Progress report

This dissertation process is a lot like kneading bread dough (but very slowly over the course of years). With each turn and press, the bread dough takes more shape. The globs of dough begin to stick together, and the dough becomes a whole piece, one that’s easier to manage and more pliable. Every step I take with the dissertation makes the whole thing seem more manageable, all of a piece. I’m still dealing with individual chapters, but I’m able to conceive of the thing as a whole, and the parts are starting to work together.

I’m still on track to get ER back to my advisor in the next couple weeks. I won’t have the whole thing ready for him until the end of July, I think. For this week, I’m keeping ER as my main focus, but I’m also making slow progress on Arc. And last night I formatted the entire diss and got set up to compile the bibliography.

Credit for my work time this week goes to my mom, who took a couple days out of her busy life to take over my household duties so I could work.


Renaming Things

I’ve moved my chapters around enough that my original chapter numbers aren’t so accurate. Chapter 4 is now Chapter 1, which means 1 is 2, 2 is 3, and 3 is 4. I’ve got figures in my intro, so I need to number it in order to have a reasonable “List of Figures” in my front matter. So now Intro is 1, and everything else changes too. In light of all this complication, I’m going to refer to chapters by abbreviations:

  • Former Chapter 1: Titus
  • Former Chapter 2: Arc
  • Former Chapter 3: FQ
  • Former Chapter 4: ER

Here’s my current run-down:

  • Intro–approved, and revised
  • ER–draft completed, “keep going”
  • Titus–approved, and revised
  • Arc–approved by primary
  • FQ–approved and revised
  • Conclusion–revise and resubmit


Checkpoint: Chapter 2 re-approved, Chapter 4 and conclusion “keep going”

I raced to finish the draft of Chapter 4 submitted to my advisor before I left on vacation. And on Thursday night, I finally hit “send” at 2am. I still had to pack for our trip, but my chapter was done. And by “done,” I mean that the general organization was fleshed out, most paragraphs had topic sentences and evidence, the main focus on the chapter (the pay-off) was solid, and there was a conclusion of sorts.

My advisor wasn’t joking about quick turn-arounds on my chapters this summer. He got Chapter 2 back to me in 5 days, and Chapter 4 + conclusion back to me in two days. Here’s the verdict:

Chapter 2: approved. He thought the way I reframed the chapter brought the theory elements of the diss to the fore, enough so that my secondary advisor should be satisfied.

Chapter 4: keep going. He had good suggestions about where to push my readings (everywhere), and he could see the shape of the chapter and imagine how the whole might work from the pieces I’ve written so far.

Conclusion: almost there. I need to revise the first few paragraphs substantially, and give the rest another quick revision pass.

I’ll have my work cut out for me when I get home from vacation, but I’m still on schedule for the summer.

Before the vacation I also passed along a full draft of my dissertation (all in one document!) to my editor. I should get her notes back soon after I’m back to work.

Next goal: revised Chapter 4 to advisor July 2. (Bonus goal: full diss draft to advisor July 2.)