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Dissertating 16 November 29, 2009

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Academically Speaking.
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For a moment there, things were looking up. My adviser gave me the greenlight to proceed with the defense of my proposal, one of my readers gave me encouraging (if not enthusiastic) feedback, and a presentation was sheduled for mid-November. All that remained was to get feedback from the other reader, to whom I’d already sent a draft. Not a big deal, given the circumstances, and thus ever so briefly it appeared that I’d be able to make some significant progress after months of work.

How wrong I was.

Let’s just say that the feedback I was waiting for was anything but positive. I can’t even say it came from left field, because somewhere in that conversation I was told, in so many words, that I shouldn’t even bother pursuing the topic. To paraphrase, to do so would be a very bad idea for me, for the gaduate program, and even academically.

I’d rather not relive the episode. Suffice it to say that after trying to remedy the situation (clearly, both I and the other members of my dissertation committee disagree), it was decided that the prudent thing to do would be to postpone the proposal defense. Meanwhile, it appears that the reader in question will opt not to continue on in my committee, while another faculty member has agreed to take that place. Hopefully, things are back on track now for a rescheduled defense in the spring.

Frustrating? Sure. In fact, there was a stretch back there where I was unable to write coherently about any of this because I was so upset. To think: this was only for the proposal; how much worse can it get for the defense of the dissertation itself?

But it’s time to move on. This much I will say, though: I’m glad that those who signed off on my proposal understand what it is I’m trying to do, why I want to do so and ultimately see where I’m coming from. At the end of the day, those two votes of confidence mean more to me than those negative remarks should trouble me.

In the meantime, my work continues.

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