and leveraging technology in networked communities. My work partnering and collaborating with scholar-practitioner better informs my research methods and in explaining the findings/implications.

Scholar-practitioners generate new knowledge to improve practice, yet how they prioritize and go about their work varies with where they are on this scholar-practitioner continuum (Wasserman & Kram, 2009). The challenge with this work is there is VERY LITTLE TIME professionals in higher ed have to do scholarly work. When you are working in an educational service role for a 12-month contract, it is a challenge to move through the research process. Wasserman and Kram (2009) observed how competencies, needs, and values align with the competing roles of the scholar-practitioner to match either the work or research interests. Scholarly habits and the writing process requires deep concentration and focus on thinking critically to endure through a research project — from the study design, methodological planning, recruitment of participants, to publication and dissemination of findings.

Although higher education administrators and staff are in the best position to analyze programs, student populations, and services — there is not enough scholarship produced from professionals IN the field.

In their book, A Guide to Becoming a Scholarly Practitioner in Student Affairs, I think Hatfield and Wise (2015, p. 6-8) touch on a few reasons why practitioners do not often contribute to academic writing and publications:

  • Not enough reading – that is, not as knowledgeable of current research in (and out of) the field, theories, and evidence-based practices from academic outlets
  • Not expected of positions and not valued – undervalued and underutilized research skills; some of these skills may have been minimal based on training, education, experience, etc. as it is not required in administrative positions
  • Second-class citizen syndrome – some might not have a terminal degree (Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.) or if they do, little academic scholarship has been completed beyond their dissertation work; also feel on a different level of the faculty at their institution (and often treated that way).
  • Inadequate academic preparation – research, evaluation and assessment training from each graduate program varies and many question skills and competency for research and publishing
  • Silos on campus – little interaction between departments, divisions, functions, and academic departments exist although we are trying to support the whole student.
  • Lack of motivation – when was the last time you saw “scholarship and research” in a practitioner’s job description or expectation to participate in scholarly conferences and publishing?

 

Many of the above items, I think, are describing student service/affairs professionals in the United States — as I have a number of higher ed colleagues who are required to produce research in their staff role. There is no shortage of op-ed pieces often shared among higher education social networks, blogs, podcasts, videos, and more. The issue is we rarely see published conference proceedings, journal articles, or academic outlets producing PEER-REVIEWED pieces from and about practice contributing evidence and understanding from the field.

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking with Jeff Jackson (via our @BreakDrink podcast) about this challenge and what we are witnessing among practitioner peers. The first installment “on academic writing and scholarship” Jeff and I dig into academic writing/scholarship for BreakDrink Episode No. 8, where we discuss the differences of Academic vs. Practitioner Conferences. From the book by Hatfield and Wise (2015), chapter three talks about presenting at professional conferences; however, none of the associations shared offer any published conference proceeding for presentations shared and are not the same as submitting a paper or academic poster for another association that is more scholarly in nature. I think Hatfield and Wise (205) offer a decent introduction to scholarly writing for the novice student affairs professional  — but I think it is lacking in a few areas (as detailed in the podcast and notes below). If you are interested, feel free to read this book review (Delgado & McGill, 2016) and listen to our thoughts via the podcast here:

@BreakDrink Episode No. 8 – Academic vs. Practitioner Conferences [SHOW NOTES]:

Episode No. 8,  might be part 1 of a few series on this topic about “being an academic” or “scholarly work.” Jeff and I have recorded a few meanderings as we think/share on this topic. If you have questions or want to know more about the following items, let us know: mentoring for #AcWri, how to put together a manuscript, proposing a conference paper, data management, or starting a peer-review journal OR being part of an editorial board. Let us know! 

Conferences Run Down in 2017: Scholar vs. Academic Conference

American Educational Research Association (AERA) hosts a research/scholarly conference annually and this year #aera17 conference was in San Antonio, TX with Jeff in attendance. This professional association is HUGE, but thankfully it is broken down into Divisions and  Special Interest Groups (a.k.a. SIGs). Division I is Jeff’s Jam: Education in the Professions as he also attends the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and perhaps Division J may be where some of the doctoral/graduate scholars hang out. Related to this association you will find THE journal, Educational Researcher, that is well-regarded by scholars; however AERA also has AERA Open and other publication outlets.

We just wish we saw more of this at practitioner conferences. Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) also held their annual conference at the same convention center in San Antonio, TX back in March. Both Jeff and I were there, and we attended a session on publishing in the NASPA journals from this association [Sadly the new Technology in Higher Education: Emerging Practice was not represented in this session this year.] It’s not as though sessions at Student Affairs or Practitioner conferences do have a poster session, and I have seen “Research Papers” presented at ACPA Convention and NACADA has offered Research Symposiums at regional conferences.  The conferences mentioned in Chapter 3 of Hatfield and Wise’s (2015) book: ACPA, NACA, NACADA, NASPA, ACUHO-I, NODA, & NIRSA

Academic Conferences We Have Also Attended to Note:

 

Conference Proceedings 101

Conference proceedings are scholarly papers a number of academics/researchers include on their vitae for the tenure and promotion. This is the “carrot” as to why faculty or scholars would attend a conference and allow doctoral researchers grants to travel, beyond the value of networking and discussions with peers. A proceeding could be a short (or long) paper presented at a conference, and sometimes there are even print proceedings published for your conference abstracts/papers (e.g. #SMsociety15 proceedings). All papers typically have a specific format (e.g. AECT’s manuscript requirements) and are submitted for a formal (typically blinded) peer-review process before they are accepted. Typically these are shorter papers or a conference abstract (not a beginning of a journal article abstract format), where you present your completed research projects. A number of social sciences and education conferences have specific formats beyond the APA Style 6th Edition, but that is a good start. If accepted, you will typically present your paper at the conference in a condensed format, such as 10-25 minutes, with a set of other papers in a single session. Each presentation is directed to showcase research by describing a brief literature overview, research methods (data collection, analysis) and findings/implications. This might be moderated by a discussant, moderator, or not at all with a brief (2-5 minutes) for Q&A at the end of your presentation/session time slot.

Other formats typically at scholarly conferences we have seen — but this is not an inclusive list:

  • Conference abstract (1000-2500 words) – how to guide and killer abstract writing
  • Full Papers (up to 8000-10.000 words)
  • Notes  or Work/Research In Progress
  • Poster Sessions (also via a device, e.g. laptop, tablet, etc.)
  • Workshops/Hands-on Sessions (e.g. how to use R-Studio for text mining)
  • Competitions or Expos — challenge/solution program feature to showcase work
  • Plenary/Keynotes
  • Doctoral Colloquium
  • Mentoring Programs

Episode F.A.Q.

  • Q: Is it considered a self-plagiarism to reuse (published) abstracts for talks? A: Yes. You want to avoid text recycling and should NOT but publishing the same work to different publication outlets.
  • Q: Is presenting about my program or an assessment of an initiative at my campus research? Does this count? A: Maybe. Did you get IRB approval from your institution before collecting data? Are you following the scholarly practice of your educational/social science peers? If not — this might be an assessment. Still great — but it could not be submitted as peer-reviewed conference proceeding or journal article.
  • Q: What is this Yellowbook that Jeff referred to during the podcast? A: It was known as a “phone book” and it’s directory of names of people and businesses for you to locate their contact information. You might use the Google or another search engine these days for said things. Apparently, Yellowbook as rebranded to “yb” and now has a website: https://www.yellowpages.com/
  • Q: Why is Tony Parker out for the rest of the NBA season? A: He injured his quadriceps tendon on Wednesday, May 2nd. {tear!}
  • Q: What is Fiesta? A: A 10-day annual party celebrating culture, food, fun, and parades in San Antonio, TX that typically falls at the end of April. More about Fiesta. Best tagline: “A party with a purpose” https://www.fiesta-sa.org/

Our Pro-Tips for Attending Academic Conference:

  1. Prepare for the Conference: Review the conference website to see what research is being presented, who will be attending, and who you should meet (new & friends) while you are both at this event. Are you a fan girl/boy of a particular researcher and you want to chat about their work/your work? Are you hoping to collaborate with other scholars? Do your homework and figure out who will be there. Maybe you want to set up a meeting over a meal/coffee/drinks OR find a particular session where you can be introduced to new peers.
  2. Attend the First Time Attendee Session (if they have one): Get the lay of the conference land and get a good overview/guide to what is going on during the event. Is there a mixer with food and/or drinks? Attend and meet a few people. Prepare to be social and have your own “elevator pitch” about what you are currently studying or working on right now. Think about this before you show up to the conference.

Overall, we think higher education professionals could do better with sharing MORE research-based information at our conferences. Many of these sessions are often hidden within the general program sessions and/or found in a poster session — that is often not well-attended. Hatfield and Wise (2015, p. 8) challenge practitioners to research by asking:

If you could give voice to those who were marginalized, if you could change the field of student affairs through your voice, if you could create better collaborations across campus with our academic colleagues, and if you could share your insights with parents, students, and other invested stakeholders so that they will know what we contribute to student learning and development, why wouldn’t you?”

Why are we not encouraging more scholar-practitioner collaborations? And what incentives could you offer early career researchers and senior scholars to attend these conferences? These are ponderings we are thinking about from reading this book (Hatfield & Wise, 2015) on SA scholarship. We think it’s a decent starting guide to getting into academic writing. Sharing evidence-based initiatives are required to be relevant in higher education. This value needs to be showcased more by and with student affairs, student services, and those not on an academic track to offer others insight to the work we are doing.

@BreakDrink Podcast ShoutOuts

 

If you have a thought or two, please share it with us via one of these channels. We’d love to hear from you on any one or all of following the “BreakDrink” podcast channels:

We welcome comments, questions, and more! If you happen to listen to Apple Podcasts a.k.a. iTunes, please consider leaving us a rating and review. Thanks!

References:

Delgado, A., & McGill, C. M. (2016). A Guide to Becoming a Scholarly Practitioner in Student Affairs by Lisa J. Hatfield and Vicki L. Wise (review). Journal of College Student Development57(7), 898-900.

Hatfield, L. J., & Wise, V. L. (2015). A guide to becoming a scholarly practitioner in student affairs. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Wasserman, I. C., & Kram, K. E. (2009). Enacting the scholar—practitioner role: An exploration of narrativesThe Journal of Applied Behavioral Science45(1), 12-38.

AcAdv, PhD, Reflections

PhD Balance & Support: Life as a Doctoral Researcher and Higher Ed Professional

As part of my “Thanks-For-Supporting-My-PhD-Completion” and ways to motivate other doctoral researchers, Melissa and I decided to write an article for NACADA’s Academic Advising Today. This piece shared insights from our #hackPhD Panel at #nacada13 and our own hindsight of what it takes to successfully finish the degree.

PhD Survivor

We are not alone in thinking that being both a full-time professional in higher education AND full-time PhD student is a CHALLENGE:

The tensions among academic and personal roles can have a great impact on an advisor’s doctoral education. The theory of doctoral student persistence (Tinto, 1997) in particular can provide a look at how conflicting roles might impede a doctoral student’s academic progress. Tinto’s theory (1997) assumes that the primary communities for students relative to their graduate education are their peers and the faculty in their programs. Social integration within graduate education is almost synonymous with academic integration in the department. These social communities assist students with both intellectual and skill-building capacities needed to succeed in their doctoral programs, as well as networking within the greater professional community. Membership in other communities, e.g. those encompassing personal roles, can have a negative impact on graduate persistence by providing conflicting demands for time. If students are not able to manage their competing roles, they may find that they must give up on some of them.  (Read the full article here.)

I am thankful to the #AcAdv Chat community and fellow PhD friends (#sadoc & #phdchat) for the support. A number of my colleagues from these groups ALSO hold a faculty or staff position on campus, while grinding through their doctoral coursework and/or dissertation. I salute all of you who have made it, and a number of you who are still working towards the end. {You can do it! #GoScholarGo!}

At times this challenge is not easy – AT ALL. What it often comes down to is, support at the local level. At my campus, I was fortunate to have dedicated faculty advisors, solid graduate program support, an understanding/empathetic boss, a supportive and collaborative office team, and brilliant Dean to scaffold my PhD progress. Although my support network online is brilliant,  I think that it is imperative for the Staff/Faculty Supervisor of the PhD employee to consider how they can impact degree completion. Here are a few suggestions on how to get started:

  1. Ask How To Support: Sounds easy enough, but often it does not come up in 1:1 meetings. Consider asking how their degree will fit into their overall career goals, and what sort of strategies and resources would be most appropriate to reaching this objective.
  2. Identify Funding Resources: Inform students about tuition breaks, employee scholarships, and travel funding that might be optional during their doctoral study. Sure – your grad student might be savvy enough on this topic; however it does not hurt to inform them about budget allowances or potential funding sources.
  3. Encourage Professional Development: Continue to nourish and cultivate professionals who want to hack their doctoral degree, AND contribute to their own personal growth. Professional and informal affiliations often helps their progress towards degree completion.
  4. Consider Scheduling & Being Flexible (with Time): Allow for a varied staff schedule, time in office, or even opportunities to telecommute on projects. This might even include moving a lunch or break around to meet with dissertation committee members, writing groups, or graduate student seminars. Often your graduate student is very good at both self- and time management, so trust them to be effective in and out of the office.
  5. Express Value for Scholarship: Help your employee identify service, teaching and research scholarship on your campus and with your professional affiliations. Think about their research as an extension of your unit’s or institution’s vision and mission, and capitalize on their talent and skills in this area. Scholar-practitioner contributions can impact strategic goals, and compliment what you do day-to-day.

If you currently supervise a doctoral researcher who is a full-time staff member, how do you support your employee? OR vice-versa. What do you need as full-time employee AND PhD student to get you to your dissertation defense? Please share in the comments below.

References:

Johnson, M. A., & Pasquini, L. A. (2014, September). Negotiating the multiple roles of being and advisor and doctoral student. Academic Advising Today, 37(3).

Tinto, V. (1997). Toward a theory of doctoral persistence. In P. G. Altbach (Series Ed.) & M. Nerad, R. June, & D. S. Miller (Vol. Eds.), Contemporary higher education: Graduate education in the United States (pp. 322-338). New York, NY: Garland Publishing, Inc.

Fashioning Circuits, PhD

It’s My Graduation Day!

Today is the day my PhD degree comes to an end – it’s UNT Commencement!

Grad Regalia

Catch up: I defended my dissertation on June 12, 2014 and I am VERY grateful for all the love and support. It has been a fun four years in the doctoral program at UNT; however I am happy to say goodbye with this ceremony today. I know this event is only the beginning of what lies ahead with my teaching, research, and service scholarship:

“There is a good reason they call these ceremonies ‘commencement exercises.’  Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.” ~ Orrin Hatch

phd061814s

Image c/o PhD Comics

For commencement, the graduate school required a 30-word summary of my research to read out during the hooding segment of the ceremony. Could you summarize your thesis/dissertation? I dare you to try in the comments section of this post. It took me a couple tries; however my Twitter writing skills were used to condense this blurb:

Dr. Pasquini analyzed 250 higher education social media policies from 10 countries. She established a policy database, and identified 36 universal topics to best guide social media use and implementation.

For my family, friends and peers who care to tune in, I will be officially hooded and dubbed a doctor between 3-4 pm CST time TODAY (August 8, 2014). You can stream the ceremony online, if you so wish, here:  http://www.unt.edu/commencement/watch.htm

{REQUEST: For my technically savvy colleagues, let me know if you can do a screen capture  of the event – I would LOVE a quick video segment of my hooding as a keepsake. :)}

For my local friends and colleagues in Denton, TX, I hear that the libations will be served at the Mulberry Street Cantina to celebrate at 5 pm onwards today. Drop in!

#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…”

phd

For 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.

#AcWri, #AcWriMo

My #AcWriMo Goals for November

acwrimo1-01

Happy Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo)! November IS #AcWriMo… however as a student every month is #acwrimo… BUT in an effort move forward on a few writing deadlines and projects I thought this accountability would change my typical “creative process.”

The Creative Process

#AcWriMo main features include:

  • Setting academic writing goals
  • Writing down said goals & tracking (see the AcWriMo 2013 Writing Accountability Spreadsheet) collectively
  • Strategy sharing for #AcWri
  • Sharing my progress (will be weekly for me)
  • WRITE!!!! (most important)
  • Show results (see spreadsheet & future blog posts)

I have participated in this #acwrimo in the past, and I thought that this type of peer/social pressure was very productive. I liked the idea of declaring goals, being accountable and tracking my writing progress in chunks. I also think that this will be a very useful practice to step up my word count and complete writing projects that need to be completed.

My #AcWriMo Goals for November:

  1.  Complete my doctoral dissertation proposal so that it is ready to DEFEND to my committee.
  2. Finish Technology in Advising for Higher Education manuscript to submit to the NACADA Journal.
  3. #iConf14 Social Media Expo – paper & video for conference.
  4. Complete a minimum of 2 blog posts per week – on writing progress and projects.

Here is how I plan on achieving these goals:

  1. Write for a minimum of two 60 minute time blocks per day.
  2. Have a total of 750 words per day written.
  3. Logging my projects, words written, and more to the #acwrimo accountability spreadsheet.
  4. My Tweeps & other social networks can call me out and inquire at ANY time to see how I’m doing.

Are you going to JOIN IN THE #AcWriMo FUN? You should!

#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.