My Dissertation Proposal

I’ve completed a draft of my prospectus.*

I gave it to my advisor a few days ago, and today he told me I have nothing to worry about–that with some minor revision, the project is a sure thing. He used words like “profound” and “thought provoking.”

That’s yay.


*You present this to the department as a proposal for a dissertation project.

**Of course there’s one other prof who needs to be impressed. My project is on the topic of Collective Memory. The one who’s impressed does Memory. The one who hasn’t gotten back to me yet does Collective Intentionality. (Ours is the Philosophy department if you’re curious.) I shouldn’t be happy til she says she likes it too.

Congrats, Frylock. I had my oral examination about a year ago, and this week I’m making the final revisions to submit the dissertation at the end of the week.

Do your committee members talk? If so, I’d imagine that they are on the same page. I know my chair keeps an eye on the committee members who are… most likely to stray. Plus they defer to her as the chair. Having a sane ad hoc committee makes a huge difference… you can concentrate on data collection, analysis, and writing instead of their drama. Good luck getting the others’ approval!

So you’re actually going to be a Doctor of Philosophy?


I will even go so far as to add: woohoo! Many congratulations. :wink:

Doesn’t it feel good to have direction? Have a beer. Your prospectus is your friend, until things shift. Things may shift. Do not fear change.
Now, stop reading books written by other people for a moment.

Go to your wordprocessor, open a new document, and stick in “Chapter One: Tentative Title”. Hit the enter key a couple of times and type in the most obvious first sentence you can think of-- it can be complete jibberish. Then save the document as “Dissertation”.

Now you’ve started writing your dissertation draft and there’s nothing to be afraid of anymore. Don’t put it off. It’s never to early to start.

THEN go and download the Firefox add-on that will block you from the SDMB and Metafilter and whatever else for whichever hours of the day you should be working, and have it redirect you to the page with the hypnotoad or something. Get an updated copy of Endnote. Get to work. At 4 PM you may start drinking, but no earlier. Your CDs do not need alphabetizing right now.

Oh, and write your dissertation as if it were a book to be published-- plan to be able to delete the whole literature review, write in a consistent, not-too-pedantic voice, remember your colorful examples don’t support your argument but ARE your argument, and watch it with the invocation of authority-- all those secondary-source block quotes will eventually have to go.

I’m writing to you all the things someone should have told me 4 years ago.

Meanwhile, congratulations! You, too, Hippy Hollow.

Funny you should say these things. I had a conversation toward the beginning of this quarter in which I said to a professor, “So, listen, nothing I write ever has anything more than a tenuous connection to the kind of thing I planned for it to be when I started out. Is this going to be a problem when it comes time to do the dissertation, do you think?”

The answer was a comforting “Not at all.” Turns out I’m not even a fraction of the amount of special that I thought I was in this regard. :slight_smile:

Also, regarding your second point above, I have always had difficulty reading enough books written by other people. Most people, I agree, need to do less of this, but I am one person who needs to learn to do more of it. Something that comes up every year at “Spring Review” is that I tend to “do philosophy in a vaccuum,” by which they mean I sort of pick up on a puzzle and work on it without any notion of its place in the wider intellectual landscape. I’ve come to agree this is a problem, and part of the remedy is, basically, to get out and read more.

Hehe good advice.

I should have done this long ago. But I’m never going to do it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Endnote sounds useful, but isn’t it live three hundred bucks? Yeesh.

As with reading, so with quoting–most people, I agree, need to do less of it, but my own problem is the opposite. My papers are notoriously short on citations and quotations. I actually need to learn to do more of it. In the right way, for the right reasons, of course.

I like your point about the examples not supporting but rather being the argument. Which academic field do you work in, if you don’t mind my asking?


Hah, I’m in art history, which is why I feel such tender sympathy for you. . . There’s a long road ahead. Remember the fringe-humanities mantra: “Labor of love”. . . Remember that it could be worse-- coulda’ chosen Folklore Studies or Philosophy of Science or something. If all else fails, with Phil you can easily jump into law school!
By the way, start sending out some articles. Get something published anywhere you can-- Phi Sigma Tau’s quarterly magazine for teens, book reviews, whatever. When you graduate it will too late. I’m having a hell of a time on the market.

Should be a student price on Endnote. . . 150 or so? Maybe not quite so important in Philosophy than in historical humanities.

I thought you were kidding about this, but I see that they exist - the one I’m looking at is called ‘leechblock’, as in those sites that ‘leech’ your time. What a superb idea. I’ve just re-subscribed to the dope and its already impacting my work!

Congrats Frylock, it feels good when you can see the shape of your thesis start to come together.

My Leechblock just let me back in after my self-imposed mid-day exile. Productivity! (I’ve set mine up with a password so that I can override it by typing “I am a bad person”, har)